Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Novasound Neutrino Beta 1.0

Here is a pic of the new Novasound Neutrino (beta) PCB. The terminals can be seen to be much larger, for easier soldering. In this beta version, the measured dimensions are about 0.85 inches by 1.9 inches, however the final production release will be smaller still. This image has actually been cropped from a larger circuit board (which is present for prototyping purposes)...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nova Sound 3.0 - Dark Sound Mode

The LSD-X4 is still months away from a debut. For now, we are spending most of our resources into a top-secret entry level model, code name: Neutrino, hopefully to get more people involved with our research. There's lots and lots of ideas being talked about...

The Nova Sound 3.0 is now available.

FIND IT ON EBAY (direct link)


The Nova Sound 3.0 is a premium high-end lightsaber motion sensing, sound and light controller module. It has a built in user interface featuring a high quality female voice menu, allowing the operator to control LED brightness, LED flicker rate, volume control, and sensitivity to motion and impact. The settings are stored permanently, without the need for battery backup and can be reset at any time by reentering the menu.

The device rapidly responds to changes in motion (velocity and acceleration) as the duelist moves the saber, to detect saber impacts (as when two sabers collide) or motion pitch changes (as the saber moves through the air). The inertial information is provided by a high performance MEMS accelerometer sensor, which measures changes in three spatial axes.

Power to the LED is controlled by the main system, based on user settings. LED current regulation is provided by a proportional integral derivative feed-back loop, which eliminates the need for a separate LED constant current regulator. The Nova Sound 3.0 LED output can be controlled for popular LED types: Luxeon 3, Luxeon 3 Red, Luxeon V, Luxeon K, and a Luxeon Overdrive for maximum current supply. The LED flicker rate can be enabled (5 modes) or solid.


1" by 2" PCB
64MHz processor
Triple Axis accelerometer
~700mA to 2amp output LED
7.2 volt input nominal (3.6 to 9.6)
low power sleep mode (when device is off)

How to enter Main Menu:

While the device is off and batteries are connected, press and hold the button for 3 seconds. The device will talk to you to walk you through the process.

>Select LED type (adjusts current to the LED)
>Select Blade frequency (pulse rate)
>Select Sound Volume
>Select Motion sensitivity
>Select Impact sensitivity
>Save settings

Once the menu is completed, the Nova Sound 3.0 powers up and is ready to go.

To shut down device: Press and hold button for 3 seconds, the blade will fade down and the saber retraction sound effect will play. The device will then enter a low power sleep mode, with no need to remove batteries in between use. *For prolonged storage (months) batteries can be removed, with no loss of saved settings.

To power on device: Tap button and saber immediately starts with fast power ramp-up of saber light with sound effect.

To fire blaster: While device is on and running, tap button (do not hold) to fire a blaster shot.

Here is an awesome video of an amazing new saber featuring the Nova Sound 3.0

The Nova Sound 3.0 is a refined version of the former Nova Sound 2.5 with new sounds, a completely reprogrammed motion controller, and multiple upgrades and fixes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Getting Closer to Prototype

Here's a test of a super bright LED. It gets so hot, that it has to be submerged in a cup of water, until I mount it on an appropriately sized copper heat sink. The water keeps it entirely within specifications at 4.75 watts. This is one of the brightest I've seen, I can't believe it! The picture just doesn't do it justice, since the camera auto dimmed the background.

The LSDX-4, at full power, is putting out over 20 watts per channel at about 86 percent efficiency. The problem is that I've yet to find a single LED with this type of power rating, so originally I had been using cups of salt water to act as dummy loads. Amazingly the water eventually boils, but the circuit board doesn't even get warm! All with one channel! Using strings of 5 LEDs, like these pictured here, 20 watts can be absorbed, but the voltage minimum of the power supply is raised. For simplicity of the circuit, anything from 3.6 to 25 volts can be used as a power supply, but the power supply must be rated higher than the LED minimum voltage, which is usually a max of 3.9 or less. This bright one I was using is 3.4 volts.

Here's a picture of the prototype LSD-X4 LED driver circuit powering a 25 watt halogen bulb. The size of the circuit will be greatly reduced in the finished product, these pieces were chosen for ease of assembly on a bread board.

This picture reveals the microcontroller's built in knowledge of the current draw from the LED output channel 1. While the LSD-X4 will not contain a 4 digit 7-seg display, it will record measurements which will be available to the user through the computer interface via USB. The LSD-X4 will automatically maximize efficiencies and allow the user to select the best bulb, configuration of bulbs, or power supply input voltage, based on it's internally calculated efficiencies. When given an arbitrarily selected battery and LED, the LSD-X4 will automatically attempt to power it most efficiently. In the event that the drive is impossible, it will shut down to prevent damage to itself or to the light. All of these features will go mostly unnoticed to the typical user, but behind the scenes, just know the LSD-X4 is doings some amazing things!

