Cylon Eye Electronics How To Guide

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by ekuth, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    I debated about where to put this, but decided that since the project is intended to go in Bazookajo's Cylon Helmet, it rightfully belongs here.

    I'm stretching a point, I know... :mrgreen:

    For those unfamiliar with what I'll be covering, long ago, when Bazookajo was first beta testing his Cylon helm, not being satisfied with just having the helm, I decided it absolutely HAD to have the sweeping red eye. I mean, that's what makes a Cylon a Cylon, right?

    However, the only commercially available ones (two- count them) were more than $200.00. Definately out of my budget, and not good enough by half. Not to mention, they were designed for the resin helmet kits out there, and not for wearing (without serious modification).

    So, while searching the hinterlands of the Internet for a solution to this thorny eye problem, I found the following guide:

    Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories - Make A Cylon Jack-O-Lantern

    Copy that link down, bookmark it, whatever, because we'll be using it ALOT.

    Obviously, I cannot claim credit for the circuit design we'll be building, and I don't plan to. I did, however, modify it slightly- and I'm making this guide to make building it at least possible for those among us who are not ultra-geek inclined (of which I am, in case you haven't picked that up by my other posts).

    So, parts list in hand, I headed out for a frustrating trip to my local Radio Shack; and a not so frustrating trip to my local electronics store. Time was, Radio Shack was the go-to place for projects like this. Sadly, that time has passed, and if you actually find a clerk who knows what is what in their pitfully limited selection of electronic parts- grab him/her and kiss them.

    No, not really, as that might get you brought up on charges. You know what I mean though.

    And, soldering iron in hand, I returned home and began to build the circuit, following the directions on the website. 48 hours and numerous soldering iron burns later, I finally succeeded! And to encourage you, below is a link to the end product of our labors:

    You can also see a couple of vids of the eye installed in the helm. Now if those don't motivate you, walk away NOW. sign1

    Okay, all that said, let's get to it!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2014
  2. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    Step One: Parts


    First off, we need our parts. The Evil Mad Scientist webpage (hereafter referred to as EMS) has the parts list about 2/3 of the way down the page, but I'm going to lay it out for you step-by-step.

    Most of these can be found (with some diligence) at your local Radio Shack (hereafter referred to as RS). Keep in mind, RS is there for convenience, not for cost effectiveness.

    All of these can be found much cheaper at your local electronics component shop or online.

    I highly recommend you find one locally, or look online, because you're probably NOT going to find the primary chip for this circuit at RS. Just warning you in advance.

    Also, don't buy your LED's at RS. Get them bulk from your real electronics shop, be it local or online. This build uses standard brightness LED's, although you could get ambitious and use ultra-bright LED's, if you want to foot the additional cost.


    1 * 555 Series Timer Chip * 555CN
    1 * CD4017 or MC14017B Counter Chip * -
    6 * 47 Microfarad Electrolytic Capacitor * 272-1027
    1 * .22 Microfarad Capacitor * 272-1070
    10 * 1N914 or 1N4001 Diodes * 276-1122
    24 * Red LED * -
    6 * 2N3904 NPN Transistor * 276-2016
    1 * General Purpose PC Board * 276-148
    1 * 9v Battery Snap * -
    2 * 220 K-Ohm Resistor * -
    6 * 47 K-Ohm Resistor * 271-1130
    1 * 330 Ohm Resistor * 271-1113
    1 * 8-Pin Low Profile IC Socket * 276-1995
    1 * 16-Pin Low Profile IC Socket * 276-1999
    1 * 30 Watt Soldering Iron * 64-2802B
    1 * .022 Dia Rosin Core Silver Solder * 64-013E
    1 * 2 Position Switch * -
    1 * "Helping Hands" Magnifying Tool * -

    "Okay, Ekuth" you say, "That's all well and good, but what the h*ll do these things look like?"

    Well, I'm gonna show you, starting from the top of the list and working my way down.

    555 Series Timer Chip

    One of two little chips we'll be working with. WARNING: THESE ARE VERY DELICATE. DO NOT BEND THE LEGS. DO NOT EXPOSE TO HEAT OR STATIC ELECTRICITY. DO NOT EXPOSE TO CATS. Seriously. They think they're spiders or something.

    Look closely at the top of the chip where the writing is. You'll notice a small notched semi-circular area. Take note of that, it'll be important later on.

    CD4017 or MC14017B Counter Chip

    The second of the two little chips, and the most important. THIS is the chip you're not likely to find at RS. I got mine at my local electronics shop. Notice it also has one of those notches on top.

