Workshop 88 project list

This is a very roughly ordered list of the things I’d like to get done at/for W88.  I hope to update it occasionally to reflect my current wish list.  If anybody stumbles across it and is interested in something here, it probably wouldn’t be hard to get me excited enough to actually do something about it by posting to the W88 email group.

Sort of separate, there are a bunch of classes I’d like to run (or would consider running).   Where running those classes falls in the priority list, I don’t know.  Here’s the list.

(last updated 12/25/17)

  • Make a good size (2’x3′?) W88 sign to hang on the wall at the entrance to the parking lot.  Would have our name and logo, an arrow pointing to the place, and maybe a rain-protected whiteboard area for “Open Hack Meeting Tonight” or “Tiny85 Class Tonight”.  Base material probably white corrugated plastic; sign via the vinyl cutter.  Part of it is to design/build a nice elastic (bungee cord?) easily removed attachment to the steel guard rail below the Honey’s sign.  Maybe ask if we could mount a small sign permanently on that wall?
  • Arduino to monitor laser cutter water flow and exhaust flow, maybe air assist pressure.  Beeps if one fails.  Maybe a display based on the $5 1.4″ LCD display.
  • Work with (say 3mm) acrylic inlays.  Maybe a green Christmas tree in a red circle for a tree ornament lit with a hacked LED string with a UV LED?  Maybe 2 copies crossed to suggest a sphere?
  • Suggest/offer to the group to mentor/work with (presumably a member fairly new to electronics) someone to build a function generator for the electronics lab.  The FG085 is available for around $30 on Ebay as a kit, no case.  A laser cut case would probably be part of the project.  I expect the club would shell out the $30, but if not I probably would if someone were hot to make it.
  • Update Drawbot and document.  With new IR comms aluminum/teflon pen holder, it’s pretty good.  Needs new steppers and grbl-based software.  And instructions for someone else to be able to take it on the road.  Good start at writeups here.
  • I made up a decent scrolling display based on cheap 8×8 LEDs with MAX7219 drivers (Parola_ScollingManyStrings2.ino, ~75 sayings) and need to add a way for users to contribute strings via local wifi and ESP8266.  Then hang it at the space.
  • Suggest a small collection of Arduino breadboard tools for batch builds.  Five SMT LEDs on D8-12, a pot on 3 header pins for use in the A0-A5 header, a couple of buttons/LEDs on a 2×3 female header as mini shield for ICSP header, maybe a small protected speaker, etc.
  • Suggest/offer small projects for beginning electronics buffs for the lab:
    • bench speaker in box, 5V class G amp, 18650, charger inside
    • continuity tester – no switch – I have plans for it, no PCB
    • LED tester
    • logic tester (no specific plans yet)
    • generic Li-ion charger (mostly done)
  • Suggest group build of bench continuity tester – with one for the lab.
  • Give Shapeoko some love.
    • Spindle speed control
    • Develop process for machining PCBs and write it up
    • Do a cool 3D carving, so at least we have something to point at
  • Get EZ Screen Print stuff and make T shirts.  Should be able to do multiple colors (as multiple passes), and with an initial white layer, print on black/dark shirts.  I expect it will have a very nice “hand” – much nicer than the ink jet iron on transfers I’ve done.  Could be done for W88 shirts if the crowd funded thing doesn’t go.  But a significant driver is so I can get experience with the materials to make some Eat Dance Sleep shirts for square dance weekends.
  • Mount Bill’s anemometer/wind direction/temp sensor along with a data logger and a big battery on the W88 sign post for a week or 2 to get wind info.  The goal is to see if it’s feasible to put up a small – probably vertical axis – wind turbine to charge a battery for a light on the sign.  Update:  Got it talking to Tiny84 datalogger; need wind speed calibration.
  • Build a good-sized WS2812 RGD LED wall display and have it remotely controllable.  Started discussions with Insook Choi at Columbia College to get artist help designing the Android user interface.  Have first 128 LED proto, but lots of software work to do.
  • Try to get a working reflow setup based on the toaster oven at the space.  I think I’m in pretty good shape to donate a 4313-based controller with an LCD display.  Update:  That will be Tiny84-based.  New board layout mostly done.  Update:  Board done – doesn’t work 🙁  More to do.
  • Make a quasi analog clock from servo, Tiny85, RTC module:AnalogClockViaServo
  • Finish the Doorduino!  Update: Ted says we’ll go in another direction?
  • Make an etch tank for the space.  Maybe 1/4″ acrylic, 3/4″ x 4″ x 12″, with the usual aquarium pump and air stone, and a much better top than mine.  And then there’s the whole board holder thing…  Might somehow involve a new etch tank for home.  Need to read up in Yahoo PCB group.
  • Finish work on 3D printing slides to make a pick-up-and-go package.  Consider printing tic-tac-toe pieces, maybe snap together wall pieces?
  • I have a strip of individually addressable RGB LEDs with LPD6803 chips from Adafruit (no longer available, though a lib still is) I hoped to get somebody excited about, but have failed.  It’s all packed up in a box with basic wiring and a power supply – ready for some Arduino code to make it do cool things.  Available to anybody who wants to play with it and will show it off at a meeting.  UPDATE:  Can’t find it any more since ~8/5/13.  Took it to space, never came home?
  • Try CNC line printing with UV LED and Lumi Inkodye.
  • Add some speakers and a little audio amp with a long cord with a 3.5mm plug to the electronics lab so there’d be something to listen to when somebody’s there alone.  Music on a phone or streamed from an internet radio station via wifi to a phone should work fine.  Update:  A donated white (HoMedics?) boombox is a partial solution.
  • Do an Intro to Oscilloscopes class.  Should also include at least demo of the soundcard scope and a USB-connected PC scope.  Not sure how this works for those who really need an intro to Electronics course.
  • Do a hands-on class on PID feedback/control loops.  The lab device would be a 2 wheel balancing robot with accelerometers and a gyro for inputs.  Some mechanism for students to load their code on the robot would be needed.  The teaching credentials would be what I learned doing exactly the same thing trying to make it work well.  In addition to self-teaching myself about PID loops before the class, I’d have to build the robot.
  • Mini Shapelock play session.  This is a fairly important material people should be familiar with.  Did a little with Andrew and Wiichuck connector.
  • I suppose the main sign on the signpost outside should be made more robust than the experimental sign I hung up a year or so ago.  Another corplast + vinyl cutter project.  Maybe make it at the same time as the sign for out in the parking lot?  Update:  I replaced the sign front 1/15
  • Set up audio generators, oscilloscope as an interesting geeky looking demo, and something we could demo at MMF, Osmoces, etc.  Maybe Jacob’s ladder etc to make it kind of full bore mad scientist thing?  Update: Did the scope thing for Glen Ellyn Library STEAM event.
  • Run and document an Arduino 401 class – Arduino Remote Access.  Likely to include Scratch/Modkits, BT via Firmata, the various I2C, TWI, One-Wire libs;
  • Run and document an Advanced Arduino class about the hidden stuff (should that be part of the class title?) like build process, memory, boards.txt, and all the other stuff I don’t even know about.  Lots of research and learning for me first!
  • Should we have a box of visitor toys?  Update:  Have started with a tray of laser cut toys.  Nice.
  • Provide more stock wire for electronics lab: stranded + solid CAT5, phone wire, other? Update:  Have donated some, but organization is not great.
  • It would be great to have online bios/expertise list of members.  Laura suggested this – maybe get her to whitewash this fence?
  • Of course, finish the Scrolling LED Display.  (Brought it home after the Big Rain in April to dry it out, reglue parts, see if it still works.)  Getting less and less likely. 🙁  Now very near zero.
  • Inspired by an offer of donated CR123 cells (not taken advantage of), build a Tiny85 flasher running off two AA or AAA cells.  Sleep in Power-down mode, quick flash maybe every 5 sec, based on WDT.  Mount on wall with sign with starting date, asking first to notice it’s not flashing to mark date.  Extra points for avg current calc given XXX as battery cap; show your work.


