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    element14's The Ben Heck Show

    Join the Ben Heck team every week for amazing hacks! Watch them build and mod community-inspired projects using electronics!

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    Following their aborted attempt at a Logic Board Game, the team sets its sights on a Hex Game.  The Hex game could easily be made into a kit that could teach you how to solder and learn binary or hexadecimal arithmetic. Ben and Felix go over what parts they'll need such as what battery and whether to use speakers or a piezo.



    The Hex game was an evolution of the aborted Logic Board Game. Ben goes over the parts he’ll use for this project. He’ll use a surface mount ATtiny25 with 2030 Bytes, PNP transistors enough current to source all 7 digits, and some LCD displays.  Felix and Ben discuss what other parts they’ll need, including the LEDs, battery, piezo, and possibly speakers. They’ll try pairing the Atmel to a pair of AA batteries but the screen is too dim.  These Atmel MCUs can run at a range of voltages so if go too low you must also lower the clock speed.  Next, they try the Lipo’s from a Playstation 3 controller but that does not provide enough power either.  Lipo’s are rated for 3.7v but they get as high as 4.2v when charged. They find a triple AA battery pack and the LED screen is nice and bright when they hook it up. The speaker consumes the most power in the circuit.

    Ben goes over a preliminary layout from Autodesk Eagle with Felix. He maps out the parts he has with the layout on the desk. This is a great referencing tool as anything that’s within the sheet will print 1:1 on a desktop printer. They choose to go with a piezo instead of a speaker for the Hex game.

    Felix takes out two piezos, one with a continuous tone and the other needs to be sent a pulse. He demonstrates what that means. He goes over the piezo with its own continuous pulse, putting four volts onto it, it has a polarity to it so when he connects the ground and positive voltage it gives you a continuous tone.    The one with the pulse on it does not give you any sound when connecting to 4 volts. You can create a pulse with an MCU or a simple 555 timer circuit. Felix turns to his function generator where he has a square wave set up. A function generator is used in the development, test and repair of electronic equipment. It can generate different types of electrical waveforms over a wide range of frequencies. Felix explains how the duty cycle length is how different values are sent to a servo. With the help of the Function Generator you can now hear the sound of the piezo with pulse signals.  He also changes the duty cycle to demonstrate how it alters the sound of the piezo. More than likely they will use a non continuous piezo in their Hex game.

    Ben begins laying out some of the components in Autodesk Eagle. This board is fairly small so it will be a challenge for single sided design. Making simple looking boards is actually a more work than making overly complex boards. Ben lays out some things for the LED portion and makes a bus. The shift registers can’t be behind the display so they need to run a bus there.