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This is my first ever Instructable and I wanted to show you how I made a physical notifications display box called one-hundred-thousand. It’s powered by an Intel Edison and utilises the Instagram API. The project was made as part of the Hackathon for the Intel Edison bootcamp workshop ran at the FabLab London.

The purpose of one-hundred-thousand is hinted within the project name, it tracks in realtime your number of followers which is indicated on a scale of 0 to 100,000 powered by a stepper motor. I chose the 100,000 as the upper limit as thats the number of followers you need supposedly to ‘have made it’ on Instagram, and so it’s just something to aim for. In addition there are also two LED’s that illuminate when you gain or lose a follower. This feature turned out to be quite interesting as the Instagram app doesn’t notify you when you lose followers, and so you begin to notice patterns of losing lots of followers at certain times of the day etc which you wouldn’t normally notice.

I designed the box with the intention of being aesthetically pleasing so I could place it on a shelf somewhere and not be too intrusive. In addition I wanted to push myself to create the best possible product using the skills I already knew, and take a gamble by creating a somewhat complicated design to be laser cut, bearing in mind I had never used a laser cutter prior to this project and this is my first ever design for one.

Whilst this project is primarily based around using the Intel Edison, I see no reason why a Raspberry Pi or similar couldn't be used to power the project instead.

The design files and all code is available on my Github account: https://github.com/bytesandbolts/one-hundred-thousand

A brief showcase video of the box working: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gPKviYYt54

Materials list:

  • 3mm Laser plywood (or similar).
  • 2mm clear acrylic.
  • 8 x 10mm M2 countersunk bolts (or you can just use the regular ones below).
  • Assortment of M2 bolts, nuts and washers.
  • Assortment of M3 bolts, nuts and washers.
  • Assortment of M3 risers (I had nylon ones handy).
  • 1 x Intel Edison Kit with Breakout Board.
  • 1 x Grove Starter Kit Plus (Intel IoT Edition).
  • (Optional) External power supply port.
    • 2 pin panel/chassis mount power supply jack (2.1mm x 5.5mm).
    • 2 pin power supply jack (2.1mm x 5.5mm x 9mm).
    • ~30cm equipment wire (red and black).
    • ~30cm black braided cable sleeving/sheathing.
    • Few bits of heat shrink.

Equipment list:

  • Wood glue.
  • Hot glue gun.
  • Laser cutter (I used a Trotec Speedy 300 - can laser and etch).
  • Small screwdriver 1.3mm Allen key (my M2 bolts were fancy black anodised ones with a tiny hex).

Step 1: Design Box and Laser Cut Parts

Well I guess I've already done most of the hard work for you by providing the design files. So you should be able to with minimal work laser cut your own box and parts. My designs will make a box measuring 25cm (H) x 25cm (W) x 10cm (D).

The Trotec Speedy 300 Laser cutter I used had a maximum cutting area of 43.18cm (H) x 73.66cm (W), so I had to take this into account when working out the dimensions of the box. On the day of the Hackathon I had to quickly rejig all of my designs as the dimensions of the laser ply available wasn't big enough, so bare that in mind for your build.

If you want to change the size of the box you will need to do a little math; taking into account the overall dimensions (H) + (W) and the length of the radius for the corners (my designs used a 4cm corner radius to match the Instagram logo scaled up for that size).

To work out length of wood required for the corner radius:
4cm (corner radius) * 2 * Pi * 90 / 360 = 6.28cm

To work out the overall length for the outer skin you add the length of the straight pieces with the lengths of the corner radius:
For example: 4 * 6.28cm (corners) + 4 * 17cm (straights) = 93.12cm overall length.

This was too big for my laser cutter workspace, so I split the skin into two pieces which I could bolt together.
For example: 2 * 8.5cm + 2 * 6.28cm + 17cm = 46.56cm overall length (multiply this by 2 and you get the same figure as above).

Step 2: Bolt Together the Outer Skin

Time to bolt together the two piece outer skin using the plates. The holes will be laser cut out but you will need to finish with a 3mm drill if you wish to use countersunk M2 bolts like mine if you want to get that really clean finish!

One one of the plates you need to glue the washers and bolts in place as you won't be able to access them when you come to bolt together with the front and back pieces.

Step 3: Test Assemble the Box

I etched the front panel after I laser cut it first as I hadn't created the front design at the time, but you will be able to do both at once using the provided design files.

Install the stepper motor using some M3 bolts, nuts and washers.

You can also test assemble the box now if you wish to test the fit.

Step 4: Glue and Assemble Parts

Now its time to glue most of the major parts together using wood glue. Clamp together pieces to get a tighter fit with some hand clamps if you have them handy.

  • 3 circles make front lens (ensure the notches line up)
  • 2 big square boards construct the board that the Edison will be mounted to.

The front 'flash' piece is made from 2mm clear acrylic with both layers protective backing left on to create a translucent effect. Glue the two flash surround pieces together, notice one has a slightly smaller hole than the other, this is to hold the acrylic piece in place against the front panel.

Then screw together a couple of 25mm risers and hot glue a pair into the each hole located in the flash surround.

Bolt the 2 Grove LED boards as labeled to the LED riser using some M2 bolts, nuts and washers. Then bolt down to the flash riser using a couple of M3 bolts. Note it does matter which way round the LED riser goes, the LED's should line up with the centre point of the acrylic piece better one way than the other.

Hot glue the flash surround to the inside of the front panel.

Step 5: Solder the Power Supply Extension (optional)

This step is optional but is recommended as it will allow you to plug in a power supply to the rear of the box without having to route the cable and plug inside.

Cut two wires (one black, one red) approx 30cm long and strip back insulation each end approx 1cm.

Solder both wires to the chassis plug (Red/positive is the centre pin, black/negative is the outer casing) and apply heat shrink to each connection. Drill a hole somewhere on the rear panel using a drill a little larger than the chassis plug and secure in place using the nut provided with the plug. Make sure to install to the rear panel before you solder the other end on.

Slip on the braided sheathing, apply some heat shrink to hold it in place and solder on the other plug.

Step 6: Glue in the Raisers

Insert and hot glue in place some M3 raisers for the Edison and Stepper motor driver boards. The ones I used we 12mm nylon raisers, but any will do really.

Then you can install both boards and bolt down in place, and begin wiring up the pins.

  • D2 is the green LED
  • D3 is the red LED
  • D8, 9, 10, 11, GND, VIN are the Stepper motor pins.

Step 7: Upload the Code and Enjoy!

Ensure the Edison is connected to the Internet and checkout the code from my repo.

You will have to create an Instagram API dev account (It's free) and create an app (also free) and change a few parameters at the top of the code to match your Instragram API settings and userID.

Other than that you should be ready to go. (python pen-hundred-thousand.py).

<p>your design is out of this world. those round bendable corners just opened my mind to a different level :)<br>.<br>thank you for sharing such an amazing project.!</p>
<p>That's really cool. Lovely housing. Nothing I could ever do, but a nifty idea. Is the light green for follow, red for unfollow? Just curious. Nice project!</p>
<p>Thanks for you comment. Yes an LED will illuminate for one second, green for a follower gained, red for a follower lost. I'll upload another video showing the LED's operating in realtime. </p>
<p>Well done! </p>
<p>Fun tracking system. I love the way that you made the housing.</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: Automotive Security Engineer + maker (in a nutshell)
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