Posts Tagged ‘projects’

Ammo Counters – Researching Competition to Push a New Generation

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

I have been selling ammo counters since 2009. After I made my energy sword, ammo counters were the most requested kit. Over the years, I have probably sold 200-300 kits. Back then, I easily beat out the lame old competition. However, sales dried up last year. I was busy with my EMF and NES projects so I didn’t look into it.

Today, I searched around for new competition. Oh man. Things have changed. I think I still got them beat on size and price, but I need to work on my offerings to stay competitive.

Old competition

New competition

  • Nathaniel Deal: Nerf Ammo Counters
    • Good price for what you get.
    • Offers both bare bones and complete kits. Some kits include 3d printed shells.
    • Mostly focused on nerf builds. Requires additional circuit boards that must be hidden inside your build.
    • ammocounter.com

    Nathaniel Deal: Nerf Ammo Counters

What is most interesting about Nathaniel Deal’s offerings are the complete kits for a reasonable price, the 3D printed shells, and YouTube tutorials.

Comparing Nathan’s Ammo Counter design to my own Ammo Counter design. We both use a custom display board, but mine is much much smaller in size because I mount the microcontroller on the same board as the display. While he uses an off the shelf microcontroller development board (arduino) to run the display over a cable harness and additional shift register / display resistors shield board. That is a lot of extra bulk that he is asking the builder to hide in their project! The additional switches he places under the display are on/off, reset, and clip select. In my Ammo Counter kit, I do away with the need of extra switches by using button combinations to select clip size (hold a dart in front of the light break sensor or hold the fire trigger while also cycling the ammo clip to activate the clip size selection menu).

My own ammo counter design is minimalistic. The size can be fit into any project and does not need any additional circuit boards.
Ammo Counter v3

I love my design so much! However, there are a few things I can learn from Nathan Deal.

  • Create kit listings on Etsy - etsy.com/shop/thatdecade
  • Add a count up mode to my Ammo Counter software
  • 3D printed shells to fit a variety of rail systems
  • Make the light break sensor as a standard option
    • I already do have a light break sensor kit, but I only make them on request.
  • YouTube tutorial videos


Mini NES Build w/ Functioning Cartridge Loader

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Mini NES Build

This is a summary post about my Mini NES build.  This project is a derivative of the original efforts of DaftMike.  I used his 3D print files and basic source code, then reverse engineered the circuit from his Electronics Kit that allows the Raspberry Pi to talk to a NFC reader and an Arduino to control power.  Improving on the design with added features such as Fan Control and NFC Writing.  While also fixing bugs including lost Controller Configuration, Bad Power, and allowing  Out of Order Assembly.

If you are interested in making one of these, you can checkout my build instructions here:

Complete Guide: How to make a Mini NES~!

Features:

  • NFC Reader I2C will read tags to launch games AND write tags based on the last played game selected from EmulationStation. No additional devices or software needed to write tags.
  • Working Front Panel POWER and RESET Buttons with functionality not limited to launching games and safe shutdown of the pi.
  • Red Front Power LED (basic system status)
  • MultiColor RGB LED (advanced system status), can be disabled if distracting while playing with a simple double button press.
  • Power cut off circuit, similar to the popular Pi PowerBlock kits.
  • Cooling Fan turns on/off based on temperature.
  • USB Socket Extender to reposition the Raspberry Pi’s USB ports to the front of the case.

I will be selling full Electronics Kits with Surface Mount Assembled PCBs on the Facebook Mini NES Builders group.

 

 

NES Raspberry Pi - 3D PrintedFront button alignmentButton AssemblyPCB: Pi Power and NFC wiringTesting fit of PCB design

Laser Tag Take-Over

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Howdy folks, quick announcement from Robert Bontrager (Windjammer) and myself (thatdecade). Windjammer recently reached out to me asking if I would fully take over our team developments. I agreed and intend to breath some life into some old projects. Details to come!

