Instructables

Let's make DIY littleBits! For original circuits, visit littleBits.cc


Thanks for visiting! Sept, 2014: Vote for modules I submitted to littleBits by visiting www.BitLab.cc


I will be adding more steps to this instructable every time I manage to make another DIY littleBit. So come back often and follow this instructable to see new bits tutorials. *Added since initial publication: light trigger* I change the original circuits based on parts availability and my own preferences and ability. I volunteer for the Fresh Air Fund, and my hope is that I can learn enough to offer a free afternoon workshop this summer for the children who visit my town just 45 minutes north of NYC.

The connection method I currently use between bits involves 3 header pins on both the left and right sides and female to female jumper wires. There is no kanban mechanism to prevent miswiring, so the user must be careful when connecting DIY bits. One idea is to use alternating male and female pins on alternating sides with male to female color coded jumper wires (red=+VCC, green=signal, black = GND). If you decide do use alternating male and female pins and jumpers, then the male header pins should be on the left of the bits; this is to prevent dangling live male jumper wires from crossing each other and creating a short circuit.

PARTS: If not stated in each individual step, you will need solder, hot glue, 22 gauge stranded insulated wires, perfboard, male (maybe also female as you like) pins, jumper wires, heat shrink tubing (electrical tape is ugly but will suffice), and a method for labeling your DIY bits. Many bits require an op amp chip, which can get pricey if you are buying them individually from the store. I recommend buying larger quantities of chips from www.digikey.com. The Digikey part number for the LM741 op amp chip is LM741CNNS/NOPB-ND ; at publication time, I was able to buy this chip for $0.70. For labeling bits, I use #6 plastic from the recycling bin (also sold as shrink film by www.digikey.com.

Tools required include wire stripper, soldering gun, helping hands, needle nose plyers, hot glue gun, and a method for cutting perfboard (I scored it with a sharp knife and snapped it over a straight edge ruler, but some prefer to use a dremel). The most important tool is a good book; I recommend Timer, Op Amp & Optoelectronic Circuits & Projects by Forrest M. Mims III http://www.forrestmims.com/engineers_mini_noteboo...

 
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Step 1: POWER!

The first thing we need is POWER!!! The original "p1 power" circuit requires a power regulator that Radio Shack does not sell, so instead I bought the 5V regulator which is most commonly used by hobbyists - the LM7805.

Parts list:
1) 9V battery
2) 9V battery snap with red and black wires
3) Perf board cut to 9 x 12 full holes
4) LM7805
5) Capacitors: 0.1uF ceramic disk (code 104), 1.0uF (maybe dipped tantalum), 10uF electrolytic ... Pay attention to polarity and substitute as risk will allow.
6) Resistor: one 330 ohm
7) one small red LED
8) spdt slide switch - a single throw switch may suffice
9) 3 header pins
10) 3 jumper wires

Procedure:
1) Breadboard and test that V and S output 5V.
2) Arrange on perfboard & solder.
3) Test that V and S output 5V.
4) Hot glue any weak connections, including the output pins to the perfboard. I hot glued this bit to a blue 4x6 lego plate, as power is coded blue in littleBits.
5) Great job! You can use this bit to power any projects that require 5V.

Step 2: RGB LED - light sensitive!

Picture of RGB LED - light sensitive!
RGB circuit.jpg


Parts list:
1) Perf board cut to 9 x 12 full holes
2) LED: 5mm tricolor (red/blue/green) - Radio Shack part #2760028
3) Resistors: 3 x 330 ohm (220 ohm may suffice - test it on a breadboard first), 3 x Cds photocells (photoresistors) - Radio Shack part #276-1657. I used the 2 large photoresistors that come in this pack for Red and Blue and the medium for green.
4) LM741 op amp - Radio Shack part #276-0007 or Digikey part #LM741CNNS/NOPB-ND ... The output pins on the 741 differ from the LV321, which is used in the original littleBits.cc schematic for this bit. Please note the difference!
5) connection pins (3 on left side and 3 on right side)
6) heat shrink tubing
7) 3 jumper wires

Optional:
If you are not interested in making your RGB LED light sensitive, then you will need 3 10K potentiometers instead of the 3 photoresistors.

