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Monochron feedback
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Monochron feedback

by joeyoravec on Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:45 am

Built my monochron kit last night, love it. Everybody had to visit my cubicle and check it out. I have some feedback from the process:

1. There's sufficient vertical clearance to install capacitor C2 normally. There's actually less clearance (it'll hit the power jack) if you try installing it as depicted in the guide.

2. The thin ribs/fingers on the plastic case are extremely fragile. I accidentally snapped one during installation. My coworker snapped another when handling it this morning.

3. The guide doesn't mention installing the ISP or FTDI headers. I forgot, but that's good since it looks like they're tall enough to conflict with installation of the back panel. Make sure to test-fit the case if you plan to install them.

4. On the webpage where you order the clock, it would be nice to mention the ISP and FTDI cables and have a choice to add them to your cart. I probably would've ordered those at the same time if I had known.
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Re: Monochron feedback

by dataman on Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:31 pm

I'd like to post some feedback as well.

The kit went well, with the most difficult part being that case. I know it needs to be sturdy, but we'd also like to be able to get inside this someday. Actually two took people to assemble the case. If something's that hard, there's probably an easier way. I'm sorry that I don't know what it is. I think on my list of wants for the case, I'd want to be able to easily remove the assembly. Rather than depending on the assembly as an integral part, perhaps if it slide into place?

Otherwise, it goes without saying that you did a tremendous job on this device. The engineering is beautiful. The attention to detail, bypass caps, clean power, ground planes. Nice job.
Dataman
Charley Jones, crjones.com
Founder and President:
Sql Server Society of Las Vegas, SSSolv.com
XNA User Group, LVXug.Com
Las Vegas Make, LVMake.Com
Developer of the IntruderChron, MultiChron, & GOL 1.4 Mod, Crjones.Com/AdaMods

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Re: Monochron feedback

by ericgus on Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:13 pm

The ISP or FTDI headers weren't intended to be soldered in .. but just stuck into the holes on the board as required..

The case is a bit tricky to assemble.. I managed to do it myself .. but I had to use a pair of needle-nose pliers and some careful steady handed patience..

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Re: Monochron feedback

by chelmi on Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:34 pm

ericgus wrote:The ISP or FTDI headers weren't intended to be soldered in .. but just stuck into the holes on the board as required..


I don't understand how this could do a reliable connection...

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Re: Monochron feedback

by dataman on Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:00 pm

Sticking ICSP into the back of the board isn't really great.
Yes, very flakey connections with standard header.
Have to hold it in at an angle to make a decent connection.
Probably will end up uncasing mine.

Lady Ada,
I'd suggest cutting out the back as an option.
Would allow us to solder in connectors.
And play with the back of the thing, still cased, to our heart's content.
monochronback2.jpg
Propose modification
monochronback2.jpg (42.63 KiB) Viewed 3415 times


Also a possible add on sale... kaching!
Call it the MonoChron hacker-back.

Hmmm, with that fancy laser of yours,
Couldn't you actually cut it out,
And not punch it out?
Giving the person the option of exposed or not exposed?

Also, could we perhaps make the monchron packaging a separate kit?
Double kaching?

Maybe enough to buy another laser?
Dataman
Charley Jones, crjones.com
Founder and President:
Sql Server Society of Las Vegas, SSSolv.com
XNA User Group, LVXug.Com
Las Vegas Make, LVMake.Com
Developer of the IntruderChron, MultiChron, & GOL 1.4 Mod, Crjones.Com/AdaMods

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Re: Monochron feedback

by adafruit on Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:32 pm

its not really possible to have 'optional' punchouts - laser either cuts or doesnt.
the icsp cutout is there for "just want to update the firmware with something i downloaded" - you hold it in place, works fine!
if you want to do a lot of modding, you can install the enclosure with the icsp soldered on. we dont show how to do it, but caitsith2's flickr set does. just have to be a little careful with the sides

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Re: Monochron feedback

by solder_guy on Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:28 pm

built mine today .. works great! I had no problem assembling the case .. (now I have jettosoned my old clock/radio) in favor of the Monochron at my bedside!

(Built the Bulbdial Clock after Christmas but it doesn't have an alarm so it sits in the Kitchen.)

Now I can watch Pong whenever .. which I first saw in 1975 ..

Thanks!

