Archive for February, 2014
Whelp, it’s finally time to take my LED Cube building skills to the next level. I’m working with a great company called USA Firmware, and we’re working on making a 4x4x4 RGB LED Cube kit! We’re stepping things up by incorporating the STM32F4 Discovery Board. Yep, that’s right, the cube is going to be controlled by a 168MHz ARM! Just think of the possibilities now! Questions of streaming animations, running FFT, internet connectivity, etc are no longer a concern with this kind of horsepower. Don’t get me wrong, the Arduino will always have a special place in my heart, which is why we want to make the kit ‘universal’, meaning that you can still control the cube with other platforms, including: Arduino, Raspeberry Pi, Beagle Bone Black, Electric Imp, blah blah… The goal with this kit is to make an educational project that walks you through the (well written) code and explains the hardware in detail. At this stage in the game, this is more of a background activity for us, but we just received the first (alpha 1) boards, and they look great! We may run a kickstarter campaign, but first we need to build up a fully functioning prototype. If this is something you might find interesting, shoot me an email [kevin (at) kevindarrah.com] and I’ll ad you to the list where I can keep you informed of updates. For the complete kit (not including the microcontroller), we may be the $75-100 range.
A common question I get is “where do you work?” I think most people who see my projects have a curiosity about how I got started, and how I continue to develop my skills. Yes, I do have an Engineering Degree, and have worked as a HW Engineer for a couple years, but you may be surprised to hear that most of my knowledge has come from experimentation and reading-up on the specific topics I’m interested in.
Let’s take the LED cube as an example. It all started with this microcontroller kit (sorry if the link is dead). Once I worked through the examples, I got the itch… and it had to be scratched. I immediately designed a simple 4×4 grid of LEDs, then a 3x3x3 LED cube. Okay, then I heard about the Arduino? (Believe it or not, but I started with the PIC Microcontroller) I started playing with the Arduino, and once I figured out how to make it ‘stand alone’, I fell in love… Oh boy am I rambling here, but the point is that I eventually designed the 4x4x4 LED Cube. These cubes were designed using multiplexed transistors. Why? because this was the only way I knew possible at the time. Flash forward a few years… I discovered the 74HC595 Shift Register, and started thinking… thought some more, then designed the 8x8x8 RGB LED Cube.
What’s up next? you’ll just have to wait and see, but you can be assured that it is going to be an insane mind-melting project you’re going to love I’m certain it’s going to be awesome, because I now work at a great company called USA Firmware, who rewards my creative juices and encourages my outlandish project ideas! I work alongside the top guys/gals in this industry and we love bouncing ideas back and forth, like what in the home can be made ‘smart’ or debating the best embedded platforms. I’m really excited, because I no longer have to randomly stumble on new technologies and coding techniques to get better. I’m working on stuff across many disciplines of Engineering including: Software, Firmware, Hardware, CAD, and Product Development. If you have any specific large scale projects you need engineering services for, make sure you check out USA Firmware’s website, and submit an inquiry. If you think the stuff I’ve done in the past was cool… just wait until you talk to our team here at USA Firmware!