Only one project entry is required to win, but you may submit as many project entries as you like, to document the progress you make as you go along. This is especially useful if you are new to electronics projects because it gives community members time to respond to any problems you run into as you go along.
One of the goals of Project14 is to provide a community supported path to getting involved with your own electronics projects and to provide a fun, non-pressured environment for getting involved with electronics projects. There are no stringent requirements outside of a simple project submission, listing out steps, coming up with a name, and submitting video proof that your project is your own.
You can submit project entries at any time and do as many as you want but the requirement for winning is only one submission.
Later, to show you how you might submit a project entry we're going to do something fun and take a look back at an old Ben Heck project. A lot of people get started with electronics projects for the first time with the Raspberry Pi. A lot of people get interested in electronics through video games. What we're going to do is use a Raspberry Pi MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) Portable project that Ben did as one of his weekly builds and go over how you would document this if you were making a Project14 submission.
A Crash Course in Electronics Projects:
But first a crash course in electronics projects. Typically, you'll start an electronics project with a set of schematics, which are basically ingredients for electronics projects. If you have experience in electronics projects this would be a good place to start. If you're new to electronics projects this may not be something you are ready for and that's okay!
These monthly projects are set up around general themes and inclusive to novices, experts, and anyone in between. The hardest part of trying something for the first time is not getting frustrated and giving up. As you gain more experience, you'll find schematics more useful. There are countless schematics all over the internet that will tell you exactly what you need to know to build a circuit.
You don't have to know anything about Ohm's Law to get started with electronics projects but as you get more involved with projects it's something you may very well learn to appreciate along the way. It's basically a formula that shows you the relationship between current (measured in Amp or A), voltage (measured in Volt or V), and resistance (measured in Ohm). The voltage pushes the current while the resistance prevents the current from getting pushed too hard.
Here is a quick overview of some electronics components that are commonly used in electronics projects:
- Resistor - a passive device, can be make up of nothing more than a wire, that allows you to design your circuit to have the voltages and currents that you want to have in your circuit.
- Capacitor - like a battery in that it can charge and discharge but it has a very low capacity. It is often used to introduce a time-delay in a circuit such as in a blinking light, for removing noise, or to make the supply voltage of a circuit more stable.
- Light Emitting Diode (LED) - as you may guess this is a component that can give light. It's used in electronics projects to give visual feedback from a circuit such as when it's used to show that a circuit has power.
- Transistor - all though there's a lot more to it, a simplistic way to understand this is as a switch controlled by an electrical signal
- Inductor - a coil of wire, often used as a filter
- Integrated Circuit (IC) - an electronic circuit that has been reduced to the size of the chips. It can mean anything from an amplifier, a microprocessor, to a USB to serial converter..
Example Project Submission:
Only one project entry is required to win but you may submit as many project entries as you like to document the progress you make as you go along. This is especially useful if you are new to electronics projects because it gives other members time to respond to any problems you run into as you go along.
Come up with a Name:
Part of the fun of bringing something new into the world is coming up with a new name for it. This project is your baby!
It's also a way to distinguish your project from others and help create buzz around your project.
Everything with Ben Heck in it is going to create buzz around it since he's got his own audience so this may not be the perfect example.
The project in this example is simply called Ben's Raspberry Pi Portable.
With that said, sometimes the best name is the simplest.
Nevertheless, if you have a clever name that will make your project unforgettable than by all means use it!
This is all about having fun (and learning)!
Single board computers such as the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, and Arduino have opened doors for literally anyone with a strong interest in electronics to be creative and get involved with electronics projects with no formal background in engineering.
In this case, (no pun intended) 3D printing is a great way to add a finishing look to your project and distinguish it from other projects.
The final product looks like something you would want to own and because (a) you were able to follow along with the steps and (b) you have video proof that it works, you can make a reasonable assumption that the work is original!
Document the Steps:
Documenting the steps you took as well as providing video proof that your project works are the best ways to prove that your work is your own.
Step 1: Plan to Get Started
Your first step could be to visualize what your final design could look like and what you'll need to have on hand in order to begin working on your project.
This plan does not involve detailed schematics. He's demonstrating how he's thinking about the project and sharing the journey with the audience.
