Forums > Technical Discussion > Aran & Andy's Workshop Thread

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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:This is my workshop thread - I have a lot of spinning-related projects on the go at the moment, and I'd like to use this thread as a sounding board for my ideas, and gain some feedback as I post images of my progress, and hopefully get some ideas! These toys are either for personal use, or for the fire troupe i'm a part of http://firetroupe.org



Here is a table of contents of sorts



Sub-10 glow staff (posted)

EL wire costumes and accessories

- EL Wire Masquerade mask (in progress)

- EL wire jacket / blazer (concept)

Collapsible Modular Staff (awaiting parts to arrive from ebay - to be made using telescopic hiking poles as a base)





So. ... first project! Cheap glow staff: not that successful, while cheap, was flimsy as hell and very difficult to control the planes and required a lot of effort to keep the momentum up. Was 6 though ... can't complain!










In the wonderfulness of Christmas-themed Canterbury, on the high streets were market stalls selling those cheap nasty light-saber ripoffs that look like they've come off the back of lorries. Well I was curious and bought two, they were just 3 each.



When I got home, I took the hilt apart, and each lightsaber was being powered by 3 AA batteries. I took the covers off, and taped the two hilts together with a bit of foam in between (ooh dear just realised replacing batteries may be a problem now, oh well onwards).




Non-Https Image Link




I took them for a spin, and they're SO bright and wonderful! The only problem is that they're really difficult to spin, as 95% of the weight of the staff is in the centre, with the 6 AA batteries. The shafts are just hollow plastic, presumably with a few bright blue LEDs near the hilt being projected upwards.



My hand sometimes turns the blades off by accident ... the buttons are in silly positions! Also the two lightsabers seem to be different hues of blue - ah well you get what you pay for rolleyes



I know that making the ends heavier would solve that, but the shafts are kinda wobbly, and i think any drop or fall would crack the plastic, and weighting the ends would just make that worse ... a fun tea-time project though, and it made me happy, because it looks like a lightsaber in the video biggrin and i love star wars biggrin


Non-Https Image Link



Non-Https Image Link

EDITED_BY: akgraphics (1182071526)


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Neon_Shaolin
GOLD Member since Jul 2005

Neon_Shaolin

hehe, 'Member' huhuh
Location: Behind you. With Jam

Total posts: 6120
Posted:Glad to see I wasn't the only one with that idea ubblol

Good job I let you try it first! tongue


"I used to want to change the world, now I just wanna leave the room with a little dignity..." - Lotus Weinstock

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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free..., United Kingd...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:not bad for 6 quid though wink

sure I saw a Darth maul glow staff in toys r us...


A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:EL glowing masquerade mask for glow spinning (fire spinning would wash out EL wire ... also its a tad flammable!)



http://www.homeofpoi.com/gallery/showpho...=all&page=1




http://www.homeofpoi.com/gallery/showpho...=all&page=1
br>




The elwire around the flames needs to be smoothed, as well as actual more ELwire added to the flame effect. If it gets too heavy, more elastic straps will be needed too (like a torch that straps on your head has 3 straps?). I also need to learn to solder - electrical tape is a decent temporary fixing though, but it comes undone quite easily - not at all good for shows yet. There's suprisingly good visibility too out of the eye holes - the whole mask needs to curve a bit more too ... but thats just my face though smile

EDITED_BY: akgraphics (1170112833)


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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:Me and CrazyAndy are making a programmable glowstaff - a nice cross between my engineering course and Andy's computer science course - I'm in charge of circuits and construction, and Andy is in charge of programming our microcontroller. The shaft is a centre-section of a flowtoys staff, using the rubber end caps that came with it. Powered by 4 AA batteries, we're using a PIC16F88 microprocessor, programmed in assembly, with 48 superbright RGB LEDs. The way the PCB is set up, allows us to use less LEDs if we wish for greather battery life. As it stands, we have barely 50 minutes of battery life - but the staff is so damn bright, we thought it was worth it smile



Speaking of the PCB, it is an extremely long thin pcb running down the length of the staff. For this first prototype, we can only do 7 colours (red, green, blue, cyan, yellow, magenta and white) but this is a software limitation that we're working on. Colours can be smoothly faded across (using PWM) or block colour sequences can be constructed. The staff is split up into quarters - each quarter is individually programmable. The shaft is polycarbonate, and we're hoping to coat it in silicone to add grip and diffuse the light.



http://www.homeofpoi.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=16214








As you can see, all we have physically is an empty shaft, and a breadboard showing just 8 LEDs. Once the PCB is prototyped, we can stuff it in the shaft, add some shock absorbers, and take it for a spin! Hopefully for the end of June. We only have one shot at making the PCB, so we're spending a lot of time making sure its conceptually correct and working before spending our hard-earned on it!