Robert and I together are known for creating some amazing lasertag compatible equipment; the zombie sensor, echo base, and the handheld hosting station. I designed the circuits and Robert wrote the software.  I will now be taking over the software side too.
http://lt-mmo.blogspot.com/

 

On my own, I have designed and sold a number of LTAR display designs. I look forward to what updates I can make to the Nomad especially.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7VO0PthPOcJOeTjcbzzS-815vx-OZF7e

Energy Sword 2015

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

This is the new Energy Sword for 2015. Featuring dynamic and reactive lighting, motion activated sound effects, and an internal rechargeable battery. Videos on the bottom of this post show off the lighting and sound effects. I built my original energy sword design with the help of Sean Bradely in 2009.  This work was expanded by Joshua Kane in 2013 / 2014.  I took Joshua’s work to the next level with multiple animation modes with reactive and multi fade lighting. Kudos for the sculpting and paint job still goes to Sean Bradely.

Energy Sword Action Pose

Note: I abandoned the custom circuit that I detailed in a previous post and instead went with inexpensive circuit modules from Adafruit and Sparkfun.

Electronics Part List

Sword Usage

  • While OFF
    • Press button to activate
    • Hold button to enter color selection mode > Press to cycle color modes > Hold to save selection
      • Energy
      • Fire
      • Water
      • Rainbow
  • While ON
    • Press button to extinguish.
    • Hold button to enter animation selection mode > Press to cycle animation modes > Hold to save selection
      • No extra animation
      • Flicker on, Comet Off
      • Flicker off, Comet On
      • Flicker on, Comet On

Note: Additional animations are ignored in Rainbow Color mode

Videos

Ammo Counter Assembly Instructions

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Counter Assembly

DIY assembly guide for the ammo counter.  If you ordered an unassembled circuit kit, this is the instruction page for you.

Assembly order is from the center outward to minimize solder bridges.  Keep some solder removal braid handy to remove any bridges between pads.

BACK OF THE PCB

  1. Install the IC, making sure to orient with pin1 indication on the PCB
  2. Install the three resistors.
    1. 2x 10k on the bottom
    2. 100 ohm on the top
  3. Install the LEDs and bend into position to match your install location.
    1. LED on top center position (unmarked)
    2. LED on bottom marked position.

Note: The LED polarity is not marked on the board. See the wiring section for additional help.
You can also look at the copper traces that connect to the LED socket.  The ground is connected in multiple points.  The positive is connected to a single trace.

  1. Install the capacitor to the top of the PCB.

 

FRONT OF THE PCB

  1. Install the diode, leave the leads long and do not solder yet.
  2. Install the display but do not solder yet.  Orient the same as the graphic 8.8.
  3. Bend the diode down and out of the way of the display.
  4. Solder the display and diode.

WIRING

+---------------------------+
|+-------------------------+|
||  +-----+      +-----+   ||
||  |     |      |     |   ||
||  |     |      |     |   ||
||  +-----+      +-----+   ||
||  |     |      |     |   ||
||  |     |      |     |   ||
||  +-----+ .    +-----+ . ||
|+-------------------------+|
|1 2   3 4   5  -====-  8 9 |
+---------------------------+

+---------------------------+
|           11 10           |
| .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . |
|    =.1uF=          =100=  |
|---------------------------|
|\   ATTINY2313            ||
|/                         ||
|---------------------------|
|  =10k=             =10k=  |
| .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . |
|9 8   7 6    5    4 3   2 1|
+---------------------------+

Signal Name Location Ground
FIRE SWITCH 1. Fire Signal 2. Ground
AMMO AVAILABLE LED 3. LED + 4. Ground
POWER 6. Battery + 7. Ground
RELOAD SWITCH 9. Reset Signal 8. Ground
Top LED (Always ON) 10. LED + 11. Ground
Muzzle Flash 5. FX

 

Note: Power socket overlaps with the diode.  Be careful not to short.

 

TESTING

  1. After connecting power, you should see the display light up with the current clip size.
  2. Press the fire button to decrement the ammo count.
  3. Press the reload button to reset the count.
  4. When the count reaches zero, the Ammo Available LED will turn off.
  5. Additional fire modes are accessed by holding the fire button while pressing reset.  Display will read F1, F2, F3 to indicate the selected fire mode and clip size.  Release the fire button to save your selection.

 

PCB Trace Reference

This section is useful for modification and troubleshooting.  You can see where the trace wires go on the pcb.

Top

Counter_3.11 FRONT_PCB

Bottom

Counter_3.11 BACK_PCB

Reference Pictures

Additional pictures are on flickr.

 

Final assembly.  Shows placement of diode below the display.

Counter Assembly

 

Display is not soldered down yet.  LED leads bent to match install positions. Shows orientation of chip.