Procedure:
1) Breadboard and test that your LED can make the 3 main colors and a variety of other colors in between. You can do that by either covering over the photoresistors with different opacities (black electrical tape is almost totally opaque, while your fingertip is probably 1/2 opaque) or, if you used 10K potentiometers, use a flat head screwdriver to dial in your colors.
2) Arrange on perfboard & solder.
3) Test that V and S output 5V against G.
4) Hot glue any weak connections, including the pins to the perfboard.
5) Make a label and consider color coding this bit according to the littleBits color code. LED's are an output, so this would be green. Lego's anyone?
6) Great job! I put in front of the TV to make a mood lamp. Imagine placing the photoresistors beneath a motorized device that blocks the light from another LED in a dynamic intermittent manner.

Step 3: Long AND Bright LED

Picture of Long AND Bright LED
long bright LED circuit.jpg

Parts list
1) Perf board cut to 9 x 12 full holes
2) LED: 5mm high brightness white - Radio Shack part #2760017
3) Resistor: one 220 Ohm
4) LM741 op amp - Radio Shack part #276-0007 or Digikey part #LM741CNNS/NOPB-ND ... The output pins on the 741 differ from the LV321, which is used in the original littleBits schematic for this bit. Please note the difference!
5) connection pins (3 on left side and 3 on right side)
6) heat shrink tubing
7) 3 jumper wires

Procedure:
1) Breadboard and test that your LED is bright. Make your LED a few inches long by soldering stranded insulated wire to the leads, but not so long that it gets snagged on things. You can solder your resistor directly to a lead and cover that with heat shrink tubing or electrical tape, or you can display the resistor on the perfboard.
2) Arrange on perfboard & solder.
3) Test that V and S output 5V against G.
4) Hot glue any weak connections, including the pins to the perfboard.
5) Make a label and consider color coding this bit according to the littleBits code. LED's are an output, so this would be green; that is why I hot glued green legos to my bit. You could use anything green, really.
6) Connect to your existing DIY bits. If you did not use the 741 op amp chip, your bright LED may be dim depending on how many bits you have connected together. If you want a bright LED, an op amp chip is a must.

Step 4: Button

Picture of button
breadboard bits.jpg

Parts list:
1) Perf board cut to 9 x 12 full holes
2) SPST momentary button - I took mine from an old broken toy. These will vary in sizes and shapes.
3) Capacitor: one 0.1uF either ceramic disk or polyester film will do just fine
4) Resistor: one 1M Ohm (a.k.a. 1,000K Ohm)
5) connection pins (3 on left side and 3 on right side)
6) 3 jumper wires

Procedure:
1) Breadboard and test that your button is working with a DIY LED bit plugged into your breadboard. Use separate rails on your breadboard for Signal in and Signal out (refer to image). If you find your LED is fading in and out, you may have used too large of a capacitor. If your LED is skittering on and off, your old used button may be poor.
2) Arrange on perfboard & solder.
3) Test that V and S output 5V against G.
4) Hot glue any weak connections, including the pins to the perfboard.
5) Make a label and color code this input bit pink.
6) Connect to your existing DIY bits.

Note: I made no changes to the littleBits circuit, so please refer to their original design as found on their website.

Step 5: Inverter

Parts list:
1) perf board cut to a size that will accommodate the size of your inverter chip. I happened to have 74AC240N, so I used a pre-printed circuit board that can take up to a 20 dip chip.
2) capacitor: 0.1uF
3) resistor: 1M Ohm (a.k.a. 1,000K Ohm)
4) inverter chip - the original design calls for 74AHC1G04DCK. Please refer to your inverter chip's datasheet for the correct pinout. The diagram I show here refers to the 74AC240N.
5) connection pins (3 on left side and 3 on right side). I ripped mine out of a computer the neighbor put out for trash.
6) 3 jumper wires

Procedure:
1) Breadboard and test that your inverter is working. In order to test, you will need DIY Power + DIY button + breadboarded inverter +DIY LED bit plugged into your breadboard. Use separate rails on your breadboard for Signal in and Signal out (refer to breadboard image). This setup will yield an LED normally on; when you press the button, the LED will turn off.
2) Arrange on perfboard & solder.
3) Test that V and S output 5V against G.
4) Hot glue any weak connections, including the pins to the perfboard.
5) Make a label and color coding this bit according to the littleBits color code. Inverter is coded orange.
6) Connect to your existing DIY bits. This bit is a lot of fun with a pulse bit and a couple LED's.

