Hi, my name is Tal, and I’m a rising sophomore at Ramaz High School. At Bluestamp I built two projects. For my starter project, I built a miniPOV which I programmed to light up in a specific sequence so when I waved it back and forth in the air, it would spell out a message in Hebrew. I chose that as my starter project because I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone with programming. And I also thought that it was just a really cool project. For my main project, I built a solar-powered MP3 speaker, and I also added a battery that can be charged by the solar panel and can power the speaker if I’m indoors or if there’s no sun. I chose this project mainly because I have a passion for music and this project seemed perfect for that. But I also wanted something that would have a function in my day to day life.
I can honestly say that being at Bluestamp was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Before I came to this program I had no experience whatsoever with anything engineering. But I was curious. Throughout the past six weeks I have learned so much and built things I never imagined I was capable of. This was definitely a fun and productive way to spend my summer.
For my final milestone, I designed a case to put all my components in, and glued it to the back of my speaker. The program I used to design my case is called Sketchup. My case has two parts: a box that holds all the components, and a cover that slides into two grooves in the box, closing it. On the cover I made holes for the three position toggle switch and for two screws that keep the cover attached to the box. Some troubles I faced with designing this case were learning how to use Sketchup and getting all the measurements right for the size of the holes and where to put them on the case. And later on, I learned that I needed to make my case thicker on Sketchup because the 3D printer can’t print something that thin without the case breaking. Originally, the design I had for my case was that it would be like an open box that would be glued down over the components on the back of my speaker. But when I finished designing that case on Sketchup, I realized that with my design, if any of the components inside broke, then I wouldn’t be able to get inside of it and make repairs. So I had to come up with a new, much more complex design. Also, the case had to get reprinted multiple times because I was missing holes and some of the measurements were wrong. Finally, once I got the box glued onto my speaker, I realized the capacitor on the Lithium Ion Polymer Battery Charger was too big and I couldn’t close my case, so I had to de-solder it from the circuit board and attach it with wires.
This is my first milestone for my main project which is a solar-powered MP3 speaker. I connected a solar panel to a three position toggle switch, and I soldered two wires onto the circuit board inside the speaker. I’m using a three position toggle switch because I also connected a battery that can power my speaker if I’m indoors or there’s no sun. The three positions on the switch dictate whether the solar panel is powering the speaker, the solar panel is charging the battery, or if the battery is powering the speaker. The solar panel can charge the battery through a Lithium Ion Polymer battery charger. The way the solar panel works is that it’s made up of semiconductor material like silicon and metal and glass and the middle of the three materials has a side that is negatively charged and the other side is positively charged. When sunlight hits that part of the solar panel, it excites electrons which are pulled by the charges and the silicon into the wire conductor which can then power things such as my speaker or my battery. One big trouble I faced was figuring out how to connect all the wires to make it work, and figuring out how to connect the battery was especially difficult because it had to be able to receive charge and also be able to power something else. For my next milestone I’m going to build case to fit over the back of my speaker which will hold all the components.
My starter project is called a miniPOV from Adafruit industries. It has eight LED lights that can be programed to light up in a specific sequence so that when you wave it back and forth in the air, an image is produced. I programmed mine to spell out something in hebrew: “עם ישראל חי”. A code is stored on the microcontroller and when you turn on the device, the program makes the LED’s light up in a specific sequence. The miniPOV is powered by two AA batteries, and has multiple resistors that restrict how much electric current is going through each LED. It also has diodes that only allow the current to flow in one direction. On one end it has a female serial connector that allows me to hook it up to my computer, using a USB/serial connector cable, so that I can load my code onto the chip. I had some troubles throughout this project. At a certain point the battery wires fell off, so I had to desolder and resolder them back on. Also, my computer was missing drivers so it wasn’t recognizing that it was plugged in. Also, the command prompt couldn’t locate the file containing my code. And later on, once I got my code onto my miniPOV, none of the lights would turn on and I realized that I was missing a couple of lines of code in my document. But in the end I got it working and I had a lot of fun making it. My next project is going to be a solar powered MP3 speaker.