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Picture of Electronic Paperweight
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Imagine a paperweight that not only holds piles of paper in place, but perpetually blinks ! 

Step 1: Basic Components

Picture of Basic Components
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A solar cell, supercapacitor, and a new ultra low power 555 chip make it possible !
 
geocacher2 made it!2 days ago
4 more improved projects
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geocacher22 months ago

I made one cast in epoxy resin. It's been working for a month now. (yes, that's a big bubble on the solar cell.) I think I'll cast one in layers to eliminate bubbling.

geocacher2 made it!5 months ago

Finished. I'm letting it cycle thru a couple of days of charging and discharging to see how it holds up. My paperweight is the 'deep' model (a bit over 1/2" of space). I also had to upsize the solar cell just a bit because the smaller one was backordered.

Thanks for the plans !!!!

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geocacher25 months ago

Any idea how to prevent those tiny solar panel pads from popping off. They are quite easily pulled loose. I was thinking of adding a large blob of E6000 glue over my wiring connection to add some physical strength.

TinkerJim (author)  geocacher25 months ago

Are you referring to the "pads" on which the wire leads are soldered? If so, then glue on the wires is a prudent idea. I usually place a dollop of glue (epoxy or sometimes even Tacky Glue) on each wire coming off the cell as a "strain relief" so the pads themselves do not experience stress. And when a pad does come loose before being treated as above, I have found that a product called "Wire Glue" can be used to attach wire to the cell and restore the electrical connection, and when dry (and checked), then the strain relief glue can be added.

geocacher26 months ago

Fixed it. My breadboard wiring was messed up. With just a quick charge from a couple AA batteries, it is now blinking all night long.

geocacher26 months ago

I'm waiting on a small solar panel for my project. However, I have a battery charging the circuit, and the led is blinking ok. The capacitor I have is 1.5f at 5v. When I disconnect the battery, I don't get any further blinking of the led. I must have missed something.

I like this project !

TinkerJim (author)  geocacher26 months ago

It is good to have the blinking part of the circuit working! Check that the capacitor is taking and holding a charge from the battery with your voltmeter. If it takes and holds the battery voltage, and is connected OK, and doesn’t have excessive internal resistance, it should blink the circuit just as the battery does, right?

Ploopy1 year ago

Cool!

agis682 years ago
very cool....how did you make it the circular shape of the PCB?
TinkerJim (author)  agis682 years ago
The PCB that I used was phenolic. It can be cut with a coping saw into rough shape and then filed or sanded to a nice circle. I do not remember exactly how I did that one, but I usually cut stripboard on a bandsaw, and then finish with a disc sander, and take off the burrs with a file.
batman963 years ago
Couldn't you use an astable multivibrator instead of the 555 timer, I don't know how you would hook up a photodiode to it, but if you wanted it to blink all the time it would be fine, also you could use an Op Amp to give a fade in fade out effect.
TinkerJim (author)  batman963 years ago
Well, the 555 circuit described here is commonly referred to as an "astable multivibrator". Maybe you are wondering if some other chip could be used to make a blinking circuit. Well, note that the requirement for a "perpetual" flasher that will fit into a small paperweight is energy economy because space for a solar cell and storage capacitor is quite limited. While there are some neat circuits for low power flashers, like for example Thomas Scarborough's CD4093BCN based flasher or Dave Johnson's two transistor circuit, the new CSS555 Timer is perfect for this application. Set up for a 1/2% duty cycle, it gives a bright flash while consuming very little power over a cycle. The average operating voltage of the paperweight circuit is around 3V and the drop across the LED is about 1.6V. So the current through the 47 Ohm resistor is about 30mA,so the blink is very bright. But the rest of the cycle time, the micropower CSS555 and timing resistors only take about 6uA. Thus the average current draw is only 156uA. This gives the long operating time (overnight, next day without light, and the next night too) on a fully charged 1F cap.
I think an LM3909 LED Flasher/ Oscillator may do the trick. They're available on ebay and I know Futurlec used to have them in stock.


TinkerJim (author)  jiovine3 years ago
The LM3909 is a wonderful chip - I used many of them way back when starting out in electronics (and still have a half dozen or so in the parts box !). Its chief feature is that it can flash an LED from a low voltage source. It uses more power than the CSS555 circuit described in this project. The spec sheet shows an average current consumption of 320 uA at 1.5V (for the minimum power circuit with lower flash brightness) which is about double the 156uA of the CSS555 circuit at 3V. So for a very rough estimate, you would get maybe about 1/2 the run time from the capacitor source. This may be enough for you - should go overnight if the cap is fully charged (of course the current draw rises with voltage). Anyway, it is very easy to set up on a breadboard to try it out !
I'm talking about a two transistor two capacitor astable multibibrator, it is a simple discreet component circuit, that draws very little power between flashes, I think a discrete component circuit would look cooler than a 555, they are commonly used to alternate two LED's but you can hook them up to only flash one. I just don't now how to make the photodiode trigger it. Maybe you could draw up a schematic for a discrete component circuit that does this.

like this  http://circuitalley.phpnet.us/images/astabletr.gif
yoyology3 years ago
I'd like to see a step showing how you attach it inside the dome. Is that a glass magnifier that you've used?
TinkerJim (author)  yoyology3 years ago
The glass dome in the photographs is a standard item available from suppliers to paperweight makers. You can glue the circuit board to the dome with tiny strands of clear epoxy at the periphery of the circuit board, or simply secure it inside with the large circular adhesive backed felt pad that comes with the paperweight. But there is plenty of scope for creativity in devising paperweights from other materials - eg a hollowed wooden or metal base with a glass or plastic cover, or a large magnifying glass fitted on top.
bijikenyot3 years ago
toys kids ...... i bet only $5 in shop
Well documented. Be sure to submit this in the Hurricain LASER contest if you haven't already.
Awesome idea!