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This is a question Amazing Projects

We here at B3ta love it when a plan comes together. Tell us about incredible projects and stuff you've built by your own hand. Go on, gloat away.

Thanks to A Vagabond for the suggestion

(, Thu 17 Nov 2011, 13:12)
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Spinny text

Whilst discovering how to print my own PCBs, I realised that the thing I'd made with LEDs on it (as a toy for the kids), that I could spin it on a motor, and guess at the timing cycle and make it cycle through a pre-defined byte array of a defined 'font' (stolen from some Uni website in C++ and converted to Wiring/
Processing) and make it appear to the human eye as readable text. There are only 7 LEDs used.

Obviously, the real thing doesn't flicker as much as in the youtube video - that, sadly is just refresh rate mismatch.

When I get a hall effect sensor and a magnet, I'll make it so that the text doesn't spin around and stays static in one place.


Edit: Charge my *good* camera up. This is a much better picture of it in action:

(, Sat 19 Nov 2011, 20:34, 5 replies)
I would love to be able to make something like this
I've been trying to teach myself the principles of electronics. I can get my head around some of it, but because I want to know EXACTLY how everything works down to the last detail it frustrates me.

I recently spent 5 hours at my PC after work studying a circuit diagram trying to learn how logic gates work, and i'm still not 100%

I think I have a long way to go.
(, Sun 20 Nov 2011, 16:34, closed)
Me too
I only started about a year ago. I bought an Arduino kit (pre-built) and then searched the web for step-by-step projects until I learned enough to be able to do the things I wanted to do. The spinny-text thing uses that Arduino. I'm a programmer by day, so it was far easier to program than it was to put the electronics together (for me anyway). I've recently learned how to print my own circuit boards, so that's made life a hell of a lot easier. I designed this board (and others - over the past 2 weeks - the time that I've been able to do this) using a program called 'Fritzing' - it's not brilliant, but it is free and quite easy to use.

As a kid I used to prize open microchips to see what was in them. Of course, I only ever resulted in breaking them into tiny chips of plastic and never seeing anything.

Try and find "Electronics for Dummies" and/or "Electronic projects for the Evil Genius" - I've not created any of the projects in them, but I have learned a thing or two by skim reading them (particularly the former).

Micro-controllers are easier than 'classic electronics' as I call it. If a pin is high/low it doesn't care if it was resisted to 1k or 100 ohms - it's just high or low.

I can read *some* basic circuit diagrams, but get lost once it goes past beginner stages.

Another web site that I like to look at where there are loads of little projects is instructables.com - there's tonnes of things on there ranging from the complete electronics idiot through to people making their own wind turbines completely from scratch - including the motor/rotors etc...

Let me know if I can help any more - it's good to have others in the same boat ;-)
(, Sun 20 Nov 2011, 16:56, closed)
I'd strongly recommend - for anyone in this position.
Get 'The Art of Electronics'.

The first third of the first 6 chapters are a very good introduction to electronics, and the rest goes into more detail.
It's as light on the maths as can be, and very readable.
(, Mon 21 Nov 2011, 15:15, closed)
I have just that book sitting next to me!

(, Mon 21 Nov 2011, 18:41, closed)

The easy way is to use a stepper motor - then you can synchronise the text just using the code. Plus you could make it sweep back and forth just like the displays you can buy at Maplins.
Using a feedback loop would work, but it'd take a lot more effort.

Lordy - I haven't done any of this stuff for years, but you're stirring up my interest again!
(, Sun 20 Nov 2011, 18:07, closed)
Yes. Stepper motors.
The only thing with that is, that I only have 8 digital on/offs and 8 analogue outs/ins, with no real way to control the step.
I have some hall effect sensors on order (about 1 quid for 10 on ebay). When they arrive, I'll place a magnet at the top and only trigger the next sequence in the byte array when the magnet is detected. That will at least stabalise where the text is.
(, Sun 20 Nov 2011, 18:11, closed)

Sounds like you're on top of it! :)
(, Sun 20 Nov 2011, 18:19, closed)
that is brilliant
I remember seeing something similar at a club night in what used to be known as the Opera House in Bournmouth. It was about 5 years ago but the strange thing was that the LEDs were static. Just a line of LEDs on what appeared to be a pole; You only saw words when your vision scanned passed* - e.g. looking from one side of the room to the other.

*Either that or i was just fucked
(, Tue 22 Nov 2011, 15:07, closed)

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