Friday, May 4, 2012

Light-It-Up Component Organizer

I got the idea for doing this from this guy: . After seeing that video and learning about the TLC5940NT (a 16 bit PWM driver which can be daisychained to even greater orders), I felt inspired to finally clean up my lab supplies. I have too often felt disrupted by not having parts when I thought I did, and not knowing where those parts were when I needed them. With this system I will hopefully solve both problems, as my entire inventory will need to be recorded, and organized.

Designing the PCB's for the control circuit was simple enough. I just followed these diagrams: The main challenge so far in the project is keeping costs down while retaining a higher level of quality than I have adhered to in my projects so far. I have a bit more money to invest in this project, so I intend to make it as clean as possible.

Here's a picture of my proof-of-concept. The trouble with clear drawers is the light cross-talk between drawers when they are lit from the rear. To solve this issue I taped some aluminum foil around the drawer like a hotdog bun.  This solves the issue in the left, right and down directions, but all the drawers above it are still lit. So by adding a second hotdog bun to the drawer above, the original drawer becomes a light-pipe of sorts. I really like how the drawer is fully lit, with the light completely diffused. Of course when the idea is actually implemented I will be using a silver paint and not foil...

I also tested how the concept worked when actually filled with items and I am pleased to say that it works quite well. More on that later.

I started working on the LED backplane last night. I had designed a PCB to accomplish the task, but actually having the PCB made was going to be far too expensive. So I went ahead and tried to etch my own board. The size of the design proved to be too much for the process. I could not get the resist layer to adhere very well to the clad. So I have started making the PCB manually from proto board. It is about as much fun as counting grains of sand. To ease (or add to?) the tedium I bought "Atlas Shrugged" on audiobook. So far, 8 LED's (out of 64) are connected... this project will take some time...

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