Its a simple drawing of how he wants the unit to look and a plan for jumping into the project immediately:
- Hack up Pi - to make the final unit as compact as possible he's going to start off by stripping off the components he doesn't need
- Find an LCD, probably composite - the device he's drawn is clamshell like a Ninendo DS so he's going to need a screen that will fit the parts he'll 3D print later
- Battery Power - it will require a power source such as lithium-ion or lithium polymer in order to be truely portable.
- Controls USB - He'll need controls so he can use it as a gaming device.
Step 2: Getting Started
The parts that this project starts with is a 512mb Raspberry Pi with Debian Linux already installed, an LCD backup camera, a wireless keyboard, a couple of USB game controllers to take apart and look for controls, a lithium ion battery, and a lithium ion battery charger. The LCD display is hooked up to a bench power supply to see if it will run off of 5 volts. Next, a second Ben Power Supply is hooked up to the LCD display in order to find the minimum voltage needed to run the composite LCD display. The LCD display dies around 6 volts so the lithium battery can be hooked up directly into the LCD display and a voltage regulator will be used to hook up the battery into the Pi to keep the voltage down to 5 volts.
The battery pack is hooked up to a multimeter to find out what the amperage draw is. It's about 340 milliamps. Next, its time to test to see if everything is working with the Pi, the battery, and the lcd screen. The battery is hooked up to a 5 volt switching power supply that goes to the Raspberry Pi, the LCD display is hooked up directly to the battery. Raspberry Pi loads onto the screen so you know that everything is working. With the Pi running, a keyboard is taken out to map the various controls coming from a USB controller to the Pi. Now that we know that the joystick works, its time to take it apart and see how small you can make it. Always make sure it works first, before you hack it.
After the controller has been stripped apart, its time to remove as many parts as you can from the Raspberry Pi. A soldering iron is used to help loosen and strip out parts from the Raspberry Pi. The soldering iron is set to 700 degrees F instead of the usual 500 degrees F. Once the Raspberry Pi has been stripped of components it doesn't need, its time to rig up a test circuit to make sure it still works and to start thinking about the form factor. The battery pack is taken apart in order to get the desired form factor. Next, the Joystick PCB is attached to the Raspberry Pi and the USB port is also rewired. Final button placement is considered before additional components are added to the board.The USB controller that was being used before is not working very well so alternate controls must now be considered. A Teensy board is used to make the controls for the joystick work.
Step 3: Plan for Final Assembly
Now that you've tested and know how its going to function on the inside, its time to put the parts together and put together a plan for final assembly.
In order to complete this build the plan runs as follows:
- Start printing rear of case - the rear of the case has more mass so he's going to begin with 3D printing the rear before assembling the front
- Laser parts for the front - make the case look nice
- Assemble Front - the LCD screen, the buttons, and the front panel
- Install parts in the rear of the case - where the raspberry pi and battery is located
- Make sure Analog stick fits - mounted in the front but can't be too far in the front
- Inter-connect halves - final design will be able to fold up like a book
- Final Assembly - Involves Testing it Out.
Step 4: Final Assembly
In order to complete the Raspberry Pi Portable, a custom enclosure will need to be 3D printed and everything will need to be wired up. All parts were previously traced so now its time to take those traced parts and transfer them over to the computer. Autodesk is used in order to take 2D objects and render them as 3D so that they can be printed with a 3D printer. However, the front faceplate will be laser cut. The parts made for the case are a 3D printed structure and a showplate made from laser cutting black acrylic and engraving plastic. There are also 3D printed action buttons, an analog stick to be mounted to the rear of the case, and two flanges to make sure the screen is in the right position.
Before final assembly, there's a check to make sure everything is still working. Once the back of the case is 3D printed, the analog stick and the Raspberry Pi unit are installed on it. The headphone jack is rewired. Once all the wiring is done, its time to inter-connect the halves, and complete final assembly. Finally, its time to put MAME on the Raspberry Pi!
Submit Video Proof:
The final thing you need to complete is video proof for your project.
If it doesn't work that's fine. This program is more about the journey than the end product.
A short video is all that is required but you can shoot as much video as you like.
You are encouraged to be as creative and have as much fun with this as possible!