Engineers Log: 05-26/07/2020

A project log for NOAHCube

The NOAHCube is the next chapter in my Network of Automated Hardware for home automation. A new centralized and portable automation hub

dewetDewet 07/26/2020 at 18:580 Comments

Slipping on the cover

After a few weeks getting sidetracked with other projects I finally get to do an update on the NOAHCube. Well actually it no longer resembles a cube in the strict sense of the word but close enough.

This is my first time working with fabric as a build material and I have to say it was a completely new challenge. In my mind I can now fully envision a whole department at modern companies dedicated to determining the best fabric/material to cover items. There are so many things to consider: stiffness, softness, stretching, opacity, ability to be glued, longevity, resistance to wear and tear, resistance to stains, handling and price to name a few.

It took me so many hours and tries to find the right material I can't even remember everything I tried. In the end the solution was almost comical if you think about all the requirements listed above and all it took was a discussion with someone at the local fabric shop: curtain fabric.

Yes curtain fabric, specifically the kind that has the thick coated lining at the back to keep out extra sunlight. The material met all my requirements and was fun to work with. I used contact cement to glue the edges together and the final result was something I can live with.

Adding the major pieces

I have since added the new LCD screen, hooked up some white LED strips to test the board while I wait for the RGB as well as writing the code to test the I2C, UART, PWM and other basic functionality. The cube also currently runs OpenHAB and a custom bit of software I will have the LCD display to get access to some audio controls and direct automation control from the front.

My only regret so far is that I had hoped the cube would be able to dissipate enough heat passively that it did not require a fan but alas this will not be the case. The photos below do not currently show the ventilation holes and 80mm fan that I bolted on to solve the problem. Once I am happy with the thermals I will cut the necessary holes in the fabric cover and have the 3D printed bracket made to expose the LCD.

All in all I am happy so far that the prototype is finally up and running. Once the rest of the hardware has proved reliable I will put everything together and have the MDF cube professionally laser cut and the boards sent off to a PCB manufacturer. To the next 3 months of waiting.