Time for a rest

I’m gonna have a bit of a break from the Simontron. There are a number of reasons for the break. It seems that every spare moment I’ve had over the past few months I’ve spent trawling the net for electronic tips, reading books or queuing up in Maplins. Dan said something at the presentation about the positioning of the switches in the various circuits that has made me want to re-design the circuits and I’ve also booked a place on a Processing/Arduino workshop in a couple of weeks which hopefully will give me a few pointers of where I went wrong. So because of all of them, I’ve put it all very carefully on a shelf ready for when I come back to it. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that’s the last you’ve seen of it. Well I’m sorry to disappoint coz I am gonna finish it. Come back in a coupla months to see the Simontron in all his glory.

Simontron in bits having a rest


As I write this, I’m sat in uni waiting to start. I think the problem with the heat is due to it shorting coz it still happens with the board not connected to the computer. And, 2 of my circuits are no longer working. I think they must have broken when I drove in although I can’t see anything obvious. Guess it’s a bit of a re-think on how to connect to the Wiring board.

The heat is on

Well, all the soldering is finished but I’ve got a bit of a heat problem. When I connect everything up with the Wiring board, the batteries that drive everything start getting hot, really hot, as in too hot to touch. When I let them cool down and disconnect the Wiring board, the buzzer buzzes and the lights glow. Bit of a major set back to say the least. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s shorting out somewhere or the power from the board is causing it. It’ll have to wait ’til the morning now…..which is only 3 hours away!

At last

The majority of the components that I need for the Simontron have finally arrived at Maplins so I’ll be soldering them up today and hopefully tonight just finishing off the program that will control it all. I’ve already written the script that will run on the Wiring board and as far as I can tell it works but I’d imagine it would only be small bugs if there were any problems.

2 down, 1 to go.

I’ve got as far as I can with making the Simontron. It looks as though 2 of the relays are dead and Maplins aren’t gonna have any more in for another few days. So I decided to have a crack at the alphabet teacher…..and I think I’ve broken that as well. I ran my multimeter over a couple of pots and got some readings so thought that I had found some to play with. When I connected them up with a couple of wires, nothing. So I took them out and still nothing. I’m hoping the batteries might be flat so I’ll buy some when I pick up the relays and give it another go. If that’s not it then that only leaves me the furby to fry!!


Seeing as I had some time to kill yesterday charging up my soldering iron, I thought I’d have a look at my other “instruments” to see what I could do with them. The alphabet teacher doesn’t have much in it but the board looks interesting. The furby could be a bit tricky though. Nearly all of the info I’ve found online suggests replacing the cpu with one of your own. I think considering my prowess in that department I’ve probably left it a bit late for that. So, that left the keyboard. I opened it up and it was just full of similar switches to the Simon. Not wanting to have to muck about with them ever again, I closed it up and put the batteries back in for a quick burst of “doh-a-deer” which is all I can play. And that’s where the oopsie comes in coz it now longer works. All I did was remove the batteries, take the screws out and open it up and somehow it decided to die. Maybe at a later date I’ll have another look at it but for now I’m a toy down.

The inside of the alphabet teacher

The inside of the keyboard

The inside of the keyboard - look at all those carbon tipped switches


I’ve started making up the circuits needed for Simontron. I had a meeting with Dan a couple of weeks ago to run thru’ my “circuit diagrams” and he seems to think that it’s possible. Unfortunately my soldering iron is quite old and doesn’t hold it’s charge for long which means after making 1 of the 8 I need, it’s now on charge. And I’ve just noticed the bulb I’ve connected is blown so I’ll have to nip down to Maplins to get a replacement tomorrow. I’m also gonna check out the boxes that Dan told me they do. Everytime I’ve taken it in to show people, another connection has broken so I need to make a box for it. I couldn’t think of anywhere that did balsa wood but Dan suggested these plastic boxes that you can cut holes into so I’m gonna give that a whirl. He also gave me a little tip of spraying silicon onto the connections to help hold them in place, especially if it’s not gonna be a permanent thing. Sheer genius, so looks as though I’ll be getting a spray can of that as well. Check out my “workshop” below.

My \

Me soldering

New switch

Like I said before, whilst we were in Sheffield we had a wander round the shops and I saw a Maplins so thought I’d pop in and get my poho photo mos relays. I tracked down an assistant and asked him about them. He knew exactly what I was talking about and didn’t dismiss me as some sort of southern nutter. After a bit of searching around and looking thru’ their catalogue he suddenly remembered that they don’t stock them anymore and they sold the last one just before Christmas. Teriffic. I was about to leave when I had an idea so asked if they did a switch that makes the circuit when you press and hold it down but breaks it as soon as you release it. (Notice the use of terminology there, I think if nothing else I can now talk pidgeon-electronics). And they do!! So I bought one and it even fits in the hole where those carbon-tipped switches are supposed to go so it looks as though we’re back in action.

Press switch

More toys

Events went against me today so I wasn’t able to get along to Maplins for my photo mos relays so I’ll try and get along there tomorrow. But I did manage to visit a car boot sale and bought a couple of toys to have a go at hacking. I got a phonetic alphabet teacher, a keyboard (I know, a bit obvious but I think I could do with something obvious) and a furby. I found this site for hacking a furby so hopefully I can do something to it, even if it’s only to accompany the Simontron.

Alphabet teacher

Mini keyboard



I’ve just had a look at Simon trying to find where I can hack the circuit board and I’ve noticed another wire has broken off. Everytime I take it into uni, it gets damaged in some way. I think come the time of putting everything together I’m gonna need to make a box and fix things to it to protect them.