IIT Chain by Joe Ricker (joericker.net)
These are the humble beginnings of the IIT Chain…
The original idea was to drive a set of LED’s that spell out IIT using a low-power Attiny microcontroller. We were able to do this, however I had more ambitious goals for this project.
If we wanted to use this as a soldering kit, I needed to make the more difficult components surface-mount. So, I decided to rethink the project entirely.
Back to the breadboard
This revision of the IIT Chain uses an LED matrix to display text and images that can be programmed by the user.
To make sure the key-chain would be long-lasting, I used an Attiny to drive the chip that controls the LED matrix.
However, there was no library to control the LED Driver I selected with an Attiny. So, I created my own I2C library, and I’m writing a tutorial to teach students to program it.
Work at the Idea Shop
The Idea Shop's Electronics Bench was utilized heavily for this project. I spent many hours prototyping different designs and ideas on breadboards, and once the PCB was produced, I used the SMD Rework Station to solder on the tricky surface-mount components.
You can learn more about the Electronics Bench here: Electronics Bench
IIT-Chain 1.3 was given out at Illinois Tech’s February 2020 Scholarship Symposium event! The future of this board is to include a USB programmer to allow students to program it completely on their own, and become inspired to pursue STEAM education just like I was.