Binary Candy–Rack part 2

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Reader stand

After a bit of experimentation and debate with myself, I’ve decided on an almost vertical arrangement for the reader. This allows the numbers to be reached and slotted in easily even by 3 year olds, something I’m keen on achieving.

Using the mitre circular saw I’ve created the wedges and blocks, they will be held in with wood glue, its totally adequate for a job like this and avoids unsightly screws.


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It stands up!

So now the glue is dry I’ve used the multimeter to determine the best level for the lowest possible position for the reader. I made the reader slightly wide to stop ambient light getting down into where it reads, but this means I do need to position it as low as I can to give a good position for slotting the numbers in and also seeing what they are.

It looks great and I’ve very happy with the angle I chose to go for!

Binary Candy–Binary Tiles

Making the Binary Tiles

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Creating the tiles! Using circular saw and lots of careful measuring I have some rectangular tiles.
They are designed to show what the number is (one or zero) above the reader a little, be shaped to ensure they are inserted in the correct way around. They are also of a size that they are fairly big for other visitors standing behind the person participating in the task to be able to enjoy the fun with them (keep it as inclusive as possible). It is always important to thing about both the people who are interacting with your maker project and the other nine or so standing watching!
I’ve made a few extra tiles in case of accidents or losses.
In the photo above you can also make out the reflective sensors peeking through the holes in the detector board.

Now for primer on the MDF tiles…


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White tiles get spray painted

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Number digits
I used paper template cut out and spray paint, inverse to the background colour to make ones and zeros. I was up at midnight spray painting on neighbourhood pavement away from houses, must have had neighbours talking!
I struggled with this one, I was trying to make the numbers almost look like graffiti in style, just causally sprayed on. Problem was the engineer bit of me wanted to pefectly centre and mask off each one and touch up any imperfections and do a couple of coats each to get a pristine number.

This is supposed to be inside-out maker style project I kept telling myself. I managed to just leave them looking “casual”.

I am struggling with the style of this project!


Using UPVA glue as varnish - trick I got from my Son. Mind you, now  the house smells like a infants school!
The glue you see above will dry to be transparent and will hopefully stop the paint numbers from wearing or getting scratches or chips.

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The finished numbers ready for action 9 of each should be plenty!

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Maker Faire 2016 application

That's the application for Maker Faire 2016 submitted, fingers crossed we get in.

This year I intend to move from the .NET microframework used in previous projects and to use the this as an excuse to try out the new Microsoft IoT Core platform. This is an exciting new platform and would be real nice to give it a project for Maker Faire.

The concept around this years application is a Sticker Forge. Participants will get to make custom stickers that they can take away. As always with Maker Faire, it is the presentation and interaction that counts as much as the idea. For this one I'm thinking at this point of hacking a 5 1/4 inch CD drive to make it into a stick scanner. 

The sticker scanner  will take the picture created by the visitors in some kind of 3D printed caddy that is placed in the CD drive. A web cam with special lens will take a photo of the picture, out of view of the visitors, there will need to be some entertaining lights or LCD screen to make this into some kind of "magical" process. 

The stickers will then be produced by dithering the photo to mono. Twitter integration would be cool to allow any picture to be printed to stickers. For the geeks, some kind of pre-supplied picture selection device is used. I'm thinking of giving each picture a decimal number, the visitor then has to convert the number to binary and enter it in some fancy binary "rack".

The whole thing needs making interesting with movement and flashing lights to make it visually eye catching.  

LCD Shields

Each player will need instructions during the operation of the game. The “wheel of fortune” idea is great (if it works in time), but if the design doesn't work, or the motors break or this part of the game malfunctions, then it is wise to have a back up method of communicating the next animal to pick. There will be over game instructions where it could be helpful to have LCD displays to instruct the player. As previously mentioned, I am desperately trying to avoid using normal computer monitors for anything as I think they are an easy way out, and besides they don’t look “maker enough”…

So if it is to be LCD displays, I’ve considered a single display, where the top line of the display could instruct one player, the second line, the other. The problem with this idea will be that the players are spaced out on a six foot table. I don’t think the small LCD would be easy to position so that both players can read it. Thus two LCD displays are required.

LCD is familiar, taking the design using a 74HC595 IC from Using alphanumeric LCDs  - Szymon Kobalczyk's Blog, a “backpak” can be built for the displays, one for each.

Using the great Fritzing software the following design was made, using 0.1” header sockets on the backpak and male headers on the display. This design, due to the layout of the IC and to minimise wiring, has the backpak above the display. For Makerfaire I actually want this, as maker people want to see the electronics, so the more exposed the better.

At this stage I am thinking of mounting the LCDs in an “L” shaped transparent acrylic sheet, so the electronics can be seen, and the displays  positioned wherever suits the layout of the table or users. It must be remembered that the fairs attract short and tall. The connectors shown on the Netduino connect into the headers on the board of the corresponding sizes.

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These are the two backpaks finished, just need power and the SPI bus passing into the header connectors. These backpaks should be reusable on other projects in the future too.

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