Five on the Fifth (Thing)

Welcome once again to Five on the Fifth, a monthly challenge in which you are encouraged to take five photos on (or leading up to ) the fifth of the month, and then share them. You may take five random photos, or follow the monthly theme. This month, the theme is reflections.

I elected to once again not follow the theme. Instead, I thought that I would integrate this month’s Five on the Fifth into today’s Thing-a-Day challenge and provide a bit more of a narrative than I’ve given on the previous four days.


I went junk shopping a few times toward the end of January in order to build up my stockpile… of junk… in order to have a steady supply of interesting… junk… to manipulate. These are some of the more interesting items that I’ve found. An old synthesizer chip. One of several identical LCD modules. An old school speakerphone. A funky relay board. Some really nice ball-bearing slides. And some precision machined threaded rods.

I have pretty clear ideas on what I’ll do with each of these items, except for the speakerphone. Anybody have any suggestions?


I thought I’d start with the easiest idea: to build an electronic controller for the relay board. I could then use it to switch on motors, lightbulbs, or anything that’s electrical, really. I have no idea what it was originally used for, though there is a mysterious label on the back. Could it have been part of a PA system? A burglar alarm? Home automation?


I wired up a controller circuit on a breadboard (center) then programmed my Basic Stamp (left) to pulse each of its outputs in sequence. Then I attached the relay board (right) and crossed my fingers. Fortunately, it worked.


I transfered the circuit from the breadboard to a prototyping board and soldered it together. Fortunately it still worked, as I shall demonstrate. Behold this mesmerising video!

In case you are wondering what you’re looking at, the relays are the tall plastic objects. They are basically just switches that are operated by electromagnets. When the electromagnet is energized, the contacts physically close. When the power is removed, the contacts spring open. This is what’s causing the clicking sounds in the video.

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5 thoughts on “Five on the Fifth (Thing)”

  1. This is awesome Erik! I’ve never thought about using a microcontroller to drive relays, but the sound is cool. Kinda made me want to watch 60 Minutes. :-) I know what I’d do with that old speakerphone… Program Charlie’s voice in it and pretend I’m one of the Angels. Maybe like an alarm clock. “Wake up Angels, I have an assignment for you…”
    Pac recently posted..Wow- Your Vacation Sucked

    1. I was trying to be clever and combine “Five on the Fifth” with “Fifth Thing”… it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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