Top resistor pictured is 150 ohm, kit includes 100 ohm.

 

Counter Assembly

 

Orientation of display to front

Counter Assembly

New Beginnings – Sword 2014

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Announcing a new sword electronics design and a partnership.

I have been working alone the past years on an updated energy sword circuit design.  Something that would allow me finer control of the LEDs without the burden of soldering the old massive LED arrays.  Details of my 2009 sword design.

Joshua Kane had been working independently on his own sword controller circuit, build completely from arduino modules.  You can see a write-up of his original project here: Stunning Halo 3 Costumes and Energy Sword

The outer shell of our both swords were made by an amazing sculptor named Sean Bradley.  It was through Sean that Josh and I met each other; and beginning last fall, we began working closely to bring an arduino based sword controller to life as a kit.

New Features

  • Motion activated Sound Effects
  • Motion activated Lighting Effects
  • Lighting Animations: Extend, Detract, Pulsate, Flicker, Clash
  • LED arrays are off-the-shelf LED Strips of varying prices and pixel densities from Adafruit.
  • HD MP3 sound effects (and LOUD too, thanks to the built-in amplifier plus speaker)
  • Lastly, this circuit is USB programmable using the Arduino Software as a Leonardo board.

 

Preview of the 2014 sword circuit

sword2014

Another thing to note on this circuit board is the accelerometer chip on the back.  Wow, is that guy tiny!  Putting my hot air rework station to good use to get that guy soldered.

 

LTAR Display

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Final install - LTAR Display

I love the lazer tag augmented reality (LTAR) tagger.  When playing unhosted grab and go game types, your choices are between the LTAR and the LTX taggers for 25 health gametypes.  The LTAR handles much nicer in my opinion, but without an iphone the LTAR lacks any indicator of health / shields remaining during gameplay.

To solve this, I wrote some software to put on my existing ammo counter circuit.  The software allows my circuit to sync with the LTAR during gameplay, or at least anticipate an accurate count of health and shields remaining.  This post will serve as a guide of assembling the ammo counter circuit, modifying the LTAR, and installing the circuit.  Usage and troubleshooting is at the bottom.

The LTAR Display kit is available in the store.

 

Updated (Jan 7th, 2014): Added hosted gametypes.

 

 

Assembly and Testing of the Circuit

The circuit kit comes unassembled. All parts in the kit are through-hole type and can be soldered by hand.  The pin arrangements are tight, and you may need to use desolder braid to correct any mistakes while soldering.

Tools and Materials Required

  • Solder Iron
  • Stranded Wire
  • Desolder Braid

Circuit Assembly Instructions

LTAR Display Kit Parts

1. Make sure you have all the parts.  Your kit included:

  • circuit board
  • chip (attiny4313)
  • display (2digit)
  • resistor (10kohm)
  • capacitor (0.1uF)
  • diode
  • optional: bezel, overlay, and polymorph beads (use later).
LTAR Display Assembly Step 01
2. Trim the PCB.  The circuit board may have flanges on the edges, these are easily snapped off with a pliers. LTAR Display Assembly Step 02
3. Examine the circuit board and chip. Find the pin 1 indicators, this is a small indentation on the chip and a white half circle on the circuit board.  Place the chip onto the circuit board and solder in place. LTAR Display Assembly Step 03
4. Depending on your circuit board revision, you may have extra spots that will be left blank.  Follow instructions for your board revision.

Board revision 3.11:

1. Place the capacitor and resistor as shown. Capacitor in the 0.1uF spot and Resistor in the left side (reset) 10kohm spot. LTAR Display Assembly Step 05
2. Solder in the resistor. LTAR Display Assembly Step 06
3. Trim the excess lead from the resistor. LTAR Display Assembly Step 07
4. Solder in the capacitor. LTAR Display Assembly Step 08
5. Trim the excess lead from the capacitor.
6. Flip the board and place the diode, take note of the line on one side for orientation. Do not solder yet, you will need to position below the display. LTAR Display Assembly Step 09
7. Examine the board to identify correct display orientation.  Notice the periods in the 8.8.  Place the display into the board following the indicated orientation, do not solder yet. LTAR Display Assembly Step 09b
8. Use a pliers to bend the diode below the display, this will pull the diode out of the board slightly.
9. Now you may solder down the diode and display.
10. Lastly, add five 10 inch wires to the following locations on the bottom of the board (either use colored wires or label the wires for future reference).  When soldering the wires, bend them upward.  During install, clearance space will be tight at the bottom of the board.

