Posts Tagged ‘projects’

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

Supernatural EMF Reader

Monday, November 10th, 2014

This is a summary post of my finished “revision 1” EMF Reader from Supernatural.  For revisions 2 and 3, please email me for the latest instructions.

Below you will find the following sections:

  • Description and Pictures
  • Part List
  • Rough Step by Step Build Instructions

IMG_2709.JPG

 

Description and Background:

The EMF Reader in Supernatural is an excellent project for people like me that have some electrical knowledge. What I did was design a prop EMF reader around the Arduino platform so that it is actually functional while still looking like the prop from Supernatural.

I went to my local hardware store and bought an analog multimeter. After taking it apart, I played with it on an Arduino board and figured that it was possible to make a functional EMF reader using some off the shelf parts. I could even have the circuit play the telltale “erREEEEErr” sound on a speaker.

I finished the prototype circuit and proceeded to sourcing all the parts and designing a printed circuit board (PCB) that would do everything I wanted.

I measured the analog meter part with my caliper to ensure a good fit with the custom PCB.

In addition, this thread was very useful for finding reference pictures: http://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=115093

Functionality:

  • Meter with a pin that bounces to high when triggered
  • Five top LEDs that match meter display
  • Speaker that makes tone sweep sounds
  • Hidden trigger button to override EMF “readings”
  • Mode selector switch
  • When not activated, the lights will blink every few seconds to indicate the meter is on.

Pictures of my Completed Supernatural EMF Reader:

Link to full album on flickr.

http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/15611186946_f8a3560308.jpg

http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/15449301180_905d6d813a_m.jpg http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/15014108624_855726fd42_m.jpg

http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/15428820969_2bdd7f5ca8_m.jpg http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/15448890837_1fa282bb9e_m.jpg

 

Step by step build instructions

Review the part list is on google docs: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1utMpaAC1ZA9goVU3gp6g81bixKeKB2StwvKHZPLGDF8/edit?usp=sharing

Once you have gathered all the parts, it is time to assemble. This does require minor solder skills.

If you have never soldered before, it’s easy! Get a $5 solder iron from the hardware store and the thinnest solder spool you can find. Then watch some YouTube videos to see how it’s done. Through hole soldering of big solder points (like in this project) is great for learning.

Salvage Parts and Test the Fit

Analog Meter

Take apart the multimeter to get at the analog mechanism inside. You will need the clear plastic from the front, the needle rotor, and the thumbwheel.

Cut a hole in the prototype board and do a “test fit” of the rotor. Make sure that it can spin freely. Eventually, it will be bolted down with washers to ensure the needle has enough clearance to move above the surface.

Switches and Knobs

Put all the various parts where you think they should go. Make sure that you have enough room for everything where you want them before you start soldering parts into place.

Assemble the functioning portion of the circuit

Arduino

You have two choices to get the circuit functioning. Use an Arduino Pro Mini or use an Atmega328p chip. The Arduino is easier and recommended. I chose the Atmega328p chip because I was using a custom made prototype board that had wires pre-routed to the various switches.

  • Advantages of the Arduino Pro Mini: Easy to use and program over USB using the Arduino software. Use this for your source code: https://codebender.cc/sketch:56076
    Note: there are 4 files to download.
  • If you choose the Atmega328p Chip, things get a little more complicated (you are on your own). More info here: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Standalone
  • If you purchased a circuit board from Dustin (me), then there is nothing you need to do.  Your circuit is preprogrammed.

Mode Select Switch

Solder in place the toggle switch. Depending on your Arduino, pull up resistors may be required. More info here: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/pull-up-resistors/what-is-a-pull-up-resistor

Wire one of the toggle switch’s two side pins to pin 2 on the Arduino. The center is the common pin, wire to ground on the Arduino.

LEDs

Install the 5 LEDs at the top of the prototype board. The short lead from the LED goes to ground. The long lead from the LED goes to the Arduino.

Wire the LEDs to the Arduino pins in the following order: 2,4,6,7,8 (pin 5 is reserved for the meter output)

You can also install the white and yellow dummy square capacitors now if you like. These are cosmetic only and are not wired to the circuit. Solder them to the prototype board normally.

Cover the LED leads with electrical tape. This too is cosmetic, but also helps hold the LEDs down when you are handling the EMF reader.

