I thought I'd throw some old pictures of my ancient projects at you.

Too bad that I don't have pictures of my original LED frisbee from the late '70's. The frisbee had 2 low-power LED flashers that blinked 3 red and 3 green 3mm LED's mounted in the top center area. There were 6 larger bright red LEDs around the rim that lighted when the disk was spinning. The switch was a mercury bubble switch.


Multimode Sequencer 1990:

This was the first microcontroller project that I ever built. It has an Intel 8749H microcontroller with 2k program memory.
This board had 8 low side driver outputs and an LED on each channel. It was programmed for several moving light patterns.
Each pattern and several different groups of patterns were chosen by the DIP switches. It has an onboard +5V regulator.
This was the first assembly language that I learned.


This is also an 8749H microcontroller LED sequencer. The 40 LED display creates the illusion of continuous motion along the bar.
Patterns included pulse-width-modulated fading effects.


Forgive this poor image, but it's the only one I had handy, but this is the first microcontroller programmer that I ever built, back in 1990. It is based on the 8749H and it programs the 8748H and 8749H chips. The box has a built in power supply. It connected to a PC legacy comm port and is controlled by a host program written in DOS TurboBasic. This programmer was used to program all of the 8749H projects shown on this page.


The Scanner Toy:

This is another 8749H based light sequencer project. The plastic housing is the head of an old robot toy. I added lots of sequencing LEDs that move in different patterns depending on how you operate the two black buttons on the top. There was also a piezo beeper. The two large lights in the front were lamps and I used PWM to flash them and fade them up and down.


The Satellite:

The same low power flasher circuits that I used in the frisbee project were used in the tabletop display shown below. The ball and the legs that hold it up are polished aluminum that were custom machined. The lens between the two halves of the ball is custom machined lexan. The PCBs with the flasher circuits are mounted inside the ball. The ball also contained 3x 1F capacitors that store charge delivered by the legs that the ball is sitting on. The lens between the two halves also electrical insulates them from each other. When you take the ball off of the stand, the flashing of the 12 LEDs continues for up to 45 minutes. Placing the ball back onto the stand recharges it within a few minutes.

The LEDs in the base box run many different sequencing patterns. The large front center LED has 6 internal elements that sequence in a circular motion so that the light appears to spin. The sequencing LEDs are controlled by an 8749H microcontroller circuit just like the ones shown above.


The Voice Command Car:

Here are some really bad quality photos of a remote controlled car project that I built in 1988. The car itself is extremely complex and these photos do it much disservice. The RF sections are boards stolen from a pair of Radio Shack walkie talkies but I made everything else. The transmitter has a microphone to accept voice commands. You could literally speak the phrases "Go, Stop, Reverse, Left Turn, and Turn Right" and the car would obey. The remote also had 16 keys for operating the many lights, sounds, driving the car, and selecting the 3 speeds. The car had operating headlights, taillights, brake and reverse lights, signal lights, and sequencing night-rider lights both front and back. The night-rider displays were also speed sensitive. The car had speed-sensitive steering angle and 3 regulated speeds in order to make driving easier while using the keys or voice commands. The system operated entirely on CMOS digital chips and linear circuits. There was no microprocessor. The 3 sets of internal batteries were rechargeable by lifting the trunk lid and plugging in an AC adapter. The remote was also rechargeable. The system is comprised of several PCBs that I designed, photoetched, drilled, and soldered together by hand. This was all done without the aid of a computer. The system took 2 years (working on and off) to design and build. The car is still fully functional today. Of course the batteries have been replaced several times over the past 28 years since it was built. This was the second Radio Shack RC car that I added a lot of electronics to. Before this one, I added lights and electronic speed control circuits to a couple of Porsche cars. I still have those cars as well.


The DR1 robot:

After playing with the 8749H light sequencers for a while, I decided to apply the 8749H to something a bit more complicated. This is DR1, my so-called dome robot. It has a lot of internal PCBs, all etched with the toner transfer paper system. This was done in 1990. I used one of the earliest versions of Pads-Logic and Pads-Work (shareware version) to draw the schematics and route the PCBs. The dome is one half of a Hamster ball. The base plates are etched PCB material.

Features include


The Sonar Range Finder:

This is a PICmicro based sonar ranging board. I made this in 1994. It worked pretty well.


The Lamp Dimmer:

This is my first remote controlled lamp dimmer project. It was trainable so you could use almost any existing remote to command on/off, brighter, and dimmer. I should have eventually added code to make it RC5 code compatible but I never got around to it.


The Sound Recorder:

This is an old sound recorder project based on the ISD1001 and ISD1002 chips. The toggle switch selected between record and playback mode. The buttons start/stop recording and playback. The chips allowed recording up to 30s of audio. In the years that followed, new chips were produced that allowed recording up to several minutes and several individual recordings could be stored at the same time.


The Cylon Scanner 1986:

The Cylon scanner is exactly what you think it is, a moving red light that goes back and forth. This system has 32 LEDs on the display. The idea was to mount the LED board into a Cylon mask for a Halloween costume. The ribbon cable would go over the head and down into the back of the suit to the main board and battery pack. The switches and dials controlled the speed and mode of sequencing. Another feature was that the board had 32 DIP switches with which you could design your own pattern of LEDs that would then move across the display. This way, it could have multiple "eyes" or a more complex center eye that included spaces. The display could run just left, just right, or bounce between the two ends like the Cylon and Night Rider lights. These days, this project would be easier to do with a microcontroller. This board uses a 555 timer as a clock and eight 4-bit shift registers to load and move the LED pattern.

The PCB was laid out by hand using Radio Shack pencil transfers and ink, then etched in a tray of Ferric Chloride.


TTL Sequencer 1 of 4: 1978

This was the first PCB that I ever etched in my life. It was obviously pretty awful but I had no knowledge, no experience, and virtually no tools or resources to work with. This board uses TTL chips and a 555 timer to sequnce 4 LED's in either direction in a 1 of 4 count. A jumper was used to set the direction. One LED indicated the clock. Two LED's indicated the 2-bit address. Four LEDs were the output. The chips and white IC sockets were all desoldered from an old scrapped factory computer that was built in the very early 1970's.




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Last updated: June 17, 2012

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