SMD prototype boards

I have frequently had the need for a SMD prototype board, and while regular strip board can work it is never satisfactory. After spending £15(!) on 1 small board from Farnell for work I decided enough and quickly designed my own. The boards arrived this morning. I haven’t made anything with them but I might knock something up later, see how good they are… I’m not convinced by the yellow…


Nixie clock is finally finished

It’s been a long time since I started the rework of my nixie bargraph clock. Probably about a year, but I can finally sit back and say it’s finished. I plan to make a few, one to repair the original instructable clock and this one which I mounted on a piece oak.

The numbers have been laser etched with the tubes held by copped pipe straps. The board is mounted on the front with a protective acrylic screen. Exposed PCBs aren’t to everyone’s taste but they are mine. There’s a little RGB LED which indicates which mode the clock is in: set time, calibrate hours tube, calibrate minutes tube. Knowing that the tubes have a limited life span I added some code so they turn off between 1am and 6am. All pretty straight forward stuff. Now it hangs on the wall looking ace.

Nearing my first Kickstarter success


When I say nearing, it has already blasted past the target of £100 and is currently at £415, I really mean the end of the campaign is soon. This is my first toe dip into kickstarter and it was really meant as a learning experience. I have seen many very successful projects and think it is a great platform to not only get funding but to promote a product. So I hope to be running more campaigns in the near future with big projects that are closer to my heart. It has been an interesting and very exciting few weeks, every new pledge is a little victory!

If you see this in the next 11 days and want to pledge head to kickstarter now!

Sealed Pet Bowl musical instrument

Every year we have a summer BBQ at work. There is always lots of food, drinks and good fun. This year it was proposed to have an interdepartmental talent competition. (As it turns out engineering is the only department brave enough). So after much discussion we decided that we would perform several individual talents. My talent… musical pet bowls! The Sealed Pet Bowl is the first product I helped develop during my first year at SureFlap. I developed very sensitive proximity/motion sensors that surround the bowl, when it detects something near it opens up. Since I worked on the electronics and firmware I am very familiar with it’s operation and knew it would be quite a simple mod to turn the pet bowl into an effective theremin/laser harp type instrument.


Programming a pet bowl.

To get notes from the pet bowl I took the PWM output normally used to drive the lid and ran it to a small guitar amp. The firmware knows which sensor is being triggered so it was a simple case of making the PWM frequency dependant on which sensor was triggered. Then doing this to 3 pet bowls. Job done, a pet bowl instrument.

Seal pet bowl instrument

The finished instrument in all it’s glory.

Now it was just a case of learning how to play the thing. Time was as limited as my instrument so I managed Ode to Joy. Good performance. Everybody claps. Roll on snare drum. Curtains. You are now looking at the SureFlap’s got (no) talent winner 2016! Video of the performance.

Pet bowl performance

Rocking out.


A winner’s trophy is perfect for holding your beer.