    47 Microfarad Electrolytic Capacitor

    This is our friend, the electrolytic capacitor. Notice the funky looking "U" next to the "F" by the number 47 on the package? That "UF" combination is the symbol for Microfarad.

    You'll notice two wires (these are called "leads") that stick out from the bottom. You'll also notice that one is slightly longer than the other, right? Well, here's why.

    In order to wire these properly, we need to know which side is negative (-) and which side is positive (+). Just like on a battery, these have two poles.

    The positive (+) side is called the ANODE.
    The negative (-) side is called the CATHODE.

    Take a close look on the body of the capacitor. You'll most likely see a dark stripe that runs down the side of it. Chances are, this stripe (if there) is on the same side as the SHORTER of the two leads. If you're really lucky, it also is marked with the (-) symbol. That's because this is the negative (-) lead.

    So, to sum up:

    Positive Lead ANODE (+): Longer
    Negative Lead CATHODE (-): Shorter

    .22 Microfarad Capacitor

    This is probably the single largest piece of electronics we'll be working with. Looks like a big green Chiclet, doesn't it? Well, don't eat it. Take my word for it, they taste terrible. And sharp and pointy, too.

    Now after learning about our friend the Electrolytic Capacitor, you're probably looking for the longer and shorter leads, right? Well, guess what. This little guy doesn't have them, or need them. You can hook them up in any direction. No positive or negative leads here. Welcome to the wild and wierd world of electronics.

    1N914 or 1N4001 Diodes

    These are the smallest piece we'll be working with. Cute, aren't they? You won't think so when you're trying to solder them later. Now notice the two wires sticking out of either end of the little cylinder in the middle.

    Yup, you guessed it, leads. And like our friend the Electrolytic Capacitor, these have a (+) and (-) side too. But how do you tell? They're sticking out of the top and bottom and the others came off the bottom!

    Take a close look (go ahead, grab a magnifying glass, I'll wait.) at the Diode itself. Notice that one end has a dark band around the top of it? You guessed it, that's the negative (-), or CATHODE end of the diode.

    Red LED

    Our friend, the LED. You gotta love these guys. They draw very little power, give bright light, come in a variety of colors and never burn out. Well, unless you apply too much power to them. Notice that the LED, like the Electrolytic Capacitor, also has two leads, and that one is shorter than the other.

    Yup, you guessed it. The shorter of the two leads is the negative (-), or the CATHODE.

    Still with me? See how much you've learned already?

    If your head is spinning by now, go have a drink, breathe deeply and come back for more parts. :mrgreen:
  3. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    Step One: Parts (Continued)

    Back? Okay then. :thumb:

    2N3904 NPN Transistor

    Say hello to another tiny part, the NPN Transistor. What does NPN stand for? Beats the h*ll out of me. I'm assuming it's a type of silicon. :mrgreen:

    Notice this little puppy has THREE leads coming out of the bottom of it:


    Cute, isn't it? But which lead is which? Take a really close look that this critter. Notice that it's shaped like a half circle, with one side of it flat? That's the front of the Transistor. From left to right, the leads are called: Collector, Base, Emitter.

    What? No positive and negative? Well, yes and no, but we won't worry about that right now. The important thing is that you can identify which lead is which. So again, looking at the FLAT side facing you, with the leads pointing DOWN: LEFT = Collector; MIDDLE = Base; RIGHT = Emitter.

    General Purpose PC Board

    This is what we'll be building our circuit on. This board actually snaps in half to give you two squares, and we'll only be using one. So snap that puppy in half and set the other half aside for some future project.

    9v Battery Snap

    A simple 9v battery connector, which is what we'll be powering our circuit with. The LED's are very power efficient, which means they'll run for DAYS (most likely) once this thing is turned on. Note there's a black wire and a red wire. Yup, positive (+) and negative (-) leads. In this case, the black is the negative (-) and the red is the positive (+).

    220 K-Ohm Resistor

    Ah, the resistor. If you've ever pulled apart an old radio or piece of electronics, you've seen these poking about.

    By now, you're on the lookout for those positive and negative leads. However, like our .22 Microfarad Capacitors (the big green Chiclets), resistors don't have anodes or cathodes. You can hook them up to either side and they'll do their job just fine.

    Now, you've no doubt noticed that all resistors have a series of colored bands on the middle of the part. What the heck is that all about? Well, I'll tell you. Those bands are a color code used to identify the electrical resistance of the resistor. In other words, if you have a bunch of these things all jumbled together, how do you tell which one is which?

    By the bands.

    Take a look at the back of the package, and it should have a small chart.

