DIY Digital Clock: Take 2!

What time is it?

Time to make a new clock!

About a year ago, I designed and assembled my own custom made clock. You couldn’t say it was in an enclosure since its guts were spilled out on both sides of a piece of foam core. I felt like, a year later, it was time to redo it and put it into a proper enclosure.

So, what time is it? Time to build us a new clock!

The Guts

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I tend to get carried away and too focused to take proper progress pictures. This is literally the first picture I have from the electronics part.

Soldering all of those LEDs and components took a full day. I used hot glue to try to keep multiple wires in place to solder as fast as I could but it didn’t do the best job to hold them in. At time, the glue would fall away from the PCB. Still, it’s better than fiddling with one wire at a time.

The only difference from the prototype build is a lower resistor value for the LED resistors.

Putting Together a Box

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Foam core is a favorite in my “lab”. It’s all I use these days because all it takes is a knife to cut and it’s inexpensive and accessible (Dollarama rocks). I built a simple black box with a white cover place. I was hoping with a lower resistor value on the LEDs, they’d be able to shine through the white foam core.

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With the soldered parts and the enclosure ready, it was time to put it all together.

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I glued a piece of foam core behind the control board to isolate the connections on the back with the display connections. I ended up mounting the two display panels on it’s own piece of foam core anyway so I guess that wasn’t really necessary. The display foam core backing fits tight with no need for pin or glues to hold it in place.

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The white foam core was still too think for the LEDs so I ended up going back to a plain white sheet of paper. It’s not noticeably brighter than the original prototype with the paper.  The piece of paper is held up by two strips of foam core on either side.

I didn’t like the look of it at this point but it was the end of the weekend so I left it for now.

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I still like how sleek the black foam core looks, even with a few imperfections here and there from a not-so-sharp knife.

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After a few days to think about it, I realized simply turning around my diffusing screen pulled the look together.

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Time to pull the plug on the prototype and enjoy something new.

Thanks for reading!

MWH Projects LED Foam Core Sign!

Happy New Year: Clean up time!

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I spent the last weeks of 2016 and the first weeks of 2017 cleaning up my electronics and projects storage areas. I’m happy with how most of my areas are now, especially my soldering work station pictured above. I moved the power supply from the main work table to the shelf above so now I have lots more room to work on. Of course, it would be nice to have more but it is what it is.

First project of 2017: MWH Projects Sign!

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I came up with this rather quick project for my first project for 2017. It would be a basic sign for my MWH Projects “brand” or whatever you may call it. The idea was to have nice clean lettering on a base with some LEDs. To make the letters, I printed out an outline of the MWH Projects text in Photoshop, taped it on some foam core, and carefully cut away at it.

The “MWH” was very easy since it’s all straight lines and large letters. The smaller “Projects” text was a little more difficult. I didn’t like the jagged rough edges so I soaked them in white paint. It gave the letters a rough texture but cleaner corners and curves.

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The base was a simple box made out of black foam core board. I hot glued on the “projects” text before working on the LED circuit.

There are three WS2812B LEDs in this project which are controlled by my Attiny85 breakout board. For power, I’m using 3-AA batteries and a step-up converter to get it up to 5V. I’m not sure if the step-up was necessary but, at the time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be using 2 or 3 AA batteries.

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All of the parts fit nicely inside of the box, except for the battery holder which is stuck onto the back of it.

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And that’s it! I think it looks pretty nice, although the holes for the LEDs could be a bit cleaner.

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Speaking of the holes for the LEDs, I actually used a drill bit the size of the WS2812B round PCB modules. Leaving it like that, it wasn’t putting enough light on the letters so I cut a little more around them. I wasn’t sure I liked how the lights were showing on the letters but, after a while, I got used to it.

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I’ve been finding myself stuck on project ideas so I’m super glad this project worked out well.

Thanks for reading!

Sledgehammer Model Build

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Sledgehammer has been my favorite ride at Canada’s Wonderland ever since it debuted in 2003. It’s a fun ride, but, for me, it’s an extremely interesting piece of machinery and engineering that I enjoy just watching and listening to.

One evening, I decided to dive into my small stockpile of foam core boards and try to build me my own miniature model of the ride. It’s the first time I’ve done a model, or this much work with foam core.

Use the photo above as reference as you go through the build photos!
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There wasn’t much planning with this project. Most of the parts cut out were simply sketched out directly on the foam core, then duplicated by tracing the first part cut out.

After some cuts, I got the arms and their central piece together.

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My plan was to make the model posable. At this point, it was with the help of pins.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t stay as cooperative as the build continued. Eventually, I gave up on making it poseable and glued it into this position. At this point, I had cut out and put together the entire top half of the ride. I used wooden dowels as the guide columns and hydraulic piston.

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To make the tower, I took a piece of foam core and made even slits down it which allowed me to bend it into a circular shape.

 

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The gondolas were the trickiest part of building the model. Each one is made up of several small parts that had to be duplicated for all six gondolas.

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After a while, they started coming together pretty good. I made a small support stand to keep things together as I glued the pieces.

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Once I got them into place, the ride took shape…

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… And once some color was added, it really started to look good.

For my next model, I will definitely paint the parts before they’re put together, even if I may have to go over them with a second coat since there will probably be some scrapes and visible unpainted glue in the process. It was difficult to paint this model, especially when trying to navigate a paintbrush between the dowels in a tight space.

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Even with the difficulties painting the top half, it was about as hard trying to figure out how to paint the lower half of the model since it doesn’t have such a straight forward paint job there. I don’t consider myself to be very talented when it comes to painting so I needed some time to figure it out. You can see the checkered red and white pattern covered up by the yellow paint…

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In the end, I used a marker to draw out the outline of where I wanted the paint, and then broke up a sponge paint brush so I could have finer control over the painting. From afar, it looks great, but it gets a bit more cartoony and rough as you look closer. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the way this project came out and am looking forward to doing another one again!