We're pushing for 95% efficiency, only a couple more days until these design needs to be submitted for fabrication.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just in Time for Christmas

Prototype Fabrication Date : 12-07-2010

Triple Axis Accelerometer
Triple Axis Gyroscope
24 bit - Stereo Sound (16 Simultaneous 48khz streams)
Stereo Amplifier (2 watt / speaker)
High Power LED (4 channels, each 2 AMP 24 V max)
USB connectivity
2GB FLASH Built in
Dual CPU

I was told that the FIRST one of these things is going to cost a total of $2400.00 in fabrication and material. What an awesome board!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LSDX-4 PCB Design

Fitting all of the necessary components of the LSDX-4 on to the required 1" by 2" board (or smaller) PCB board has been an interesting endeavor. Each subsystem has its own challenges. The power regulators, for example, for the light output have to be well isolated from the rest of the circuit, which can cause audible noise in the audio lines and faulty reception from the sensitive accelerometer. This is kind of hard to do considering the small overall size. Trying to confine increasingly more features into the design has led us to adopt some of the most advanced (or at least miniaturized) parts in existence.

Many of today's consumer electronics use SMD (surface mount devices) versus through hole components to both eliminate the difficulties associated with routing the internal circuit traces and to allow for easier machine assembly. The SMDs intended for use with the LSD-X4 are especially small. The Ultrasound board used plenty of barely visible 0402 resistors and capacitors, which many users never even knew were there. Now, we're dropping the size of these down to a quarter of their original area (0201). Additionally, to further reduce size requirements, we've built the circuit around all low profile chips, many of which are lead-less components which must be carefully soldered and x-ray examined to ensure correct solderability.

Unfortunately, this is still not enough! The circuit board itself must be upgraded. We're going with a 6-layer design, which I was warned by an Advanced Circuits representative, "...will make the cost go up exponentially." In that case, I hope we don't have to use a 10 layer design.

Since the board is populated on both front and back with components, many chips from one side will need to communicated and react with components on the other leading to a large number of connections (PCB traces) which must pass through to the other side. Doing so, without an external jumper cable, requires small holes drilled through and plated, called vias. Dealing with "micro-vias" leads to alignment difficulties as each layer of the circuit board is pressed and sealed together. Then, electrical tests are required to guaranty that the circuit is consistent.... more money for that too...

Not to worry though. It's coming together! I'm very enthusiastic about this project!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Power Overwhelming

I wanted to take a minute to discuss some of the proposed features of the power control system of the LSD-X4. Since this is the current circuit under development, it may be the best time to let our members know what's going on at the present, and hopefully some good conversation can be initiated.
The power system governing the LSD-X4 is particularly complicated. This is primarily because of the universal support the board must provide. When developing the circuit, I try to assume as little as possible and generalize the methods the LSD-X4 will use when the user decides to wire it up in a custom complete saber. I do not know whether the user will use a 7.2 volt battery, or a 6 volt, or a 9, 12, 24, etc. What I do know, is that there are MANY choices of voltages and many possible hilt sizes. This leads to special requirements for the main circuit to automatically adjust to whatever it is given. To be realistic, we are developing an operating supply voltage range of anywhere between 5 and 25 volts. Then, the LSD-X4 will automatically detect the supply voltage and calibrate the output power to the main LED / Luxeon, electroluminescent, plasma tube, or light bulb. The user needs only set the maximum (in terms of watts, amps, or volts) or select from one of the many predefined types.
The LSD-X4 will possibly include a charge pump to generate (from the 5-25 volt supply) a high voltage output to power plasma, EL, or neon blades.
Recharging through the USB port and basic low power mode through USB (for demonstration during configuration and scripting) are also high on the list of "must haves".
The system, as planned, RIGHT NOW (subject to change), has 4 outputs, each capable of over 10 watts. These four channels allow for either extremely bright output or full color effects such as RGBA / RGGB. By shopping around for high efficiency MOSFETs (low RDS(on), fastest switching times, and smallest form factor) we believe we have room on the 1" by 2" circuit boards for all light output channels, as well as all of the other features so far mentioned.
As for a release date. I still do not know and don't want to mislead. We had previously set a goal for the end of October. Unfortunately I believe this is too soon, and besides, I want to be the only one with an LSD-X4 to use as part of my Halloween costume. =) Ok... maybe a few more prototypes will be around for some of the early joiners... we'll see. If we don't make Halloween, then before the end of the year is what we'll aim for.