This year I decided to make an ESP8266 project for my family members as a group xmas present. The project is called “Mitchine”, and it was my first foray into the 8266.
Mitchine is a wooden box with 8 “icons” in the front, one for each member of my family (“Mom”, “Dad”, “Gra” == Grandma, etc). There is a hand made capacitive touch button on the top of the box that when touched sends a message (via MQTT) to all of the other boxes causing the icon representing the button pusher to light up. The idea being that, for example, if I touch the button on my box, everybody in my family knows that I was thinking about them because the icon representing my name will light up on their boxes. You could call Mitchine an "I'm thinking of you box." Touching the button also acts as a reset mechanism, clearing my own display of the icons representing each family member. Hopefully the video and photos included here will help clear up any confusion.
I initially started the project thinking I would cobble together various parts to make the project, but I ended up making everything from scratch, including a custom printed PCB, hammered copper capacitive buttons, and maple and oak enclosures for the project. All in all, I made a total of nine of these Mitchine devices, not including countless prototypes and early failed designs. By far, the most difficult part of this project was doing it scale - doing everything nine times (9 x 15 or so 0805 components to solder by hand, 9 x 2 x 8 wires to crimp for the LEDs, etc). And really, with the mistakes, prototypes, etc, it probably close to 15 times I had to do everything.
The project was done using various tools - SketchUp for designs/mockups, InkScape to create vectors for laser cutting some of the internal components, Eagle to do the board designs/layouts, and the Arduino IDE (which as an aside I feel could do with a refresh sometime soon!). Many of these tools and processes were new to me at the start of this project (including the basic woodworking required for the boxes themselves!) but the multidisciplinary nature of the project was a near ideal dream for me as it allowed me to jump between different types of problems/projects, all working towards one end goal (the finished Mitchine project).
I learned a ton during this process and have the esp8266.com community to thank for answering so many of my at times very basic (ok, stupid) questions. Martinayotte is one user who comes to mind - thank you - but there are a ton of you who went back and forth with me to help me understand basic principles of electronics, etc, so thank you all!!
I’ll add that all of my code is open source, but ultimately 95% of my code is based on OTHER open source projects, example code I’ve found and copy/pasted from, etc. So I would like to thank all of the other developers/“makers” whose work I’ve used in my project. I’ve found it a bit tough to trace some of this code back to original owners, and almost all code I’ve used I’ve changed quite a bit, but specifics would include MQTT PubSubClient by Nick O'Leary, the ESP8266 Arduino port itself, as well as the code I’ve used heavily in my web configuration interface which is from an unknown (to me!) origin - THANK YOU all!
The attached Eagle files have more details, but the rough parts list included:
- 1 x ESP8266-12E (bare, later soldered to the custom PCB)
- 1 x LM1117 (for power management on the PCB)
- custom PCB printed at OSHPark (eagle files included)
- 8 x “Piranha” 5mm dome LEDs
- 1 x 100 uF cap (power circuit)
- 1 x .1 uF cap (power circuit)
- 1 x 10 uF cap (power circuit)
- 8 x 56ohm resistors (LEDs)
- 5 x 4k7 resistors (pull up/down)
- various male/female header pins
- various wire
- copper disk blanks used to create the capacitive touch buttons
- velum and card stock for front “display”
- maple/oak wood for sides of the box
- 1/8” acrylic for front/rear “glass”
- various gauged wire for LED connections plus to connect to the capacitive button
- crimps for LED terminating wires
- various screws/nuts/solder/wire wrap/wood glue/superglue for putting everything together
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