Thanks to hyperlight and polarlight ... your material has been really inspirational! Fingers crossed this will work out smile

EDITED_BY: akgraphics (1178454568)


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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:The PCB for the glowstaff is complete, we're ordering from www.pcb-pool.com - cheapest we've found. In 8-days time, we'll be able to slot and solder our components in! God I hope we havn't made any mistakes in the design ... we spent about 2 weeks error-checking it! rah... why is all pcb design software ridiculously hard to use!

I'm glad that part of the design stage is over ... now for construction and testing (yay!). We ordered some silicone sheet off eBay to wrap around the polycarb shaft for grip and diffusion. It's uber grippy, but a bit too squidgy... a bit unpleasant, but oh well ...


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Yakumo
SILVER Member since May 2006

Yakumo

veteran
Location: Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

Total posts: 1237
Posted:coming to Play? hope so and that you can get a prototype ready to show off smile

Blinded by Hyperlights, please donate generously grin

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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:No I'm working unfortunately frown I'm using up my holiday allowance to hang out with the burning man crowd at Nowhere07 in spain! I'll definately be coming to London for a spin over the holidays, I'll keep an eye on the events forums. Fingers crossed it works for then.

We also need a name. We're fairly happy with 'shiny pimp cane' but it doesn't have a ring to it like aerotech or hyper/polar light. Don't want it to be too serious either :

AAAARGH my fire extinguisher just went off in my bag! where the hell was the safety pin frown ok gtg clean that up ... powder everywhere! its kinda like talcum powder ... hopefully less flammable!


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crazy_andy


newbie


Total posts: 21
Posted:Hey guys, I'm the programmer of this project. Its going to be amazing, the video doesn't do the brightness any justice.

I'm planning on going to play, and if we havn't destroyed the staff at nowhere then I'll prob bring it with me, if Aran can bear to let it out of his sight.


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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:sounds awesome: hope to get a peek at this when I go back to cambridge!

as for a name: how about 'disco-tech' ? wink


Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:Discotech ... a bit close to aerotech for my liking wink



(!!! warning: gratuitous use of macro focus below biggrin !!!)




Non-Https Image Link




(posted using flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/95841866@N00/540923090/)



Its all falling into place ...

EDITED_BY: akgraphics (1181585553)


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*HyperLight
BRONZE Member since Dec 2003

*HyperLight

old hand
Location: Great Malvern [UK]

Total posts: 1174
Posted:Looks pretty cool to me; Just need some components on there now - nice one!

Cake or Death?

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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free..., United Kingd...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:interesting masquerade masks... you should check out my gallery from a year ago ubblol or some of the pics here http://www.flamefireshows.com/slides/flame%20team.html

A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:Cool stuff Mynci - I thought I saw someone wearing a blue one of those EL-wire suits at the last synergy - was he really tall or wearing stilts?!



I've recently started adding blue LEDs to everything ... conveniently gutted from the above-mentioned lightsabers...



http://images.tribe.net/tribe/upload/photo/2a8/9a2/2a89a20f-efde-461c-8424-798e1ea3baf8

EDITED_BY: akgraphics (1181656932)


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crazy_andy


newbie


Total posts: 21
Posted:holy crap everyone: news flash *****

we just spent about 5 hours soldering, and are almost complete. we have 3/4 of the staff working with the PIC, and it looks amazing. No strobbing effects, and damn bright too.

We will upload pics / vids asap.

we currently have just less than 2 weeks to build in another tonne of sequences, coat the tube in plasti-dip, fix the last 1/4 and attach some wooden clamps, to stop it moving about. Other than the plasti-dip, we expect to be done within 2 - 3 days.

Looking forward to the public beta testing (yes, I am a comp sci student) at nowhere / play smile


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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:Ha I can't believe you stayed up long enough to post on here Andy! I dropped off straight to bed ...

Yes its bright, yes we can move it about very fast without any discernible gaps in the light-trails, yes we can program any sequence of colours. Yes my eyes STILL have ghost-images of 12 points of light neatly arrayed in a line. Probably burned on my retinas forever.

Images when I can get access to a bluetooth-computer so I can get the eye-candy off my phone. Huzzah!


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crazy_andy


newbie


Total posts: 21
Posted:I cba sleeping, too excited biggrin

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crazy_andy


newbie


Total posts: 21
Posted:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4932713713541937619

its ready y'alls, the video is very low frame rate, as was taken using my laptops camera. I'll post more when I get hold of a better camera. Its currently been on almost non stop for 1hr 10 mins, and still seems as bright as ever.

Its had some pretty bad knocks allready, with no permenent damage (battery fell out etc).