Rob
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Re: Monochron feedback

by Squar0L on Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:24 pm

I love this little box! I soldered the FTDI, so I had to start with fitting the back+button side first, then screw in the PCB loosely, add the LED side, plug the LCD in, slide and screw the front - just loose, finish with the top and bottom. Here comes the feedback part:
1.) LCD holes are too small - had to drill out. It's probably and unplanned "made in china" emergency, right?
2.) The cable of the power supply is too heavy and rigid compared to the weight of the box. I'll probably replace it, or feed it from a USB cell phone charger.
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Re: Monochron feedback

by driestone on Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:59 pm

Great kit. I didn't have a lot of trouble getting the case together. Honestly the whole thing was a little TOO easy! I didn't have any issues like others have noted. I have no regrets about the $$ or the time spent on this project. It's a bit smaller than I imagined, but overall I'm very pleased!

pros:

For someone like me who wishes he understood/knew more about electronics, it's a great kit. The instructions are great. I love that it not only tells you what goes where, but why. Very informational!

cons:

This thing really needs an ambient light sensor. I was going to use it next to my bed but it's too dim during day and too bright at night. I realize the problem here is that we're limited by pins on the chip. If it were me I'd move to an onscreen representation for the alarm on/off, move the alarm button to a push button using a resistor and use pin 9 for an ambient light sensor. The fact is, that it doesn't work well as a bedside alarm clock without a light sensor.

As an artist, I find the logic for the "game" to be somewhat lacking. The paddles always move mechanically into place at the last minute and things in general just feel so artificial (which is all very understandable). It would be nice to add some fuzzy logic to make the game look a little more natural. I might get the FTDI cable at some point an tinker with it.
Last edited by driestone on Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Monochron feedback

by chelmi on Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:10 pm

DrieStone wrote:This thing really needs an ambient light sensor. I was going to use it next to my bed but it's too dim during day and too bright at night. I realize the problem here is that we're limited by pins on the chip. If it were me I'd move to an onscreen representation for the alarm on/off, move the alarm button to a push button using a resistor and use pin 9 for an ambient light sensor. The fact is, that it doesn't work well as a bedside alarm clock without a light sensor.


Yes, I agree. I thought about it and I will probably hack it by adding a I2C ADC.

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Re: Monochron feedback

by adafruit on Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:35 pm

...or you could just adjust the code so that as it heads towards 9pm the PWM goes down to 'minimum' and then towards 7am it goes back up :)

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Re: Monochron feedback

by ghostfish on Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:38 pm

joeyoravec wrote:The thin ribs/fingers on the plastic case are extremely fragile.

This is true. The other problem is that you need to remove all 8 screws to tinker with it at all. The buttons prevent you from removing just the logic and leaving the screen in the case the way it's setup. I snapped one of my "ribs" attempting to remove the front screws during decasing to hack it a bit. :( On the bright side, now that the rib is broken I can remove the logic PCB by only removing the back 4 screws.
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Re: Monochron feedback

by mihalis68 on Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:21 pm

[extract from an email I sent in to Adafruit after my first project]

------------------

Just a little bit of feedback : I made my MONOCHRON yesterday and I was very
happy with it. Here are some pictures

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=1 ... 7004d6c14c

just iPhone pictures, not great.

If you decide to revamp the design at all, putting the power connector
on the back might tidy up the look a bit. I know that the current
placement comes from the simplicity of mounting it on the circuit
board, but a tidier look might increase the "wife acceptance factor".
Maybe it could be an optional feature of the design somehow.

[update: I see this became a mod today!!!]

I am pretty much a beginner at soldering and yet my clock works except
I think I melted the alarn switch, that doesn't move any more. I
soldered it on the back(!) of the board at first, at which point it
still worked and controlled the LED, but I killed it removing it and
resoldering it to the front. Oh well...

Nevertheless it was great to have a simpler less dangerous clock to
attempt before I have a go at Ice Tube (which I also ordered). If I
can do it almost anyone can :) (and you can quote me on that)

-----------

Some more stuff that comes to mind. As a beginner I made one bad solder joint but I was able to find that by visual inspection. I remembered being told about soldering when I was a kid and having a brief lesson in the early 80s. Photos of good and bad joints might help those who didn't even get this much help!

I got the case together by myself, but had to try twice before I got it just right.

A final thing on my mind is I don't know how to thoroughly remove solder from a bad join. One day I want to remove the melted alarm switch and fix it, but I can't remember how to clean down a really bodged joint, especially for this switch which has several pins close together.

Chris Morgan
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Re: Monochron feedback

by adafruit on Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:21 am

ok folks - (phil here) great feedback, we're going to take a look at these! there are a few repeats and stuff we're working on so we're going to lock this thread for a bit, thanks for all the posts!

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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.