  • Batt Ground (This goes to the LTAR’s ground)
  • Batt + (This goes to the LTAR’s 5 volt rail)
  • FX (This goes to the LTAR’s Hit+ beacon LED signal)
  • LED + (This goes to the LTAR’s shield button signal)
  • Fire + (This goes to the LTAR’s fire button signal)
LTAR Display Assembly Step 09c
11. Your circuit is now assembled and ready for testing, proceed to the next step below.

Note
: You will have extra spots left blank on the 3.11 board revision.  When you finish, you will have open spots for a top 100 ohm resistor and a right side (fire) 10kohm resistor. These are supposed to be empty.

Board revision 4.01

1. Solder in the capacitor into the 0.1uF spot.
2. Solder in the resistor in the bottom left side 10kohm spot.
3. Solder in the resistor in the top right side in the 150 ohm spot.Note: This resistor determines the brightness of the display.  A 150 ohm resistor makes the display a reasonable brightness.  However, you may wish to swap in a lower value resistor to make the screen brighter.  You may also short this spot with a wire for maximum brightness (not recommended).
4. Solder in the diode, take note of the line on one side for orientation.
5. Flip the board and identify the correct display orientation. Notice the periods in the 8.8.  Place the display into the board following the indicated orientation. Solder in place.
6. Lastly, add five 10 inch wires to the following locations on the bottom of the board (either use colored wires or label the wires for future reference).  When soldering the wires, bend them upward.  During install, clearance space will be tight at the bottom of the board.

  • Batt Ground (This goes to the LTAR’s ground)
  • Batt + (This goes to the LTAR’s 5 volt rail)
  • Hit+ (This goes to the LTAR’s Hit+ beacon LED signal)
  • Shield (This goes to the LTAR’s shield button signal)
  • Fire (This goes to the LTAR’s fire button signal)
7. Your circuit is now assembled and ready for testing, proceed to the next step below.

Circuit Testing

You now have an assembled circuit.  Before powering up for the first time, take a moment and examine your work.  Look for any solder bridges (shorts) and cleanup as needed.  If you have a 2 or 3 AA battery pack, you may use it to power up the circuit.  If you do not, you can use the LTAR’s battery pack.  Wire the Batt Ground and Batt + wires from the circuit to three batteries only.  DO NOT OVERPOWER.  The circuit can only handle voltages up to 5.5volts.  The LTAR is capable of voltages up to 9 volts.

If all went to plan, your display should now be lit.  Because the other wires are not connected, your display should also count down from 10 to 0 indicating a game has started.

Ensure all segments of the display are lighting through the countdown sequence. If any segments of the display do not light up, recheck the solder joints of each pin of the display.  Then recheck the solder joints to the chip.  If still unsuccessful, poke each joint with the solder iron and add more solder.

Modifying the LTAR

Congrats~! You have a working circuit and will now prepare the LTAR to install the display.  Two dremel bits are recommended, the cutting wheel and the felt polishing wheel.

Tools and Materials Required

  • Screw Driver
  • Rotary Sander (dremel)

Instructions

  1. If you have a bezel, you will notice that there is excess material.  Cut off the extra plastic with a sharp knife or use a dremel tool.  Polish the edges when done to give the bezel a smooth appearance.
  2. Remove the top sight attachment from the LTAR.  This is the piece we will modify to hold the display.
  3. Hold the bezel against the sight and mark the inner and outer edges.  This will be your guide for cutting.
  4. Remove the screws from the sight attachment and separate into halves.  This will make cutting the internal structures easier.
  5. Cut out the inner edge markings. Do not cut out the outer area, this will be needed to glue the bezel to.
  6. Determine where you will place the display.  It must be low enough to fit behind the wide section of the bezel and high enough to cram the wiring.  The better you are at making the display flush with the bezel and overlay, the more crisp the numbers will appear behind the overlay*.
  7. In the area that will contain the display, cut a square area out.  Use the outer edge markings.
    Dremel cutting the attachement Alignment Check
  8. Continue adjusting until you are satisfied.  At this point, you may want to use your dremel’s soft polishing wheel to knock down any rough edges.

