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July 13, 2018


Posted in el wire, hoodie, rh, tron

TRON Hoodie 1.0

v 1.0

For a good sewing starter project, I decided to replicate Adafruit's Tron Hoodie

You only need a hoodie, needle & thread,  & some EL Wire with a battery pack. No soldering involved. 

tron hoodie


Relatively straight forward, sew thread loops around the EL wire about every 3 inches.

To get a nice curve along the hood, use a tighter spacing of stitch. 


Good idea to measure the inner length of your hoodie first as I ended up having enough EL wire to do half the back too. 

A second consideration is if you want it inside the zipper or outside. 

Inside you won't see half the EL if you zip it up. 

I chose a reversible hoodie, so could wear it inside or out. 

Sew the battery connector close to a pocket, so that can sit in there undisturbed. 

Completed Hoodie : 


The standard EL Inverter has 3 modes for the EL Wire.
Fully lit, flashing & seizure mode. 

Good times. 


July 09, 2018


Posted in makerbuino, projects, rh

Makerbuino Build

Click here to get your own !

Intended as a companion to read before the OFFICIAL BUILD GUIDE

Some additional hints on things to be aware of during assembly. 




Use the buttons to prop board up to make it even for soldering. 


Little containers are great for organizing kits with many parts. 


You need to save your component lead 'off-cuts' so clip them off FACING AWAY from you into a small box. 




Careful to distinguish between similar LOOKING parts. 


Can use needle-nose pliers to bend leads out a little to make it easier to mount on the board. Be very gentle. 



When preparing to insert the IC, gently & SLOWLY roll / bend it against a firm non-static, non-scratch surface. This will make the pins easier to insert. 



I pulled the battery JST connector out to make it easier to move the board around for soldering. It was firmly in there, so used two sets of pliers to remove. IT's VERY easy to DAMAGE your board like this, so only do this step if you are super confident in your abilities.  Not recommended & NO REFUNDS if you damage your product. Mini linesman (square pliers) must be parallel to sides of JST mount on board.

If you haven't recently trimmed your fingernails, I'm sure a motivated person could do it without tools as well. 



A real PROTIP is to use tools to prop components FLUSH to the  board from underneath & solder them in on top. 

This will keep it even when you solder.

The serial programmer,  in this instance. 

The LCD will no longer let you sit it entirely flat. 


The Volume & Brightness Dials ESPECIALLY must be soldered in flush, or they will not be able to turn as they will hit the LCD. Check it on both sides to make sure no gaps are under one of the Dials connector legs. 



Use a microscope (or magnifying glass) to make sure all your solder joints are not overlapping. 

For the curious, I viewed the USB microscope output on Ubuntu using Cheese App. No drivers were necessary. 



Almost done...


Booting !


All that's left is the case assembly. 

I used clear gorilla tape to affix the speaker to the back plate. 

Can now play all the demo games on the card !

Remember to sleep!

*We had some extra colored buttons around the office, so used those to spice it up a bit. The standard kit comes with black buttons. 

IF you hit any snags, check here first : 

IMPORTANT NOTE : Had a brief panic it was dead, as I accidentally shut it off while it was loading a game. When you turn it back on, the screen will be lit, but no content shown. 

If this happens to you, follow the C-button (top left) reboot method here :

BE PATIENT while games are loading, up to 30s each. 


Click here to get your own !


June 28, 2018


Posted in makerbuino, rh

Invasion of the MAKERbuinos !

pyramid of game


A very exciting DIY-portable-Arduino based game console !

Unboxing : 


Close Up : 

close up

We can't wait to get started with this product & will be documenting a build very shortly. 

The kit comes in two versions. 

  • standard 
  • WITH tools

For more information, jump to  our MAKERbuino product page

Animated Eyes in a Box, powered by Raspberry Pi

With the 2018 Maker Festival Toronto coming up on July 7th and 8th, we thought it would be fun to build a few things.

Ever since Adafruit released their Animated Eyes Bonnet, I knew we had to build one.  We have also been on a big Glowforge kick lately, so it seemed natural build a box for our animated eyes.  

Adafruit already has an excellent guide for building the hardware and getting the software working, so we won't go too far into the details on that part.  A few things to note:

  • Be sure to start with a clean install of Raspbian Lite.  
  • You have the option of using 1.5" OLED, 1.44" TFT LCD, or 1.54" IPS TFT displays.  We went with the OLED's since they have a wide viewing angle and great colour.    The IPS TFT would be a good alternative as well, or the 1.44" TFT if you are on a budget.
  • We used a Pi 3 B+ because we have a bunch in stock and we knew we would have plenty of room in our 120mm x 120mm x 120mm box.  
  • The guide has an excellent script that allows you to configure the settings of the Python script that runs the displays.  One nice feature is that you can enable a shutdown button on any available GPIO.  We chose GPIO 4 and added a nice red 16mm pushbutton

We started by soldering everything up and installing the software.  Here's a video showing the eyes before we built the box

We then took a bunch of measurements and drew some basic drawings.  A whiteboard is your friend here.  

