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An engineering student’s awesome graduation cap

An engineering student’s awesome graduation cap

Graduation season is now underway across America, and Western Carolina University student Michael King wanted to be sure he’d stand out from the crowd during his commencement ceremony. So being a computer science and electrical engineering major and all, naturally he decided to do some tinkering. He equipped his mortarboard with a 32×32 LED array, an Arduino Mega, three SPDT switches, a 2000mAh li-ion battery, and lots of wire, along with plenty of code. This enabled him to display a running Super Mario, Pac-Man, his school’s logo, a “Hire Me Google” message, and several other animated images on top of his cap.

I used three SPDT switches — one for LED grid power, one for Arduino power, and another to break out of the loop and display a static “WCU” logo. LED grid is powered via a 3.7V li-ion battery. 9V battery to power the Arduino Mega.

Lots and lots of Arduino code. I could convert bitmaps to arrays to use in the code. For those that would understand, I had a script written in Processing that could read a 32×32 pixel image, parse and convert it into an array of hex values, and literally format/write it out to a header file that I could just copy and paste into Arduino IDE… And yes, I am working on programming pong. Yes the actual, playable game.

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