3D Printing the Impossible: A Penrose Triangle

An impossible object is a two-dimensional figure that, at first glance, looks like a real 3D object. However, further inspection will lead to the conclusion that the object can’t actually exist in 3D. One famous example of this is the Penrose triangle. The concept was used in M.C. Escher’s famous Waterfall, and you might also recognize it as Digilent’s logo.

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Light Painting with WS2812 LEDs

A friend of mine came into town for Christmas and I wanted to do some sort of photography project with him. A few months ago, there were some pictures floating around the internet from Stephen Orlando, who took LEDs and attached them to a kayak paddle and kayaked around a lake, and through rapids. I wanted to do something similar. The first night wasn’t very organized. We went into the woods with just the LED strip, the chipKIT board (the uC32), and a battery.

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Na Na Na Na Na, Battbot!

Without its two chocolate shortbread cookies, an Oreo is just a dollop of icing. A Christmas tree without the tree is just a pile of ornaments and lights, a sandwich without bread is just a salad, and a robot without a chassis is just a tangle of wires and electronics. That’s why my For Cheap Robots series had three tutorials on how to make a cheap chassis for your robot, long before I even touched a soldering iron. But what if the chassis and electronic components were one and the same?

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Simon Says… with LEDs!

At one point or another, we have all played the “Simon Says” game. In this game, one person, Simon (or Susan, Chad, or whoever happens to be the leader), will say “Simon says” and tell all of the other players to do something, such as raise their left hand. The catch in this game is that if the leader tells the other players to do something without saying the words “Simon says” and the other players do it anyway, they’re out. I personally really enjoy playing Simon Says, but I thought it could even be more fun if you could play Simon Says with a bunch of LEDs…

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Temperature-Sensing Coffee Coaster

Coffee is taken very seriously here at Digilent, as it is in most workplaces. Something that used to make me mad was not knowing when my coffee hit that perfect “Goldilocks” temperature zone where it didn’t burn my mouth but was warm enough to fully enjoy. I am currently working on developing a thermocouple Pmod using Analog Devices MAX31855 and thought of a great application project. If I could somehow sense how hot the temperature of the coffee was, I could have a microcontroller tell me when my coffee hit the perfect temperature range!

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Arms and Motors and Sensors, Oh My!

I’m very proud to say that my For Cheap Robots project is still going strong! As some of you may recall, at the beginning of last month, I announced the beginning of my For Cheap Robots series here on the Digilent blog. Since then, I’ve added several more tutorials to the list and gotten a huge amount of positive feedback. I want to thank any and all of you who here who follow the Digilent Blog and decided to pop over to Instructables to check it out!

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Proximity-Sensing LEDs Part 2: On a PCB

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I designed the proximity-sensing LED circuit to eventually move it on to a printed circuit board, or PCB. This was my first experience with PCB layout, and thankfully it was successful! The board I designed is in the picture below. We ordered 6 “prints” and soldered them in our MakerSpace. I also included extra vias (electrical connections between the layers of the board) so that we could connect multiple boards together.

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The “For Cheap Robots” Series for Cheap Robots!

Robotics isn’t always immediately accessible. There are kits and tutorials, and a huge community built up around robotics, but it’s still an expensive hobby to get into. Many cheap robotics platforms can cost upwards of a hundred dollars, which can seem overwhelming when you’re young and just getting started. That’s why I started a series on Instructables dedicated to using cheap materials and an arts-and-crafts mentality to make robotics cheaper and more approachable for everybody!

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