Creative Works of Tom McGuire


2010/06/11 · No Comments

Tom McGuire   has been working with various forms of sculpture since about 1997 and is having a lot of fun with developing art works that incorporate all different types of materials especially electrical and mechanical parts. Much of his work is kinetic.  He says “I have to thank my parents for my education because most of my learning was at the expense of some major appliances”. He started out spending long hours in the basement tinkering with parts of old radios and fixing toasters and hair dryers for the neighbors and in the past 20 years or so has worked as an engineer for a small electronics manufacturer. I still spend a lot of time tinkering, he says, and having gathered new tools and developed new skills. A real sense of purpose for the future has been realized.

Consciousness Builds Confidence.

 Think of what the technology has done to our society today. It’s just too much too fast. People don’t understand what they are doing to themselves. We should be using these technological tools to learn and make our lives more enjoyable rather than working overtime to keep up with them. Children as well as adults should develop more consciousness of the fundamentals of technology by taking things apart, studying the elements, and building new things. It is time consuming but it has its rewards. By building things we develop the confidence to use the technology and to make it work for us. Call it “play” if you will. Like flying, it is fun once you get off the ground. One of the roadblocks is having preconceived ideas about the outcome of your work. If you just pour positive energy into an idea and keep going till it’s done it usually works. Don’t be afraid of what’s inside the black box. Open it up and play with it.

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Minimalist Arduino

2009/03/15 · No Comments

  There is something to be said for the processes of reducing a set of objects or functions down to their lowest common denominator but I think what has really driven me to do this is I am too cheap to go out and buy an Arduino Decemila every time I want to built a new project. But really after doing quite a bit of business with the Logochips I think I understand how important it is to try to design “The little engine that could” do almost anything on a budget. This could be cool, and time will tell what all can be done with it.

   So here are the basics to a build your own Arduino clone with a hand full of parts that may cost you no more than about six dollars.

  First there is the microcontroller, the brain, the Atmel ATmega168-20PU(costs about $4.00). I should mention here that you need a way to program the bootloader into the Atmel chip. If you have a friend like Keith who will lend you his USBtinyISP and an Arduino Decemila it makes it real easy. Other wise buying one of each might be good if you plan to make a lot of clones.

 Next you need to provide the chip with a good 5 volt supply. I suggest the LM7805 and a couple of small capacitors(costs about 50 cents) to regulate just about any voltage down to a nice safe 5 volts for the microcontroller. If you are making a project that already has a 5 volt supply like an old computer power supply you can use that or a set of 4 rechargeable batteries (AA or AAA) works well for those portable projects.

  Now the brain needs a clock to keep it on time. That would be this, 16 megahertz crystal resonator (costs about 40 cents). Your probably reading this post on a laptop or desktop computer that is screaming along at 1 or 2 gigahertz well, just slow down, take it easy, 16MHz is just the right speed for the serial communications between the Arduino and your computer.

  One more thing. The brain has a tendency to fall asleep. You’ll need a 10,000 ohm resistor (cost 2 cents) to pull the reset pin up to 5 volts and keep the Arduino running. When you download a program from your computer this reset pin gets kicked to tell the Arduino ” HEY I got somthin for ya”.



   OK now in the picture here the Arduino clone circuit described above is on the left side and on the right side is another small chip CD40106 which is called an inverter. It and a couple of resistors and a capacitor will condition the signals to and from your computer when your downloading a program to the Arduino. When your done programming you can remove these parts and the Arduino will run by itself. There are three lines of communication that the Arduino needs to successfully download a program, RXD receive data, TXD transmit data, and DTR data terminal ready. The DTR is the one that kicks the reset pin and makes the Arduino gulp down a new program.


  So here’s a schematic drawing of the circuit in pdf and also data sheets for the LM7805 and the CD40106 and the XTAL resonator thingy.

lm7805     cd40106     xtalres

  Of course none of this addresses any of the many things you can do with the Arduino but that’s another story for later.


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Simple Fun Projects :continued 2009

2009/01/28 · No Comments


I’m getting a real positive fealing this year about this approach to sharing my experiences and knowledge of technology by creating projects that use simple elements. There are so many dynamics that can be studied in the proccess of creating a simple machine. Today a young girl discovered that in the proccess of building a circuit, if you put a wire across a battery it gets hot. I told her “that’s called a short circuit”. I wish I had the time to tell her about the chemicals in the battery, the effect of dissimilar metals, and some thermal dynamics. But none the less, today in her life, she learned one more thing. I’ll keep working at this. I think it’s worth while. An exercise in consciuosness. We are stronger in the confidence of knowing.

So here is a video of a set of five simple projects that can be made with a basic toy motor a battery some wire and a small block of wood. Warning! making one of these projects can lead to hours of either frustration or intertainment depending on your point of view. In either case you’ll end up with a nice conversation piece.

YouTube Preview Image

I got the motors from (AllElectronics).

but you can also practice recycling and hack them out of old toys.

Have fun…

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Infrared Transmit and Receive with a Logochip

2007/11/30 · No Comments

    When ever I find an easy way to do something I just have to make a record of it. There are some projects where you might want to do something wireless with the Logochip. This little circuit makes it pretty easy.

    First an explination of the Radioshack 276-640, the IR Receiver Module. It will receive signals from an IR(940nm) LED that is oscillating at 38killoherts. So if we want to send a series of 1′s and 0′s we modulate this 38KHz signal on and off.

    Fortunately the Logochip can produce the 38KHz signal and modulate it with very little effort from the software.  We’re going to set up the internal timer module to produce the signal and set up the serial UART to modulate it. So here let’s look at the schematic.


