PixelPals-4

Chip is cute and playful. Whether he is on your desk in his Pixel Power board or in an Arduino, his big LED eyes draw you in. His large size makes him easy for makers of all ages and skills to build. He is a great project to help you learn how to solder and get started with Arduino. Soldering is fun and with a little practice it is a skill that anyone can master. Lets start with assembling Chip and his Pixel Power base and then we can plug him into an Arduino and program his eyes.

Before starting, read through the instructions and look at the pictures to verify orientation of components. If you would like some help with soldering, you can check out our website or take Chip with you to your local Makerspace.

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Safety first!

Put on your safety glasses, plug in your soldering iron and let’s get started. Starting with Chip, pick out his PCB, two LEDs for his eyes, the two resistors, and the right angle header. The short pins of the header go through the front of his feet. They sort of look like toes, don’t they? The long leads and the plastic component should face down. You can tape Chip to your work surface to keep him from moving around. Solder the pins on the back of the PCB.

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Pixel Pals: Chip with Pixel Power Soldering Kit

Take your time. Pressing down harder does not make soldering go faster. A clean, tinned, shiny tip on your iron will make a difference. In between each component, clean your tip.

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combined chips

Adding and trimming resistors.

Next: the resistors. There is no (+) or (-) side. Insert them so they sit flush on Chip’s chest. Spread the leads to hold them in place. Solder them on the backside of Chip and clip the leads. Be sure to hold on to the lead when you clip it. They fly! Rule of thumb – the smaller the part, the farther and faster it will fly across the room. Clip the lead just above the solder ball, not flush with the board.

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Chip is ready for his LED eyes. Each LED has a short leg (Anode / negative) and a long leg (Cathode / positive). The long leg goes in the square. The short leg goes in the round hole. Insert both LEDs flush and solder. Clip the LED leads.

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9 10 11

Chip is looking good, now we need to make his Pixel Power Base. Gather the components. You should have a Pixel Power PCB, a 10-Pin Female Header, 2 Micro Pushbuttons, a Slide-Switch, and a Battery Holder.

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Start with the switch. Starting at the center and working outward is easier because you do not have components in the way. Tape the switch in place, it does not matter the orientation. Turn over and solder. Insert the left and right buttons and make sure they are flush. Solder in place.

Next is the 10-pin female header. Use a piece of tape to hold the header flush and square. Start with the ends to secure the header. Complete by soldering each pin. The battery cover is big and absorbs a lot of heat. It might take a little more time before your iron can heat it and the solder pads up enough for the solder to flow properly. Be careful, it will get hot.

You are all done soldering! Nice Job! Unplug your iron, let is cool before putting it away. Clean your work area and wash your hands. Plug Chip Into the Pixel Power Base and add the battery. You can blink Chip’s eyes by playing with the buttons. Now lets move onto controlling Chip with an Arduino.

PlayingWithCHIP

If you have never used an Arduino before, check out our website for some helpful videos on getting Arduino and Chip connected.

Remove Chip from his Pixel Power base and plug Chip in to your Arduino. Chip connects to Arduino on pins D10, D11, and GND (ground). Make sure Chip is facing outward and that his Left Eye plugs into D10 and his Right Eye plugs into D11.

Programmers often like to start with a “Hello World” application and Chip’s equivalent of “Hello World” is “Blink.” Read the code below. Step through it line by line. What do you think it will do? What do you think each line does?

PixelPals_Fixed-2 // START CODE
int rEye = 10;
int lEye = 11;


void setup(){
pinMode(rEye, OUTPUT);
pinMode(lEye, OUTPUT);
}

void loop(){

digitalWrite(rEye, HIGH);
digitalWrite(lEye, HIGH);

delay (1000);

digitalWrite(rEye, LOW);
digitalWrite(lEye, LOW);

delay (1000);

}
//END CODE

Have some ideas about what that code does? Great! Lets step through that code again, this time with some comments that explain what each section does. The “//” signifies a comment. A comment is ignored and not sent to the Arduino. Comments are there for us humans, to make code more readable.

// START CODE
// Chip has 3 important pins
// Ground (GND) -- plugged into to Arduino GND
// Right Eye LED (D10) --> plugged into to Arduino D10
// Left Eye LED (D11) --> plugged into to Arduino D11
//
// We need to define Chip's eyes so we can use them in our code


int rEye = 10; //define right eye as pin10 on the Arduino
int lEye = 11; //define right eye as pin11 on the Arduino

// Next we need to initialize the Arduino pins
// setup() only runs once when you power on or reset an Arduino

void setup(){
pinMode(rEye, OUTPUT); //set right eye for output
pinMode(lEye, OUTPUT); //set left eye for output
}

//loop() runs forever - this is our main code
void loop(){

// turn both eyes on. HIGH means set voltage to HIGH
digitalWrite(rEye, HIGH);
digitalWrite(lEye, HIGH);

delay (1000); //wait for 1 second. Delay is set in miliseconds or 1/1000 of a second

// turn right eye off. LOW means set voltage to LOW.
digitalWrite(rEye, LOW);
digitalWrite(lEye, LOW);

delay (1000); //wait for 1 second. Delay is set in miliseconds or 1/1000 of a second
// we are at end of loop - we go back to line 21
}

//END CODE

All we need to do now is upload the code to the Arduino and see what happens. Fun and easy, isn’t it!? Now it is your turn. You now can speak to Chip, and you can play. Change some code around and see what happens. What happens if you change things like the delay? Can you make chip wink instead of blink?

We hope you enjoy Chip and that together you have many adventures. Share your photos of Chip with us on Twitter @SolderingSunday – we love to see all the friends Chip has made.

CHIP_Solder_06_complete