Workshop:MakeIt-Glo

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MakeIt-Glo
Theme Electronics
Status Dormant
Description Electronics introduction workshop with flashing LEDs
People User:Nordin
An early concept sketch showing the end-product idea of the workshop, the 'MakeIt-Glo'

Let free your creativity whilst gaining hands-on experience programming embedded micro-controllers.[edit]

MakeIt-Glo is a three hour electronics introduction workshop where you'll build a flexible, freestanding set of high-powered colour 'pixels' based on the WS2812B LED-on-a-chip. These pixels are a brighter version of popular adafruit colour-changing lights currently used by hobbyists worldwide. Our lights are driven by a USB programmable Arduino-compatible development board called the Digispark and can be powered via a 9-volt battery or via a common USB fast charger. Using these, we will help you program the ultimate in user controlled, multi-colored lighting - which is yours to take home and experiment further.

Note: This page is relating to Makeit-Glo 1. For Makeit-Glo 2 (ran on 21/09/14), an updated version is currently in the final stages of production.

Who are 57North?[edit]

57North is a maker community and tool library with a shared space located in Aberdeen, Scotland. Spaces like ours call themselves 'Hackerspaces' owing to their interest in 'hacking' existing objects into new and generally more exciting things.

We meet regularly to share knowledge, hack on projects together, and build our community. Anyone interested in joining 57North or just learning more about us, is invited to come to some of our public meetings.

Who is the workshop for?[edit]

The workshop is for anyone seeking a take-home introduction to using Arduino or Arduino-clone development boards in combination with a simple product design methology. Since you take the board, pixels and stand home at the end of the day, the workshop serves as a first step that you can take further in your own time.

The workshop is open to all, under 18's will need to be accompanied by an adult. Under 16's will need some supervision from parents so they get the most out of the workshop.

Been to MakeIt-Glo before?[edit]

Been to Makeit-Glo before? Practice your soldering skills and customise your Glo lamp, or put your 'programming hat on' learn how to design your own light presets with help from our volunteer team.

You will have full use of the soldering irons to improve any twist wrap connections you may have, and access to a workstation setup for programming your Digispark.

What will I make at the workshop?[edit]

A later graphical render of the Glo lamp
The fully built glo lamp Watch video
All those attending will be given all the raw materials and guidance required to make a bendy, multi-coloured lamp that we call the 'MakeIt-Glo'. How the lamp works will be completely down to you. Via a USB-programmable Digispark and the use of the free Arduino IDE software, you will have complete control over the colours and brightness of each light element or 'pixel' over lengths of time.

For some of the parts that you will design (such as pixel clips, covers and feet), you will use a small amount of a special type of biodegradable plastic called polymorphic thermoplastic. Using just hot water, it can be molded (and remolded) to any small shape your design calls for.

Present examples you can make[edit]

We have a library of sample program code that you can reinvent or simply stitch together to create different light effects, learning about micro-controllers and program problem-solving as you do so. Some creative uses we can think of include:

  • A programmable reading light
    Simple but effective - make an adjustable low-power desk lamp that can be set to a non-straining colour for study, then flick it into disco mode for when study time is over!
  • An artificial candle
    Gain the calming effect of a softly flickering candle without all the fuss of setting things alight.
  • An art piece
    Using some grease-proof paper, show your arty side with glowing origami shapes ranging from birds to flowers. Even scrunched up balls of glowing paper look mesmerizing, we find.
  • A mood light
    Set the scene in your room with a colour tone that reflects your mood. Bright green reminds us of springing to action, whilst blue makes us rather sleepy.
A prototype of the 57North RGB Pixel
  • An annoy-a-tron
    Some colour/movement combinations are nice and calming, others absolutely are not. Ideas start at a 'Knight Rider' effect that changes speed irrationally, then get worse. We'll leave the rest up to your imagination.
  • A simple timer
    Whilst not utterly accurate over long spells, your Digispark can easily handle the 3 mins it takes your eggs to boil, or the 2 minutes to brush your teeth (top and bottom, remember)

The volunteers at 57North are busy making pixels for our upcoming workshops - check back later for snaps of our crew at work. We can happily show you how we make them, if you fancy making your own after the workshop and adding to your awesome idea.

How will I make it?[edit]

Our volunteers will guide you through each stage of the process. The steps generally consist of.

  1. Learning about the components that make up the Glo lamp and our product design method
  2. Sketching out our design using free CAD tools or our good old-fashioned pen and paper instructions
  3. Form the stand from the wire provided
  4. Make the pixel-to-stand clips using low-melting point plastic
  5. Wire-up the lights using the provided interconnects
  6. Program the Digispark from our example code snippets
  7. Test your design out

What do I need to bring with me?[edit]

We will provide everything you need to build the lamp and program it. However, if you can bring along your own Raspberry Pi and a spare SD card, we can provide a ready-made software pack that contains all the tools you need to experiment with your cool new lamp. Similiarly, if you bring along your own laptop, we can also help set it up so you'll be good to go when you get home.

Sign up[edit]

If you are interested in us running this workshop for your group, please contact us.

The workshop costs £12 and you get to take everything you make home with you. This includes all the hardware needed to run the Glo lamp.

Downloadable resources[edit]

Didn't get to your programming introduction at the end of the workshop? Don't worry, all materials used in the workshop are available for download:

  1. The PDF Instruction Manual
  2. The Digispark IDE and default program (Install instructions)

A fully commented Guide to making your own MakeIt-Glo presets is also available.

If you would like a walkthrough in person, pop along to our Union Street address on one of our open days and we'll be happy to take you through it.