Hey there, Mr Octopussy!

By Paul Adams

Local tech workshop Xinchejian shares with Talk some of its newest inventions. This month we learn about Mr Octopussy, a desktop accessory sure to give visitors a bit of a shock.

Sitting motionless on your desk, this cute creature shaped like a small octopus flickers his big blue eyes at you, enticing you to pick him up. So you do, and then – zing! – he electrifies! Well, not really, but his eyes begin blinking rapidly until you put him down. Whether you want to play a prank on your friends or coworkers, or you just have a thing for flashy octopi, Mr Octopussy is a fun guy to have around. Best of all, you can put him together yourself.

Mr Octopussy was born out of my desire to experiment with tiny circuits, and a little competition between me and some of my friends at Xinchejian to see who could create something using the smallest chips. Making use of a 3D printer (a printer that lets you instantly create three dimensional objects made out of plastic), I created Mr Octopussy’s outer shell. Inside, I stuffed him with an ATtiny85, Tiny LiPo battery, two LED lights (the blinking eyes), three resistors, a capacitor and a LDR (a Light Dependent Resistor), all costing about RMB 30.

For programming Mr Octopussy, I used an Arduino controller (an open source chipset that allows you to combine inputs and outputs easily) then modified it ever so slightly to be able to program the ATtiny85 microcontroller - that badboy that I stuffed in there before.

If all this sounds like tech mumbo jumbo, don’t worry; the folks and I at Xinchejian can help explain how it all works. And best of all, you can make this in an afternoon at Xinchejian. The circuit is easy enough so that a novice can follow it and it’s not too difficult to solder either. The use of an Arduino makes this a great gadget for those just getting into geekdom to easily put together, so why not give it a try?

To get an idea about what’s involved, you can find the full code and instructions on the Xinchejian Wiki page: http://wiki.xinchejian.com/wiki/Mr_Octopussy.

If you want to get a look at Mr Octopussy in action, check him out here: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDQ5MjA4ODU2.html


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