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sam calisch


week thirteen: networks

This week's assignment was to make a system with more than one microcontroller and develop a protocol for them to talk to each other. I made disco lights for my kayak that shine through the translucent dacron. To do this, I created a bunch of boards with RGB LEDs that listen to a bus to know what colors to light. A master board transmits on the bus, addressing each other board individually via a node ID. The master is responsible for orchestrating a cool light show, while the other boards listen for their names to be called.

Originally, I thought to make the nodes on the vinyl cutter because cutting is so much faster. I whipped out a bunch but got impatient during weeding. It ended up easier to just mill the boards, reducing the number of passes to speed up cut times. Stuffing many copies of the same board went pretty fast, as a lot of soldering time is in tracking down parts.

I based the board designs off of some of Neil's boards, using kokopelli to make the changes I needed. I put the LED off by itself because I intend to cut and flip over that part of each board. With some soldered vias around the edge, the LED will have an unobstructed view.

This is the first test with three of the nine boards. I just sent different RGB values based on node ID.

After the test, I made a bus to insert into the front and back of the boat. In the future I'll waterproof this, but for now it simply holds the RGB boards in the correct position.

Not enough time to take this discoboat on the water, but it was fun to play around with different patterns. I didn't end up getting PWM working with the networked addressing, so I was limited in colors and patterns. I'd really like to sort this out when I have a chance.

I made a quick video of the grooves:


MAS.863 2012