Ordinary readers will know that Hackaday usually avoids active crowdfunding activities. But sometimes we do encounter a project that is unique enough that we have to erase our seal of approval. Especially if the event has exceeded its funding goal, we don’t have to feel sorry for the good people who make you excited about Steam Software.
We introduce you to these considerations Baby Computer Engineering, go through [Chase Roberts]. As a product of five years of research and development, this board book uses an internal microcontroller to help explain the functions of Boolean logic operations (such as AND, OR, and XOR) in a fascinating way. For the curiosity of young children but suitable for all ages, this book has exceeded 500% of its funding target on Kickstarter at the time of writing, and there is no sign of slowing down.
The technical details on the Kickstarter page are simple to keep it simple, but [Chase] When we contacted him, it was great to talk about the specifics. He explained that the original plan was to use discreet components, and that early prototypes simply route buttons to designated doors on a given page. This works, but it’s not as strong as he hoped. Therefore, I finally decided to move the book to the low-power ATmega328PB microcontroller and use the MiniCore project so that the book can be programmed using the Arduino IDE.
Obviously, battery life was a major issue for the project, as a book that would die after a few weeks on the shelf simply wouldn’t work. to this end, [Chase] Said that his code makes extensive use of the Arduino LowPower library. Essentially, the firmware wakes up ATmega every 15 milliseconds to see if a button is pressed or the page is turned, and the LED status is updated accordingly. If no changes are observed after about two minutes, the chip will enter a deep sleep state and will not wake up again until the yellow button is pressed to trigger an interrupt. He said that in some extreme cases, this setting may be problematic, but in general, this book should be able to run on a coin cell battery for about a year.
[Chase] Tell us that the biggest problem is to find a reliable way to determine which page the book is currently turning to. In fact, he hopes to continue to modify this aspect of the design before the book is actually shipped. The current solution uses five phototransistors connected to the MCU ADC pins, and as the pages placed on them decrease, these phototransistors gradually receive more light. When the second page of the book is opened, the first sensor is exposed, so, for example, if three sensors see elevated light levels, the code will assume that the user is on the fourth page.
Books and PCBs are manufactured separately because, as you might expect, it is difficult to find a company with both experiences. [Chase] It is planned to finalize and program each copy with the help of family members; given how much has been sold early in the campaign, we hope he has many cousins.
So when Junior is tired of an Arduino-compatible book, what do you do? This is the discovery we are particularly interested in. [Chase] Said that after the Kickstarter event has settled, he is willing to release the firmware as an open source project. If the owner wants to launch his own custom firmware, this will provide the owner with a basis for building. Obviously the peripheral hardware of this book is quite limited, but nothing can prevent you from hanging some sensors on the I2C bus or hijacking unused GPIO pins.
If you end up teaching your copy Baby Computer Engineering Some new tricks, we would love to hear.