Nov 4, 2011

Instruction Construction

Instructables is one of the best sites on the web for posting your home projects. For those unfamiliar, people submit small instruction manuals on how they built their projects and those are then posted under the appropriate category on the main site. You can submit anything from recipes, to costume designs, to home electronics rigs. Even better, they often host contests for people who submit the best projects given the contest scenario (holiday themed, using a specific medium/material, geekiest, etc.).

The downside to sites like Instructables is that there is no standard template for submitting your project and people are mostly free to include whatever they want. Several of the projects I have been interested in ended up being extremely lacking in the actual instruction part. Many people don’t bother to post their complete bill-of-materials (BOM) with a description of where you can find the parts or post a schematic for you to follow. It can get frustrating.

At one time I considered submitting my pumpkin display to Instructables’ Halloween contest, but given what my final product turned out to be I didn’t think it was worthy. Instead, I am going to post my build log across a few separate entries on this blog. I have decided to take a backwards approach by showing you what the final project looked like and then showing how I went about assembling everything. I will try to post as many pictures as I can for the visual learners out there. However, I first want to encourage you to go back and check the posts I did about my original idea so you can see just how far away I ended up from that original plan. Plus, I will be assuming in future posts that anyone reading them will have some context concerning what I was trying to build.

In the coming days you can expect to see a few different entries related to my project. The first will go into detail on how I created the form factor (i.e. carved the pumpkins and created the bases). Next, I will show the circuitry I used including the theory of operation and the construction of the circuit boards as well as the code I used to run the animations – I may split these up into a few posts. Last up I will show my BOM with some advice on recreating the project and areas for improvement.

Maybe next Halloween I will try to improve on my current designs, but until then…screw Flanders.


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