Badges are Hard

So, figured while I had a bit of time I’d provide an update on the badge I’ve been working on.

The first idea was to create a large LED matrix on the left-hand side of the badge and use that to display messages/graphics off of a microSD card. This wasn’t too horrible, and the idea has blossomed into a custom filetype, a quick script to convert stuff to that format, and really just a lot of happiness.

However, sometimes you have to pivot pretty substantially during this whole process.

What Happun?

The initial idea was to power all of this with an Atmel ATmega328PB, a pretty common microcontroller. It’s popular enough that you can use it with Arduino sketches, and there is a lot of documentation to work with. It’s also fairly easy to implement around which is kinda why I chose it as this is a first for me.

Unfortunately, I ran into two major issues:

  1. I still haven’t gotten the Barduino prototypes 100% up and running yet.
  2. It does not have enough RAM.

The first issue is minor, and I will figure that part out hopefully soon.

The second issue is major as it means that I’ll need more than 2K of RAM and that I’ll need a completely different microcontroller.

The Way Forward

So, what’s next? The design has changed from the 328PB to the ESP32. The LED test board is running off of that without any major issues, and it supports everything I need it to do. It will require rework, but it’s not a huge amount and I feel like I can get this done fairly quickly.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.