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Great Kit!!
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Great Kit!!

by ki4mmm on Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:01 am

I received my Ice Cube Clock two days ago, and finished building it yesterday evening. My thoughts..... "What a beautiful kit"! I am a Ham Radio Homebrewer who has built numerous kits and homebrewed circuits, and this is one of the nicest little kits I have seen. It's new home is in my living room, on top of my stereo cabinet, as what I told my wife, is "the center piece of our home"! :D . The only glitch that I noticed in the docs was that one resistor was mis-labeled on the parts list (looks like that has be corrected now), while the only self-inflicted glitches were that I got spoiled on just scanning the beautiful pictures, and missed installing one diode, and one resistor, which did not have full-size pictures. I figured that out when I got to the end and had those two left over. Additionally, the acrylic case, and overall design are a work of art! That said, thanks for the great kit, and your blog and forum. Oh, I am new to AVR's etc., and still just lurking, but I visit your site daily to look and learn.

Best wishes,
Greg, ki4mmm
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Re: Great Kit!!

by jimcook on Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:58 am

It is a FANTASTIC kit!!!!!

The instructions are typical adafruit. That is, easy, complete and well written for all levels. Read the instructions then look at the pictures and verify that you understand.

The pcb is well packed. There are a lot of pieces in a small space.

Another great feature is where the build stops at certain parts for testing. That way if something is not right you will catch it early in the construction stage. A sign of being well thought out.

It worked the first time!! :D

Being from the mechanical world, the case caught my attention, not because it is so pretty but because it is so accurate. I am amazed how well it fit. The scrap was still in the holes so I could see how thin the curf is. The edges of the Plexiglas appears to be polished from the heat. Really nice.

The only question I have is: What level are you running your display tube brightness? :?: I like the looks at full brightness, but I worry it will burn out too soon. :(

In the "would like to see" category: I would like to see the display to be able to be programmed to bring up the date every so often.

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Re: Great Kit!!

by mike31416 on Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:44 am

Hi,

There is a section under Use It! that explains how to change the brightness:

http://www.ladyada.net/make/icetube/bright.html

But after re-reading your post, it look like you know that ;)

Mine is being shipped today!!!

Mike

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Re: Great Kit!!

by ki4mmm on Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:28 am

I'm running mine at full brightness, which is needed for the open location in my living room. I may try setting something black behind it, which I think would help visibility with a lower brightness level.

In the nice-to-have category, for me, would be the ability to have it shut the brightness down when I am not around e.g., while sleeping or away at work. Nevertheless, the needed menu functions and button presses might be a difficult interface to add.
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Re: Great Kit!!

by adafruit on Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:44 am

hey where are the PHOTOS of your clocks, eh??? :)
You can upload them directly to the forum (it wasnt working but the permissions are fixed so that excuses you till NOW)
lets see some shots of finished kits in the wild!

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Re: Great Kit!!

by adafruit on Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:47 am

jimcook wrote:It is a FANTASTIC kit!!!!!

In the "would like to see" category: I would like to see the display to be able to be programmed to bring up the date every so often.


Thanks jim. You can bring up the date by pressing the SET or + buttons. We were thinking of having it just 'show up' once in a while but since that can be annoying we decided that it should only display upon request

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Re: Great Kit!!

by mike31416 on Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:54 am

The design notes say:

R4 and the two pads CT1 and CT2 are not used in general and are basically intended for hacks and mods, adding sensors or using the clock to trigger an output.

Not sure if this is still true with version 1.1. If its still there, then a light sensor and code changes could be added to dim it when the room is darker. Or add a sonar sensor (MaxSonar) which has a range of about 20 feet. It could trigger when you enter the room and temporarily change the default setting to max for a given timeout.

Mike

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Re: Great Kit!!

by adafruit on Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:21 am

yes thats -exactly- what they are there for. originally the kit was going to come with a photocell and resistor that would dim the display to match the surrounding light. we decided against it as it would be very confusing to beginners. however, it should be an easy hack, hopefully documented soon (either by adafruit or an adventurous hacker)

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Re: Great Kit!!

by adafruit on Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:55 am

jimcook wrote:The only question I have is: What level are you running your display tube brightness? :?: I like the looks at full brightness, but I worry it will burn out too soon. :(


We couldn't find a definitive note on how the cathode voltages affect tube life. The display will dim as it ages and we believe that higher voltages will cause it to dim faster. However it will still last 10+ years.

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Clock's first light

by attentiondotnet on Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:07 pm

The first power on test
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Re: Great Kit!!

by adafruit on Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:43 pm

lookin' good :)

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Re: Great Kit!!

by attentiondotnet on Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:31 pm

Here is the finished clock. It's hard to photograph transparent stuff :-)
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Re: Great Kit!!

by kaydub on Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:08 pm

I just finished my ice tube clock, and have to agree, this is a wonderful kit. I really love the design of the case. The touches like the button functions, readable from the front and back show some amazing attention to detail and usability. As usual, the instructions were above and beyond helpful and detailed. I did have a little challenge getting a couple of the capacitors in their place due to the assembly order and my big clumsy hands, but I'm a rank amateur at electronics assembly. That's what I love about adafruit kits, they're designed so even a beginner like me can successfully build them!

Looking forward to future projects!

I made a couple notes when building, figured I'd share them...

---
Installation of C4 might be confusing to some, since it's a different capacitor from C2 installed just before. C2 specifies the capacitor spec, C4 doesn't. Since there are two 47uF capacitors in the kit, someone might think they're the same value if they're not validating with the parts list, or didn't read the directions through like they should have :)

C1/C3 were kinda difficult for my big hands to get on the board after installing C2/C4. If C1/C3 were first, it'd have been a cinch. C1 was tricky even with needle nose pliers.

The inductor instruction doesn't have the corresponding part identifier (L1). Since it's installed in the same steps as the large capacitor, someone might get confused.
---

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Re: Great Kit!!

by mike31416 on Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:29 pm

Its alive!!!

Almost worked the first time... One of the digits was not showing and turns out I had a bad solder joint with the tube. Instructions are very good (Heathkit quality!) and I agree with kaydub's notes about the order of placement of C1/C3.

I soldered the high voltage transistor before inserting D3 (yea I know the instructions say otherwise) and ended up filling one of the holes for D3. Easy to fix, just heated again and blew the hole clear (with safety glasses on).

Also though I had a problem with the case. The front and back edges of the board did not align with the bottom plate and were off by 1/8". Then I found that there were two ways the bottom plate could mount and I had it wrong. After that everything fit perfectly.

BTW... mounting the tube to the daughter board was a #$@^# but can be done if you take your time and take deep breaths;)

Thanks for the quality clock kit!

Mike
Last edited by mike31416 on Tue Sep 15, 2009 7:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Great Kit!!

by adafruit on Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:38 pm

thanks, we will update the instructions about the early caps. not preciesly sure why we did it that way. it made sense at the time

mounting the tube is tough but we put a bunch of photos and tried to stress how it will take time. its by far the toughest part of the kit but there's not much we can do about it, the wires are so delicate :(

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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.