Tired of looking at all those old T-shirts in your closet? Are some of them too stained or worn to donate, and too precious to throw away? With a few supplies and a bit of time, you can turn them into a beautiful quilt that commemorates all your proudest moments.(more…)
I built a flexible screen in the form of a beaded curtain encrusted with LEDs that I control remotely. I’ve had this project on my list for quite some time, and the idea is simple: run lots of LEDs in vertical strips, enough to form a curtain.(more…)
I’m back with another roundup! This time, I’m sharing my 6 favorite DIY crafts projects! For those who have been following me for a while, some of these may look familiar. However, if you’re new to my blog, this is a perfect introduction to my crafting videos.(more…)
Learn how to sew a simple and satisfying Dopp Kit bag- perfect for traveling, tool storage, makeup, and more.
Last year I made my first Dopp Kit bag as a companion piece to my Waxed Canvas Tool Roll…
But I didn’t just try to make the bag from canvas. I also made some with my stash of boldly printed grocery delivery bags. Everyone I’ve made one for has really enjoyed theirs, so I’m releasing the pattern and showing you how to stitch up your own. This is a pretty easy sewing project, albeit a little more 3D than the tool roll. They go great together.
You can use this bag for anything you want: Tools, art supplies, makeup, etc. I have a couple in my van, one with snacks and one with picnic supplies.(more…)
It’s time for another roundup… This time, I’m sharing 6 electronics projects from my catalog that are great for beginners. If you’ve been here a while, you may recognize some of them. If you’re new, consider this a gentle intro to my inventory of electronics projects!
1. Basic LED Circuit
Let’s start with the Basic LED Circuit, where I’ll guide you through the fundamental steps of building your initial light-up circuit. This can be used for various projects, including creating a Halloween decoration or a decorative floral centerpiece.(more…)
In this post, we’ll be crafting an eye-catching painting that incorporates LEDs. This project is easily customizable to suit any decor theme, making it a great group activity.
My journey with this project began when I created it for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, using Nate Larson’s guide designed for in-person activities. During my live stream sponsored by Digi-Key, I had a great time working on the project and interacting with some of my favorite makers. If you missed the live stream, you can check out the replay!
To make this project, you will need:
- Canvas on a hollow frame
- Black paint and paintbrush
- LED strips, rings, jewels, and/or individual pixels
- Stranded wire
- Soldering tools and supplies
- Soldering iron DK #1691-1083-ND
- Solder DK #2260-WBNCC633731-2OZ-ND
- Wire strippers DK #1691-1281-ND
- Flush cutters DK #1691-1037-ND
- Pliers DK #1691-1422-ND or tweezers DK #1597-1536-ND
- Eye protection DK #3M158306-ND
- Workholding tool (often called a third hand) DK #1568-1077-ND
- Multimeter DK #MN35-ND
- Heat shrink tubing DK #1528-4559-ND
- Heat gun (or a lighter) DK #1568-1602-ND
- Solder wick DK #315-SOLDERWICK2.0-ND or a desoldering pump DK #243-1183-ND for fixing mistakes
- A microcontroller (I’m using an Arduino Micro)
- Solder-type breadboard for building the circuit (not strictly necessary, but handy)
- Hot glue gun
- Canned air (optional but handy)
- USB power adapter
You’ll need a canvas that’s stretched, so you have direct access to the back of the fabric, which will diffuse the light. Other solid types of painting surfaces won’t let the light through.
You’ll also need some acrylic paint, brushes, something to protect your work surface, and your choice of addressable LED pixels, whether it be a strip, rings, singles, or whatever your preference.
To design your painting, you can arrange the canvas pixels and sketch the outline around them. For my artwork, I am sketching flowers.
After sketching the outline, I’m using black paint to fill in the design. It’s important to let the paint dry thoroughly before adding any electronics.
In the live stream, I connected the first NeoPixel ring to a microcontroller and attached it to the back of the canvas using hot glue. My cohost, Allie Weber, crafted her own adorable version of the painting project.
Following the live stream, I created a more stable version of the circuit using a solder-type breadboard. I connected the pixel’s power, ground, and data input to a microcontroller (in my case, an Arduino Micro).
Afterwards, I proceeded to attach more pixels to the chain using small gauge stranded wire, and then powered up the pixels using some library sample code uploaded to the Arduino. I flipped over the painting to align the pixels with the artwork before securing them in place with hot glue. To speed up the cooling process, I used canned air before repeating the procedure with additional pixels.
You can see the circuit diagram for my painting below.
Once the circuit is fully assembled, you can touch up the artwork using a little more paint if necessary. To power the circuit, I am using an old USB phone charger.
