Building a superhero power plant with Atmel and Adafruit

The Gemma is a tiny wearable platform board neatly packed in a 1″ diameter package. The device – powered by Atmel’s versatile ATtiny85 – is easily programmable with an Arduino IDE over USB. Similarly, Adafruit’s Trinket, a tiny microcontroller board, is also built around Atmel’s ATtiny85.

Although the Gemma only recently hit the streets, the platform been used to power a wide range of Maker projects across the DIY spectrum. And today, we’re going to be taking a closer look at how to use the Atmel-powered Gemma (and Flora) to build a superhero power plant designed by Becky Stern and the Adafruit crew.

“Planning an epic Iron Man costume for Halloween or Comic Con, or looking for that iconic piece that turns a plain t-shirt into Tony Stark? Look no further, for in this guide we’ll show you how to make your own electronic glowing reactor with a cool pulsing effect,” Stern wrote in a recent Adafruit post. “You can even customize it once complete, go for red, purple, green, pink – whatever color will power you up! Or change the pulse rate or effects to add a special touch.”

Although the superhero power plant is a relatively simple soldering+crafts project, Stern recommends that Makers familiarize themselves with a couple of tutorial guides before kicking things off, such as “Introducing GEMMA” and Adafruit’s “NeoPixel Überguide.”

Aside from the Atmel-powered Gemma, key projects components include:

  • NeoPixel ring
  • Single FLORA NeoPixel
  • solid-core hookup wire
  • JST extension cable
  • 3xAAA battery pack with batteries
  • 2x laser-cut/etched acrylic in clear or white (files on Thingiverse)
  • elastic
  • safety pin or velcro
  • E6000 craft glue or hot melt glue
  • needle and thread
  • tracing/printer paper

The first step? Download the relevant vector files from Thingiverse, and yes, there is also an Iron Man 3-inspired version available.

“Inking the engraved portion with a dry erase marker really brings out the detail. We layer two of these together for a neat 3D effect then later we’ll wrap wire through the provided holes and indents to hold them together,” Stern continued. “Hairline features are vector cuts, everything else is engraved. Our settings using a 60 Watt Epilog? Raster speed 50%, raster power 50%, vector speed 40%, vector power 100%, vector frequency 5000. Have fun!”

Interested in learning more about building a superhero power plant with Atmel and Adafruit? Be sure to check out Becky Stern’s complete tutorial over at Adafruit.

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