Sunday, August 31, 2014

Circuit Board Design

So Halloween is one of my favorite holidays -- I love building costumes, and October 31st is great motivation to make and wear something cool.

Last year I attempted to make Guy's helmet, from Daft Punk:

Pretty sweet setup!

Long story short... It didn't work out so great. The funky visor shape necessitated a vacuum former, and my attempt to build one was less than satisfactory. In the end, I had to scrap the project, and just went as Finn, from Adventure Time.

This year will be different. I'm identifying my limits and working around them. I've purchased a raw pull of a helmet that came with a nice vac-formed visor, and have the side LEDs all set up (purchased from AlexPlusLEDs). Alex's LED set didn't include the "heartbeat" ear, however. Since it's a rather small and relatively simple circuit, I thought I'd try my hand at designing and building it!

The goal is to make the ear look like the following:

This would be an easy blink for an Arduino, but that's just too easy! Not to mention that even the smallest Arduino Nano's are around 5$ each.

I instead plan to use a 555 timer and a 4017 Decade Counter, which can be had for $0.55 and $0.45, respectively. Add in the random resistors, caps, and LEDs, and my total project cost is around 3$ for each ear. Not too shabby!

My board is designed in Fritzing, a great open source program that's incredibly easy to use. You start off by building your circuit on a digital breadboard:

Then you go over to the PCB tab, and arrange your board!

Once that's finished, I exported the Gerber files and sent it off to OSHPark to have the boards printed!

The result will be a very nice little board! Here's hoping that it actually works!