Brandon M.

My name is Brandon, a rising junior from Valley Stream South High School. My main project is the Kaleidoscope Eyes (Trinket-Powered NeoPixel LED Ring Goggles) which are cosplay/steampunk goggles with glowing LEDs behind the lens! My starter project is the Junior Theremin which is a rudimentary version of the instrument that can be played without the need of touching it! I choose these projects mainly because both require a decent amount of soldering, something I am hoping to master by this summer’s end. I also choose the Kaleidoscope Eyes because it requires basic to novice coding, which I plan on going into as a field if I decide not to go into electrical engineering.

I feel that my 5 weeks here at BlueStamp Engineering have taught me more than I could have ever learned on my own or from my school. I was a bit stubborn about the whole concept of taking this much time out of my summer, but after the first day I knew that I’d get to learn and implement skills that I would have thought I wouldn’t use until I entered a engineering career. While here, I’ve faced challenges and hardships in terms of finding the right modification for my goggles and refitting such ideas to the goggles. This program has mostly taught me to adjust to problems and solve them little by little rather than to let it consume the whole project and cause the whole thing to be taken over and held over you. I had no experience in coding, building, or soldering, but that meant little as the instructors are always available to give a basic rundown and demonstration if needed while also encouraging students to improve their own problem solving skills. BlueStamp has even opened me up to working with others, as all the other students are at different levels and have their own strengths and weaknesses as you do. In short, BlueStamp has boosted my skills, mindset, and interest in engineering as a whole.

Brandon M.
Area of Interest
Electrical Engineering
Valley Stream South High School
Incoming Junior

Final Project

For my third and final milestone, I decided to change it up from what it was originally planned to be. Instead of a servo mounted laser on the side of the goggles, I’ve begun on making a distance detector that will be mounted on the top of the goggles while most (if not all) of the wiring is safely inside. To do this, I connected a Ardunio Lilypad, another microcontroller made by Ardunio, to an Uno and removed the Uno’s IC chip. This allows me to upload code to the Lilypad without the need of any special connector. After that, I used a breadboard, two LEDs, two resistors, and a SainSmart HC-SR04 Distance Senor to create the Distance Detector. So far, the Blue LED will light up until some object gets 20 cm in front of the sensor. When this happens, it triggers all the conditions to be met for the Blue LED to turn off and the Red LED to light up. The greatest issue I had with this modification came up when I attempted to use a motor instead of LEDs. After three days of trying to make it work, I found that the Lilypad couldn’t output enough current to power the motor. I then tried using transistors and diodes to resolve this, but in the end, I decided that LEDs might be the way to go. I plan on changing the distance at which the LED’s switch to something around 200 cm, as to warn me if there is a person or wall in front.


Second Milestone

In my first milestone video, I had said that I want to significantly change the colors, modes, and code of my project. I quickly realized, however, that I am way too picky and indecisive when it comes to such things. As such, I have come up with the perfect solution that I will now show as my second milestone. Bluetooth! This was done by soldering a BlueFruit LE module to my Trinket microcontroller and running a slightly modified code. All one has to do is go to the Color Picker use the color wheel and hit “SEND” to change the color (as well as use the sliders to change intensity and brightness) and use the Control Pad buttons 1 and 2 to change between “Spin” and “Spark” modes. I also took the liberty in adding a simple switch just so I wouldn’t have to keep plugging and unplugging the LiPo battery. This part of my project required intensive soldering and desoldering skills. I needed to fit two wires into the same hole… Twice. Specifically the power and ground wires needed to be soldered in the same holes for the Trinket and the Bluefruit LE Friend. It took about a half hour to do this as the holes are small enough without the wires, and it becomes almost impossible to fit them in with some already in. Once that was done, all I had to do was load the code provided onto the Bluefruit link and connect using the BlueFruit LE app. I did have to modify the code a bit as the one who supplied it used a Gemma microcontroller, not a regular Trinket. Although all I really had to do was change some PIN numbers and everything worked fine after that. My next milestone will be adding a moving laser to the side of the goggles.

First Milestone

My first milestone in this project is constructing and soldering the Trinket microcontroller to one of the two LED NeoPixel rings and then soldering the wiring between connecting each ring. This is the most important part of the building of this project, as it allows power to and code to get from the Trinket to the LEDs. This being essentially the electronic skeleton of the project, as the rest involves constructing the goggles around the skeleton and editing the code for the Trinket to my specifications. The soldering was a little tricky with the Trinket, as the holes are very small and very close together. I felt more confident later on as the holes on the rings were spaced much further apart. I also was relieved when I found out I could simply solder the Trinket to one ring and then solder the second ring to the first. All I needed to do was wire the data output of ring #1 to the input of ring #2 and then the secondary power and ground connections on ring #1 to ring #2. All together, this helped me in increasing my soldering skill. I had also messed with the code a little bit, such as changing the time a certain color/mode last before moving to the next. Such experimentation is giving me a better understanding of coding with Arduino. My next milestone will be significantly changing the code the microcontroller runs off of. I plan on making the LEDs flash multiple colors at once, rather than one color a cycle.

Starter Project

My Starter Project is the Junior Theremin. This is an instrument that can be played without having to touch it. It uses the looped wire as a capacitor to play notes when it detects when your hand and changes pitch when your hand moves closer or farther from it. A major problem I came across while soldering my components was that some them weren’t as flat to the board and more crooked than others. I was tempted to desolder the poorly placed components, but I realized that these parts can simply be bent back into place without damaging them. After double checking that the device’s circuit still flowed and functioned correctly, I moved on and finished. This project has taught me to make sure my components are all correctly placed to the board before soldering.

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