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Over-Engineering FTW!

Posted 2011.05.01 12.57 in Computers/Internet/Technology

So a while back I was talking about building a Game of Life display – blinking flashing lights is what it’s all about. For those who aren’t familiar, Conway’s Game of Life is sort of a zero-player game. It’s a mathematical progression that simulates a sort of simple life evolution.

Using the kits from Adafruit, I started back in December with a small array, 12 x 8 cells (96 LEDs). Over the next few months I added to it and grew it till now it’s 20 x 16 cells (320 LEDs!) This is a good size, I think. I mean, you can always go bigger. You can never have too many LEDs. But still, one ought to draw a line at some point.

Next step was making it pretty. So I have it framed with a wood frame and protected with a sheet of dark green acrylic. Sort of like a framed piece of artwork on the wall. Including the frame it’s about 21″ wide and 17″ high.

Now that it looked good, I wanted an elegant, electronic, complicated way of turning it on and off. You know, better than flipping a switch like some sort of cave-man.

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Chronodot Library for Arduino

Posted 2011.04.09 22.44 in Computers/Internet/Technology

When I was working on my Thermostat project, I came across the Chronodot RTC (real time clock) and decided it would be the perfect choice. Not just because it’s incredibly accurate, but because it provided both time and temperature readings in a single package. I could have used another RTC such as the DS1307 which is less expensive, but then I would have had to use something else for reading the temperature.

The only thing about using the Chronodot to get temperature readings was that there wasn’t an Arduino library that could get me that information. The Chronodot communicates using the i2c protocol, and as I hadn’t used it before I was hoping to find some examples and a usable library. Fortunately it’s compatible with the DS1307, but of course that library has no reference to temperature as the ‘1307 doesn’t read the temp.

So using the ‘1307 library as a starting point, I expanded it by adding two new readings to it: temperature, in both farenheit and celcius.

The library includes an example sketch. If you’re familiar with using the DS1307 with an Arduino then the Chronodot library will be an easy drop-in replacement. The time features are unchanged, I’ve just added the two temperature readings so they’re available within your sketch.

Click here to download the library:

And Now For Something Blinky

Posted 2011.01.06 9.59 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Hobbies

It’s (pocket-sized) blinkin’ flashin’ heaven.

The LoL Shield (Lots of LEDs) is an add-on board for the Arduino microcontroller prototyping device.

One hundred and twenty-six LEDs, all on a space of about 3″ by 2″, all a-blinkin and a-flashin.

Of course the first thing I wanted to do was run Conway’s Game of Life on there. Turns out there was a GoL program already made, in the associated library / examples. Still, I had to tweak it a bit to get it to work ‘just so’.

Now all I gotta do is replace the Arduino with something smaller, maybe just the Atmega uC, add some batteries and put it in a little portable case.

Real electronics should glow in the dark.

Edited to add: Click here to download my updated / tweaked version.