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Super Awesome Sylvia is back with an all new video about the LOL Shield! Take it away, Sylvia!

For this build, we’re laughing out loud at how many LEDs we’re going to solder in for the LOL (Lots of LEDs) Shield by our good buddy, Jimmie Rodgers! Let’s go!

For this blinky build, we’ll need:

  • The LOL Shield kit from the Maker Shed
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • An Arduino
  • A Computer
  • A USB Cable
  • Wire snips
  • And last but not least, a vice or helper hands (not required, but really useful!)

First, get yourself a nice clear workspace and carefully dump out the contents of the kit. There’s a lot of LEDs in there! I mean a LOT! Take all your parts and lay them out. You should have one PCB, 133 itty bitty LEDs, and one 36 pin header strip. The LEDs are first, so get that soldering iron hot!

Remember, LEDs have polarity, they need to be put in correctly. The short leg is the negative (or cathode) and the long leg is the positive (or anode). From the top we can also see the side with the negative lead is flat, matching up with the silkscreen on the PCB. Make sure your LEDs match up with the silkscreen and they should be right every time.

Carefully place your LEDs to fill one column of nine, pinch the leads a bit (so they don’t fall out!), then flip the board over. Now carefully solder in only one lead of each LED. Once you’ve got the column soldered, flip it back over. Oh my gosh! They’re like crooked teeth!! Not to worry though…

Just heat up the soldered joint for an LED, while pressing and wiggling the top down flush with the board. Tada! Perfectly straight up and down. Repeat with the rest, then solder the other leads, trimming as you go. Only 13 more columns left to do! Be sure and check out the complete instructions by Jimmie (and some of his other cool kits and projects).

Whew! Once all your LEDs are in place, put the headers into your Arduino and snip them off to the right length. When done, place the shield over until it fits, then solder up the headers. Aaand… you’re done! Wahoo! Now head over to your computer, plug in the Arduino, get the LOL Shield library into your Arduino IDE (following the instructions at Jimmie’s site), and upload the test pattern example sketch. If everything went well, you should see the test pattern. If any LEDs fail to light (which happened to us!) check for cold solder joints, wiggle the offending LED, or if worse comes to worse, desolder it and put in a new one. The PCB traces are small and delicate so it’s best to avoid this if you can.

So, what can you do with your awesome Lots of LEDs? How about a scrolling marquee for your very own message, Conway’s Game of Life (a cellular automaton simulation), a custom animation (try and make your own at the LOL Shield Theater), a video or animated gif? If you add a button and a potentiometer, you can play tetris, space invaders, pong or even make your own game! You’re only limited by your imagination, coding skill, and how much you can squeeze on this little chip.

When you’re done, try and experiment with different programs or games, maybe try and write your own or add a speaker for sound effects, respect your soldering iron, and get out there and MAKE something!

Subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download the m4v video directly, or watch it on YouTube and Vimeo.

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist, Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.


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