   This schematic shows the Logochip circuit to the left and the IR transmit and receive circuits to the right. There are two transistors involved in the in the transmit. The one that drives the LED is driven by the timer output PORTC bit 2 which is producing a 38KHz square wave. But most of the time it is being held off by the other transistor which is being driven by the transmit pin (TX) PORTC bit 6. Now when you tell the serial port to transmit an 8 bit byte the serial data comes out of the TX pin and modulates the 38KHz signal on and off to the LED.

   On the receiver side (this is really easy) the Radioshack part is simply hooked up to the 5 volt power and ground and the output signal runs right into the receiver input (RX) PORTC bit 7. I put a resistor to ground just in case the output drifts. That’s it.

    Here’s a picture of my bread board. IRlogoProtoBoard . The transmit LED and the receiver module are pointing straight up and I just help my hand above it to reflect the signal back. I can’t wait to use it in something.

    So here’s the Logochip code. I hope I commented it well enough for everyone to follow.


Have fun…

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After a week at art camp…

2007/06/10 · 1 Comment

Wow! that was great. Sorry I didn’t post pictures along the way but it was a very busy week at the CityArts Teen Extreme 2007. Jodi, Kendra, and I (Tom) worked with a hand full of teen aged kids to put on a show of kinetic sculptures using these simple fun technics. Each of them got to take there work home but before it was over they all sat down and animated their works together with the help of a Logochip controller. For the last couple of hours people, including their parents, wandered through the gallery while their sculptures danced before their eyes. It was great, everyone was thrilled and amazed. The Kids also made video of the art camp experience which is posted on You Tube -( click here )-


 Here’s a movie I made:

(click it) theshow

And pictures: IMGP1020a  imgp1021a.JPG  imgp1023a.JPG imgp1024a.JPG imgp1025a.JPG imgp1026a.JPG  imgp1027a.JPG imgp1028a.JPG  imgp1029a.JPG  imgp1031a.JPG  imgp1032a.JPG

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Slap Stick

2007/04/17 · 1 Comment

    Sometimes you just want to smack something. Ya know what I mean. Don’t take it personal. It’s real easy to do. If you want to make some noise or knock something over just stick a stick on a motor shaft and let fly. A word of caution once the motor stops turning don’t leave the battery connected too long. It may smoke.

Click for video:


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Extra Memory EEPROM for the Logochip

2007/04/15 · No Comments

Using the lab notes from Prof. Robbie Berg I hooked up a memory chip to a Logochip using an I2C interface. So if somebody would want their Logochip to remember a bunch of numbers like a data pattern or say an audio track this could help. It could also be helpful if you wanted to use another device that had an I^2C (also called”2 WIRE”) interface. Memory is saved when the power is off too. The PDF formatting of his lab notes kind of screwed the line feeds so I tried to tidy things up. But it’s real easy to hook up. The part only costs a buck. You can paste this code in, load, and go. Might be a good thing to put in the wiki.


Logo code for reading and writing data to a 24LC64

The Logo code below (also stored in the course conference is the file calledeeprom.txt) contains the procedures needed for a LogoChip to be able to write and read data to and from a 24LC64.

To write a byte of data to the 24LC64 use write-eeprom <address> <value> where <address> is an integer from 0 to 8191 and <value> is an integer from 0 to 255. For example try

   write-eeprom 100 57

 This command stores the number 57 in memory location 100 in the 24LC64

To read a byte of data from the 24LC64 use read-eeprom <address> where <address> is an integer from 0 to 8191 and <value> is an integer from 0 to 255. If you try

   print read-eeprom 100

you should see the number 57 print in monitor window.
Here’s the code:




Just stuff all this in your program somewhere or put it in a library and include it in you code.

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More Than One LCD…LCD…LCD

2007/04/12 · No Comments

This is in response to a previous error and also to make sure that parallel data lines to multiple LCD modules would work. I haven’t built the whole circuit but enough to conferm that it will work. Earlier I posted a schematic if a single line LCD module that had pin 3 grounded and it should have been tied high. Here’s a picture of what I wired up:


And here is a schematic of a Logochip and 3 LCD Modules wired up to it:


And here is some code that sets up the Logochip and initializes the LCDs and prints aome characters on each LCD.


Here are some links to more useful information on the LCD Modules

        A real crummy copy of the manule (LCD-111)

       More info than you want to know about the LCD controller

      A site with other applications using this LCD display

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A Flexable Joint

2007/04/10 · 1 Comment

          You can make any sort of flexible joint move with a little gear driven motor out of a toy robot or car.  Just wrap some fishing line around the drive wheel and then thread it up and around the joint. You can run one string through several joints. Here I made a worm out of sections of pink foam plastic and then taped them together. 

Click the picture to see it work.


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A Baby Bluejay

2007/03/26 · 1 Comment

     Imagine a little nest with a baby bird in it flitting around anxious for mom to come and drop a worm. This is a really cleaver use of a magnet.

               Bluejay          MotorMag

    Attach the magnet to the shaft of a toy motor with some epoxy and then attach a flat head screw to the magnet. Try to keep the screw straight with the motor shaft. You could use a toy gear motor if you don’t want it to flip around so fast. Mount the motor on a base and point it at an angle towards the top of a rod which is also mounted in the base. Now I just made a bird as an example. There are lots of things you could have bob around at the top of the rod. Make some kind of pivot joint at the top of the rod and then wind a steal wire all around from that point down to the motor.

My explanation won’t do it justice. You’ll just have to see the video.

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