  • Run and document a good Arduino 301 class – Controlling the Outside World.  DONE.  Includes H bridges for DC motors, steppers, servos, FETs for higher power DC, SSRs with IR LED interface for controlling 120VAC.  The DC motor part would result in making little robots to make it a little more fun.  Unfortunately didn’t get all the way thru.  Should host a makeup session.
  • Tiny85 class.  DONE.  Might do another some time.  Tried to find a simple way to export the MindMap diagram of the current state of planning of the course as a .png to my web host, but failed.  Here’s a snapshot, but not likely to be updated.
  • Arduino 301 – intro to Solid State Relays.  DONE.  Might do again some time.
  • Make 2-string vertical surface plotter.  Did demo as work-in-progress at Northside MMF.
  • Do at least proof of concept of several Tiny85 nodes on a 1-wire network with Arduino master for dollhouse automation.  DONE.  The dollhouse/network doesn’t work right yet, but it’s coming along.
  • Improve organization of parts in the electronics lab.  It’s getting better, but there’s still a way to go.  Done by Paul and Eric.
  • A better stock of wire for the electronics area.  I could source most of it, but it should be well organized and in a known place so people could just go there and get what they need instead of random wire all over the space.  DONE:  The electronics lab rework took care of this.
  • Upgrade/hack Shapeoko to handle drilling job (~700 1/4″ holes in 1/8″ ABS).  DONE.  Should write this up.
  • Add a box of Containers to the space.  Mostly plastic jars, bottles, but plastic cases, metal project boxes, etc would be welcome.  Just so there’s a place to go if you need a little container to hold some parts or make something from.  NEEDS A LABEL!

2 Responses to Workshop 88 project list

  1. Doug says:

    I noticed on your project list that you may be interested in building a generic LiPo charger. I am interested in building one myself, though its construction is currently eluding me. I am attempting to string 4 x 3.7v together to discharge in series, but charge in parallel. This is needed to keep it small and chargeable by USB. I would like to use MOSFETs and an Arduino to provide the gate signals that would turn it from a 1 x 14.8v back into a 4 x 3.7v for charging. This would ideally occur when the analog pin reads a low voltage from one of the cells. Clear as mud ?.. but the computer models I have built, wont switch off the MOSFET when the gate signal goes away. I dont want to build it with real batteries just yet because I cant afford to keep ruining LiPos. Suggestions ? or perhaps you could model your next build on this idea.

    • Jim says:

      Hi Doug,

      Interesting project. What battery capacities and discharge rates are you shooting for? I assume you’ve seen the writeup on cheapo LiPo chargers. If you’d like to share your schematic I’d be glad to brainstorm with you on the design. (I’m fortunate to have a cheap commercial balance charger (Supermate DC6, from some RC place), so I can usually charge series packs in one go.)

      Given the availability of cheap LiPo charger chips, I suppose another approach might be to look for a cheap balance charger chip and let that do some of the work for you. The vendor app notes might even give a reference schematic to add power mosfets for higher charge rates than the chip itself would handle.

      Keep me posted!


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