Audible Donation Box

Our local library recently asked us to help them out with their summer reading program, which is raising funds to support the Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

Here’s what I came up with:Glen Ellyn Public Library Token Box

 

When a patron turns in a book they’ve read for the summer reading program, they get a token to drop into the box.  Since the Willowbrook Wildlife Center rehabilitates native animals that have been injured, I thought that playing local native animal sounds would help create a connection between the program and the organization it is supporting.

Here’s what the box looks like inside.

Glen Ellyn Public Library Token Box Electrionics

 

The speakers are driven by an Adafruit Music Maker Shield run off of an Arduino Uno, using the Adafruit VS1053 library.  The token detection mechanism uses a high-intensity LED and a voltage divider, consisting of an 180 ohm resistor and a CdS photocell, to create an optical detector.  The voltage across the small resistor is checked with an analogRead() in a tight loop to detect a token falling through the slot.  Volume control is done through software on the VS1053, so I just hooked the sweeper on a 10K linear potentiometer up to a second analog input.  When a token is detected, I play a random sound from the SD card in the background while continuing to check the volume control.

Here’s the schematic and a breadboard layout.  I’ve just shown the control circuitry, as the Music Maker shield should be pretty easy to hook up.Coindrop SchematicCoindrop_Breadboard

All of the code, these schematics, and a Fritzing file are available on Github. Pay particular attention to the pin assignments at the top of the sketch if you’re using the Adafruit Music Maker board.  They are hard-wired on the shield, but Adafruit’s tutorial is based on their breakout board, which you have to wire to an Arduino yourself.

One thing I had to consider with this build was power.  I initially powered the box off of 4 AA batteries, and it looked like it worked great.  After a few days of testing, it started to act a bit flaky.  After being on for about 10 minutes, the speakers would just play static.  After some testing, I found that the supply voltage was too low, so I swapped in a USB power supply for the batteries, and it worked much better.  Since this has to run all day long for a couple months, USB is a better solution anyway.

We’re teaching a couple audio classes this summer, make sure to check back for scheduling details if you’re interested in doing something like this project yourself!

 

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THOTCON 0×5 Badge Revealed

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THOTCON  is the annual, small venue, hacking conference based in Chicago IL, USA. THOTCON is a non-profit, non-commercial event looking to provide the best conference possible on a very limited budget.

For the past 2 years Workshop 88 has been honored to design and produce the electronic attendee badges for the conference as a service to the local community.  The badge crew this year consisted of: Paul Reich, Bill Paulson, Karl Knutson, Zach Cassity, Russell Lankenau, and Rudy Ristich

This year’s badge was inspired by portable gaming systems from the past and featured  102 x 64 pixel graphic LCD screen and a push button interface. Once again, the badge features an Atmel AVR based microcontroller. The badge used nearly every byte of the 32k available SRAM on its Atmega32u4 chip.  The software consisted of a Break-out style game which participants could play to passtime, a complete schedule of talks and labs for the day long conference,  and the ability to patch into arcade panels hosted in the Hacker Village, and a few surprises for discovering inside.

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Just like the THOTCON 0×4 Badge, the 0×5 Badge is compatible with the Arduino open hardware programming environment and can accept standard Arduino shields. This means the badge can be easily reused and repurposed to power any sort of project. An improvement from last year’s badge is that no additional parts need to be added; conference goers can simply plug the badge into their laptop once burning a bootloader to reprogram it, encouraging easier exploration and badge hacking.

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The badge is designed to be completely open hardware and software.  Workshop 88 would like to thank the open source hardware and software community especially: Arduino, Oliver Kraus and other contributors to the U8glib graphics library, Dean Camera for the LUFA Project, and last, but far from least: Twisted Traces, our local assembly partner in Elk Grove, IL.

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Workshop 88 will be holding a badge hacking contest throughout the month of May.  Judging will consist of a panel from Workshop 88 and the THOTCON crew.  Interested contestants can register on the badge website: http://badge.workshop88.com

Full details on the badge specifications and firmware will be released on May 1st in conjunction with the opening of the badge hacking contest.

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3D printing demos with our Cupcake

We’ve been getting more and more requests for 3D printer demos lately.  Inspired by not wanting to disappoint kids who didn’t even have their first iPad back in the days when it W88LogoRWB1348was magic to be able to 3D print anything – like when our Makerbot Cupcake was hot stuff – Jim has been trying to get the old printer working again.  This W88 logo is one of the latest results.  Not bad for an old 1-color printer!  (Thanks to Bill for the color change tips.)

Its output is no match for current “appliance” 3D printers, but it’s still fine to show the basics in a nice noisy demo.  Details of Jim’s adventures with the printer are captured here.

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Automated Haunted Dollhouse part of Rachel’s Maker Faire exhibit

Pursuing her passion for making technology accessible to girls, Rachel Hellenga inspired a whirlwind project to automate a dollhouse.  After the smoke cleared, the one-room dollhouse she and Jim W and Bill P built was a miniature version of – and is now displayed within – the “Circuit Castle” she’s showing at the New York Maker Faire.  Read her Make Magazine blog post about it.

The Dollhouse Automation System powering it is a collection of small, cheap microcontrollers in a simple network allowing sensors (push buttons, motion detectors, light sensors, etc) in one part of the house to control actions (lights, motors, sounds etc) in another part of the house.

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Here are some gory details of putting that system together.

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Badges unveiled

A project that’s been going on at W88 for the past four or five months went public yesterday. We’ve been designing, prototyping and programming a PC board to be used as a conference badge at Thotcon 0×4, Chicago’s hacking conference. Yesterday around seven hundred badges were passed out to conference attendees, each badge having an Atmel processor, LED array, and 2.4 GHz transceiver. The badges were able to process location checkins from beacons throughout the room, display messages from the organizers, and report their own id to the network. Since the board includes the Atmel ATMega128RFA1 processor and an Arduino compatible form factor, the badges can be reused for many Arduino projects.
This was a big project for us, requiring a lot of late nights and a lot of learning. For the team, It’s the first W88 production board, the first experience with 2.4GHz networking, first double sided prototype, first time using a QFN processor package (with luck, also the last), first reflow rework experience – though we thought it could be done, there were many challenges. Not only did we get it done on time within planned cost, we had a lot of fun doing it.

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Designing and making your own Halloween costume – Base Mesh

In this article we’ll discuss using your character turnaround to create a base mesh. While I won’t be explaining in detail how to use Blender – that’s beyond the scope of my experience – I will be introducing important terms and concepts that you can then use to find more knowledgable sources of information. So let’s get started.

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Designing and making your own Halloween costume – Planning

Welcome back! So you’re interested in making you’re own custom Halloween costume. If you weren’t able to find some Pepakura models already created, you’re going to need to design and model it yourself. Unless you’re an amazing sculpter who can imagine a great 3d object in empty space, you’re going to want some type of 2d references to work from. Doing some prep work up front can save you a lot of time down the road.

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Designing and making your own Halloween costume – Introduction

Hi there! I’m relatively new to W88 and was asked to blog a little bit about some things I have going. I have an Arduino sensor project I’ll be writing about later as it gets a little further along, but seeing as Halloween is right around the corner, I thought I’d start with designing and creating your own Halloween costume.

The design I’m going to be shooting for will be made out of EVA foam and should be relatively inexpensive, pretty durable, easy to work with, and not require a whole lot of tools. However, I’ve never done this before so these posts may just be a documentary of my crashing and burning.

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