    It goes like this:

    First and Second Color Band:

    Black = 0
    Brown = 1
    Red = 2
    Orange = 3
    Yellow = 4
    Green = 5
    Blue = 6
    Violet = 7
    Gray = 8
    White =9

    Third Color Band:

    Black = x 1
    Brown = x 10
    Red = x 100
    Orange = x 1k
    Yellow = x 10k
    Green = x 100k
    Blue = x 1 meg
    Silver = / (divide by) 100
    Gold = / (divide by) 10

    Fourth Color Band: (Shows the Tolerance of the Resistor)

    Gold = 5%
    Silver = 10%
    None = 20%

    The chart, unfortunately, doesn't tell you which end of the resistor to start with, does it? Well, I will.

    Notice that one end has a gold colored band on the very end. That's the LAST band of the color code, and will always be the last band on any resistor. That band will either be GOLD, SILVER, or won't be there at all.

    So, look at the chart on the back of the package and our picture above. We have, from left to right: Red, Red, Yellow and Gold. The yellow band is kind of hard to make out in the photo, as it tends to blend with the tan of the resistor body.

    So, following the chart, our numbers are:

    Red = 2, Red = 2, Yellow = x 10k, Gold = 5%.

    Honestly, for our purposes, the gold band isn't terribly important.

    So, this gives us: 220k-ohms, with a Tolerance of 5%.

    Hopefully, that makes sense. As long as you keep them safely in their package and only remove what you need as you need it, you won't have to worry about identifying them. But if you get them mixed up by accident, at least now you know how. :mrgreen:

    47 K-Ohm Resistor

    By now, you know all about resistors, right?

    Let's try that identifying trick again, but with our 47k-ohm Resistors. The color code on them is:

    Yellow, Violet (Purple), Yellow, Gold.

    Yellow = 4, Violet = 7, Yellow = x 10k, Gold = 5%.

    So, this gives: 47k-ohms, with a Tolerance of 5%.

    'Nuff said about resistors. :thumb:

    Time for another drink, I think. :twisted:
  4. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    Step One: Parts (Continued)

    Back again? Either you're masochistic, or the drinks are starting to set in. :thumb:

    330 Ohm Resistor

    More resistors! What else can I say about resistors... well, they say resistors is futile... :twisted:

    Okay, that was bad, I admit it.

    8-Pin Low Profile IC Socket

    This little critter is a socket for our 555 timer chip. While not called for in the ESM instructions, I HIGHLY recommend using these, because it will enable you to actually assemble the circuit without handling the chips until the very last.

    Chips are very sensitive to temperature and directly soldering to the leads on the chips runs a high chance of damaging them. Trust me, it's worth it.

    Notice on the top of these there's a notch cut in one end. This notch will match the notch on the top of the chip itself, so you'll be sure to insert the chip in the socket the correct way up.

    16-Pin Low Profile IC Socket

    Same as above, but for our 4017 counter chip.

    30 Watt Soldering Iron

    Ah... the soldering iron. You're gonna be spending ALOT of time with this little tool. Buy yourself the RS starter kit. You'll get the iron, heat sink, stand and pick tool. It's worth it. Here's the model I have:


    It's got a nice squishy grip on the part where you hold it, and is comfortable.

    Most of the starter kits have either 15 watt higher irons. These vary, though, so make sure you get one that's around 30 watts. Mine is 30 watts:


    The higher the wattage, the hotter it will get, and the higher the chance of you burning out the components you're trying to solder. I find 15 watt irons take forever to get hot enough to melt the solder, where 30 watts seems to be a good medium level.
  5. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    Step One: Parts (Continued)

    Oooookay, where were we? :confused:

    Ah, yes. Parts and more parts!

    .022 Dia Rosin Core Silver Solder

    We can't solder without solder, can we?

    Because we're dealing with fine electronic components here, we need to use a thin type of solder. You're probably familiar with the thicker stuff, but we want to use .022 diameter rosin core silver solder.

    2 Position Switch

    This is a simple 2 position switch- on and off. Get a small one, we want this to be almost invisible once mounted on the helmet.

    "Helping Hands" Magnifying Tool

    Also not referred to in the ESM guide, this is an indispensible thing to have. You're gonna need one, trust me. It makes soldering things MUCH easier.

    IDE Ribbon Cable

    I forgot to mention this in the parts list above. :oops:

    If you've every built a computer or replaced a hard drive, you've probably got more than one of these lying around. If not, go out and get one- they're cheap.

    We'll be using this to connect our LED's to the circuit board. Cut the ends off and save the longest section of ribbon cable.

    DO NOT use the really small thin ribbon cable- while in theory it would work, the wires are just too darn small to work with. More on this later.

