(Partial) Inventory of ACES' Custom Arduino UNO Appliances and Printed Circuit Boards

Below is a partial archive of ACES' printed circuit boards.

Note. ACES are not the biggest fans of wasting time so we try to design our boards as UNO 'appliances' in which strategic pin locations allow for insertion directly into the UNO's headers.

Joule Thief V0. Also known as the Blocking Oscillator, this wonderful little circuit has a charming history and introduces students to the interplay between electricity and magnetism as well as the Persistence of Vision (POV) concept. It is at the heart of the ubiquitous solar garden light in that it can boost the voltage of an all but dead 1.5V AA battery to the point that it can drive the higher voltage (~3V) blue and white LEDs. Prepared for ACES use for the first time in the Spring 2019 ICS2O session, I challenge readers to explore the many variations of this fascinating circuit. This particular minimalist variation uses a pair of 100μH fixed inductors in place of a toroid ring and is described in Wikipedia article.

Joule Thief V0 (EAGLE Board View) Joule Thief V0 (DirtyPCB Rendering)
Coming Soon...

(Appliance) Morland Bargraph SMT V2A (SPI-compatible). SMT V1 worked as expected but but after realization that the AVR's SPI peripheral (on dedicated pins 10-13) can provide the hardware equivalentof the (relatively slower) software shiftOut function a simple, but significant, SMT V1 update was made to accommodate either transfer strategy. I've order 25, just enough for a class set of these that we'll bake in the Hodgson Reflow Oven in early March 2019.

Morland Bargraph SMT V2A (.brd view) Morland Bargraph SMT V2A (DirtyPCB Rendering)
Coming Soon...


(Appliance) UART/SoftwareSerial/SPI Communication Stick. Wired communication between two Arduinos would make for an interesting gaming experience. An appliance designed to be inserted into two UNOS, avoiding wires altogether would get the game underway faster and leave more time for the competition! This nifty little appliance supports the UNO's hardware UART on pins 0 and 1, Software Serial in pins 8 and 9 and SPI on pins 10-13. A common ground is onboard and stackable female headers allow for other devices to capitalize on the remaining unused pins. I challenge software-leaning ACES to write some games (Tic-Tac Tow, battleship, MasterMind or whatever...)

UART/Software Serial/SPI Communcation Stick UART/Software Serial/SPI Comm Stick (DirtyPCB Rendering)
Coming Soon...

(Appliance) Morland Bargraph V3 (SPI-compatible). Realization that the AVR's SPI peripheral (on dedicated pins 13-10) can provide the hardware equivalence of the (slower) software shiftOut function inspired a simple but significant V1 update to accommodate either strategy. Another subtle redesign consideration was to limit the increased number of pins from 5 to 6, providing the flexibility to implement the device in any of three Arduino (ATmega328p) ports (PORTB, PORTC, or PORTD) to minimize competition for pins with other ACES appliances. Sourcing power from digital pin 12 (MISO is not required for this appliance) is not ideal, but still an esthetically-preferable solution than running a wire to the 5V pin. As 8-LED bargraphs (that match the 595's 8 outputs) are not readily available, the bargraph's two leftmost LEDs (MSBs) remain unconnected. The active 8 LEDs have been changed to right-alignment and small dots added to assist interpretation of the LEDs/bits. The symmetric scalloped corners are cosmetic. White was chosen to enable quick distinction from its V1 counterpart.

Morland Bargraph V3 (SPI) Outline Morland Bargraph V3 (SPI) DirtyPCB Rendering

(Appliance) Morland Bargraph SMT Version 1. An SMT version of the essential Morland Bargraph was designed and produced for the 2018/19 ICS4U class. The device worked as expected but a design oversight did not allow for faster hardware SPI transfers. SMT VErsion 2 will correct this issue to make it SPI-compatible. IF you have a functional version of this device, download this code and take it for a test drive.

Morland Bargraph SMT V1 (.brd view) Morland Bargraph SMT V1 (DirtyPCB Rendering)

nRF24L01 Appliance. To prepare for the 2019 ICS3U introduction to radio frequency communication a reworking of an earlier 2017 design by O. Logush was undertaken and converted into a UNO Appliance. The board breaks out the incompatible UNO pin arrangement of the standard nRF24L01 to a wireless (pardon the pun) configuration.

