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stupid pet trick #3

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as expected, fabricating this puppy was the thing that took me upwards of three days to do.  for the life of me, i just couldn't figure out how to make a stupid box to enclose my stupid pet trick.

here is where i started the day after i had "finished" assembling my breadboard.  all the raw materials are next to the project:

i had some plywood and plexiglas, and set out to make the enclosure.  i started by cutting up the giant plywood board that i had bought from home depot but soon found out that it's harder to cut straight lines than i thought.  my pieces were all lopsided and didn't fit together at all like i thought they would.

in an effort to distract myself from the problem at hand, i set to work sanding my plexi, which was actually pretty fun and easy to do.  however, when i placed the plexi the desired distance away from my breadboard, the light from my two rows of LEDs wasn't diffusing as nicely as i'd hoped.  and to top it off, the wires were clearly visible.

so, i decided to make some changes.

this is about halfway through restructuring my breadboard.  i ended up adding a third row of LEDs and cut brand new, short wires that live under the LEDs themselves and don't get in the way of the glow.  once i was done, the light was a little brighter and the board was much, much neater.

the next day, i came back to the shop intending only to cut new pieces of wood, paint them, and call it a day.  however, i ended up on such a roll that i assembled most of my box before the night was over.

when it came time to put the top on and out the switch through it, i kept running into a problem where the switch would go off when i pressed down on the top, even though i wasn't hitting the button.  after a little close inspection, i realized that it was because my wires were touching.  the solution to that was just to separate the terminals so that the only thing that could possibly complete the circuit was pushing the button.

the last step was to diffuse the light from the LEDs and laser the text for the sign.  diffusion was the bane of my existence throughout this entire project.  i always knew that it was hard (especially after my time in the tv and film industry) but it was much, much harder than i expected even with that knowledge.  someone on the itp student list finally made me aware of a translucent milk plexi available at canal plastics, so i stopped by there before returning to the floor the next day.

this plastic actually worked really well to diffuse the light, although it dimmed it considerably when placed over it.  at this point, though, i didn't have a choice and i assembled the final piece of the box.

i may make some final tweaks to this even after i've already presented in class, such as obscuring the text in some way so that it's not readable until the light shines.  i also ended up making an address label with a p-touch to make it clear that this is supposed to be a doorbell.  i do wish i were able to find an actual chime that would work with this circuit, but i suppose i have a year and a half down the line to fine tune this pet trick, don't i?

pcompRoopa Vasudevan