    Spools of Jumper wire, Red and Green

    You can see these spools here. Some Soldering iron starter kits will include them, some will not.

    If not, pick up two spools, one red and one green (or more commonly red and black. My store was out of black, so I chose green).

    We want two colors of wire, because we will be running both positive (+) and negative (-) connections on the board and the colors make it easier to track which wire is which.

    Hemostats (Varying Shapes and Sizes)

    Seen in the picture above, these are invaluable for not only electronics work, but card modeling as well. This is a small pair, and is what I'll be using as a heat sink as we solder.

    What's a heat sink, you ask? We'll be covering that in the part two, don't worry.

    Wire Wrapping Tool

    Forgot to list this as well. :oops:

    This little tool is worth its weight in gold. Don't worry, it's not that expensive, though.

    While you can do this build without it, it will increase the difficulty ten-fold. You really need this as much as the soldering iron.

    I'll be detailing its use later.

    Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks

    Another tool I forgot to mention. :oops:

    We'll be using this later to both insulate the fragile electronics once the board is done, and to insert it into the helmet.

    The better guns have a dual temperature setting, hotter and cooler. We'll be using the cooler setting.

    And guess what? That's the parts (and tools)! bounce7

    In Step Two, we'll cover the basics of soldering. Stay tuned!
  6. BazookaJo

    BazookaJo Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Respect is due!

    Holy Sh!t - This tuts so awesome even I could follow it - Truly outstanding!!!!
  7. sjsquirrel

    sjsquirrel Member

    Feb 10, 2006
    Likes Received:
    You the man!

    Ekuth, you are the man!

    Thanks for this excellent tutorial, and thanks for taking another project off my to do list :thumb:

  8. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    Thanks guys.

    My whole goal here is to make this understandable to everyone, to the extent of my knowledge. I'm no expert, and I had to work out alot of this by research and trial and error, so if I can save someone else the hassle, so much the better.

    More soon.
  9. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    I will be adding to it, just hit a time snag on posting it. More soon!
  10. Millenniumfalsehood

    Millenniumfalsehood Active Member

    Mar 17, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Great guide so far, Ekuth! About the NPN transistor: NPN stands for "Negative-Positive-Negative". And as you may have guessed, a PNP Transistor stands for "Positive-Negative-Positive". It works like a diode in this way, but you can't tell whether it's NPN or PNP by looking at it. So if you buy Transistors in bulk, be sure to keep track of them, or else your projects won't work right.
  11. Millenniumfalsehood

    Millenniumfalsehood Active Member

    Mar 17, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Well, *I* couldn't tell by looking at it. You learn something new every day! :mrgreen:
  12. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    Step Two: The Basics of Soldering

    Sorry for the delay... been uber busy.

    I was in the midst of writing this section, when I found a link to a video that actually does it much better than I ever could. I even learned a few things! (And my wife would tell you that's nothing new, but that's beside the point.)

    Curious Inventor - Guides : How to Solder

    Study this close, because it covers everything you need to know. Bookmark it, because you'll want to refer back to it. And refer your friends to it.

    If you have never soldered before, I would highly recommend that you get yourself a couple spare component boards and a pack of resistors and practice. The boards are cheap enough and the resistors certainly are.

    announce1 PRACTICE! announce1

    Seriously. You'll thank me when we actually get to building the circuit, which we will begin in the next installment. I already have pics taken, so I just need to write the tutorial up. Should have it for you all soon.
  13. sjsquirrel

    sjsquirrel Member

    Feb 10, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Any news?

    I Totally hear you on the uber busy aspect, so I'm not pushing, just curious on how it's coming along?

  14. Paladin

    Paladin Member

    Mar 2, 2006
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  15. Paladin

    Paladin Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    Likes Received:
    A new weekend project, this will be fun next Halloween!!
  16. MTK

    MTK Active Member

    Aug 15, 2009
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    This is a fantastic thread. thank you so much Ekuth!:thumb:
  17. Vahmp

    Vahmp Member

    Oct 20, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Ok I know it's an ole thread, and sorry if upping this was wrong...

    But I'm doin all research/gathering info for my build that I can.

    The question is...

    Will the "building the circuit" installment be placed here, or is it in another thread?

    Thanks in advanced Ekuth!
  18. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    No, it'll eventually be placed here. I've just been too lazy/busy to put it together...

    Soon, though. Promise.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2014
  19. Vahmp

    Vahmp Member

    Oct 20, 2008
    Likes Received:
  20. Obievon

    Obievon New Member

    Apr 30, 2010
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    Looks Awesome

    Awesome keep us informed!

    Great info!