Category Archives: Learning

Circuit Bending the Baby Tad

A few months ago I found a sad looking Baby Tad by the trash. Nothing like the picture below. Imagine drooled on, stained and dragged through the dirt.

Baby Tad

I pulled it a part and threw out the material and stuffing last month at Gumbo Labs. I saved the electronics parts for my first circuit bending project. I wasn’t too hopeful at this point because it didn’t turn on. In the end, it was an easy fix, the battery compartment was rusted.
I finally had a chance to give it a go tonight and it was a blast! Here are my results…

I used some alligator clips and started poking around trying to find something interesting. The Tad plays several kids songs. It also has a set of six colored LEDs with switches. Pressing the led triggers a new song or Tad tells you that you pressed “the blue square.” When I was poking around I killed one of the LEDs; no more blue square.

I found a spot that would speed up the music. I added a potentiometer and was able to control the speed. When the songs switched, if I still had it speeding up, it would crash-out. I resolved this by adding a switch. I also added a second potentiometer to control the volume. I made some holes in the original case and mounted the switch and dials. I plan to take it a few steps further in the near future. I would love to create a new case/stuffed-animal for it, something that will match the weirdness of it.

Here’s what it sounds like…

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Found in the Garage…

The house we live in was formerly owned by a CB/Ham guy. He returned after Katrina and passed away soon after. We bought the house in the summer of 2006. It was mostly empty except for the garage. It had miscellaneous paint cans, wood, a few tools, and some ham equipment. I kept what wasn’t obviously damaged from the storm. I now have a rack with things I might use in future hacking projects: radios, cassette player, camera parts, walkie talkies, etc.

Last week I was looking through the rack for a container for another mini portable guitar amp I’m building. I was very surprised to find an old DIY kit with several buttons and a seven segmented display. I plugged it in and discovered it was a very simple clock and it works. One of the segments on the display is out so I’ll play around with it to see if I can fix it.

I started looking through the pile of stuff a little more closely and found a second un-built kit with some very yellowed instructions (I will post later). On the bottom of the aluminum case is the kit maker/seller… “Ramsey Electronics“. The paperwork seems to be for an alarm clock. There are more buttons and a small speaker. Very, very cool.

Back when I first went through this stuff I wasn’t actively into DIY electronics. It is only with my love of hacking and my connection with like minded folks that I am able to see this for the gem it is. Here are some pictures of the kit I will start to build next week.

Update: I scanned in the instructions and cleaned them up a bit so they’re readable. Here ya go: Ramsey Electronics Alarm Clock

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Cupcake CNC show from @itcamefrommars

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MSP430 LaunchPad, Testing the Waters

Tonight in my dedicated hack night, I decided to play with my newly arrived MSP430 LaunchPad. To read more about this little cool and very cheap microcontroller go here:

I found a TI video “MSP430 Value Line LaunchPad project tutorial — Blink on-board LEDs” to walk me through some basic steps (video at the bottom of the post).

The night started with downloading and installing the LaunchPad software from the LaunchPad wiki page (Code Composer Studio (CCS) and IAR Embedded Workbench KickStart). This took a little longer than I expected but everything ran smoothly.

Once the software was loaded, I opened CCS and used an example code that required very little change. The example code can be found here “Download all MSP430G2xx code examples. The example code I used was msp430x20x3_1.c – Software Toggle P1.0. This code is for flashing one LED. The video walked me through the needed changes to the code to have both LEDs flash. In the video, the code changes were blurry. The picture below is a screen shot of the final code (hopefully easier to read).

Once I altered the code I plugged in my LaunchPad, debugged the program and ran it. No errors were found. I have been playing around with changing the flashing speed.

A video of my final outcome.

Watch the tutorial here:

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