Meter Potentiometer

Solder in place a blue square potentiometer. This will be used to adjust the meter sensitivity.

http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/14942253803_4190afceca_m.jpg

Pictured is my custom PCB. If you are using a different prototype PCB board, yours will look different.

Analog Meter

Install the meter onto the PCB, use two washers between the meter and the PCB to give the needle more clearance over the surface. Attach the meter using 2 screws, 8 washers, and 2 hex standoffs.

The washers on the backside of the PCB will help spread out the squeeze from the screw and hex standoff.

Wire the red wire from the meter to the analog output pin 5 of the Arduino through a potentiometer. The black wire goes to ground.

The potentiometer is used to “tune” the max point of the meter. The analog meter has a screw in the center; this is used to set the min point of the meter.

Later, when you are ready to power up, you can adjust the potentiometer with a screw driver until it performs right.

Printed Graphic

Download the .psd file here: https://www.mediafire.com/?cm0quv5bc5d9qa2

Print onto peel and stick adhesive photo paper, then trim the print then stick on the protoboard behind the meter’s needle.

http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/15580793151_c6274679b2_m.jpg

Use hot glue or epoxy to affix the clear plastic cover over the meter.

Assemble the cosmetic portion of the circuit

Capacitors

There are two round capacitors in the upper left corner of the board. Solder them in place. It is ok if they are not straight up and down.

Thumbwheel

Solder on the thumbwheel below the meter.

Antenna P-Clips

Place the antenna clips on the antenna and drill the prototype board so you can eventually bolt the antenna in place. Do not bolt down yet. Right now we just need to get the spacing between the P-clips in the correct position.

Coil 1

The first coil goes on the right hand side of the meter. Use your magnet wire to create this coil by winding the 22 gauge bare copper wire around a pen or screwdriver. Once the coil is long enough, cut off the excess and solder down.

With the coil soldered down, re-insert your pen or screwdriver and straighten the coil out.

Coil 2 (antenna)

The second coil is wrapped around the antenna between the two Pclips. Use the red magnet wire. This wire is a lot thinner and will take many layers. Just keep wrapping around until your coil looks right.

Antenna Bolts

It is now time to bolt the antenna in place. Use the screws, washers, and nuts.

Rainbow Wire

Take approximately 10 inches of rainbow ribbon wire and split them apart into separate strands. Half of the strands will run from the top right to the lower left. The second half of the strands will run from the lower right to the lower left.

Use more of the 22 gauge bare copper wire to create U shaped cable ties. Thread the ribbon wire under the U, then press down with a plyers and solder the U wire down.

If you look closely in the pictures, you can see these cable ties are used in the corners to hold down the ribbon cable.

Final Hex Standoffs and Battery Holder

Place the last two hex standoffs between the LEDs. With all four hex standoffs now attached, use them as a guide to cut holes into the battery holder and affix the battery holder to the EMF reader with more screws and washers.

http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/15459480888_dd5be5f505_n.jpg

http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/15014108624_855726fd42_n.jpg

Sound and Speaker

Pin 11 from the Arduino outputs the sound. However, if you connect a speaker directly to pin 11 and ground, you will have little volume. You need a speaker amplifier.

The PAM8403 is a cheap (under $2) small amplifier board. Wire the amplifier board to the battery power input, 4.5 volts. Then wire pin 11 from the Arduino into the input of the amplifier board. Lastly, wire the two wires from the speaker into the amplifier board’s output.

http://www.westaby.net/wp-content/uploads/15024643424_00064fb169_n.jpg

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

 

 

 

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.

104_7379.JPG

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

Outdoor Movie Screen

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

As all the worst stories begin, I found myself on pintrest and stumbled onto a new project.  Hosting movies in my backyard with a projector.  The idea is not so far fetched, movie goers have loved watching their entertainment outdoors throughout history. Nostalgia, etc.

I did some research into the idea and pre-built screen kits.  The cheapest pre-build kits are on ebay.  It does not matter where you would purchase your kit online, none come with the poles.  Too big and expensive to ship.  Visiting the hardware store to look at PVC poles, I also look at connectors in the plumbing isle.  There I see all the parts that they charge a bundle for in a “pre-sorted” kit online.