* This is a mistake I made in my initial prototype.  In the pictures, you can see the display is slightly blurry and light leaks from the edges.  This was caused by an approx 1cm gap between the bezel overlay and the display.  The light reflects off the overlay and goes where light shouldn’t.

 Installing the Display Circuit

At this point you should have an assembled circuit and a modified LTAR sight attachment.  You are now ready to open the LTAR and wire the display into the LTAR’s main board.

Tools and Materials Required

  • Screw Driver
  • Solder Iron
  • Hot Glue Gun or Epoxy
  • Hot Air Gun or Hot Water

Instructions

  1. Remove the battery tray and open the LTAR.  There are 11 screws on the main body, 2 screws in the shield arm, and 4 screws in the sight attachment.
  2. When removing the shield arm, be careful of the spring. Note it’s position before gently removing.
  3. When you first open the LTAR, be sure to grab the battery tray bolt.  It is loose and easily lost.
  4. With the LTAR open, take a moment to examine the layout.  There is no need to remove the fire / shield buttons, main board, forward lens assembly, or the top receiver dome.  We will be soldering the display circuits wires to the top of the main board.
  5. You have two choices for running the wiring.  You may use the existing square hole that currently houses the iphone headset cable or cut a new hole.  In my prototype, I chose to relocate the iphone headset cable internal (in case I needed it later), see picture.
    0cc8ad5c-7a72-4a81-a1fc-535ed9d7ef9e
  6. Position the display circuit above the LTAR, you will need to leave approx 5 inches of wire slack between the LTAR shell and the circuit.
  7. Route the wires around and below the main board as needed to reach the positions pictured.  Trim the excess wire lengths.
    Notes: It is hard to tell in the picture, but there is a chip resisistor just above the fire signal location, be careful not to solder the fire wire there.
    ltar_display_wiring
  8. If everything looks good, go ahead and insert the battery pack.  No need to close the LTAR shell yet.
  9. You should immediately see the display light up, even if the LTAR is still off.  This is correct operation.
  10. Flip the switch to turn on the LTAR, the display will flash for a moment.
  11. Press the shield button to test toggling gametypes.
  12. Press the fire button to begin a game.
  13. Use a second tagger to test receiving hits and the display reports health remaining.
  14. Pregame and postgame, the display will power down after 60 seconds of no button presses.  You can re-awaken by turning the LTAR on/off.
  15. Once satisfied that the circuit is installed correctly, you may now reassemble the LTAR.  If you are having trouble with the wiring, please email me a picture of your LTAR’s main board and display circuit wiring.
    Note: The trickiest part is reinstalling the spring loaded shield button, you remember how it was positioned, right?
  16. With the display wiring installed / routed and the LTAR re-assembled, you can now glue the display into the LTAR sight attachment and screw together. Should look something like the picture now.
    Note: DO NOT glue the display circuit or sight attachment to the LTAR body.  You will still need to access the to the inside of the sight / display to finish the install.
    Alignment Check
  17. Next up is the bezel. Position above the display and test the fit with the overlay.  This is your last chance for any late adjustments.  Remember, the overlay must be flush with the display to look best, any gap will lead to a cloudy display.
  18. Remove the overlay, and use hot glue to affix the bezel over the display.  Be sparing with the glue as we will be covering it with stronger polymorph plastic next.
  19. You now have a nice bezel atop your display, but no overlay and there is an ugly gap between the plastic of the bezel and the plastic of the sight attachment.  Breakout the polymorph plastic.Side rant: I really love polymorph plastic. Simplifies the the process of bondo and sanding and resin hardener and curing… all down to melting some beads and smushing them into place.  If you mess up, just reheat and try again and again and again :D
  20. To melt the beads, I use a temperature controlled hot air gun set to 100C, the melting point of the beads is only 60C so I stop heating when the beads turn from white to clear.  At 60C the beads are safe to handle and a bit sticky.
    Note: Be careful here.  The LTAR plastic is also made from thermoform plastic, meaning it will melt when it gets hot enough.  100C is not enough to melt the LTAR body, but your hot air gun may be more powerful.  A non-temperature regulated hot air paint stripper for example gets up to 600C, which is plenty to melt EVERYTHING.  You are better off using the hot water method.  See youtube for some tutorials.
    Polymorph fills the gap Smooth polymorph - LTAR Display
  21. Click the pictures for a closer look.  Place the beads in a row, heat with hot air until the beads change color to clear.  Then push into the gap.  Repeat until the gap is filled all the way around the outside of the bezel.
  22. Continue reheating as needed to push the edges into a nice clean and straight shape.
  23. You may use the dremel felt polishing wheel here to smooth the plastic further, removing fingerprints ;)  Be careful and polish in short strokes with time between for the plastic to cool.  The friction of the polish wheel is enough to reheat the polymorph to become pliable.
  24. Ok, FINALLY, it is time to install the overlay into the bezel.  Use hot glue on the top and bottom.  Remove the sight attachment / display from the LTAR body to add glue between the overlay and the bezel walls.
  25. Cleanup time.  More polish, some painting.  Not shown in pictures.

