Plinko Board Build, Day 7: A Disturbing Discovery, Electronics Install, and the First Test Run

When I sat down at my computer in the morning, I looked down… and noticed this: the positive and negative jumper wires I had, connecting my external power supply to the breadboard had totally burned to a crisp.

I wasn’t sure what had happened – did the wires touch, causing a short? Or did they just overheat?

Damage to the breadboard.

After some research, I feel like my jumper wires were not adequate to handle my external power supply – and I needed thicker wires. On top of that, I think trying to power everything directly off the breadboard was a bad move.

I was unsure how to address this issue, one day before Halloween. Up until now I’d done fairly limited testing. I thought I needed more power, as most of my tests were fairly brief (a few minutes at most).

I rarely left the LEDs going for extended periods of time. So perhaps there was a power/overheating issue that didn’t rear its head, until 5 minutes or more?

This was a pretty bad turn, because now I had visions of our project bursting into flames if we left it on for more than 10 minutes. How would it last over the course of several hours?

Unfortunately, that was tomorrow’s problem. Today, we needed to get things installed and running. I had a few thoughts on how we might address the power issue, but I wouldn’t be able to test them out until we had things set up more fully.

The small lights, taped into place in the bottom row. And the switches, wired up with various lengths ready to be put in.

Before installing the switches, I needed to solder a wire from the LEDs below onto each switch. Decided to throw on some heat shrinks and brought the hair dryer downstairs.

We’ve used a lot of tools on this project, to date. Hair dryer just adds to the list.

Liz, getting some pucks sanded and painted.

Upstairs and upright!

A bit of a tangle, sticking out the back.

Adhesive! We tried some double-sided poster tape for the lower candy lights, which proved pretty ineffective (they started to give way after a few hours).

We also couldn’t find anything to work with the silicon housing of the LED strips (no go on Gorilla glue, E6000 epoxy)… so we decided to take the housing off entirely.

We landed on using heavy duty Velcro for the candy LED strips, and for the side LED strips (the same velcro we used for our Operation costume from last year).

Despite having a set of black velcro, we wanted to match the background board color as much as possible. So with about 45 minutes to spare, I raced out to Home Depot for white velcro.

Got back, and we set to installing all the LEDs in place.

We ended up using some removable mounting squares (double-sided) that seemed to hold pretty well. We cut the squares into smaller pieces, and affixed these to the back of the switches.

I had some concerns that the switches would be taking a bit of a beating, with the pucks likely hitting them as they fell. But given the day and the time, this was going to be a risk we’d have to take on.

Would have been nice to have built some kind of wooden guard/guide, to prevent these switches from getting hammered directly… but maybe that’s a thing for V2.

A hot mess of wires. I realized too late that I didn’t have a proper set of crimpers. And that most brick and mortar places (Home Depot, Microcenter, etc) carried a lot of crimpers… but none that match the type of work I’m doing.

I bought a Dupont connector kit a while ago, but it was mostly for the housing pieces. Don’t ask me why I decided to forego buying a crimper, as that was clearly a thing to get with the kit.

The whole thing was held together with alligator clips, and wires plugged in directly into the breadboard. It ain’t pretty, but… we got it to work.

Plinko Board Build, Day 1: Dado Cuts and Layout
Plinko Board Build, Day 2: Dividers and Dowel Rods
Plinko Board Build, Day 3: Dry Fit and Some Chaos
Plinko Board Build, Day 4: Dado Cuts, Revisited
Plinko Board Build, Day 5: Frame Install, Plexi Glass Fit
Plinko Board Build, Day 6: Leg Work, Paint, and the Start of the Electronics

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