Step 6: Pulse

This is my absolutely favorite bit! My pulse runs fast at a 50% duty cycle, because that's the way I like it. If you want longer pulses, you can breadboard different variations of the same circuit. Please refer to the original design at littleBits and to Forrest Mim's "LED flasher" design in his book (see full reference in the intro step in this instructable).

Parts list:
1) Perf board cut to 9 x 12 full holes can accommodate the quick and dirty pulse, but make the chip at least 9 x 16 if you want to really do your homework and include the op amp chip.
2) 555 chip
3) LM741 op amp chip (optional?)
4) Capacitors: 10uF, 0.01uF Please pay attention to polarity!
5) Resistors: 100 Ohm, 1K, 10K, 10K micro potentiometer
6) Transistor: NPN - I used a 2N2222
7) one LED - I kept this on my final bit, but you may want to simply use it for breadboard testing.
8) 3 header pins
9) 3 jumper wires

Procedure:
Using the 555 can be overwhelming to a new user, so take it slowly. If you have access to Snap Circuits and the 8-Pin IC Socket # 6SC ?U8, then try building some 555 circuits by KRA5H. I built several designs by this instructable member, http://www.instructables.com/member/KRA5H/ , like this one:http://www.instructables.com/id/Install-an-LED-in-a-Tone-Generator-Circuit-To-Visu/ ... That is one way to learn about the 555, but you can also simply use a breadboard.

1) Breadboard and test that V and S output 5V. Take your time on this step, and really consider what capacitors and resistors you want to use.
2) Arrange on perfboard & solder.
3) Test that V and S output 5V. Test that the pulse duration changes when you dial the potentiometer with a flathead screwdriver.
4) Hot glue any weak connections, including the output pins to the perfboard.
5) Label pulse and color code it as a pink bit.
6) Great job! With the following circuit, you can now make flashing police lights: Power, pulse set to a short duration, RGB led, inverter, long/bright led. You will need either a red or a blue pen cap to cover the long/bright led, and the RGB led should be set to either blue or red.

Step 7: Lever (roller) switch

Picture of lever (roller) switch
roller switch 3 way.JPG
IMG_3587.JPG


Parts list:
1) Perf board cut to 9 x 12 full holes
2) one SPDT micro with 3/4" lever (Radio Shack part #275-0016 - they also have lever switch with a roller #: 275-017), plus one SPDT slide switch.
3) Capacitor: one 0.1uF either ceramic disk or polyester film will do just fine
4) Resistor: one 1M Ohm (a.k.a. 1,000K Ohm)
5) connection pins (3 on left side and 3 on right side)
6) 3 jumper wires

Procedure:
1) Breadboard and test that your lever and slide switch are working harmoniously. I have included a video to demonstrate proper function. I have also included a diagram to explain how a "3 way" works. Be patient, and you will succeed!
2) Arrange on perfboard & solder. I tied my switches to the perfboard with florist wire until I tested it was working correctly. When I was done soldering, I cut the florist wire and secured the switches with hot glue. Don't use too much, or you may hot glue a switch into a permanent state of on or off.
3) Test that V and S output 5V against G.
4) Hot glue any weak connections, including the pins to the perfboard.
5) Make a label and color code this bit pink.
6) Connect to your existing DIY bits.

Note: I made no changes to the littleBits circuit, so please refer to their original design, as found on their website.

Step 8: Label your bits!

Picture of label your bits!
IMG_3589.JPG
IMG_3590.JPG
IMG_3591.JPG
IMG_3592.JPG

As mentioned in the introduction, you can use the #6 clear plastic from your recycling bin to make labels.

Procedure:
1) Hand write the bit name on #6 plastic (or Shrink Film made by www.grafixarts.com ) with a black sharpie marker.
2) Sand the back side of your plastic with medium weight (300 - 400 grit) sandpaper.
3) Color the sanded side with white colored pencil. Maybe you will use this step to color code your bits - use a different color besides white.
4) Preheat oven between 300 and 350 degrees.
5) Cut out words and place them on "medium weight cardboard, teflon sheet, parchment paper or vellum (do not bake on bare metal or on stoneware)." - according to Shrink Film package directions. Do the same thing for your #6 plastic. It's the same stuff.
6) Bake for 2-3 minutes or heat with an embossing tool. Do not remove from oven until piece is flat. If still curled, flatten with a spatula while still hot. Do not touch with your hands until fully cooled.
7) Glue label to bit wherever you like. I used Elmer's white glue for this.

Step 9: Light trigger

This is one of the more challenging bits to make.