In Nate’s original guide, he demonstrates how to use pixel strip by folding it in half and positioning it upright and perpendicular to the painting. The hot glue is used as light pipes to achieve nicely diffused light and allow for two different colored regions to be placed in close proximity to each other.
The finished painting makes a great night light that’s totally unique. Give this one a try, and please share what you made!
I’m going to show you how to reuse these batteries, diverting valuable and hazardous substances from landfill while acquiring free batteries for your microcontroller projects.
The Shift to Single-Use Vape Devices
It’s ridiculous… How do vape companies get away with putting perfectly good rechargeable lithium batteries in a single-use device? And why does it seem like there are so many more of these around all of a sudden?
I think the shift has something to do with the Juul ban. Juul had a significant share of the market with its rechargeable, cartridge refillable device. When it was pulled from the US market in 2022 by the FDA, new competitors popped up to fill the demand, in a market where now brand recognition could mean a target on your back from regulators. So they’re not incentivized to make a refillable system. And selling you a completely new device every time the old one wears out is more profitable than selling you just a cartridge. Unless lithium becomes much more scarce, or it becomes a legal requirement to make them infinitely refillable, I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon, unfortunately.
I did find some brands that do have a charging circuit included, to make use of a larger liquid reservoir. But once the liquid runs out, the device is still intended to be thrown out.
How did I get this many devices to take apart? Besides picking them up off the sidewalk, I asked my local Buy Nothing group and found a few willing folks who knew better than to throw these in the trash and were happy to offload their hoard.
Lithium Battery Overview
Lithium batteries are used in many everyday devices like laptops, cell phones, hybrids and electric cars. They are much lighter than traditional alkaline batteries and can last much longer. They can also be recharged multiple times. So it’s no wonder that they’re in everything nowadays.
Lithium batteries contain layers of materials folded up together into a small shape. Energy is stored on either side of a battery “stack” and it wants to get from one side to the other, and we power our circuits by making the charges do work for us along the way. As the battery discharges and produces an electric current, lithium ions are released by the anode to the cathode, causing a flow of electrons from one end to the other. When charging, the opposite happens: the cathode releases lithium ions, which are then obtained by the anode. You can think of the act of charging like pushing the energy back to the other side so that it can be ready to go again. And if the layers are breached by, say, a puncture or by crushing, the battery can become shorted out, and the electrons get way too excited.
The C rate is the measure of how quickly the battery can be discharged and recharged without damaging it. Failure modes include overcharging, over-discharging, and short-circuiting. Always use a charging rate appropriate for the battery’s C rating, or a conservative guess.
Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts when using LiPo batteries:
- Charge your battery slowly and evenly, at a rate appropriate for its capacity.
- Store your battery in a cool place
- Get a fireproof battery bag to keep your batteries in
- Don’t charge or discharge your battery too quickly or let it get too hot
- Don’t leave your battery unattended while charging
- Don’t discharge your battery below its minimum voltage level
Taking Apart the Devices
Taking apart anything with a lithium battery in it is dangerous. You have to be careful not to damage the battery or short it out, or you could quickly have a concentrated fire hazard on your hands. So, don’t do this at home without the supervision of someone who knows what they are doing!
I cracked open the cases using an awl and hammer to apply force to the seams in the plastic enclosures.
Then, the whole circuit and tank assembly usually slides right out. If it doesn’t, you can reach in with pliers and pull on the plastic tank– not the battery or its wires.
I recommend wearing gloves when handling and disposing of the liquid tank, and give the battery a wipe before removing them. When I didn’t, I had a hard time getting the stink out of my fingers even after washing my hands. This whole process is pretty smelly, and I think you can absorb the ingredients through your skin too.
Here are some examples of the batteries I found inside. These 280 and 350 mAh batteries are about five dollars retail, and perfect for wearables or other portable projects.
I desoldered them from the other circuitry, and soldered the two wire connections to a new JST plug, with plenty of heat shrink tubing to insulate the connections and relieve any strain on the tiny battery wires.
Charging the Batteries
To charge these up, you can’t just connect them to power. You’ll need a charger circuit with appropriate settings for the size of the battery. The charger monitors the battery and fills it up gradually and safely.
Some have a dip switch so you can toggle the charging rate, like the one shown on the left. You should choose the fastest rate without going over the capacity of the battery. So, for example, for a 350mAh battery, I’d choose to charge at 300 mA. Others have solder pads you can bridge to set the charging rate, like that shown on the right– I chose 200 for the 280 mAh batteries.
You can find the components I used linked below:
The large-capacity devices are nice for reusing because they come with a charging circuit. It’s been interesting to see that which charging chip varies quite a bit. Some are integrated overvoltage and overcurrent protection chips, but others just put a couple of PNP transistors on there and call it a day. So depending on the quality of the included charge circuit, you may wish to use it… or lose it.
