The process of making the centerpieces for the UMW Foundation dinner was challenging yet fun. The first part was coming up with what we wanted the centerpieces to look like and what it would do, from the beginning of the build we had the idea of at least one thing moving on the centerpiece and having many LEDs attached to it.
The main problem we first ran into was how we were going to make all these interactions happen without building a really complex circuit. This brought up the idea of using an Arduino to power and control everything within the centerpiece, this made it easy to change the way the centerpiece worked. The idea of the program was to get a servo moving and make LEDs light up in an alternating pattern with the simple push of a button. The program was very simple to do for this, however, it was complex on the actual circuit board.
Some problems we ran into with the circuit was the power supply itself, if we didn’t connect a full 9-volt battery to the Arduino then it would power off at random times. Another problem with the circuit was that if the connection to the button wasn’t connected all the way then the servo and LEDs would go off randomly giving it a creepy effect that would probably be annoying to sit near. Finally we got the first prototype of what the centerpiece was going to be when we realized that we did not have enough Arduinos for all the tables and that we were going to use a lot of LEDs.
Two other problems were that we did not have enough of the right kind of batteries and buttons for it to be controlled. We solved the Arduino supply problem by being able to reprogram the HummingBird boards we had to act exactly like an Arduino so we could have enough of the centerpieces. For the batteries and buttons we had to order more off of Amazon. The last thing we had to do was build the same program on each Arduino and the same type of circuit for all the LEDs, buttons, and servos which was easy but time-consuming because we had to test each one and some had problems with the wiring but that was easily solved with a multimeter or even rewiring it entirely.