Surface Mount LEDs on a Through-hole PCB

Peggy 2le Surface Mount

Peter T. recently stopped by our shop with his Peggy 2LE and showed us his incredibly cool hack. He had noticed that the 0.1″ pin spacing for a standard through-hole LED is just about perfect to accommodate LEDs in a 1206 surface mount package.

Peggy 2le Surface Mount

Once he had finished populating all the LED locations, he brought it by again. He used an alignment jig he had made to keep everything in straight rows while soldering.

Peggy 2le Surface Mount

The surface mount LEDs look great on the grid designed for T-1 3/4!

Peggy 2le Surface Mount

We plugged it in so we could see his pretty orange LEDs in action. Thanks to Peter for bringing it by and letting us take pictures!

DIY Deck Ambiance with Flickering LEDs

Jack Olsen (of the awesome 12-Gauge Garage) wrote in about using our flickering LEDs to line the deck and pergola he had just built.

He says, “The LED candle effect is great, and really gives the place a relaxed feel at night.” You can read more about the deck project over at the Garage Journal forums, where he describes the build in more detail:

It has 28 real candles on it that I’ve hollowed out to accommodate flickering LED lights. It’s pretty convincing.

I have a pair of 3 v power supplies — each feeds half the light set. They’re plugged into a switched outlet with wire running down along the edge/underside of the deck and up through one of the pillars, then sneaking around the back of the wooden frieze thing and into holes drilled in the backside of the frame.

He even sent us a before shot, so you can see just how from-the-ground-up building the deck was. Thanks for sharing your project with us!

All photos by Jack Olsen.

Senko [Flash]

Tatsu Iida, a member of oxoxo [zero by zero] wrote in to tell us about the interactive LED installation entitled Senko [Flash] which they showed at the Tokushima LED Art Festival in April.

senko-body

They used a Peggy 2 to drive a field full of LED illuminated spheres, along with IR sensors to detect visitors entering the array. Each new person would trigger a new sphere to light up and move through the field.

閃光 [Senko] - Tokushima LED Art Festival

This is the largest installation we’ve ever seen based on the Peggy 2.

閃光 [Senko] - Tokushima LED Art Festival

Thanks for sharing your incredible project with us!

Links to many more Peggy 2 projects are on the wiki.

Infra, a TV built from remote controls

Chris Shen‘s first solo show just opened at 18 Hewett Street in London, and he shared with us about his piece, Infra, built using a Peggy 2:

The idea was to build a infrared display out of old remote controls, using the existing infrared LEDs as pixels of a low-res display. 625 old remote controls are mounted in a metal frame connected by individual wires to a modified Peggy 2 that runs the whole installation.

The main change to the Peggy was to solder molex headers instead of LEDs: this is to allow the wires to be easily plugged in and out of the board which is necessary when dismantling and reassembling the piece. Yes, all 625 remotes are numbered so they can be removed from the frame for transportation! The current and voltage was also adjusted fo IR LEDs as opposed to visible LEDs.

While researching, the main thing I was looking for was the ability to play video (live) on a low-res matrix. I looked into various ways of doing this but once I found the Peggy 2 kit it gave me confidence to go ahead with building Infra because of the open-source nature,  existing work done by Windell, and Jay Clegg’s video Peggy mod.

I connect all the remote controls via 500 meters of speaker wire to the Peggy, held into the frame by a simple looped elastic band. The circuit is mounted to a sheet of acrylic as the circuit bowed with all the wire attached. Each remote had to be opened to solder the wire directly to the LEDs legs. The wire is then routed out through the back of the remote and closed back up.

Preparing all 625 remote controls was the most time consuming part, each was different and often not very clean especially once you get inside. Although looking at all of the remotes individually revealed another side to the project which I’ve documented through a small run of books.

Thank you to Chris for sharing about how you made your piece with us. His exhibit will be up through February 3rd, 2013, so if you’re in London, go see it soon!

Peggy 2 with sockets

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Paul Gerhardt of Lockitron built this awesome Peggy 2 (our LED “pegboard” kit), where instead of directly soldering in all of the LEDs, they’re mounted in sockets so that they can be moved around easily.  Now, this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen a Peggy filled with sockets, but— thanks to Paul’s clever trick —it is the first time that we’ve seen it done well.

Usually, when someone fills a Peggy up with sockets, it ends up looking something like this:
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As you may be able to see, the usual problem with installing an array of sockets this large is that it is very difficult to keep the sockets aligned neatly. Corey Menscher made a socketed Peggy for an ITP project, and his photo above demonstrates the problem.

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Once you add the LEDs, small offsets in socket alignment translate into larger angle variation in the LEDs that are put into them.  We’ve usually gotten around this problem by soldering the LEDs directly into the holes, so that the LEDs are flush against the circuit board and stay level and aligned.

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Paul solved the problem by making a laser-cut acrylic overlay that fits around the sockets, holding each one squarely in position, and also providing a level surface to push the LEDs against, so that they all stay level and aligned.

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A second trick that he used is to solder all of the LED sockets into the back side of the PCB, so as to avoid any height interference with other components.  So instead of LEDs, the on the “front” side of the Peggy, you just see the tail ends of the sockets.  Then, the acrylic overlay can be just at the height of the sockets for the entire board, giving the whole thing a clean, sleek look.

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To add just one more layer of awesome, he’s hanging his Peggy on a pegboard.  (Now, we just need to route power up through the holes.)   Thanks, Paul, for sharing your clever hack.

Twitter controlled Eggbotted LED Ornaments

AJ Fisher posted an incredibly thorough write-up about his Twitter/Raspberry Pi/Arduino controlled LED lit Eggbot decorated Christmas tree ornaments. Each ornament would light up when twitter keywords represented by their icons were being used.

In the words of a friend of ours, “It makes me feel as though there are people all over the world celebrating with their family and friends just like we are, and you’ve brought them all into the room with us” – and if that’s not what doing this sort of technology is all about then I don’t know what is.

The article includes techniques he used, links to his code, source vector art, and so much more.

More Star Trek Menorahs for Hanukkah

Star Trek TNG Menorah

We’re not sure what it it is about Hanukkah that brings out the Star Trek fans, but they’re back. First, Joyce brings us an updated TNG hanukiah. Joyce was one of those responsible for the epic menorah we posted about in 2009. The LED on the Enterprise is being worked on–we think they may have a problem with their dilithium crystals.

Star Trek Menorah

Next, VanEdge posted this menorah in the forums. Both of these fine examples are based on Pez dispensers, which seem to be a handy size for holiday hacking, particularly when combined with our LED Menorah kit.

Happy Hanukkah to you both, and thank you for sharing your projects!

Classic Robot Costume

Our friend Ben sent us this picture of his son’s “robot” costume:

…lit with, what else, EMSL surplus traffic light— kill your eyes —LEDs. It’s five series pairs of your LEDs pointed up inside the costume and down the sleeves so the light bounces around and positively pours out of every crevice – highly visible for trick-or-treating!  There’s another two pairs, not lit in the picture, controlled by the momentary switches on the front panel for “turn signals.”

Thank you, Ben for sharing your project! And we still have just a few more of those eye-killing LEDs in the shop.