We used MakerCase to generate the box plans, and then we put the SVG file into Inkscape to add all the holes and artwork.  Here it is good to measure twice and cut once.  It is easy to make a mistake, and the Glowforge Proofgrade material is not cheap!  Here is a video where we are cutting the box on the Glowforge:

We wanted to make it so our fans could see the guts of the project, so we separately cut the top of the box with acrylic.  We have found that these boxes are quite sturdy if glued on all sides except the top, so we made the top piece removable.

A bit of assembly and tweaking and we could not be happier with the results!  We haven't even tried to update the code yet, this is just the default code.  If we have time we will add some sensors and have the eyes react appropriately.  

Bill of Material:

June 20, 2018


Posted in glowforge, mac, macintosh, rh

The even mini-er mac mini.

mini mac mini

Stamps for scale

Following in the time honoured elmwood tradtion of making desk-toy-classic-mac-tchotchkes...

Quick test of laser cutting a Classic Mac SE/30 papercraft template .

Made a SVG cutting template to lop off all the internal paper folds. 

Used original MacPaint demo screen by Susan Kare.

Maybe this little guy will get some guts over the summer. 

We'll see...

flatpack cut


June 18, 2018


Posted in microbit, rh

Things We Sell ! BBC Micro Bit

A new regular Blog series.
Featuring quick overviews of the various platforms Elmwood offers.

micro bit

Product :

BBC Micro Bit    Wikipedia

Current model: 

Micro Bit  v1

A tiny ARM chip with integrated motion sensor, bluetooth, two buttons & LED grid. 

Previous models:


Installed user base :

The BBC gave out 1 million units to grade 7 students in 2016, with 90%
reporting it made learning programming easier.

As production ramped up, commercial + educational sales have lead to shortages in the past , so a very popular platform.

Out of the Box :

Basic as long as you have a USB to microUSB cable
and access to a computer with a modern browser like Chrome, good to go!

You'll need a battery pack If you want to use it away from a computer ONCE you have already programmed it. 

MicroBit GO : Battery pack, batteries & usb cable included

Elmwood Bundle : Battery pack, batteries, usb cable & case included

You can also pair with Android or iOS instead of a laptop to program the MicroBit, but haven't tested that here.

Suggested Companions Out of the box:

MiPower is a bit more convenient than the JST battery pack

Inventors Kit a very popular starter kit.

KittenBOT is just adorable

Tank body. nuff said. 

Intended Use :

Home or Classroom fun and enjoyment learning basics of programming.


Programming :

Blocks editor in browser 

Python in browser

If you want to code without access to the internet, the Mu editor is a great way to program MicroPython devices including the MicroBit.

Performance :

More of a conveniently packaged chip with controls for learning computing than a barn burning processor.

Hackery :

Good generic platform for quickly prototyping any simple experiment.
Integrated bluetooth and buttons as well as 5 gator clips provide ample

Or hookup a breakout board to access almost everything.

Or get mobile with your own motor board solution.

Our Full Range of MicroBit Products

Next week :

Arduino !

Things We Sell ! Raspberry Pi

A new regular Blog series.
Featuring quick overviews of the various platforms Elmwood offers.


Product : RaspberryPi


Current model: 3b+

{ speed similar to Apple A8* chip with integrated wifi }

Previous models:

rPi1B, A, B+, A+, rPi2, zero, W, WH, 3

Out of the Box :

Plug into an hdmi monitor with a USB keyboard & mouse
& cheaply do linux computing / electronics control / STEM.
Pop the NOOBS SD-card in & power on with a monitor & keyboard & off to the races.

Super easy process to install Raspbian (OS).
NOOBS SD card allows you to choose a variety of operating systems,
such as the recommended Raspbian Educational Distro (*free* Mathematica, Minecraft, Python) or other specific use options, such as home media server (OSMC, libreelec/kodi).
Most people will want to go with Raspbian, the default OS provided by the raspberry pi foundation.


Suggested Companions Out of the box:

Power Supply

SD Card

Our many Bundle options here!


Intended Use :

Learning computers without destroying Mom or Dads MacbookPro.

There are many amazing pre-installed tools such as Scratch, Python and Mathematica, that can grow with you as you learn & skills increase. 

Not really a full desktop replacement, but think of it as a versatile family learning environment.

Or a hackable smartphone circuit board (with no built in screen or calling ability).

Also if you can fit it, someone has put a Raspberry Pi in it

Or, if you have an advanced project in mind:
Full list of operating system choices.

Performance :

For LEARNING computing, rPi it is an excellent platform.
Using a web browser on anything less than a 3b is a patience building exercise.

For the detail oriented, generic 'by component' comparison

 Raspberry Pi 3B
x86 PC Equivalent 
4-core ARMv8 
Intel E5300 
Pentium III 
480 mbit USB
Radeon HD4350 

* chart from this forum discussion
* Processors are never really directly comparable, but for the daring...

Hackery :

If you are anti-monitor can TTL into the PI via a simple USB/TTL cable

Overclocking is possible on some models.
Heat Sinks available here.

Good generic platform for about anything you can imagine. 

If you want to prototype for mass production later, start with Arduino.

Next week :

The British Invasion, Micro:BIT !