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Your timing is perfect! This month, subscribers to HackerBoxes are building a jumbo-sized, functioning replica of the 555 chip from discrete transistors. We are also working on several experiments based upon the venerable 555 timer chip, which is the integrated circuit that has sold more units than any other chip in the entire history of semiconductors. The 555 has already earned its place in history while still widely in use to this day.

This Instructable contains information for working with HackerBoxes #0004. HackerBoxes is the monthly subscription box service for electronics hobbyists, makers, and hackers. If you would like to receive a box like this right to your mailbox each month, please SUBSCRIBE HERE and join the HackerBoxes adventure!

Even if you are not a HackerBoxes subscriber, you can still join in the fun using your own materials and equipment. Also, you can get a Three Fives Kit from our friends over at Evil Mad Scientist and you can find various 555 project kits from our friends over at Nightfire Electronics.

Step 1: HackerBox #0004 Contents

This month we made a BOXING VIDEO while packing the box. Have a look.

  • Three Fives Kit (Black PCB, Aluminum Lead Stands, Thumbscrews)
  • Evil Mad Scientist Decal
  • Solderless Breadboard
  • Various Jumper Wires or Dupont Jumpers
  • 9V Battery Terminal
  • 8 Ohm Mini-Speaker
  • Momentary Buttons (five)
  • LEDs (ten)
  • 7-Segment LED Display (Common Cathode)
  • Photo Resistors (two)
  • 555 Timer Chips (three)
  • 4017 Decade Counter Chip (info)
  • 4026 7-Segment Display Driver Chip (info)
  • 2N3904 NPN Transistors (thirteen)
  • 2N3906 PNP Transistors (thirteen)
  • 1N4148 Switching Diodes (ten)
  • Various Capacitor values (0.01uF, 0.1uF, 0.47uF, 1uF, 3.3uF, 10uF, 22uF, 220uF)
  • Various Resistor values (100, 220, 620, 820, 1K, 3.9K, 4.7K, 5.1K, 6.8K, 10K, 15K, 22K, 33K, 68K, 100K)
  • 10K Potentiometer
  • 500K Potentiometers (two)

EXPLOSIVE! Please Note that some of the capacitors are electrolytic capacitors. These are polarized, which means that each capacitor has a positive lead and a negative lead. The polarity of such capacitors needs to be used properly within the circuit or the capacitor may explode, rupture, or otherwise fail.

PART ALLOCATION! Also note that some of the components in this list (and in the HackerBoxes) are required for building the Three Fives Kit. It would be wise to pull all of these out (and maybe just go ahead and build the Thee Fives Kit) prior to consuming any of the components in other projects or experiments. Here are the specific items from the parts list that are needed for the Three Fives:

  • 2N3904 NPN Transistors (thirteen)
  • 2N3906 PNP Transistors (thirteen)
  • Resistors (one each): 100, 220, 820, 1K, 3.9K, 6.8K, 10K, 15K
  • Resistors (two): 100K
  • Resistors (seven): 4.7K

The list above is a general list of items needed for the projects and experiments presented here. Please note that the exact characteristics of contents within a particular HackerBox may vary by color, type, manufacturer, count, or so forth due to sourcing and bulk packing.

<p>After assembling the Reaction Timer Game (Step 7) circuit, I added another 555, configured in bistable mode to drive the reset line of the 1st 555. Also added a 3rd button to separate the Start operation out from Reset. The Start &amp; Stop buttons are connected to the Trigger &amp; Threshold pins (with p/u &amp; p/d resistors) of the 2nd 555. Now the count halts even after the Stop button is released.</p>
<p>I built the giant 555 project as soon as my box arrived. Very cool! In my experience, most &quot;scale&quot; models have been scaled down. I love that this one was a scale up.</p><p>I built a Larson scanner this afternoon. Totally awesome for a guy who grew up on Knight Rider and BSG. (Remember in the opening credits for the A-Team when Templeton &quot;Faceman&quot; Peck A/K/A Starbuck encounters a Cylon at Universal Studios?! Priceless.) Anyway, building this was a lot of fun!</p><p>One questions for the experts: Why are the diodes upstream of the LEDs necessary?</p>
<p>Diodes can be used to implement a &quot;wired OR&quot; which is basically a cheap logical OR gate to combine two outputs from the counter to drive each LED. Some implementations just use resistors instead of the diodes.</p><p>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wired_logic_connection</p>
<p>Thanks for the info. Makes sense. I get that some of the LEDs can be powered by 2 different pins from the decade counter. In this case though, doesn't the decade counter only power 1 pin at a time? So the diode prevents the unpowered pin from seeing voltage from the powered pin. But is there a risk associated with applying power to an unpowered output pin? I.e. is it really necessary in this application or is it just &quot;good form&quot;?</p><p>I guess in the spirit of hackerology, I might just try it w/o the diodes and see if the whole project bursts into flames. But i definitely appreciate the insight of the pros.</p>
<p>Be careful thinking about them as &quot;unpowered output pin.&quot; Generally digital output pins are effectively attached to one of the rails. The rails being Logic_Zero (0V or GND) and Logic_One (typically 5V). Unless output pins are &quot;open collector&quot; (see link below) we never want an output pin &quot;driving&quot; a zero to be directly attached to an output pin &quot;driving&quot; a one. That's called a short, and as we all know, Electrical Engineers do it without shorts. At the very least, you want to have some load between the two pins for the 5V to drop across (waste as heat). Notice in the schematic for Step 6, there are 200 ohms (TWO 100 ohm resistors) between each output pin. Ideally (not often the case), the logic and/or code is designed to just never have any outputs fighting each other as that is a waste of electricity and introduces undue thermal cycling.</p><p>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_collector</p>
<p>Awesome, totally makes sense. Thanks for the explanation!</p>
<p>Be careful thinking about them as &quot;unpowered output pin.&quot; Generally digital output pins are effectively attached to one of the rails. The rails being Logic_Zero (0V or GND) and Logic_One (typically 5V). Unless output pins are &quot;open collector&quot; (see link below) we never want an output pin &quot;driving&quot; a zero to be directly attached to an output pin &quot;driving&quot; a one. That's called a short, and as we all know, Electrical Engineers do it without shorts. At the very least, you want to have some load between the two pins for the 5V to drop across (waste as heat). Notice in the schematic for Step 6, there are 200 ohms (TWO 100 ohm resistors) between each output pin. Ideally (not often the case), the logic and/or code is designed to just never have any outputs fighting each other as that is a waste of electricity and introduces undue thermal cycling.</p><p>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_collector</p>
<p>I loved the three fives kit, and wanted to display it as an art piece. I thought it should actually do something, though, so I built the Larson scanner into a low-profile project box with the LEDs poking out the side. The box is short enough to fit comfortably under the assembled three fives kit. Now the kit display is compete: it's beautiful, and the glow from the LEDs emanates from beneath, shifting left and right.</p><p>I think I'll modify the design somewhat and use one of the photoresistors in the box to adjust the pulse rate of 555 so that the scan rate changes according to the immediate light level, to add a touch of interactivity.</p><p>This box has been (and continues to be) great fun! Thank you!</p>
<p>Can't wait for mine to arrive, I run several Code Clubs and am always looking for new things for the build table, and a Giant 555 chip fits the bill nicely. :) good work :) </p>
<p>Yay! For three days now I have been all....</p><p>4</p><p>I am glad that it is this cool!</p>
I'd love that 555 hacker box. really cool! That working jumbo 555 is awesome!

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