Labels have arrived

Once thing that I can be certain of, is that I’m going to need labels for this project. As all my projects involve labels this order arrived today with a box full of 1000 label reels. that should keep me going for this year’s fairs!

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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.

LCD 595 Netduino_bb

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.

LCD Shield

Starting to wire

After gluing the RFID boards into the middle of the cages, it is time to start wiring. Lessons from previous exhibits say that broken wires at connectors/joints were the most frequent problem. For this reason, where there is a need, then there will be a connector to keep the wires from being strained as the exhibit is moved around.

RFID Mounted

RFID Mounted

RFID connectors – heat shrink will follow for strain relief.

RFID Cables

Scan buttons

The visitors will be expected to scan the health of each animal, to start the scan they must press the green buttons. The buttons have now been wired and have connectors on them, so they are ready to connect to the main board.

StartButtons