Standard nRF24L01 Board ACES nRF24L01 Appliance

Photophone. One of most remarkable projects from the 2017-2018 Sr. ACES project lineup was E. McAuliffe's (MacGyver-inspired) photophone. It is both perplexing and inspiring in its simplicity. Ethan took a break from his Engineering studies at McMaster over thr holidays to whip up a convenient transmitter and receiver for current ACES to explore and enjoy. Feel free to explore more of Ethan's projects by browsing through his blog.

Photophone Transmitter Photophone Receiver

(Appliance) ACES 1.8" TFT Appliance Backpack. In preparation for a 10th Anniversary Reunion with the 2009 Showcase Fair Project in the Spring of 2019 an appliance was designed in January 2019 to mount the 1.8" TFT Backpack from Adafruit. The 2018-2019 ICS4U class will use this device to explore the mathematics of the Mandelbot and Julia Sets, using fixed point mathematics to accelerate the rendering. (this project may change everything...)

ACES 1.8" TFT Appliance Backpack (.brd) Dirty PCB Rendering

(Appliance) D. Raymond's RTC Clock. D. Raymond's 2018 legacy PCB was a handy little RTC and display that is used to introduce Grade 11s to the I2C communication protocol. A tweaked version in January 2019 of the PCB was converted to an Arduino appliance.

D. Raymond RTC Clock Top D. Raymond RTC Clock Working (click image for video)

Analog to Digital Converter. A utility board that could be used by Grade 10s to yield a digital display of 10-bit analog voltage conversion levels levels should prove to be quite useful.

EAGLE Board Dirty PCB Rendering

Capacitor Visualizer. A truly marvelous little circuit emplying a bicolor LED is of great use in explaining in demonstratiing the direction of current in a charging and discharging capacitor. The PCB was used the for first time in the fall of the Grade 10 course and a month later in the Grade 6 Science unit. J. Dolgin designed and fabricated a set of cases for the Grade 6 implementation to give the prototype highly finished appeal.

Dirty PCB Rendering of EAGLE Board File J. Dolgin's Capacitor Visualizer Case

(Appliance) H. Reed's MatrixMadeEZ. While in Grade 11, H. Reed (ACES '19) designed a PCB to make short work of coding matrix displays and animations. A year later, J. Dolgin (ACES '20) put the device to great use as a responsive display device for voice-activation, creating a nifty 3D case as well. A short Neil Young clip sealed the deal :)

H. Reed's EAGLE Schematic H. Reed's Top Render

Adapter ISP FFC V2. True surface mount devices are flashed through the use of a Flat Flex Cable (FFC) and connector. Either your Pocket AVR Programmer (Arduino IDE) or your ATMEL ICE (Atmel Studio) cables will connect to the 6-pin male ISP header on the board (right). Great care must be taken in designing your EAGLE files to ensure the 6 signals are in the correct arrangment as shown.

ACES ISP Adapter: THT to FFC (.brd view) Dirty PCB Rendering

Astable Multivibrator v3. Having finished the first batch of 100, replacement order to Dirty PCBs for 300 slightly modified units was placed in April, 2018. Terminal blocks replaced the two previous LED positions to allow for access to the square wave output.

EAGLE Board Dirty PCB Rendering

Gecko II. A 2018 upgrade of the classic 2014 model.

Gecko II Display
EAGLE Board Dirty PCBs (Rendered Image @ Order) Soldered & Functioning Device
Gecko II Motherboard
EAGLE Board Dirty PCBs (Rendered Image @ Order) Soldered & Functioning Device

(Appliance) Grade 11 Matrix Equalizer. Dirty PCBs was called on to manufacture the boards for the Matrix Equalizer PCBs (developed in January 2018) intended for use for the first time in the 2018-2019 Grade 11 course.