Parts list:
1) Perf board... I try to keep all my DIY littleBits small, but this one has a lot of big elements. I cut mine to 9 x 17 full holes, which was not enough to accommodate the AND gate. My solution at the time was to insulate the AND gate wires with black electrical tape and fold it over the top. A better solution would have been to start with a larger perf board.
2) two LM741 op amp chips
3) Capacitors: 0.01uF - You can cheat and go without this, but it is good form to keep it in your circuit. Google "bypass capacitors" to learn more.
4) Resistors: 4 x 100K, one 100K micro potentiometer, one (large?) Cds photoresistor. More resistors in an AND gate...
5) one AND gate - Two good options are either the 74LS08 Quad AND Gate chip, which is available on Radio Shack shelves in a variety pack labeled "Low Power IC Kit" (part # 276-0294) or you can make your own with transistors and resistors you already have in your kit. The parts required for your self made AND gate are: 2 x 2N2222 NPN transistors, 2 x 10K resistors, one 47 ohm resistor. I included a picture of my AND gate. Google "transistor AND gate" for more information.
6) one DPDT slide switch
7) 3 header pins
8) 3 jumper wires

Procedure:
1) If you have the Forrest Mims III book, which was listed in the first step, assemble the "Light Activated Alerter" and "Dark Activated Alerter" circuits. The hand written circuit I show here that says "Test" on the top right is the basic boiled down circuit. Notice that it does not show a green Signal in line coming in on the left. This is not a complete littleBits circuit; it is just a breadboard demonstration! Leave some room on the left and right side of your breadboard for the rest of the circuit.
2) If you are new to DPDT switches, there is enough information out there to drown anyone. I labeled the two lines coming from the "voltage dividers" W and X; you can think of the 3 and 2 pins going into the second op amp chip as Y and Z. These labels correspond with the diagram on this switch tutorial website: http://www.1728.org/project2.htm .
3) Refer to littlebits for the complete "light trigger" circuit. It is not shown here on my instructable.
4) Arrange complete circuit on perfboard. Consider how easily you can flip the switch, and try not to put the photoresistor in the shadow of any other components.
5) Test that V and S output 5V. Test that the bit functions as it is described on littleBits.cc .
6) Hot glue any weak connections, including the output pins to the perfboard.
7) Label light trigger and color code it as a pink bit.
8) Woohoo! Pat yourself on the back and click the "I made it" button.

Step 10: DIY bits under construction

Picture of DIY bits under construction
timeout on off only.jpg

The following DIY bits are under construction in my house:

1) motor - I have made a working 6 transistor H-Bridge with a slide switch that changes direction on my motors. However, I only have toy and electric toothbrush motors, and I need geared motors. :(

2) timeout - I have breadboarded a timeout bit with Snap Circuits (see image). In it's current state, it is only in "on-off" mode. That means when you push a button, the timeout will send an on message to the next bit until time runs out. Then it will shut off. I still need to add the SPDT switch, Mosfet N Channel, and the second op amp chip in order to give it that second "off-on" function. I am trying to arrange the components to make room for all that.

3) voice recorder - I found a $2 voice recorder that was barely audible in it's original format. Maybe I'll add an amplifier. I'm sure this will be a fun bit to create!


MakerSylvia8 months ago

I got an account, and this is really cool. I'd love to try and make it sometime! YOU ROCK, Proto-board FTW!

JackANDJude (author)  MakerSylvia8 months ago

Duuuude! I'm so glad you joined. I'm your first follower. ;)

JackANDJude (author) 9 months ago

Here are some photos of our Fresh Air Fund Day celebration. Everyone had a lot of fun building circuits, even without prior experience. Visit www.freshairfund.org to learn more about how to help NYC kids enjoy summer. I'd like to give a big shout out of thanks to littleBits for their generous donation of modules; our visiting kids this summer will certainly ENJOY! A last minute surprise was that RadioShack donated 9 volt batteries - thank you! Finally, thanks to instructables and to all who voted for this 'ible and to our volunteer science teacher for the day, Glenn Simonelli.

littlebits workshop.jpg
mk4845 months ago

Hi Jack and Jude - just love your electronic 'bits' - my kind of style. I've got lots of things to share but ran into problems earlier this week, so am toning down my involvement, but I want to encourage you and jack to keep on being innovative. The simpler you make a project, the more people will probably try it out...

mk484

astral_mage7 months ago

check out dx.com 4 yr connector needs

Huuunksam made it!8 months ago

My FIRST Instructable 'make'!! After I finally found the correct capacitors, it was easy, AND it works ! Thanks!

