RB Creation PCB

RedBull_SponsorButtonRedBull_SponsorButtonThe third Red Bull Creation event, which we’ve previously covered, is coming up on June 12th. The 72-hour live collaborative hacking competition will take place in Brooklyn, NY, like it did in 2011. Last year, Red Bull streamed live video of the builds from various locations; a few of the projects, like the Giant Thumb Wars, were at World Maker Faire in NY. In order to secure a spot at this year’s event for you and your friends, you’ll need to create something cool with Red Bull’s custom board, the TurBull Encabulator.

The application window for receiving a board starts today and ends as soon as the 200 boards are sent out (which will probably be in the next few weeks). Round up three friends and apply as soon as you can, since Red Bull will be reviewing applications and sending them out on a first-come, first-served basis. You and your team will need to provide links to prior work to prove that you’ve got what it takes.

If you end up getting a board, you’ll have to create your project and submit a 2-3 minute video of it in action by May 5th. There are only three rules for your build: (1) Use the TurBull Encabulator, (2) Make it awesome, and (3) showcase it in a public space. For examples of past projects, head on over here. The six winning teams will be announced on May 9th.

The box

We were lucky enough to get our hands on one of the boards early, and even opening the box was a cool experience. The laser-cut wooden sides came with diffusing paper, leading me to think it would make a great-looking lamp. After some more brainstorming, I decided on a programmable, lighted “MAKE” sign, and the “big letters project” was born. I plan on storing all the electronics inside the box once the project is complete.

The TurBull Encabulator is a large Arduino shield with 8 4-pin screw terminals for controlling RGB LED strips (which are included!), a temperature sensor, accelerometer, breakouts of all the Arduino pins in a circular pattern, and much more. You’ll need a 12V supply to power the LED strips; there’s a 5V addressable input that you can use for your own needs as well.

I had about a day to do something cool with the board and came up with this:

Final GIF

There are over one hundred RGB LEDs inside these four letters, and they’re all controllable with a single Arduino Uno and the Encabulator. Here are a few photos (and tips) from the build:

What you get in the box.

What you get in the box.

 

Backside of the TurBull Encabulator

Backside of the TurBull Encabulator

 

I had a hard time soldering to these until I discovered that I hadn't been clearing enough of the waterproof coating away. Use a hobby knife!

Tinning the LED Strips

I had a hard time soldering to these until I discovered that I hadn’t been clearing enough of the waterproof coating away. Use a hobby knife!

I used the correct color of wire for the strips that would go directly into the TurBull Encabulator so that I could screw them in correctly.

Soldering

I used the correct color of wire for the strips that would go directly into the TurBull Encabulator so that I could screw them in correctly.

I mapped out how many LEDs I wanted to display on each section of the laser-cut letters prior to painting.

Preparing the Letters

I mapped out how many LEDs I wanted to display on each section of the laser-cut letters prior to painting.

Once I'd tinned the strips appropriately, I stuck them in place on the painted letters to make soldering easier.

LED Strips in Place

Once I’d tinned the strips appropriately, I stuck them in place on the painted letters to make soldering easier.

The e

The “e”

 

A few of our awesome interns created the rest of the letters with styrene, laser-cut acrylic, and wax paper.

Building the Letters

A few of our awesome interns created the rest of the letters with styrene, laser-cut acrylic, and wax paper.

The Completed Letters

The Completed Letters

 

Intern Coordinator Sam Freeman (right) and I working on the board.

Assembly

Intern Coordinator Sam Freeman (right) and I working on the board.

The TurBull Encabulator comes with 8 4-block screw terminals for controlling the LED strips (although we only used four).

More Assembly

The TurBull Encabulator comes with 8 4-block screw terminals for controlling the LED strips (although we only used four).


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This board is a lot of fun to use, so I think we’ll continue improving this project until Maker Faire, where we’ll use it to attract people to our both and get feedback on it. I’d like to add many more lighting patterns and a few interactive elements. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our “big letters” project, or how you’d like to use the Turbull Encabulator, please share in the comments below.

Are you confident you’ll receive an Encabulator and want to get a head start on the software? You can find the Arduino library and sample code on Google Code.

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