I included the information that I could track down about the charging components I found below.
|Over Voltage and Over Current Protection IC|
|current limiting/overvoltage protection IC chip|
PNP Small Signal Transistor
Protection Circuitry & Safety
The difference between these batteries and the nicer ones you might buy is the protection circuitry, or lack thereof. Lithium batteries can be damaged if they are drained or charged too much or too fast. Good hobby batteries will have a little circuit on them that cuts off the power when their voltage dips too low, and protects against shorts and dangerously high current with an overcurrent cutout, These batteries usually don’t have any of that, so you need to add that circuitry yourself or leave the battery connected to a charger that has protection circuitry built-in, and is set to the proper charging rate for your battery.
To protect against accidental shorts after the battery’s out of the enclosure, I added some tape and heatshrink to the exposed contacts. Obviously it’s not a great idea to be adding any amount of heat to these batteries, so I was very judicious.
This electrical tape isn’t the best kind, either. You should use high-temp Kapton tape, but this is better than just chucking all these bare batteries in a box together.
When the device designers put these together, they knew the current draw would never exceed that of the air sensor and heater. When reusing these batteries, thermal runaway could be a real concern– if your circuit draws more current than it is rated for (the conservative rule of thumb is the battery capacity per hour), you could start an unstoppable chain reaction inside the battery that causes it to explode. Remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7?
So in conclusion, I encourage you to pick these devices up if you see them littered, and at least get them to proper e-waste recycling, and maybe use them to power your next solar device.
Here are a few projects that I think would be a good fit for these batteries:
- Glowing Eyes Costume
- Unicorn Horn with 3D Printing & NeoPixel LEDs
- IoT Muscle Sensing ‘Sup Brows with Kate Hartman
- Remember the Whee-Lo?
- Knife Sharpening Angle Coach
- Internet Valentine w/ ESP8266
- NeoPixel Tiara for Birthday or Prom
- Heart Rate Badge
- NeoPixel Punk Collar
Thanks so much for being here and here’s wishing you safe battery harvesting.
It’s roundup time! If you’re a longtime fan, you might remember some of these 3D printing projects from my channel. If you’re new, consider this a guided tour of some of my best.
1. Dust Port Adapter
Let’s start with a project that will come in handy if you have power tools with a different brand dust collector: a dust port adapter! These are great for keeping all that excess sawdust from getting everywhere. It’s extremely useful, prints super fast, and hardly uses any filament.
You can check out my full video on that project here.
2. LED Mason Jar Lanterns
These LED mason jars are kinda magical. When lit up, these little jars transform into warm and inviting orbs. The 3D print holds the circuit in place and you can customize them in a bunch of different ways.
Watch the video for more information.
3. DIY Candle Mold
Now, let’s try something totally different. This next project is a candle mold that you can 3D print. It’s perfect for making candles in any shape you want. This method works surprisingly well, and custom candles make great gifts.
Here‘s the full video!
4. Filament Dry Box
Once you’ve been 3D printing for a while, you will inevitably acquire a stash of filament, and you may want to start looking into filament storage solutions. Well, take this as a sign to build your own 3D printer filament dry box. This customized storage bin will keep your filament from getting damp and ruining your prints. The off-the-shelf components work with some 3D-printed parts to bring this project together quickly.
Watch the full video here.
5. Glowing LED Flower
Next, make this glowing LED flower. The stem shape holds a battery and the 10mm LED supports the flower’s petals. You can optionally use needle felting to change up the texture as well as diffuse the LED.
Check out the video.
6. Light-Up Kaleidoscope
And last but not least, here’s an awesome LED kaleidoscope made from 3D printed parts. To get started, download the files my friend Debra designed and watch our video to learn how to put it all together using wireless LEDs.
So there you have it – my top six easy DIY 3D printing projects. I hope you have as much fun making these projects as I did. Thanks for watching and happy 3D printing!
Today I’m taking a look inside the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses. They’ve got cameras, speakers, microphones, and a whole lot more crammed into these frames.
These glasses are particularly interesting because of how small and oddly shaped the electronics must be to fit entirely in the otherwise pretty normal-looking frames. Before I took them apart, I sent them off to be CT scanned by my friends at Lumafield.
Taking apart these glasses was not an easy or elegant task. The only screws I was able to remove successfully were the ones holding the arms onto the front of the frames. And even still, there were flex PCBs routed through these hinges that I broke when I tore the arms off.
This teardown is sponsored by Digi-Key, where you can pick up supplies and tools for your own electronics projects. Check out this project on their maker.io site. Thanks to David Cranor for lending his EE expertise and to Lumafield for the 3D scan.(more…)