Project Introduction

Stephen Friederichs edited this page Jan 22, 2016 · 4 revisions

Welcome! This Wiki will eventually hold all of the project documentation for my traffic light costume. The goal is to create a shirt that uses LEDs to generate a traffic light pattern when the wearer moves. So for example, it would be red while at rest, green while the wearer is moving and when the user stops, transition to yellow for three seconds and then finally red again.

My goal for this project is to have an amazing Halloween costume. My second goal is to introduce a wide variety of people to the wonderful world of making stuff. While it's true that thanks to Arduino more people are making things than ever I continually find that people hit a road block where they grow out of using other people's shields and other people's code and really want to dig into the inner-workings of microcontrollers and electronics. Sadly there don't seem to be very many good resources that cover a complete project from inception to completion. I see lots of YouTube videos showing awesome finished projects which are very light on implementation details. I see lots of source code, schematics and layouts released with little or no information on the 'why' of any of the design decisions or discussion of tradeoffs and methods and no discussion of the tools used. Very few people talk about the nuts and bolts of design: creating schematic parts, working for hours to debug a single line of code on a microcontroller or the tedious wasted time redrawing layouts from scratch three times over.

The tools to create things from scratch are out there - and I'm not talking about the Arduino version of scratch either where you start with a development environment, fabricated board, bootloader, libraries to do anything you want and shields to use any chip you want. I'm talking starting with bare ICs and PCB substrate ordered from Digikey - that's my idea of scratch. What's more is that these tools are free - 100%. An Arduino is actually pretty expensive when you get down to it and Eagle costs you money if you want to progress beyond a certain board size. What's lacking is the process - the step by step of designing and creating something that wasn't there before. Using the process I hope to document in this Wiki and on the blog I have created professional embedded systems using nothing but free tools and a lot of elbow grease. This is what I want to share with the world. It's my hope that when I finally complete this effort someone will be able to reproduce my work on their own. That would make me very happy.

In the mean time, to show that I'm not all vaporware, here's a picture of the board that I created:

The board itself

And here's links to content already created:

TinyCAD Schematic Capture Guide

Project Directory Structure Overview

Electronics Overview