Here’s some interesting stuff I was working on this week that I was excited to share.

  • Neopixel Control Box
  • Threaded Inserts
  • Adafruit Huzzah Micropython (and Circuitpython)

Neopixel Control Box
Had some fun printing up a few things, one was this control box for a set of LED lights. It has a protected switch and then a rotary encoder (since it’s connected to a Raspberry Pi, digital is easier so we use the rotary encoder instead of a potentiometer, which is analog). I used Dupont connectors for all the pins and I was pleased I finally got to use a 5×2 instead of the singles I use all the time. Once again this is just to make things modular and to be easily connected and disconnected from the system.


Threaded Inserts
I recently stumbled upon these for 3D Printing and I am a fan. They’re threaded and the outside has a pattern of stubs, and you heat it up and press it into a hole in a 3D print where the heat melts the print and the outside texture gives some grip for the melted filament to adhere to. The end result is that once it cools you now have a threaded nut which a bolt can screw into. It’s designed for parts that you would want to open/close or attach/detach on some regular basis. I was a little skeptical but with the right size holes they hold really well and they’re very easy to insert. I definitely see myself using them a lot in the future. For heating and inserting I did get special soldering iron pins which were pricey but I think they’re worth the price for how easy and effective they make the whole process. (Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/3ox0tuJ)


Adafruit Huzzah Micropython (and Circuitpython)
One of the projects I’m working on I decided to use an Adafruit Huzzah as the controller. It’s an ESP8266 microcontroller with some addition pin functionality, I wanted Wifi and some GPIO pins to control a few things but I didn’t need the horsepower or size of using something like a Raspberry Pi Zero. I also was using a potentiometer, which is analog and easy to use on an analog pin on the Huzzah. The Huzzah comes in two varieties: the basic breakout, which I am using for its small size, and the feather, which is a common form factor for microcontrollers. Adafruit has a pretty good write up on the feather: https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-feather. This is not my first time working with an ESP8266 microcontroller, but it had been some time and I was a little rusty on connecting, flashing, etc. I did learn that the Huzzah supports micropython so I was eager to experiment with that and it was so super easy, definitely a fan! Micropython is just a stripped down version of python that is able to fit on the limited memory of some of these microcontrollers. Once loaded you can interact with it on the command line with REPL (a Read Evaluate Print Loop) or by giving your script a special name it can be loaded and run on boot. Another advantage is the libraries for things like pins, Neopixel LEDs, and common sensors are already built in so it’s very easy to use them with out having to load in other libraries or write a bunch of lines of code. In the process of getting to know micropython I learned that Circuitpython, which is another common control language out on sites and the literature, is just a very easy to use version of Python that is maintained by Adafruit and is just a downstream version of micropython. More info here: https://circuitpython.org/. Micropython will definitely be my go to for experimenting with new devices as well as “running it in production” as the way I will be controlling devices on finished projects.

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