Thursday, December 4, 2014

Housewarming present

I've mentioned in the past that my brother John and his wife Doreen are building a vacation home here in Venice. It was supposed to be done in July, then August, then September. Well, I guess new houses asymptotically approach completion, half way, half way half way but never quite there.  Each time I go by there are a tradesperson or two over there tinkering with something. However, they were down a few weeks ago, and they got a certificate of occupancy and actually stayed in the house. I thought that was official enough to give them their housewarming present.

It's what is sometimes called an ambient device. The idea is that is kind of conveys information to you almost subliminally. For instance, I've seen these small globes that sit on the table in your living room and glow green when the stock market is going up or red when the stock market is going down.

Well, down here in Florida we focus a lot on the weather. Considering how little weather we actually have here relative to the rest of the country it's a peculiar fixation, but it is what it is. Here is a picture of the device. It has two display modes, one is temperature and one is barometric pressure.

Here it is displaying a temperature of 83 degrees Fahrenheit. The top two lights represent the tens place and the rest represent the ones place.

In Barometric Pressure mode the top light shows the current pressure, the next one down the pressure three hours ago, the next one three hours before that, etc. etc. Here we can see that the current pressure is  between 30.00 and 30.20 inches of mercury, down slightly from three hours ago.

The device is made from alternating layers of cedar and acrylic. In the center of each acrylic layer is an RGB LED. It's really three LEDs (Red, Green, and Blue) built into one. Each color can be illuminated at 4096 different intensities and thus, theoretically, each LED can display 4096 x 4096 x 4096 = 68,719,476,736 different colors. Of course humans can't discern anywhere near that many colors so I settled on Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet (Roy G Biv) White and Black (no light at all.)

I went over to Lowes and picked up cedar board meant to be a fence rail and ran it through the planer. Then I cut it into isosceles triangles.

I made some jigs and glued the cedar into squares.

Then I made another jig to drill holes to fasten them together and for the LEDs and wires.

I made a bigger square of cedar for the bottom and hollowed it out for all the electronics. Then fastened them all together.

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