Arduinome Complete!

Fueled by the news of Ableton Live’s impending integration with Max, I willed my Arduinome to completion this weekend. A combination of frustration with bugs and holiday distractions sent me off course for a couple weeks. Here’s what happened:

Problem 1: My LED’s were inverted. When I plugged in my arduinome, all the lights would illuminate. They should be unlit by default. I would get the standard scroll pattern, indicating that my firmware was working, as shown in this video:

Solution 1: I had read that these problems could be the result of upside-down IDC’s connecting the breakoff PCB to the shield. I tried rotating the two IDC’s on top of the header pins specific in Sykes’ original diagram. I neglected to try switching the two IDC’s onto each other’s header pins. That corrected my inverted problem. Sykes’ diagram has since been revised to clarify the IDC positions:


Problem 2: One of my columns was not illuminating. I knew the lights and diodes on that column were fine since they illuminated when I crossed a hot wire over from a working column. I double checked the soldering from the button board to the breakoff pcb. I switched my IDC cables to rule out a fault in the connection from the breakoff PCB  to the shield PCB . The faulty column’s hot pin passed a continuity test from the button board all the way to the shield PCB, so I figured the problem had to be coming from the shield. I thought this was weird as every other signal coming from the shield was perfect at this point. Could a single pin on my LED driver be dysfunctional?


Solution 2: Turns out the the problem was simpler, yet more surprising. The faulty column’s connection on the shield PCB from the IDC headers to the LED driver was visibly broken! (see image below) I guess Chinese circuit board printing robots aren’t so perfect after all. Fortunately, this was a quick fix. All I did was solder a half inch wire on the bottom of the PCB to connect the two joints and I was in business!


This was my first DIY hardware project and it was a great experience. Soldering is surprisingly easy. De-soldering is surprisingly difficult. Sourcing parts on Digikey is dauting, but opens your eyes to the infinite universe of electronic parts out there (as well as how inexpensive they are if you buy in bulk). Debugging hardware with a multimeter is the only way to find the root of your problem. The feeling I had the first time I toggled LED’s from my computer via Monome Serial is on par with the first time I set up a webserver. I think I have a new passion in this stuff!


Thanks again to all the people who helped me see this project through. My next project is a (non-button) DMX controlled LED matrix based on the prototype boards over at Brilldea. I’ve actually already started. More details to come!

About petermarks

I'm a programmer and music nerd in Portland, OR.
This entry was posted in Music, Programming, Projects. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Arduinome Complete!

  1. Jason says:

    ROFL, I love the broken joint picture that you posted. Only Peter Marks would end up with a broke-ass PCB from China. Glad that things are finally up and running!

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  3. Ryan says:

    Peter, impressive project and very interesting documentation. Funny that the LED inversion was the fault of the original schematic, great catch. I’m looking forward to seeing a post of the arduinome at work!

    ps thanks for the rails help

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  5. Heldrida says:

    you had any past experience in electronics to do this ? I’m thinking about creating one Audionome (A few years ago, I had some experience with electronics, but I remember nothing at all).

    It’s just a mather of soldering right ? =)


    • petermarks says:

      Tks – Sorry I’m late getting back to you. I didn’t have any electronics experience before this project. It was a fairly easy project as I just followed well documented designs out there. It was really rewarding to have a finished project to play with in the end that connects seamlessly to my computer. One caveat, however, is that the wires connecting the button boards to the shield pcb often come loose when traveled and it’s kind of a pain to fix. Thus, it stays at home. I’d advise looking into the pre-soldered button pads from sparkfun that manage these connections without messy wiring if you’re looking for a more travel worthy controller.

      Feel free to hit me up with any other questions!

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  7. The standard way to repair a broken joint like that is to scrape away a little insulation at both ends of the break to expose the copper, cut a piece of stiff wire a bit longer than the break, solder one end of the stiff wire to one end of the break, solder the other end of the stiff wire to the other end of the break.

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