Thursday, July 29, 2010

Japanino-driven Aurorarium

For those of you dropping by here to get an early review of Gakken's new kit, #28, the Edo-era clock with Japanino leaf switch, I apologize. My birthday is coming up and there's a slight possibility that I may be getting this as a gift. If not, I'll definitely buy it. Either way, I should have the review posted by the end of the week of the 7th.

In the meantime , I was thinking of chopping up the Aurorarium kit and showing you how to make your own, using the Japanino.



The Aurorarium is an earlier kit produced by Gakken as part of their unnumbered mook series for kids which teaches the principles of the northern lights. The concept is very simple - 3 LEDs (red, blue and green) are aimed down at a slowly rotating sheet of reflective mylar, and then bounced up to a smoked sheet of plastic wrapped into a cone around the kit. Or, you can take the cone off and let the lights play on the walls and ceiling. Since the mylar holds creases really well, you can fold, or write on the sheet and let this be part of the design.



The Aurorarium kit has just a small handful of important parts: A AA-battery case, a small holder with the three LEDs, a geared-down 3V DC motor, a microswitch, and the controller circuit board. The microswitch acts as both an ON-OFF switch, and for selecting between color schemes (mostly red, mostly blue, and white with shades of gray). The LEDs fade on and off to create the different color combinations.

If you already have a Japanino, making the Aurorarium is simple. Just pick up three LEDs, one red, one blue and one green, and hook them up one-each to the PWM pins of the Japanino. Next, take the sketch that I have for fading three LEDs on the Japanino knol and modify it for the fade patterns you want for your aurorarium. The last step, if you choose to take it, is to connect a 3V DC motor to one of the other PWM pins, and use AnalogWrite() to control the voltage of the motor, to set the speed you want.

As I said, I was thinking about doing this. But, Gakken beat me to the punch. Their next kit, #29, is an origami-style paper lamp that uses the the red-blue-green LED combination from the Aurorarium, driven by the Japanino. The only thing missing here is the DC motor and rotating disk. Due out in October.



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