I based my design on the kit instructions found on creativeshelters.com.  They also sell “ruggedized” connectors and screen material to build your project.  I did purchase my screen material from them, more on that later.  I modified the screen frame design to have the whole thing break down into easy to transport lengths, 6 feet.

Movie Screen

Yes, that is a little doodle of me standing next to the giant screen.  Estimated frame size is 12 feet tall.  I did adjust my design while building.  The frame width is 18 feet, too long for no center supports, so I swapped out the 3way T connectors for 4way + connectors. In addition, I did not use all the bungee ties.

Part List

  • 1 – 8×16 White Tarp
  • 40 – Bungee 12 inch ball ties
  • 8 – 10 foot PVC poles, 1 inch diameter
  • 2 – Elbow 2way connectors
  • 8 – T 3way connectors
  • 6 – Straight 2way connectors
  • 2 – + 4way connectors
  • 100 feet of rope
  • 6 – Ground stakes
  • 2 – 3 inch bolts and wing nuts

Assembly went fast, PVC cuts like butter with a power saw.

Movie Screen Assembly 1 Movie Screen Assembly 2 Movie Screen Assembly 2 Movie Screen Assembly 3
Movie Screen Assembly 3 Movie Screen Assembly 3.5

I assembled the whole thing on the ground, with the feet rotated.  Then made a two man lift to stand the screen upright and rotated the legs back around.  Very effective and with the rear diagonal supports, the frame is VERY solid.  Added the 4 stakes and rope to the top, to keep any wind from blowing the whole thing down.  Then because the 1 inch PVC started to buckle under the strain of all those bungees, added two more ropes midway on each side.  Straightening the long vertical PVC stretches.

Standing the screen up was a marvel to behold. It was exactly as large as I had on paper, but somehow my imagination wasn’t able to comprehend the size until I saw it standing in fantastic glory!  Frame size is 12×18′ screen size is 8×16′.

Movie Screen

Conclusion

Had a good turn out for the premiere night, everyone was impressed by the screen’s size.  Bright scene’s of movies highlighted the flaws of using a tarp, because with a mostly white picture you are just staring at a white tarp and all it’s seams.  I will keep that in mind going forward to choose darker movies.

If I had to do anything over, I would bump up the 1 inch PVC to something stronger to prevent buckling.  Like 1.5 inch PVC or aluminum pipes. Replacing the tarp with a proper blackout cloth is also a planned upgrade, as suggested by this DIY.

New Sound Options in the Store

Friday, May 18th, 2012

I often get asked about offering sound functionality in my prop kits that I sell. As demonstrated by my energy sword design I had a solution for sound, but it was not a solution that I could extend to my cheaper kits. Sound is hard, not just hard but expensive. Till now.

Introducing the 300 second USB recording module from <a href=”http://www.electronics123.com/300-second-usb-recording-module.html”>electronics123.com</a>. I have fully inregrated their sound module into the Backlit Ammo Counter offered in my store via an adapter circuit. The sound module can also be used stand alone, but you do not need me for that, go buy one from Electronics123! They are good folks.

The need for the Adapter Circuit

The sound quality offered by this sound module hits a sweet spot in cost to performance. In addition, the level of programmability at this price level is unmatched. The only function that cannot be programmed is to switch between two sounds based on a second input. I want to hear the firing sounds only when ammo is available, and the dry fire sounds only when ammo is not available. This is where the adapter circuit comes in. The backlit ammo counter already reports via the bottom LED if ammo is available or not. The adapter circuit takes the signal from that LED and the FIRE switch and performs some logic to decide which sound to play.

Is that simple, now the sound module gives sound effects exactly as expected for a fully automated weapon. Options for semi-automatic are in progress.

Secondary Announcement

New configuration options for the Ammo Counter in the store! Custom rates of fire. Prior to now all Fully-Automatic Ammo Counters have had the same fire rate of 5000 rounds per minute. Which is crazy fast for the most popular selection, the Halo AR having a fire rate of 600rpm.

Functional Pip-Boy

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Getting around to finishing my Pip-Boy project, this is my plans and research so far.

Last fall, I purchased a Pip-Boy cast from Skruffy of theRPF.  The cast I received from him needed very little sanding to get it to fit together and look right.

I was inspired to go beyond this by another member named pudding of theRPF who posted a video of a functional Pip-Boy he made with an android app and an arduino for the serial interface to the phone.

