ITP Blog

My journey in making things

Homemade Hardware – The story of the R

For this week’s class we had to make an LED letter, that is controlled by a sensor. After some class debate, I got the letter R, and started working on the design. This blog post will recap all my process in the creation of my LED letter. To make it short and concise here is a rundown of everything that happened over the last week in the creation process:

  • I cut my finger 3 times
  • I broke a drill 1/32″ bit
  • I drilled 3 R’s, soldered them entirely and only then realized I had a problem
When I came out of the class the first thing I did, was to cut last week’s board (kind of getting my feet wet before I start cutting this week’s assignment). This process went surprisingly smooth (which says nothing about what’s about to come next).

Design Process

I started by designing the R, I wanted something classic but also the ability to fit all components nicely without having to struggle with getting everything on top of it.

One important thing I realized during the making process is that it’s probably better (at least for my soldering skills) to use an endmill, and make very wide traces, 1/64″ in picture above.

Fab, Fab & Fab

I started by using an engraving bit, which in return led to some really nice looking circuits, but that was literally impossible to solder, plus got me injured while putting the bit on, yes it’s sharp who would have thought so right?

After 4 versions of the same R I was able to get it right, using the 1/32″ end mill bit and with a ton of patience. One thing this homework has thought me well, was to solder, as every single one of the try outs was actually soldered to completion. Some of the reasons it didn’t work on the first tryouts are me using engraving bit, using a double sided board (both sides are conductive, I know now) and poor soldering skills which led some of the boards to essentially not work.

Coding and making it light up

I decided to use a pot to drive the LED’s. instead of having it turn the LED’s on and off, I decided to continue with the breathing effect from the previous week, and add an off feature when the chip reads the pot value to be less then 10, all other values control the ‘breathing speed’ of the effect. Here is how the part that controls the LED’s look:


Here is a demo video of the R in action

Hi I am Or, I am a director, developer and artist. My current interest in research is sound interaction, computer vision & immersive media development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *