Hello everyone, and welcome back to another weekly design challenge summary. It’s the twelveth week of the PiCasso Design Challenge and the fourth week of the Experimenting with Polymer Capacitors Design Challenge. Lots of progress has been made over the past week, but before we get to the good stuff, let’s take a few moments to learn more about these challenges, their challengers, and what hardware is being featured. 



PiCasso Design Challenge


About The Challenge


Featured as the first Design Challenge of 2019, this challenge task its twenty participants with creating their artistic masterpiece using a Raspberry Pi Model 3B+. Challengers can either push their boundaries by using the computing power of Pi as the brains of their artistic work or to improve the aesthetics of their surroundings.


While twenty project proposals were chosen to be the official projects of the challenge, entering the challenge is not limited to just those twenty community members. Anyone can join the Challenge as a non-sponsored Challenger, and still be eligible win one of the three prizes. If you are a non-sponsored challenger all you need to do is integrate the components from the official challenger kit into your design, and post 10-weekly blogs detailing your project’s build.



The Official Kit


The PiCasso Design Challenge is sponsored by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Each challenger will receive all of the components below plus a wide assortment of additional passive, and digital components to build their projects with. If you would like to enter the challenge for yourself, or if you just want to follow along at home, you can purchase all of the components in the kit right here at Element14.



To learn more about each of these components as well as the other components included in the kit, visit the official kit announcement page or click the links above to purchase them for your project.

The Prizes

      • Grand Prize: DJI Mavic 2 Pro Videography Drone
      • Runner Up Prize: Nikon D3500 DSLR & Lens Kit
      • Finisher Prize: Raspberry Pi Arcade Kit. To be eligible, a challenger has to complete their project, use products from the challenger kit, and post at least 10 updates in the Sixth Sense Design Challenge space.


To learn more about the prizes, head over to the PiCasso Design Challenge Prize Page.



The Past Week In Review


Over the past several days, May 26th - June 1st, we have had a total of twenty-nine updates posted across eleven projects. I will be highlighting three of my favorite updates from this past week, but before I get to that, let's take a look at which projects were updated. 




This Week’s Top Updates


Project: 9 Pieces of Pi - PiCasso Design Challenge Blog  #3 - Trickle Down to the Brave New World



First up this week is the third installment to a series of art displays being built by Jon Clift. His previous two art pieces were quite interesting, and this third pice is no different. In this update, he wanted to create a cascading LED effect, and after a few design iterations, he finally settled on a “sail” that would sit atop a Raspberry Pi. As you can see in the image above, the sail was adorned with a 6x6 SMD LED matrix. The animation begins with the single LED at the top of the sail illuminating, and then the light it emits sort of cascades down the grid until it reaches the bottom, then another drop of light cascades downwards, and the process repeats until all of the LEDs are illuminated. The circuit uses a handful of discrete components as well as a pair of shift registers to minimize the GPIO pins needed to drive the matrix.


“Rather than try and drive 36 LEDs using GPIO lines, the LEDs are arranged in a 6x6 matrix, with 6 columns and 6 rows. The drivers to those rows and columns are, in turn, controlled by shift register outputs, thus reducing the GPIO count to four. I'm going to have a 1:6 multiplex on the columns and present the data on the rows. When I experimented with a single LED I found I needed about 10mA to get the illumination I wanted for a reasonable 'dot' on the paper,” Jon wrote. “That means the row drive will need to work at something like 60mA in order to average 10mA] and the column drive will need to cope with up to 360mA [if all 6 LEDs are on]. Because I didn't have a good option handy for driving the 360mA if I put it on the high side, and the shift register isn't quite rated for doing it if I did it on the low side, I decided to put BS170 MOSFETs on the low side for the 360mA and 2N3906 transistors on the high side for the row drive since I have plenty of both.” Click on the link above to watch this art piece in action, and to view the schematic and code Jon wrote to make the animation work.



Project: Art-a-Tronic - PiCasso Design Challenge Blog  #16 - Assimilation



Some big news came this week for Enrico Miglino’s project, Art-a-Tronic. You might recall that it was originally slated to be exhibited only at Depot09 – Ghent (BE), but that was before one of the curators of another art space viewed the exhibit. Now with the exhibit coming to an end, Enrico was asked to display Art-a-Tronic at the Kolder Art Space in Ghent for almost two months as well as having Enrico host a workshop on Saturdays that will be open to kids who are interested in programming. With that announcement made, Enrico went on to detail the final updates to the project including mechanical improvements, new hardware, and some significant coding changes. A few new feature additions were added as well.


“This 16th episode is the last technical post of the last project upgrade. I plan to publish also a final post next days to present all the features we saw in the past posts during these last two months. In the meantime, before going in-depth to the technical stuff, take a look at the video below, showing the birth of the Borg,” Enrico wrote. “In the meantime, for a couple of week Seven of Nine will stop sending tweets and some other features; she remains in her alcove waiting for the new site ready. In the meantime, you can chat on twee with her anyway as while she is restoring the Borg Access Terminal remains awake and connected.”


Over the years I have begun to feel like I know some of the challengers I feature here week in and week out, and I have been writing about Enrico’s projects since I started these blogs, and each and every Design Challenge he enters is a smashing success, and this project was no exception to that trend. There were more parts to this update than I could possibly cover in these few paragraphs, so please click the link above and spend a few minutes reading the full post.



Project: Adapting Art to Viewers - PiCasso Design Challenge Blog #7 - New Art



Wrapping things up is another successful project that made it to the finish line with time to spare. In the eleventh update to his project, Adapting Art to viewers, Frank Milburn summarizes the project and gives his thoughts on how it can be improved. “The PiCasso Art Deluxe is an art exhibit that uses AI to recognize the viewer and display art tailored to them.  The design is retro-inspired and uses two Raspberry Pi computers - one to do the facial recognition and one for the display.  Art that is Raspberry Pi themed, much of it developed on a Raspberry Pi, was created with my grandchildren and is displayed when a family member is recognized,” he wrote. “The concept is also well suited to other uses.  For example, it could recognize family members and give them the weather, the traffic on their route to work, their schedule for the day, etc. on their way out the door.  The display could change with the time of day, season, etc.”


I absolutely love ultra-modern electronics projects that take on a retro theme, especially when that theme is executed so well. While there were some bumps in the road with the facial recognition portion of the project, I feel that it turned out exceptionally well for the amount of time that has transpired since his first post. It seems that Frank feels the same way. “The art was a big success and looks good on the display.  Pi Presents does a good job of managing the display.  The children like the animations and enjoyed doing the art that went into them.  Scratch on the Raspberry Pi is a lot of fun and I intend to use it with my grandson this summer.  I am happy with the way the project looks and expect to be using the 3D printer a lot more in the future,” he wrote.


He concluded by listing a few things that could be improved to give a better user experience. “Clearly the facial recognition frame rate and accuracy would benefit from more work.  Hardware tailored to AI on the edge is beginning to show up at prices that hobbyists can afford.  There are a number of rough edges on the software but these could be cleared fairly quickly.  Power currently comes in via two USB supplies and that could be consolidated.  Sound is sent out to an external amp and speaker which could be incorporated into the cabinet.  Numerous enhancements such as control over Bluetooth, selection of "channels" using the control knobs, etc. are possible.” Head over to the link above to read through the entire post, and to watch a video of the project in action.



Experimenting with Polymer Capacitors Design Challenge


About The Challenge


The Experimenting with Polymer Capacitors Design Challenge is a new type of challenge for 2019, this challenge is a hands-on competition that everyone in the community can participate in. Instead of requiring a participant to produce a full prototype, project, or original circuit design, we decided that we'd give our members the opportunity in this competition to experiment, test, breadboard, or just play around with Polymer Capacitors, and then tell us about their experiments, and what they learned about Polymers Capacitors in some blog postings.


While only nine sponsored challengers were chosen to receive a free polymer capacitor kit, entering the challenge is not limited to just those nine community members. Anyone can join the competition by including at least one of the kit's polymer capacitors in his/her experiments



The Official Kit


Nine Challengers received a discrete component kit that included several different types of capacitors that can be used to experiment with. As the list is quite long, I am not going to post it here. If you are interested in purchasing the kit for yourself, please visit this link.



The Prizes



To learn more about the prizes, head over to the this page. (https://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-92091/l/experimenting-with-polymer-capacitors-about-the-competition)



The Past Week In Review


Over the past several days, May 26h - June 1st, we have had a total of two updates posted across two projects. This week I will feature both of these updates, but before I get to that, let's take a look at which projects were updated.


Project: Vintage Computer Designs - by Very Compact (COMPACT)

Project: Using Polymer Capacitors for Supply De-coupling in the Current Amplifier - by Donald Lane (three-phase)




This Week’s Top Updates


COMPACT  - Experimenting with Polymer Capacitors Blog  #2 -Polymer Capacitors in Vintage Designs



One of my favorite things to do as a teenager was something called circuit bending, something I am sure many of you reading this has done in the past, but how many of you have attempted to improve vintage electronics with modern components? That was the focus of the second update to COMPACT’s experiments with polymer capacitors. “As a random hack without applying any science I inserted some polymer capacitors at random into the PDN to observe any effects,” he wrote. “I chose the capacitors with the most convenient packaging. The ones that allows direct soldering replacement without the need for any adapter boards. No perceptible difference was noticed on the video output or oscilloscope traces.” He goes on to detail this experiment, and why the results were expected. Head over to the link above for the full update.



Donald Lane - Experimenting with Polymer Capacitors Blog  #1 -Using Polymer Capacitors for Supply De-coupling in the Current Amplifier



Our last featured post this week comes from an unofficial challenger named Donald Lane. In his project’s first post he details how he is using polymer capacitors as supply decouplers in a current amplifier he entered into the Electromagnetism Project14 Competition. “I am basing my work around the current amplifier circuit that I entered into the Electromagnetism Project14 competition, alongside the current clamp tables that I was winding. Some original comments around the supply decoupling capacitors on the amplifier were that they may need to be increased. I have very little knowledge on the subject, and therefore I just stuck with the design concept detailed in the datasheet for the OPA548 from Texas Instruments,” he wrote.


Donald set up two of the amplifiers, one using the capacitors specified by the datasheet, and another using polymer capacitors. “As I had spare printed circuit boards for the circuit, I decided to set two of them up for the experiments, one with electrolytic capacitors installed and the other with polymer capacitors. Both of these are fed from a single 100VA transformer, instead of having their own supply transformer. I also intended this circuit to be capable of higher current output than the original 1A, and in the longterm, I would utilize the set up to experiment with parallel and serial configurations of the amplifier output.” Unfortunately, we will have to wait until his next update to see the results. Head over to the full post by clicking the link above to read through Donald’s testing methodology, and more on how everything is set up.





That is going to wrap up this weeks coverage of the Picasso Design Challenge and the Experimenting with Polymer Capacitors Design Challenge. If you have not yet done so, please take a moment and check out all of this week's updates, and show our challengers some love in the comments section of each update post. Check back next week for another weekly design challenge summary.