Friend of Maniacal Labs, Josh, is a huge Ghostbusters fan. How much, you ask? This much:

Ecto Mini

Why yes, that is a Mini Cooper Ecto-1.

A couple weeks ago, Josh emailed me asking if it was possible to get en Epoch Clock Kit with blue LEDs. Obviously, I was intrigued and asked him why. To which his answer was this video:

Yup, that’s a Proton Pack, the only problem with it being that it didn’t belong to Josh. He has one, but without the awesome, pulsing LED bar. His initial thought was that he could just install the blue LEDs in the clock in place of the red ones (while also changing out the 330 ohm resistors for 150 ohm). Unfortunately, after some measuring we realized that the 6.5″ long clock was a bit too long for the slot in his Proton Pack. But after a little brainstorming, we realized that if we reconfigured the LEDs to two columns of 32 an spaced them slightly farther apart it should fit perfectly. The original idea was to wire it all up on some perf-board but then he wouldn’t be able to get the desired spacing and, well, it would be somewhat of a pain to build. So I decided to see what I could come up with in terms of a custom printed board and this was the result:

ecto adapter front

So, now the plan was simply to solder female headers to the clock board, solder some more to the above adapter board, onto which all the LEDs go, connect the two with some ribbon cable, and reprogram the firmware a little to get the desired animation. The adapter was pretty cheap for three copies from the wonderful OSH Park so Josh ordered some and I got a kit to him with some blue LEDs that I picked up in a recent Mouser order. Then, today, Josh sent me this:

Wow I’d say that’s pretty spot on for the animation shown in the first video! Now I want a Proton Pack just so I have something to put one of these in!

Here’s some more close up pictures of the final build:

Once this goes in the actual pack, I’m sure it’s going to look awesome and will really add to the authenticity.

Want to make your own? As is our way, all the source code and board designs are completely open source and can be downloaded from the GitHub Repository. Just grab a kit from us, send off the adapter to OSH Park and load up the custom firmware!

It’s projects like this what really make us here at Maniacal Labs love what we do. When we designed the Epoch Clock we had a few ideas for alternate uses but it’s the projects that we didn’t think of that really astound us. We wouldn’t even be here without such a great community.

John over at tronixstuff.com has a review of our Epoch Clock kit. He offers a great walk-through of the un-boxing and building experiences, complete with pictures. He also offers a great explanation of Unix time. A big thanks to John for his consideration of our product! And, of course, we’re glad he liked it!

(tronixstuff.com is based in Melbourne, Australia and was started in 2010 by John Boxall. The site features electronics kit reviews, Arduino tutorials, and other assorted projects. Very cool stuff, so check it out!)

Do you live in the Raleigh/Durham area? Are you a fan of the Open Source movement? You’re in luck! Check out RTP 180: Open Source All The Things on September 17th (for free!). The event features guest speakers from three schools you might have heard (NC State, Duke, and UNC), as well as local members of the Open Source community. In addition to basing our operation on the tenants of Open Source, we here at Maniacal Labs enjoy supporting local people and organizations who champion the cause.

The event is free, they just ask that you RSVP (“buy” a free ticket). See the Eventbrite page for more details. We’ll be there, and we look forward to seeing you there as well!

Probably the hardest part of assembling our Binary Epoch Clock Kit is keeping the LEDs aligned and all pointing the same direction. So we designed this simple tool to help out with that process. Not only does it help keep all of the LEDs aligned, but it makes soldering them in much, much quicker.

Normally, per our instructions, you would solder the LEDs in four at a time. But with this, simply insert all of the LEDs and then fit the jig onto the front of the clock PCB. It will hold all of the LEDs in place and correctly aligned while the board is flipped over. No need to even bend the leads over, to hold them in place, before soldering!

If you have access to a 3D printer, you can grab the model file from Thingiverse and print your own.