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64 Pixels of RGB Fun!

Posted 2011.06.03 8.40 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Taking some time off from my MCP project while waiting for some more components to arrive, last night I put together a Meggy Jr. from Evil Mad Scientist Labs.

The Meggy Jr. is an open-source handheld video game platform. The ‘screen’ is an 8×8 matrix of RGB LEDs. Despite such a ‘low-rez screen’ there’s actually quite a few games out there that are very playable.

It comes with “Attack of the Cherry Tomatoes” pre-programmed on the uC and over a dozen more examples are included in the free development libraries, which work with the Arduino IDE.


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.

Blinkin’ Flashin’ Bliss

Posted 2010.12.15 0.57 in Computers/Internet/Technology

It’s a problem I’ve confessed to before. I love blinkin’ lights. LEDs, blinkins, flashins, flickering their magic little messages… and just recently, I’ve come across a wild and wonderful blinkin’ flasher that’s just plain blissful blinkin heaven.

Not only does it enchant and calm with it’s blinkins, but it also performs fun mathematical calculations. See, it’s based on Conway’s Game of Life.

It’s a GoL kit – modular boards, each with a 4×4 grid of cells (represented by LEDs). The boards can be linked to build larger and larger grids. I’ve started with 6 boards, for a 12 x 8 grid. It’s very addictive though. I already want to get another 6 boards and go to a 16×12 grid.

Here’s a short animation – it’s not perfect, there’s missing evolutions so the animation doesn’t exactly portray the way the game runs. But it’s close enough: a bunch of (seemingly) random flashes of LED light.



Posted 2010.08.06 13.55 in Computers/Internet/Technology

I want me some iPhone 4.

Last year when I got the 3Gs, the only thing I really strongly felt that it was missing was an LED – I have a thing for blinky lights. So I whined about it a while but eventually gave up. Now, lo and behold, the iPhone 4 comes out and it has a blinky light! Hallelujah!

They say it’s a flash for the camera, which is fine. I’ve seen people are already making flashlight apps for it, which is cool – the fact that the LED is controllable through software, independently of the camera is good.

I understand the iPhone 4 has some other upgrades too, something about faster processor, more memory, better screen, blah blah blah. It has a blinky light. What more does it need?

Actually, every year these things get more and more like StarTrek tricorders. It boasts an impressive list of sensors: ambient light; proximity; 3-axis accellerometer; gyroscope; 3-axis magnetometer; two microphones; and of course two cameras – one of which can do “HD”. Plus there’s enough RF coming and going to put tumours on a shark: 4-band GMS cellular; GPS receiver; 802.11n wifi; Bluetooth 2.1; even an FM transciever built in to one of the chips.

So yeah, I’ve got one on-order from Apple. It’ll be a few weeks it seems, so till then I’ll have to resign myself to looking at specs, tear-down photos, and reading about the joys other people are having with their iPhone 4, after they were willing to spend all day in lines.

The next three weeks will go by so slowly…

Pointless Dingoo Mods – Redux

Posted 2010.05.07 8.50 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Not long ago I did some pointless mods to my Dingoo game device. I added a power LED and a good old fashioned serial port. I called them pointless because the LED just tells you it’s on, and usually you can tell that from other hints. As for the serial port, at the time I put it in, I didn’t even have a way to connect to it, so that was even more pointless. At the time.

Since then, I’ve ended up using the serial port quite a bit – I had an FTDI prototype chip in my parts bin, and made a USB to Serial converter to connect the port on my Dingoo, then installed Minicom on my linux laptop. This has come in handy a few times as I’ve been hacking around with the linux kernel and trying to learn more about the boot sequence. I’ve baffed up the Dingoo a few times such that the serial port was the only way to access it.

As for the LED, when I wired it in originally I just connected it directly between Vcc and Ground. The LED is rated for 3.2 to 3.5 vdc; the battery in the Dingoo is rated at 3.7v nominally. I’ve seen its output as high as 4v though. Needless to say, the blue LED was fried in only a matter of days. Ooops.

So I had to go back in again tonight, and while I was replacing the blue LED (and adding a resistor to limit the current) I took a couple pics.

Pointless Dingoo Mods

Posted 2010.04.22 9.44 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Last night I was a bit bored so I sat down and did some pointless hardware mods to my Dingoo.

First, I added a power LED. When the backlight is off, or if you boot it with the B button to go into flashing mode, it’s hard to know if the Dingoo is on or off. And in any event, I’m a sucker for LEDs. “Real electronics should glow in the dark.”

The easy part was attaching the LED, I used a surface mount blue LED that draws 10mA at 3.6v and stuck it near the start button, then wired it between Vcc and ground. I found a point on the rear of the board where the power is switched so I just ran a bit of 28 gauge wire around from the back to the front. The hard part was getting a hole in the black layer of the front case, without also going through the clear part of the front case. I used a cheap soldering iron to melt some of the plastic then some small precision chisels to cut out the plastic and get the hole to be just about right. Actually it was about 80% luck, I’m usually not this good at modifying the plastic parts.

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