This weekend April 29th to May 1st I’ll be helping to run a hardware hacking area in the Hackerspace Tent at MindField – International Festival of Ideas. Taking place inside Merron Square park in Dublin’s city centre MindField offers a diverse programme of talks, debates and workshops covering various topics on culture, technology, politics and inspiration.

Members from Irelands hackerspaces and makerspaces have been invited to build a temporary hackerspace in the park over the weekend. Giving visitors the opportunity to experience the possibilities of hacker and maker culture in Ireland. We’ll be showing off existing projects, teaching new skills through activities and workshops, and working on new projects with visitors and the resources we’re bringing over the weekend.

In MindField Hackerspace I’ll be helping to run a hardware hacking area teaching people to solder repair and re-propose, and giving a free Introduction to Arduino Workshop. I’ll also be talking part in the Hack the Planet! panel discussion on hackerspaces.

In the hardware hacking area I’ll be selling some of my kits including the Mini Mood Light v1, Dual LED Matrix Display and other LED based displays. All along with Arduino Uno’s, TI LanuchPad’s, electroluminescent wire and hundreds of LEDs.

One very special item I’ll have for sale is a basic I Can Solder kit which is in the form of a badge. The I Can Solder badge was inspired by the Electronic Merit Badge from Make:. Which I had the pleasure of using to help teach hundreds of kids and adults to solder during the Maker Faire UK in March in New Castle, England.

Events Product

LED Matrix Display

Last Sunday I gave a workshop in TOG as part of it’s Engineers Week 2011 activities. We spent the day assembling a 8×8 Red/Green LED Matrix Display circuit which I designed in strip board.

The circuit forms an interface between a micro controller and a 8 by 8 Dual Colour Common Anode LED Module. This type of module has two LEDs per pixel, each row has 8 pixels, with 8 rows. The anodes of each LED in a row are connected, with 16 columns formed by connecting together the cathode of an LED from each row.

A high side switch is needed to turn on/off a row and must be able to source approximately 240 milliamperes (16 multiplied by 15 milliamperes). A low side switch is needed to turn on/off a column, but only one LED is on per column so it only needs to sink 15 milliamperes.

For the high side switching I used a TD62783APG 8 Channel High-Voltage Source Driver from Toshiba Semiconductor. It’s very important that only one output from the TD62783 is on at any one time so I used a 74HC238 3-to-8 Decoder from NXP to control the row selection. For the low side switching we used two 74HC595 8-bit Shift Registers from NXP.

Only one row of LEDs is on at a time, the display uses persistence of vision to give the illusion that all the LEDs are active at one time.

The basic operation for displaying a single frame is. The data for a row is shifted into shift registers one bit at a time, the shift register output is turned off (OE), the row is selected on the decoder, the shift register data is loaded into the output registers (LE) and then the shift register output is turned on. These steps are repeated for each additional row of data. All the steps are repeated indefinitely until the next frame of data is to be displayed.

The circuit was designed around the Arduino micro controller but should work with other micro controllers. The connections are shown in the image. The left hand side of the display is the row select pins the central pins are for power and ground, with the columns connected to serial peripheral interface (SPI) pins on the Arduino on the right.

Dual 8×8 Matrix v0.1 Schematic

I’ll do a follow-up blog post with the source code and a Java program I’ve written to create animations.


Engineers Week 2011

Next week I’m helping to run a number of events in TOG for Engineers Week.

I’ll be helping Jeffrey with his free Arduino 101 – Learn to Blink on Tuesday, the Soldering Workshop on Saturday and I’ll be giving a new LED Dot Matrix Display Workshop on Sunday (I hope to do a write up soon).

During the week I have a number of Arduino Uno‘s boards available for €30.

Also over the weekend I’ll take part in the Synchronous Hackathon and I hope to have time to help with TOG’s Hackerspace 555 Timer Challenge entry for the 555 Contest.