Design

To create the Blox platform, we had to come up with a hardware design for each Blox, and software to allow developers to easily create applications that could be extended to multiple Blox. Feel free to look around and learn more about Blox!

Hardware Design

From a high level a single Blox contains:

  • • Casing (6 faces printed using Selective Laser Sintering)
  • • Core Electronics
  • • ARM Cortex M3 Processor
  • • 2000 mAh 3.7V LiPoly Battery (~6 Hour Battery Life)
  • • I/O Interfaces
  • • 2.1" OLED Display
  • • 3-axis Accelerometer
  • • 4 Touchpanels
  • • 16 IR sensors (4 on each side)
  • • ZigBee Wireless Sensor
  • • 1W Speaker

Casing

The Blox Casing was produced using Selective Laser Sintering in a Mechanical Engineering facility at UT Austin. We created a to-scale 3D model of our design (available for download below). From the model, the facility was able to create a very accurate case that we used with few problems. The nylon material used the print the casing smudges easily (painting could solve this) and tends to curve slightly when printing something as thin as our model (1/4" thick).

Download the Solidworks Library for the Blox Casing! (RAR, 12.8 MB)

Core Electronics

To hold most of our electronics, we created a four layer PCB that contains the ARM Cortex M3 Processor and the sensors that don't require direct user interaction (Accelerometer and ZigBee). All our PCB designs were created using Eagle software. The main PCB ended up 2"x2" with over 90 components hand-soldered in place.

Download the Blox PCB Schematic and Layout! (ZIP, 125 KB)

Software Design

We created many kinds of software to get Project Blox operational. A major component was the SDK that we created to make it easier to interact with a single Blox as well as have a group of Blox work together. Other than the SDK, we also created system programs that help with setting up a Blox initially and a base program that runs every time a Blox is turned on. All of our software is available for download and we will be creating a git repository soon. Our software is available under the MIT software license.

Download our code base! (RAR, 15.5 MB)

Bill Of Materials (BOM)

A list of materials and expenses needed to make Project Blox.

Download the BOM! (XLSX, 20 KB)