Posts Tagged ‘usb’

Project Idea: USB Powered LED Sign

All files for this project are attached in a zip file at the link below. These files include:
  • All inventor part files: tweak to your heart’s content
  • DWG Files to check tolerances
  • STL  files for a 3D Printer
  • Laser files for the cover & Sign
  • Various pictures to help with assembly
reddownloadUSB LED Sign Project CnJ


IntroductionSign night

After doing an expensive LED light up sign project last year (with a grant) with my CIM students, I was looking for a low cost alternative. In comes Scott Tobias, new CIM master teacher from Maryland. Thanks Scott for the great idea! You can make these signs for less than $3.00 apiece, depending on what you make the base out of. We 3D printed them at UK with an Affinia printer, as they were prototypes, but they could easily be CNC’d from Wax, Wood, or Renshape.

Parts List

The resistors are $0.05, the cable about $1.50 per end (cut the cable in half to make two!) and the LED’s about $0.50 each. That means the guts are only about $2.00 each!  Great deal, and your students will love how the LED’s fade through all the colors of the rainbow, and you will love how it does it automatically, because it is built into the chip!  NO PROGRAMMING or COSTLY MICROCONTROLLERS. Thanks AdaFruit! Video of how it works HERE.


  1. Build the base. CNC or 3D print. Try to make sure that the LED comes in contact with the acrylic sign. Please see the enclosed Inventor Section view file for the dimensions and constraints. Also be sure to leave room in the base for all of the electronics.
  2. Design and build the sign. The more angles the better, as it will show off the light. Be sure to take into account the tolerance fit between the slot and the plastic. MEASURE the acrylic. It is NEVER really 0.125″!
  3. When engraving the sign, the deeper the engraving, the better it looks. Invert the text and print on the back!
  4. Assemble the parts. Sign into base, wire through side, Hot glue the led into slot,  THEN solder!
  5. Solder the cathode, short leg of LED, to the 68Ω resistor.
  6. Solder the resistor to the BLACK wire of the USB cable.
  7. Solder the RED wire to the other side of the LED. Do NOT solder the green or white wires; do not even strip them!
  8. When soldering, you could use heat shrink tube to prevent short circuits.
  9. Insert the cover into the base. We cut the cover out of  the same acrylic we made the sign out of, and just made it 0.005″ bigger in Inventor, and pressed it in. The hole in the bottom is there to pry it out if necessary.
led sign bubbles
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How Do I start My Lynxmotion Robot With SSC-32U?


How do I get my Lynxmotion robot to connect with my computer? I have the new USB version of the SSC-32.


It is a little bit different, in that there is now only one switch, and it will connect every single time, as long as you follow the right steps.  The steps are listed below and can be downloaded as a PDF from the link as well. Pay attention to the last step! Even if you are not using bluetooth turn it on.

reddownloadusing the new ssc32 Download

SSC32StartUpProcedure Continue Reading



How do I get the new SSC-32U up and running? Is it any different than before with the old one?



It is a little bit different, in that there is now only one switch, and it will connect every single time, as long as you follow the right steps.  The steps are listed below and can be downloaded as a PDF from the link as well. Pay attention to the last step! Even if you are not using bluetooth turn it on.   Using the new SSC32-USB with windows 7 or newer? download it at the link below as a pdf!

 reddownloadSSC-32 USB Start Up

ssc32-startup-1 2
Robotshop, lynx, lynxmotion, ssc-32, usb, bluetooth, turn, on
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SUPERBOTS: Lynxmotion Robot Arm Upgrades

This week the CIM students in my class took the time to rebuild our Lynxmotion Arms, some of which have been running since 2009, without an problems. The screws were starting to come loose, and some of the servos were a little twitchy, so we used some grant money to get some new upgrades from The RobotShop.

 The students thoroughly enjoyed the “hands-on” time, especially after programming in Robocell for the last two weeks!
Follow along below to see what upgrades we did to make our robots like new again, and see what it nets us in the long run. The numbers in the picture below of the finished bot coincide with the numbers below.
All servo data came from here:
1. Medium Weight Wrist Rotate: We upgraded from no wrist rotate, or from the lightweight wrist rotate. The lightweight wrist rotate came with a tiny HS-85BB micro servo that would strip rather easily and only had 42 oz-in of torque. The medium duty wrist rotate uses a larger HS225MG with 55 oz-in of torque, and only weighs about 0.4 oz more. This is negligible and the new servo has metal gears. Great bang for your buck. RobotShop Medium Weight Wrist Rotate link. Assembly guide.
2 & 3. Shoulder and Elbow Servos: We upgraded from the 2009 “stink so bad the company dicontinued them” servos to the ones that come in the kit now. The shoulder servo is a Mega HS805BB that has 343oz-in of torque, and blows the other one out of the water. It also makes the extra weight of the medium duty wrist rotate a moot point. The elbow got the upgrade to the HS755HB Quarter scale servo with 183 oz-in of torque. RobotShop AL5D Kit Specs link. Assembly guide.
4. Wire protection: Corrugated Loom from NAPA was used to cover the wiring from the bot to the controller. All connections were electrical taped and tested, then put inside it. Cleans it up nice and should prevent it from being pulled apart.
5 & 6. SSC-32U & Bluetooth Adapter: Upgraded from the SSC-32 to the SSC-32U. Main difference are better connection, no more serial converter, or 9v battery, and wireless capability!  See the video below.
RobotShop Bluetooth Module link. 

7. Custom Made Mounting Plate for VEX: Thank you Brady!  One of my students spent his free time designing this specialized mounting plate in Inventor, and then cut them out of 1/4″ acrylic on our Brightstar laser. He will post the file here shortly! Notice that the switch (not switches, as the need for the 9V battery went away!) is hidden under the board so it cannot accidentally get hit, but can be used to stop the robot in an emergency. Keeps the wires out of the way as well! Link to part file coming soon!
  8. Heavy Duty Base:Once again, this upgrade was done for the metal gears over the plastic; it should never strip under normal use. Also the squeak of the plastic base is long gone, and is smoothed out by the bearings in the servo and the base. RobotShop Product link. Assembly guide.
Conclusion: I get so many emails all the time about how these arms are just “toys”, and “…they are not very robust”.  Yes, they are toys compared to a Scorbot, but they also cost about $14,000 less. I have had most of these since 2009, and the students love working with them, and besides, every group of 2 or 3 students get a robot to use; can you do that with scorbots in your classroom? Besides, they play nicely with the VEX stuff too.
I have personally built and/or repaired more than 120 of these arms now, at CTI’s around the nation, as well as at high schools.  Everyone that thinks they are junk, and do not have a good experience with them, is usually because of one of two reasons: Either they are built incorrectly, or the students are allowed to abuse them.
I know the directions are not perfect, but honestly, these were made for hobbyists who don’t mind having to figure it out. Once you have built one though, they’re easy. And kids using them to sword fight or “battle” one another? C’mon… what do you expect.
I make sure they are built correctly (I built the first one my self) by grading the kids with a rubric on how well they are put together. This raises my students level of concern quite high, and they do a nice job. I also do not allow my students to misuse them in the classroom as well. Have I burned out a few servos? Yes. Do my students enjoy using them in the classroom? Yes.
To see some examples of how they can be used in your classroom see the Youtube playlist below. RobotShop SSC-32U link.
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Get in touch

Jim Hanson

Chris Hurd


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