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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:No heavy damage?! I nearly cracked my skull open on that thing! ps. use youtube, the videos embed into the forums!

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crazy_andy


newbie


Total posts: 21
Posted:I cba to make an account on youtube, 3 hours of running, and no dimming as far as I can see

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*HyperLight
BRONZE Member since Dec 2003

*HyperLight

old hand
Location: Great Malvern [UK]

Total posts: 1174
Posted:Do superflux LEDs draw about the same sort of amount as normal LEDs (~30mA?)?

30mA x 48 LEDs ~= 1.5A draw from the batteries

...so if you were had (say) 2500mAh AAs which is about the limit (at this moment) that's ~100 minutes by my reckoning (assuming you were able to extract the batteries entire rated charge).

Looking good - well done guys! I look forward to seeing this thing at PLAY - it'll be interesting to see how HyperLights compare wink


Cake or Death?

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crazy_andy


newbie


Total posts: 21
Posted:you are exactly correct smile our estimate for battery life was 1 hour (if all RG and B lights where on, neglecting power loss in other components)

Its currently been running for 11 hours non stop. and is still quite bright (don't think its as bright as it was, but it is day time now :\ )

I don't know what to say, I'm amazed.

Just measured the pd accross the power rails. ~4.35V, and it started at about 5.5V


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Fire_Moose
SILVER Member since May 2007

Fire_Moose

Elusive and Bearded
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA

Total posts: 3597
Posted:i want one. i want one.

O.B.E.S.E.

Owned by Mynci!

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Motley
GOLD Member since Oct 2005

Motley

addict
Location: UK

Total posts: 434
Posted:Looking good guys. If you bring it to the pub on thursday I can bring my camera and we can shoot some higher quality footage if you want?

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akgraphics
SILVER Member since Jun 2006

akgraphics

member
Location: Churchill College, Cambridge, ...

Total posts: 133
Posted:Tom that sounds like a great idea! We'll try to be there.

The staff FINALLY ran out of juice 20 hours after we first charged her up and turned her on. First, the green LEDs stopped working completely, then the blue. The patterns were stil working correctly, but just the red LEDs were illuminating. Giving an interesting "low power" red theme.

I assume that if we have all the LEDs firing at the same time, we would have the predicted battery life of about 1 hour . But with your average fading sequence, a life of >10 hours is absolutely stunningly unbelievable. Hurray!

Now just for some plasti-dip...


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Motley
GOLD Member since Oct 2005

Motley

addict
Location: UK

Total posts: 434
Posted:New video for your viewing pleasure biggrin




Motley


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crazy_andy


newbie


Total posts: 21
Posted:yay, it looks awesome.

comments about stuff:

a) you may notice a few probs with the staff (the red of 1 quater lags, we replaced the transitor with the same problem, not sure whats going on just yet. The video didn't include it crashing, which the pic does way too often atm, usually on a bang / knock, we think its battery based, but we have a master reset button no, which fxes that prob sort of.)

b) the colors are brighter in rl, again, to the extend looking at it for too long, close to the spinner can start to hurt your eyes.

c) theses are our initial patterns, which we thought would look good in theory, but we need to work on timings + color theory, to maximise the potential of the staff.

personally, i feel for mark 1, this is an excellent design, we know what to do better next time, and have a working prototye.

Any suggestions / comments are welcome + encouraged,good or bad, although I may be forced to insult your mother if too many bad ones come in tongue

Looking forward to seeing you all at play.


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[Nx?]
BRONZE Member since Nov 2001

[Nx?]

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Europe,Scotland,Both

Total posts: 3749
Posted:its a bit short... :P

T wave


This is a post by tom, all spelling is deleberate
-><- Kallisti

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crazy_andy


newbie


Total posts: 21
Posted:we designed it to fit in a flow toys tube, so we didn't need to get our own poly carb tube, as the end caps for the flow toys one, are perfect for what we wanted. the next model will be longer, lots longer.



edit: Aran, check http://forum.tvsushi.com/index.php?showtopic=52662 especially the post by Bregg (the one with tonnes of smilies), and especially noting his naming ideas.

EDITED_BY: crazy_andy (1182642241)


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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:looks good: one thing i would recommend is finding a way around the 'invisible' (non glowy) ends, I find they tend to catch you unawares in all sorts of nasty places!

Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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*HyperLight
BRONZE Member since Dec 2003

*HyperLight

old hand
Location: Great Malvern [UK]

Total posts: 1174
Posted:That looks pretty cool; well done guys!

One thing that might make your patterns more distinctive is to briefly turn the LEDs off between changing colours. I use that a lost in the sequences I do for my HyperLights and it looks really cool smile


Cake or Death?

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