I think I can go beyond this. Smaller, more functions, and more accuracy.  I asked a my buddy to code up a universal pipboy webapp that will function very close to the pipboy in fallout 3, calling it the Pip-Boy emulator. He is very excited to see this prop in action!
I’ve seen a few demos of his progress, looks good so far. He assures me that the sound effects / animations I want won’t be a problem.

Then on my side is the hardware. I figure the interface between the controls and the ipod will be a mini bluetooth keyboard. The app will support keyboard input so keypresses will be used to navigate the Pip-Boy.

The last piece of the puzzle is the controls on the face of the Pip-Boy that will be wired into the bluetooth keyboard.  There are three input sets on the face controls; the Wheel which moves up-down through the menus, the Knob which moves left-right through the menus, and the front Lights which switches menu areas (STATS, INFO, DATA).

falloutCrop

The Wheel and Knob will be a incremental rotary encoders. Rotary encoders have 3 pins; the common pin, the A pin, and B pin. Example: For the Wheel, the common and A pin will be connected to the UP keyboard key, the common and B pin will be connected to the DOWN keyboard key. The when you spin the Wheel clockwise, a pulse train will be input into the UP key, resulting in the UP key being pressed over and over as you spin the Wheel in an upward motion.  Conversely, spinning the Wheel counter clockwise will send a pulse train input to the DOWN key, resulting in the DOWN key being pressed over and over as you spin the Wheel in a downward motion.

Here is a demo of a rotary encoder being used as a keyboard up/down.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0HXBEH2BeE

The Knob will be connected similar, but for LEFT and RIGHT.

Finally, is the three front LEDs. Each of these will be an illuminated yellow LED switch wired into the keyboard’s A, B, C keys.  In order to get each LED to light up when it is selected an Attiny chip will be used.  An Attiny chip has six I/O pins, perfect for this purpose. Three of the pins will be an input, connected in parallel with the keyboard wiring. Then three of the pins will be an output, turning the LEDs on and off.

There are a couple of ways to turn those LEDs on and off but the Attiny is a very small chip, DIP8, and inexpensive, ~$2.  Makes it an ideal solution.

As an extra, I noticed that in the game the radmeter window (upper right corner of the pipboy face) has a clock hand that spins continuously.  I have a few micro motors and can see this being easy to implement. Yellow glowing background, slow spinning clock hand.

Cortana Prop Circuit

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Project is a cortana prop. Partnered with James Hodson and friends to complete. My portion is complete. Have a circuit board here that is the size and shape of the Halo Data Crystal (the thing that can contain an AI such as Cortana).

What is a Data Crystal Chip? Please see the Halo Wiki [halo.wikia.com].

Feature set:

  • Circuit board is designed to look like a naked “cortana” data chip.
  • Board can be placed in a molded outer shell to be more accurate. More details to come.
  • Compatible with multiple power sources depending on final usage:
    • LiPo cell (internal shell design)
    • Alkaline (wired to slot connector)
    • USB (wired to slot connector)
  • Can be plugged into a matching slot connector for power up
  • Slot connector can be used to power up other suit lights. Inserting the board into the slot is like flipping a switch on.
  • Micro-controller chip is on the circuit board to animate the lights.

Source Code

http://pastebin.com/UwkeFcpJ

Status

04-26-2011

Working hard on the next stage of the project: Make a plastic shell that houses the circuit and a battery (team jlhR2).
Link to post: [405th Forum]

Video demo of using the cortana chip as a switch

04-18-2011

PCB order is in, could mass produce a few right now if I wanted.
Link to post: [405th Forum]

04-06-2011

First prototype is fully assembled, ready to proceed to stage 3 on the schedule.
Link to post: [405th Forum]

03-22-2011

A nice explanation of all that the cortana board can do.
Link to post: [405th Forum]

03-21-2011

First few revisions of the circuit board have been assembled and tested. Slot connector works great~! I ran out of those tiny smd LEDs and ordered some more. Will get one completely assembled later this week.
Link to post: [405th Forum]

Bringing in the latest pictures and videos to page 1.

02-03-2011

I am still working on a final draft of the main board design, but here is the gist of what it will do and look like: First, the size is tiny. The thing is as small as the real deal, 1.00×1.85 inches (25×47 mm).

JlhR2 and I are still working on a pep template / mold that will go over the top.