Tuesday, February 3, 2015


The first PCBs arrived from OSH Park:

I partially populated one (nothing's soldered yet) to check if the footprints I designed in Eagle matched the parts I ordered from Digikey. So far, so good. Except that the key part -- the current limiters -- are coming via "International Airmail" from Fasttech and there is no tracking available.

Assuming the AMC7135's work -- which is really what this board is intended to test -- I already have a few ideas towards the next iteration. Probably drop the breadboard spacing for the outer pins, go to a lower profile trim pot and switch to SMT for the LEDs as well (so I can add more blinkenlights -- serial data, the traditional "pin 13 LED" of Arduino compatibles, and of course keep the power light.)

And I haven't quite figured out the best format for the XBee backpack (plus I keep searching for more budget-conscious alternatives to the XBee).

Here's what the board replaces:

That's the quick-and-dirty vero board version I made for the radio light. Only two channels on this one, as I was mixing red and green LED for a sort of amber light. That toggle you see is hot-glued to the side of a AAA battery pack. At least this iteration had the ICSP header, making it a little less annoying to tweak the software.

It was sitting inside this prop:

(Dress rehearsal photograph made by Anna Kaminska for Actor's Ensemble). Also taken before I replaced the ailing previous circuit with one that could reliably generate a decent amber.

So, sure, the new circuit is smaller, and as fast as I am with the vero board (or, rather, the somewhat expensive but totally worth it "Perma-Proto" stripboard from Adafruit) having already wired and partially programmed versions should make it a lot easier to add it to productions.

But more than that -- with wiring and programming already in place and basic options available just by turning a knob and hitting a button, this should be useable by people who don't have the time and experience to learn all this stuff themselves.

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