Small stand-alone LED theatre lighting system

Wife: “We should find a way to light up the little theater whitout setting curtains on fire, with something we can easily move, with some way to switch lights from behind the curtains…

Axe: “Oh well, this weekend I’ll try to think something…


…and here it is: 4 LED semi-spot for the stage, LED bars for the guests, single LEDs in the actor’s spaces in the backstage and a small remote control. All material can be stored in a metal case easily transportable. And almost of the materials is recycled: wood floor panels, Ikea led lamp holders, leftovers from my house wiring, and two lead acid batteries from an UPS.


Spot lamps and LED bars have magnetic hooks (dead hard disk magnets ;) ), so they can be attached to metal bars that makes the theater structure, and small leds for the backstage can be hung to the curtain fabric. I also provided for a car inverter connection, so we can power the audio player and speakers and be independent from an external power source.

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The theater, with my lighting system, is dedicated to the performance “Burattinesque” by Manuela Tamietti.

Two notes: first of all, McGyver is an amateur ;) and… I hope that the acting company never needs to take a fly, because thist thing seems too much an explosive device to clean safely the airport security controls. :)

This is the performance promotional video:


This is my little Christmas tree cat-compliant. Schematic and HEX code is available.

Details are here

8×8 Audio/Video Switch

Frontalino assemblato con tutti i componenti.

An audio/video crosspoint switch based on the Maxim (now Atmel) MAX456 chip, with remote control serial port.

The detailed page about this project can be found HERE.


LCARS switch

finalestep-by-step guide to build a working back-lit touch sensitive switch with the look and behaviour of Star Trek LCARS panels.

Arcade spinner

enco2What’s Arkanoid without a REAL spinner? This is made just with scrap parts. That’s how to do it…

Arcade joystick

joy1Unfortunately, I’ve kept no photographic documentation on the building steps, because I’ve built it on the fly using some wood that I already had in the basement. This is the final result. The joystick top is 32.6 by 17 inches, 1.2 inches thick, and almost bulletproof.
The hole in the center, between red buttons, is for the spinner.

joy_cmTo get an idea of the joystick size, look at it compared to the huge box of the CoolerMaster Stacker case.
All the components (pushbuttons and joystick) is made by Happ Controls.

Control board is the I-Pac from Ultimarc.

Infrared Repeater

irrepIt’s a little circuit to relay infrared remote signals from a room to another room.

Nothing fancy… no microcontroller, no firmware. Just a 555, a TMS5330 infared decoder (but almost any decoder should work), a long cable and an IR LED. That’s all.

I’ve used three of these circuits and I’m now able to use almost any remote in any room.

The trimmer on the circuit change the IR carrier frequency. It should be 38 Khz, but my appliances likes more a carrier of 42-43 Khz.

This is the schematic:


Multi-channel 12V light blinker

A PIC, 12 NPN transistors and a handful of other passive components.

This 12 channel light blinker has been connected to the lighting system of a train station scale model to simulate blinking light in different places and at different frequencies.

The “check panel” on the circuit, that shows with 12 mini-leds the output status, is very nice to see, but unfortunately I had not the chance to take a picture, but one day or another I’ll disassemble the full model to photograph the panel… :)

Dual channel train model variable power supply

trainpsI’ve built this for a friend. It’s a variable voltage stabilizer with dual indipendent outputs from 0 to 12 Volts, up to 1 Ampere each channel.

Each output have a switch to choose the output polarity and a potentiometer to set the output voltage. A trimmer on the circuit sets the maximum voltage for each channel.

This circuit uses the L272M dual power operational amplifier in a bridge configuration to switch polarity, so a single pole switch can be used to change train direction.

psxinterfaceWhen I put for the first time my hands on a PlayStation, I liked very much the Sony controller. So I tried to find informations about the communication protocol between joypad and console. I found nothing.

So I borrowed an oscilloscope (my Zeroplus LAP-C arrived years later) and tried to reverse engineer the protocol.

This was a test program to help me in the reverse engineering, because the 2 channels of oscilloscope were not enough.

psxinterfacehwThe program, with the aid of a simple hardware interface connected to then PC parallel port, can generate a data sequence on any output pins while reading and recording status of every controller signal