Final Project Overview:

    My final project, proof of concept, is composed of the following:

    • a motion sensor board (MCCU=ATTiny45) networked to a bridge board with a blue LED as one of its components.
    • In this iteration of programming, I edited Neil's Make files and C-code from these weeks:
    • Embedded Programming
    • Input Devices
    • Output Devices
    • As a person moves into the range of the motion sensor, the LED flashes once when someone enters the sensor's field, flashes twice when someone leaves the field. The MCCU sleeps when no motion is detected.
    • So instead of characters being sent to the bus board (as in Neil's program example from E.Networking and Communications), the LED is triggered to flash. This communication was achieved by switching the ribbon cable wires (for transmit/receive) to reflect the communications between MCCUs.
    • Further iterations are to yield a solar-powered, motion-sensor connected to RGB-LED strips.
    • Their function is to bring lighting and a sense of safety, without surveillance, to public areas with limited to no lighting.
    • Applications could include small parks, alley-ways, bus shelters, pedestrian bridges, etc.
    • The full project proposal can be found at Principals, Practices and Project Management.
    • Here's the hand drawing of my proposed device's encapsulation from back in February:

    • Rapid Prototype of the Encapsulation for Circuitry and Wiring,
    • designed in SolidWorks and printed with the Ultimaker 3D Printer, using PLA filament:
    • The boards fit snugly inside, but I need to waterproof the housing and the circuit boards as well to ensure the viability and long-term functionally of the device, as Neil described during my final project presentation (the slide and video can also be seen in this clip):

I believe that Neil misunderstood the photos in my slide, so allow me to provide an explanation of what can be viewed in the clip: The circuit boards and ribbon cable are floating in space on the slide so their details can be SEEN for your viewing pleasure, ONLY. When the circuits and wiring are inside the housing, they can't be seen because they are enclosed INSIDE the housing. This is a rapid prototype with forthcoming iterations as the device is being marketed to the State of Michigan's Department of Energy as a public lighting solution. I will incorporate Neil's suggestion for also encapsulating the circuit boards themselves, for more robust functionality as the device will be OUTSIDE in the cruel Michigan winters. I want it to be built to last and Ford tough, etc. You don't have to be a Stanford or MIT graduate to understand and apply the processes and strategies of rapid prototyping and design thinking.

The device will be installed at this location, pending city approval after the sidewalk and sitting area has been renovated:

Proposed Site for Device Installation:

In addition to creating an environmentally safe housing for all of my circuits and wiring, Neil suggested that I also encapsulate the circuit boards themselves, as 2012 Fab Academy student, Bas Withagen did.

Questions and Answers:

    What tasks have been completed, and what tasks remain?

  • With the proof of concept completed and quite successful, now I'm looking to scale up the device rather quickly.
  • I need to design a functional board. Test, then add the other external components (battery, solar panels, 6, 5meter LED strips).
  • I also need to redesign a water/bug proof encapsulation to accomodate the additional wiring from these added components.
  • In addition to that, I'll need to mold and cast the PCBs themselves to ensure weatherproofing.
  • I definitely want to make the packaging and system integration beautiful and logical, so I have a lot of work yet to do!
  • What has worked? What has not?

  • Issues getting a pre-charged solar battery have come up already.
  • I'll need to purchase the battery and plan for charging time before I can connect it to my PCBs.
  • I'll need to edit the Make and C-codes to accomodate the LED strips as they're added, so I'm excited about those upcoming experiments.
  • What questions need to be resolved?

  • How am I going to pay for the entire device and the restoration of the proposed installation site?
  • I'm looking to organize fundraisers and online crowd-funding platforms to handle the costs for the entire project. I was also told to connect with local non-governmental organizations (NGO) for funding.
  • I have 2 professionals interested in combining my device with their foundation funded, outdoor art installations, both willing to pay for the associated costs, so I may collaborate with them.
  • Will I be able to meet the deadline I've proposed for myself?
  • Will my business partner provide the agreed upon support?
  • What will happen when?

  • I'm working to finish a minimum of 3 iterations of an increasingly complete device before the end of 2016, July.
  • Upon completing those tasks, a device demonstration can be scheduled with the Director of Energy for the State of Michigan sometime in mid to early August of this same year.
  • The director is also interested in having me as a guest to a statewide, public lighting conference, also in August, pending the device performance, as a possible solution innovator to Michigan's public lighting problems.
  • So depending on the success of device within the proposed timeline, my community could be able to benefit from my newly acquired skills very soon!
  • What have you learned?

