Over the course of the past three years, I’ve worked on multiple embedded systems projects of my own design and others. These projects came to be not just out of random interest or intentional practice of what I’ve learned in class, but because of a greater overarching goal. In my life, I seek to build better versions of everything we use in our daily lives. Form and function are important to me. I’d prefer to use wood, steel, and glass sooner than anything else.
To that end, the projects you see here are my foray into making cool stuff, many of which have electronics in them.
8x8x8 LED Cube
The 8x8x8 LED Cube is a completely from-scratch design from components to code. No dev-board microcontroller such as an Arduino was used: only raw discrete components coupled to a bare ATmega32-16PU processor.
All 512 LEDs were soldered together over the course of 40 hours. In order to make it possible for the ATmega to control hundreds of LEDs with just 32 I/O pins, shift registers, a multiplexer, and bipolar junction transistors were used. This allowed the ATmega to phase through the LEDs very quickly (i.e. flash on and off the first row/layer, then the next, the one after, and so on) so the cube appeared lit all at once in human eyes.
At the time, this was the most sophisticated embedded electronics project I had ever done from top to bottom. Very soon, I intend to design a PCB to resolve some issues with durability of soldering connections (to the cube) and wiring complexity of everything which can be seen on the three breadboards I had to use.
FFT Audio Bluetooth Speaker
This project originally started as an attempt to understand discrete fast Fourier transforms (DFFTs) by applying it in an audio processing project centered around a SAMD21 microcontroller. Then, I aimed to use Verilog to implement the DFFT algorithm on an FPGA for my first attempt at applied digital logic design and hardware-accelerated computing. Pretty soon, the project took on a life of its own with future plans as a full-blown Bluetooth speaker with audio visualization features.
Take a look at the GitHub writeups/documentation of both versions of my project here:
IoT devices were always very appealing to me due to their very nature as fancy, embedded, and connected devices. However, I’m very particular about my aesthetic and functional preferences, privacy and security, and need to understand every bit of what’s running within devices I willingly install in my home. The only solution for me is to build what I need.
So far, I am following templates. I forsee this being a lifelong pursuit.