IMG_3179.jpg
JackANDJude (author)  Huuunksam8 months ago
Nice job with the power bit! I'd love to see more. Thanks for posting!
wcr9 months ago


Hello, I'm starting to make my version, even before seeing your instructable, I started witha basic and already going to do with CI 555, all components are recycled from electronic waste including refrigerator, pulled out of CD roms ... link video:

wcr wcr9 months ago

sorry for typos, I am Brazilian and I used google translator hehe

JackANDJude (author)  wcr9 months ago

Nice. Thank you for sharing! I love that you used recycled components.

Gem]n[10 months ago

Great idea ... I done a few similar myself, for my Breadboard Dev-Board ... I prefer Vero sometimes for small stuff like this ... I also agree with KDSNESTs' post below regarding Forrest Mims III ... and I too was 14yrs old when I started electronics ...

FREE Program for designing and creating Vero Layouts a lot easier ... If you didn't know about this already, it's a fantastic program ...

DIY Layout Creator:
http://code.google.com/p/diy-layout-creator/

halciber10 months ago
This instructable is wonderful. Thank you for making it. I can't wait to try it out.
Raphango10 months ago

My future kids gotta have one of these =D

kdsnest10 months ago

This is a great little ible! It shows organization. I remember in college our bread board systems had a lot of that stuff built in and we tended to take it for granted. But this is a good idea to have several building blocks that will get used over and over in prototyping, why re-invent the wheel each time? I just looked around my desk at work and realized I have a few little-bits of my own floating around (we call the test jigs - to sound smart). I will have to make these!

kdsnest kdsnest10 months ago

P.S. Forrest Mims III is a great resource! I began building his circuits when I was 14 and they put me ahead of my class. He's like the Bill Nye or Don Hebert (Mr. Wizard) of electronics!!

chrischampion10 months ago
I'm thinking you could use RJ11 jacks and short phone cables instead of the three words to make it more kid friendly
JackANDJude (author)  chrischampion10 months ago
Yes. I was toying with that idea, too. If someone tries that or any other connection method, I would love to see it.
the random10 months ago

Beautiful idea, thank you!!!

louis.m10 months ago

This looks like an almost perfect Instructable for starters to get acquainted with electronics. I'm an industrial electronics engineer, but I also started as a tinkerer and I am convinced that this Instrutable will put many people on the right track !

COMPLIMENTS !

JackANDJude (author)  louis.m10 months ago
Thanks, Louis. :)
KRA5H10 months ago

To save having to buy 9 volt batteries, may I suggest an adjustable power supply wall wart. I demonstrate how to connect it to the littleBits power module in my sample rotator Instructable:

http://www.instructables.com/id/littleBits-Sample-...

You might even be able to connect the 9 volt battery clip on the wall wart to your 9 volt battery clip.

CrasheDNBurnT10 months ago

Should come with a seizure warning.

Awesome littleBits Thank you!

geekOmat10 months ago

Love this idea. Well done!

Bendito99910 months ago

mmmm.... Snap Circuits....

Inspires me to try making more diy custom components for everyone's favorite coat-button breadboarding solution.

halamka10 months ago

hook it up to a computer screen.

zonkerharris10 months ago

+1 for the reference to Forrest Mims! He's been writing these good, basic introductions to electronics and circuits for a while, and they are great introductions and instructions! I count 6 books by him within reach on my workbench right now, for ready reference while I'm hacking on hardware.

imperio10 months ago

if we put together many blocks .... we can get to the stars

Ralphxyz10 months ago

How about a 7 segment Led?

Or if you really wan to get involved a clock circuit with display!

Nice instructable thank you.

Ralph

you should make a Little Bits compatible arduino!

JonnySantiago10 months ago
Very good job. It's always funnier diy.
billbillt10 months ago

GENIUS

McClay1410 months ago
After checking how expensive the real little bits cost, this got 10X cooler!
Nice 'ible
JackANDJude (author)  McClay1410 months ago
Thank you!
hmuhammad110 months ago
wow! these are fun!
JackANDJude (author)  hmuhammad110 months ago
Yes, they are! I'm so glad the folks at littleBits came up with this idea for making simple modular circuits and that they believe in open source hardware.
hmuhammad110 months ago
cant wait the motor controller!