Marquee Sign

For our first assignment, we will be working within some constraints. Making your first DIY circuit board involves learning quite a few new concepts and techniques, so we will be working within some design limitations to help you focus on what's important.

What is a marquee sign? These are signs that are filled with lights, where each letter is formed by a series of individual bulbs or LEDs.

Project Description

We will be creating a group project, each of you making a PCB in the shape of a letter. Together, all your letters will spell a phrase. Your PCBs will have LEDs on them and a capacitive sensor, so that they can light-up and be interactive.

To make a letter PCB, you will need a few important things on it:

  • Microcontroller (to run your code)
  • LEDs (to create light)
  • Transistor (to PWM all the LEDs)
  • Capacitive Sensor (to make it interactive)
  • Power Connectors (to turn it on)
  • plus resistors, capacitors, and points to connect programming wires

In my PCB above, I am using a quarter for my capacitive sensor. You can pick and conductive thing (metal, conductive thread, etc), and attach it to your PCB. Please do not pick a sensor that is larger than your PCB!!!

Once our PCBs are ready, we will assemble them together to spell out our phrase. Below is a (bad) drawing of how they will be connected together.

Pick a Phrase

What will our sign say? That is up to you. Please go to this document, and add an idea for a phrase. Together we will vote for the one of your ideas to be the class phrase.

For example, phrases chosen for past classes were:

  • pw is int3ract
  • It Worked Before
  • Microcontrol Me!
  • I Dislike Pigeon

We will vote in-class on the final phrase, before you start designing your circuits in Eagle.

Project Requirements

There are a few things that are required of your circuit for it to pass. These are that your circuit must:

  • be completely designed and fabricated yourself
  • be on a single-sided PCB, no bigger than 70mm x 70mm (can be smaller)
  • use less-than-or-equal-to (<=) 25 LEDs
  • use one capacitive sensor (can be anything conductive)
  • have two power connectors, for both input and output
  • use only SMD parts
  • include one mounting hole (placed anywhere) that is 3.3mm in diameter

Example Schematics