  • Not to give up in the face of failure - really hard to do, because I'm used to getting things right the first time.
  • That I'm no longer a novice at drawing schematics and board layouts.
  • That I can't code all day long and not make mistakes - breaks are absolutely necessary for me and I need to quit by 10:30pm in order not to break stuff.
  • Realizing my weakness during this program was shocking - OMG! there's so much that I'm NOT naturally great at! LOL! Sounds facetious, but I've had a combo of living a privileged/lucky life and have managed to avoid failure of all sorts, more times than not, because I listen to my elders.
  • Licensing information can be found at Invention, Intellectual Property & Income.

    Future Plans

  • I intend for my device to become a statewide, energy efficient public lighting solution for small spaces in urban and rural communities, as well as a gateway for utilizing solar-power, for all communities to benefit from.

Ongoing Spiral Development

I'm in the process of doing everything at once, bit by bit. So I'm going to list thoughts and actions and try to organize/order them in the content below - and there's a lot going on...


I'm considering programming the boards to interact with each other so that as the sun sets, the lights will come on at low lighting, then brighten to a higher level upon nightfall. The lights will brighten at their highest level when activated by the motion sensor.

At the proposed site location, the LED strips will be directed in an optimal spot to provide beauty and security lighting along the concrete path, which is set between an ongoing development and a parking lot.

The LEDs will be connected to a solar-powered motion sensor so that people moving in and out of the space will experience the space under a different perspective, hopefully under an elevated sense of safety and positive awe.

  • I must gather datasheets for the components of this proposed device and create a schematic that will allow them to interface under low power at the lowest possible total cost
  • I might also want to figure the light direction of the sun on my location over the course of a day/year to know how my my device will have to be installed to obtain sunlight
  • there is small wildlife in the area (squirrels, birds, plantlife and insects) so I need to be mindful of how and where the device(s) will be placed as well as how they'll be wired and how their signals will be transmitted
    • regarding the actual construction of the device(s): will the case house all the circuit boards together or via separate cases? consider the extension wiring from the home device to the LED strips
    • there must be a plan for the the pins on the micro-controllers, so drawing up a well-defined schematic and board layout for everything to connect will be essential
    • ... LED Strip lighting (from the Fab Academy inventory listing): researching colors and how they affect moods of people
    • using a GCC complier for programming
    • possible radio remote control (rather than bluetooth as wifi/hotspots damages the growth of plants) to control the device on/off during the winter
    • dismantling a Dual light from Home Depot and the Gear Best's Solar-powered, motion sensor, spotlight to see the functionality of the components/system/construction.
    • considering that they may share 1 interface, not sure yet
    • the boards are to be powered via a rechargeable battery (maybe), I was told that if my boards require more than 5 volts, I'll need an alternative power source (a 5 volt regulator or a regulator board)

    • I found these solar powered LEDS on Amazon, but they still lack the element and potential I propose with my device.
    • A local nonprofit government organization (NGO) started a walkability initiative in the area of the site but it stops 3 blocks north so I can still initiate the proposal and possibly feed into the walkable infrastructure they're trying to establish..
    • I was also told to go measure the trees at the site to know how many LED strips I may need as well as how long the wiring for my powered device(s) may need to be not sure of the sunlight in the area, so I may need to mount the solar cell onto a pole to make sure the device can work on overcast days or if a building is built that may block the current light stream as the southern-most direction is where I'd mount the device(s)
    • Update! I've been befriended a retired city forestry officer who estimated the tree heights to be about 25 -30 feet. 3.5 trees need to be removed as they're dead, as well as several ground shrubs. I finally bought LED strips to cover the estimated length of the trees (to wrap the trees in) but I'll have to return them because they're bright white LED strips and to be considerate of the environment and the people that will move in the space, I need to use red, orange, yellow, gold or light green lights due to the way light affects sleep patterns and moods. My simplified experiment that was successfully completed in the week for Networking and Communications, offers a rapid prototype for an initial iteration for a full scale device: The LED strips will be connected to the circuit boards (which will be encapsulated in waterproof material doubly), which includes the motion sensor and phototransistor. Solar panel(s) and an external battery will also be added during the spiral development process, as I scale up to a fully functional device. Encapsulation method for small Solar Cells, using epoxy and Masonite - as the cells cold be designed as individual sculptures.