Saturday, December 31, 2011

Duckon 2012 blinkie prototype finished

The 3D printer figured big in this year’s blinkie design.  Not only is the battery holder printed, but I used a gerber-to-gcode conversion script to enable me to use the RepRap to lay down the ink on the blank PCB to make the prototype, and by the time June rolls around I may have a printed sleeve to go on it that diffuses the LED light.

I used the Gerber to GCode converter, tuned up a bit (added some experimental backlash compensation.
That failed the first time, the extra fine sharpies don’t lay down much ink. The 2nd try I printed each side 3 times, then went over traces with a regular (fine point) sharpie as much as possible (my hand is too shaky to do the very close traces). That went OK.
Then a quick drill of 52 holes and about 90 minutes of soldering (soldering tightly spaced LEDs when you have to solder top and bottom due to the hand-etched board is time consuming) and it pretty much fired up right away. I did miss a couple of solder joints and had to touch those up.
All I have right now is the test pattern for the LEDs, so I need to do a bunch more programming to get a wide variety of patterns. This one will allow selecting of patterns as well and remembers settings when turned off (since it never actually goes off unless the batteries are removed, it actually starts right up where it left off).
The battery holder for the 3 LR44 cells is printed on the RepRap. I am going to play around with the idea of a printed diffuser for this blinkie, to be sold as an add-on for a few bucks. IMO a diffuser makes any blinkie look cooler.

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