Matrix Equalizer (Board File) Dirty PCBs (Rendered Image @ Order) Soldered & Functioning Device

Grade 5&10. Fergus Fidget Logic Trainer. A class set of custom designed digital logic training boards intended for use by Grade 5s and 10s hit the ACES round table in the fall of 2018. It took 7 board revisions to get the board to where I wanted it to be. Nick Woollcombe invested dozens of hours soldering SMD components, assembling, and debugging over 30 units. This is a one-of-a-kind RSGC ACES labour of passion, that those who undertand, can fully appreciate.

Rotary DIP Switch Encoder - Wurth Electronik




FFLTv7: EAGLE Board FFLTv7 Working Device

Grade 5 BCD Decoder. In preparation for the session with the Grade 5s in November 2017, we set out to develop a device that the students could use to associate binary input with decimal output. E. Peterson arranged to have the boards manufactured through Dirty PCBs.

BCD Decoder Board BCD Decoder Device

Breadboard Power Adapter. A revision of the his earlier DC Jack adapter by P. Bagga in February 2017 included a 1206 surface mount LED and resistor for power indication.

Schematic Board

(Appliance) J. Scahffer's Traffic Light. The result of J. Schaffer's introduction to EAGLE in February 2017 yielded this simple, but effective, traffic light circuit board.

Schematic Board

(Appliance) T. Morland's Shift Register-Bargraph v1. The result of T. Morland's introduction to EAGLE in February 2017 yielded a circuit board that can be used to develop students' facilty in the use of shift regsiters and as a visualization device for a wide range of sensor projects.

Schematic Board

Automatic Night Light. An ACES' version of the Automatic Night Light circuit board was create in February 2017 to support both the Grade 6 and Grade 10 coursework

Schematic Board

Flex PCB. SMD Matrix. O. Logush (ACES' 18) went all in and designed, ordered, and assembled this 64 LED Matrix flex circuit board. Components were soldered using the DES' Aoyue 968A Hot Air Rework Station. Here's the Flex Matrix in action.

Board Flex PCB

Pulse Counter v1. (Dec-Jan 2016-17) Inspired by a need to count pulses from Timer1 Compare Timer Match Mode in Assembly over the 2016-17 Christmas break, I designed the board below. Two switch-selectable sources (external and on-board 555) provide digital pulses to a pair of 4026 counter/decoders. For numeric output, the LB-602MK2 dual 7-segment display block was employed.

Design Decisions. The precise dimensions (and hole placement) of the Gecko was retained, in case a front plate was desired for the device. Right angle pin headers in the external source will allow the board to stand upright on a breadboard.

Schematic Board

Breadboard ATtiny85 ISP. To alleviate the hassle of wiring our earlier ISP breakout board, this device is conveniently-placed over top of the ATtiny85. P. Bagga suggested the use of female stackable header pins to make prototyping even faster. Good call, unfortunately, 4-pin stackable headers were hard to find but, in the end, a slow boat from Taiwan delivered 200 units :)

Schematic Board

Scrolling Message Board. Every self-respecting DES has a scrolling message board. O. Logush (RSGC '18) agreed to take on the project as a Grade 10 exercise. Three attempts were required to get the module board working the way we liked it (the first two batches are serving their coaster duties well). After a few months in service, the display started developing glitches. Our belief is a build up of charge/EMF so we swapped the MAX7219s for MAX7221s to try to alleviate the problem. We'll see...

Schematic Board

In-System Programmer Breakout Board. This board is used to flash standalone AVR microcontrollers on a breaboard using our Sparkfun Pocket programmer.

Schematic Board

Breadboard Power Adapter. Designed by P. Bagga over the Christmas Break 2016/17, these little babies have become quite handy in the DES!

Schematic Board

Astable Multivibrator. G. Trusler (RSGC '15) made up a custom batch of these cute little guys for the Fall '14 TEL3Mers. For the Hallowe'en tradition to continue inventory had to be replenished.

Schematic Board

2015 Anniversary Clock

Gecko (Spring 2015). As a legacy project, the 2014-2015 Grade 11 TEI3Mers created this wildly successful clock/calendar. R. Saunders (RSGC '15) did most of the in work whippping the board into shape. Follow the link to learn more about this amazing little device.

Schematic Board