Usage

Using the display with your LTAR is straightforward. A quick demo can be seen in the video below.

Unhosted Games:

  1. Turn tagger off and on, this will wake the display
  2. Press shield button to switch between 10 and 25 health gametypes.
  3. Press trigger to start game, 10 second countdown begins
  4. Display will show remaining health / shields during game.

Hosted Games

TBD

 

Custom Number Entry

TBD

 

 

Troubleshooting

Here are some fixes to common issues with the LTAR display.

I turned my gun off mid-game and now the display won’t turn off.
Turn the LTAR on and off, this will reset the display and allow it to power off after 60 seconds.

I tapped the shield button, and now the display is out of sync with the gun.
This can be caused by not holding the shield button long enough.  When using an LTAR with a display installed, give the shield button a good solid press (1/2 second is plenty) so that both the LTAR and the Display can see the button press.  Brief button presses can be missed by one or both circuits due to scheduling / debouncing routines.  Recommend experimenting with different button press styles to ensure you can manage yourself in the field.

I turned off my shield and was still holding down the shield button when I was shot, now the display is out of sync with the gun.
Yeah, don’t do that.

 

Halloween Yard Display: Alien Spaceship Crash

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

IMG_2136.JPG

History:

I moved to a new neighborhood over a year ago, and as Halloween 2012 approached I quickly found out that tricker treating participation on my block is very low.  Standing on the street, I looked up the street and down, seeing two other neighbors aside from myself with porch lights on.  Overall, the street was dark and parents didn’t lead their kids down my street.  This all resulted in me counting less than 10 kids to my door, and me with leftover candy. Sad face.

Halloween 2012: Yard Display

Graveyard

The graveyard from last year was great and I got plenty of compliments for the clever names (written by my Mother and her pinterest browsing).

  • Izzy Gone
  • Yul B. Next
  • Alex Blaine Laider
  • Otta B. Alive
  • Lee Ning
  • Anna Rexic
The graveyard was great and there was favorable weather halloween night.  None of that mattered for 2012.

 

Halloween 2013: Yard Display

Fast forward to this year to up the ante. A spaceship crash scene with alien visitor.  More pictures are on Flickr.

IMG_2115.JPG

I didn’t know where to start, so I asked a few friends to help with the spaceship design.  Below the inner structure is shown.  The support beams were made from 2×2 wood.  The paneling is made from corrugated plastic (normally used for outdoor signs).  The top dome is the heaviest piece made from a glass chandelier.  I would have rather made the dome from plastic, but a large sized plastic dome is hard to find as junk.

UFO

 

 

 

Store 2013 Update

Monday, January 28th, 2013

As many noticed, the kits in the store are all sold out. Rest assured that my kits will be returning for the Spring 2013 season. You can send me an email if you need something before then and we can work it out.

The Spring reopening will be an exciting time. Popular kits are being upgraded, and even adding more.

Here’s a brief rundown:

Ammo Counter
- Better optional sound module integration
- Clip reload support (magnet switch)
- Optional low battery indicator

Cortana Switch
- New purple design

New* Lighted On / Off pushbutton
- Lights green when on
- Lights red when off
- Use to turn on the rest of your electronics

This last one is exciting just because how long I have been working on a lighted on / off switch. My previous attempt at having an illuminated push on push off switch was functional, but wasn’t accurate. Yes, was a push on, push off switch, and yes, it had a lighted LED with a cap and the right symbol. However, it never looked quite right. In addition, the cap was too narrow and switch push actuation distance was too long.

