Brainy - The PCB badge

I created this PCB badge after having a brain surgery to remember it and celebrate that everything went fine!

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I had a brain surgery on march 28 2020, I got a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt due to a tumor in my tectal plate that was causing hydrocephalus. The tumor can't be removed, it's to risky. But with the valve I am going to be ok for a while.

Some people helped me get through this, so I made this badge for thanking them in the most memorable way I could think.

You could also help me purchasing one or donating!

Two years ago I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, but the doctors couldn't explain why. They recommended to wait and see if the mystery give us some clues. It was impossible to take a treatment decision. My ventricles were dangerously dilated and we only could wait for more information about the disease.

Meanwhile I was living with constant headaches, fatigue and sometimes visual problems. However a few months ago in the new MRI a small Tumor appeared in my tectal plate. Doctors think that it is a Glioma but is not confirmed yet. But something was sure, it blocks the sylvian aqueduct and doesn't allow cerebrospinal fluid to flow between the third ventricle to the fourth ventricle. This is the culprit of my hydrocephalus. That 9mm white mass right in the center.

And here is another one in a lower point, so you can see the aqueduct clearly. Yes it's that little hole on the center of my brain.

For the curious ones these are how it looks from other angles. (The ones that are blurry on previous images)

As you could imagine this Tumor can't be removed easily, surgically is to dangerous. All vital functions are only a few millimeters away from this mass. Other approaches can be used like Radiosurgery, but a biopsy is required first and is as also too dangerous to perform. I can end disabled or death. 

So the Neuro Surgeon told me that the best thing we could do was treat the Hydrocephalus with a ventriculoperitoneal shunt and hope that the Tumor never grows and we are forced to deal with it. And we just do that. On March 28 2020 I got my VP shunt, the surgery was successful and now I am recovering at home. 

As you can see I also got a "nice" haircut. But while I wait my hair to grow back I decided to make something special for the people that helped me go through this. It was hard, the surgery was expensive and I don't have medical insurance. But luckily with some help I was able to afford it. 

My family and friends also helped me with the emotional support I needed. As an introvert it is hard to me to say "Thank you" in a deeper way. So I used my abilities to materialize this feeling in a PCB Badge.

This is how I come up with Brainy, the final result after some days dealing with the PCB in Eagle and mixing up some vector images in Inkscape.

I am going to ship this badge to all the people that helped me with this surgery, but also I will sell it soon to raise a permanent fund for medical expenses related to my brain. I will need it, MRI's are expensive and there is a high possibility of the shunt fail or any other complication. 

I hope you can help me purchasing one, you will end up with a kawaii Brainy Badge like this one n.n

Also all the design files and firmware is available if you wish to do your own or tinker with it. Here is the badge in action:

Thank you!


Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 55.44 kB - 04/21/2020 at 16:46


  • 8 × LED SMD 0603 - White Fiber Optics / Emitters
  • 1 × SMD Push Button Electromechanical
  • 1 × Ceramic Capacitor 100nF - SMD 0603 Passive component
  • 1 × PIC12LF1822-I/SN Microprocessors, Microcontrollers, DSPs / ARM, RISC-Based Microcontrollers
  • 1 × Coin Battery Holder for CR2032 (3002TR) Power source

View all 8 components

  • What is Brainy?

    Danny FR04/21/2020 at 16:50 0 comments

    Brainy is a beautiful PCB pin badge, it is shaped like a brain and it has a funny face with a band-aid. Wear it and shine everywhere!

    It has 8 charlieplexed white Led's, 6 on the front and 2 on the back. They simulate the neurons activity. It is powered with a CR2032 battery and has a button to select the desired animation. Press it for change the animation or to turn it off (low power mode).

    Is controlled by a PIC12LF1822 and all the design files are open source, so you can make your own animations and upload it with the built-in ICSP connector. Use your brain and customize your badge!!!

    I designed the PCB on Eagle with the help of Inkscape and svgtoeagle.

View project log

  • 1
    Gather all the parts

    The first thing you wanna do to build your own is to get all the parts. Please go to github and download the eagle files of the board. You can upload directly the design to Oshpark or send the gerbers to PCBWay, if you want to use another manufacture service you will need the gerber files. 

    Now purchase all the parts, you can get it on Mouser, but be careful when selecting the size and the case style. Make sure everything is correct and in the right size, capacitor must be rated for 6v or more.

    Optionally order the stencil, it will save you a lot of time and frustration when soldering. You can get one on Oshstencils or in PCBWay.

  • 2
    Solder all the parts

    Apply solder paste to the board using the stencil. Now put the SMD parts in place, make sure to put it in the right way. Check where and how the parts go using the EAGLE board files. Then you can solder it using hot air or a reflow oven. Just be careful, it's pretty easy to make a mess with this tiny components.

    Repeat for the other side of the board. This time use hot air and be careful to not desolder the components on the other side.

  • 3
    Burn the firmware

    Now using a PIC microcontroller programmer (like the Pickit 3) burn the supplied firmware into the board. I used pogo pins to make the connection between the board and the programmer.  Check ICSP pin order on the EAGLE files or in the details section.

View all 4 instructions

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