Hello, my name is Chadmond, and I am a rising senior at Valley Christian High School. I am part of the two week program here at Bluestamp. My starter project is the Empire State Building Blinky Light, and my main project is the Laser Turret, inspired by the stage 1 sentry found in the video game Team Fortress 2.
My time at Bluestamp was a roaring success. Not only did I learn valuable electrical and software engineering skills, which were my initial intentions, but I was able to refine my problem solving techniques. Although the premise of the laser turret project isn’t difficult (an average person could complete the project in less than a week), I struggled through various road bumps related to messy code and incorrect wiring. Since I knew almost nothing about programming or electrical engineering, I was forced to constantly consult my peers, teachers, and the Internet for solutions to problems I had no idea how to solve. The Bluestamp program created a sense of community not found in many other places, and I consider my time here worthwhile and rewarding.
I obtained the instructions to the project here:
This was my final turret (inspired by TF2 Sentry):
Milestone 2 (Final)
For my 2nd and final milestone, I uploaded test code to test the turret.
Basically, the Arduino stores the starting position as “0”, and adjusts the angle of the vertical and horizontal servos to simulate shooting. The code also includes randomization functions to vary the speed and amount of shots, the time between each shot, and the start and end position. The code also contains on and off switches for both the buzzer and the laser in the fire() function.
I adjusted the code to reduce the arc of the horizontal servo, as the turret would get tangled when firing, and lowered the buzzer’s frequency to try and lower the pitch.
The sample and final code can be found here:
I also wired the circuit to a PCB to prevent any future short-circuiting and clean up the overall aesthetic.
To complete the laser turret, you will need:
- 2 servos
- Laser module, such as one from this sensor kit
- Piezo buzzer or other small output device
- Metal wire and cable ties for fixing
- Long female->male jump cables, plus regular jump cables
and have access to
- A soldering iron
- A computer
- Electrical tape
For my first milestone, I connected the Arduino circuit and tested the hardware.
The prototype breadboard circuit looked like this:
The whole circuit is powered by the 5v port, and the laser and buzzer are connected to ports 12 and 11, respectably. The horizontal servo is connected to port 9 and the vertical servo is connected to port 10, and the code has differing speeds for each servo, so the placement of these servos is important. The buzzer’s volume can be adjusted by either wiring in a resistor or connecting the buzzer directly to the 3.v port. It also goes without saying that the laser dot is bright, and should not be pointed at anyone for safety. The turret is mounted on a quadpod to provide stability and better aesthetic.
My resulting turret prototype looked like this:
This prototype works, but is incredibly messy, as the circuit has a risk of short circuiting due to shoddy soldering. For my next milestone, I would transfer the circuit to a PCB to minimize risk of danger.
This is my starter project: the Empire State Building Blinky Light. This project is relatively easy, as there are only 7 components in the entire project. The main skills one would need to complete this project are basic soldering and electrical prototyping. When building this light, orientation of the LEDs, battery holder, battery, and the microcontroller are imperative to success, as its orientation will, if done right, create a complete series circuit, and ultimately dictates how the circuit will function. The 5 resistors and switch will work in either direction, so the orientation for these parts does not matter. When done, the LEDs on the PCB will randomly flash, based on the patterns dictated by the microcontroller. The end result is a neat-looking mini building with gleaming lights.