Why is this so hard to get right? You see this type of lighted mini push button switch used for all sorts of electronics. They make it look easy because there is a logic chip controlling the ON signal and LED color. It isn’t truely an on / off switch. Your computer or whatever sits in standby, providing minimal power to that logic chip waiting for the ON signal to be received, then the logic chip turns on the rest of the system.

What I wanted was a passive solution, no logic chip needing programming. I struck gold when a friend sent me a sample from a fabricator. Bidirectional red green light, DPDT meaning that you push it once to connect the left side terminals, press it a second time to connect the right side terminals. Some clevor wiring allows each switch press to reverse the voltage output, driving the LED color change with each switch press. Then the output’s voltage is limited to one direction through a diode output. There you have it, a small lighted push on push off switch capable of switching everything on and off without the use of a logic chip.

Preview:
illuminated switch, green, on *cropped

Marvel Arc Reactor Shirt: Modification

Friday, July 13th, 2012

I have dabbled with arc reactor costuming before, so when I learned of an official licensed arc reactor shirt from Marvel I jumped at the opportunity.  What I got was a good product.  Plenty bright to be seen behind a black shirt.  The arc reactor runs on AAA batteries and is velcro removable for washing the shirt.

I bought mine from ThinkGeek for $30.

The only problem I found with the shirt was the shirt itself.  The arc reactor is not heavy but is enough that it pulls down the collar of the shirt, making it sit awkward on your chest.  In addition, the shirt wasn’t comfortable.  I wear a large, so I ordered a large.  For a large, the shirt felt tight in all the wrong places.

Since I loved this simple arc reactor, I decided to do a little project using my previous experience and convert the arc reactor to a standalone wearable without the shirt. Assuring that the arc reactor will sit centered on my chest without drooping.

Tools Needed

  • Scissors
  • Drill
  • Pliers / Tweezers

Build Part List

  • Official Marvel: Tony Stark Light up LED Iron Man Shirt
  • Nylon Rope
  • Double-Sided Tape, Optional

Start by removing the arc reactor from the shirt, the velco pulls easily.  Pop the cord out from the battery back (small clip connector), don’t force.  Then de-thread the wire from the inner cloth of the shirt.

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With the arc reactor removed from the shirt you can now pry off the top casing of the arc reactor. The top casing is held on by some adhesive but gives way with some mild force.

Top removed

Can turn on the lights to check you didn’t break anything. Overall, is durable, but you never know about those LEDs. Plus it looks cool :P

Four drill holes

Time to break out the drill. The smooth plastic surface is a little difficult to drill into, a pilot hole would help. You need to be very careful when drilling into the back casing. The LEDs and reflector are close to the casing wall. Do not drill holes into either of these, only drill a hole into the back casing wall.

First rope added

Thread the first length of rope. The length should be long enough to wrap around your arm to chest, can always trim down later. I made mine 3 feet each. Nylon twine likes to unravel when cut, I used a tweezers to help push all the fibers through the hole.

Threading the strap

Thread the rope through to the next hole. Two for the left strap. Two for the right strap. When pulling the rope through, be sure that the rope ends up behind the LEDs and metallic reflector. The rope in front would cause unwanted shadows.

Rubber diffuser removed

Now that your rope is pulled through into place, but not yet tied in a know for sizing, it is time to put the lid back on the arc reactor assembly. The adhesive on the top cover is still good. Use double-sided tape to re-attach if needed (I didn’t).

When placing the cover back on, alignment is important. The rubber diffuser has grooves to follow, is easy to align with the top cover. Aligning the top cover with diffuser attached to the rear casing is more tricky. I found it easier to do this with the LEDs turned on.

Hold the cover as close to the casing as you can without sticking the adhesive, then line up the shadows in the light with the black portions of the top lid.

Straps need trimming and knots

You should now have a nearly completed wearable arc reactor. Just need to size the strapping to your body. Take your arc reactor rig to a mirror. Place the arc reactor where you want it on your chest, then loop one of the straps around one of your arms.

Pull the strap tight and pinch the spot with your fingers, then take off the rig and tie a knot in that spot.

Repeat for the second strap.

Once all done, the arc reactor should be centered on your chest and feel snug but not tight. If you tie the knot in the wrong place, un-tie and try again.

The last step is trimming the excess rope. Leaving an inch or two for future adjustments.

Wearing

I took more pictures during this project. You can view them on my flickr: Marvel Arc Reactor Shirt: Modification