The True Aggie Block 'A' and the Lighting of Old Main
In 1916, a mysterious student club called the Beno Club (or Be No Club) erected the Aggie Block 'A' and called it their club headstone. For the last many decades, the Aggie Block 'A' has stood as a traditional monument where students can become True Aggies by kissing on a full moon or on Homecoming. (See http://www.usu.edu/traditions/trueaggie/index.cfm for more history about the Aggie Block A)
Later, the roof of the tower on the Old Main was retrofitted with lights that form the letter 'A' on each of the four sides. This made the roof of the tower look very much like the Aggie Block 'A'.
More recently, the lights on Old Main have been used to indicate to all of Cache Valley when the Aggies have won. When any of the Aggie teams wins, the lights on Old Main are switched from white to Aggie Blue. For many home games, the players who have won the game even get to press a button to Light the A Blue.
An Internet-Connected Aggie Block 'A' (sports memorabilia Internet of Things device)
In 2015, a user named toroazzurro proposed on the USUFans.com message board that someone make a replica cement Aggie Block 'A' that could be put in a yard and lit up, as an alternative to a school flag.
This is where I come in. I came up with the idea of making an internet-connected sport memorabilia device, also called Internet of Things (IoT) Sports Memorabilia (Patent Pending). In this case, it would be a small replica of the Aggie Block 'A' that would light up like Old Main when the Aggies win. I'm an 2003 Electrical Engineering Aggie Alumni. Since then, I have worked as an embedded software engineer and gotten M.En. and Ph.D degrees in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in robotics. This sounded just like the sort of thing I would like to tinker with in my spare time.
In 2015, I built a prototype, investigated the licensing issues with Utah State University, but then didn't follow through. This KickStarter represents the next step towards getting an electronic desktop form of the Aggie Block 'A' available to the masses.
- Wifi-connected device. Easy setup where you pick the wifi network and password that the device should use.
- 5 high-brightness, multi-colored LEDs. The standard mode will be white during normal days and blue when the Aggies win.
- Alternate color settings for holidays like Christmas, 4th of July, etc.
- Intuitive web interface for selecting which USU sports will trigger Lighting the A Blue
- Approximate dimensions will be 4 in x 4 in x 4in and can be powered either with the wall power adapter that comes with the device, or via USB (cable not included).
UPDATE: If you would like more than one of any of the rewards, just multiply the pledge amount by the listed reward pledge amount.
Current Status of the Prototype
The good thing is that the technology in this is not groundbreaking. It will use a variant of a very popular WiFi enabled, Arduino-compatible called the ESP8266. It also uses a very common multi-color LED called the NeoPixel. The bulk of the development will entail designing a printed circuit board and the design and fabrication of the electronics enclosure and the Aggie Block A "topper". Eventually, we could make toppers for a variety of schools, but because of licensing limitations, we will only focus on Utah State University for now.
Prototype and Preliminary Design Photos
Steps Going Forward
The next steps to make the Internet of Things Block Aggie A a reality are:
- First build a polished prototype, as opposed to my existing rough prototype. All the parts are the same, just in better packaging.
- Second, complete the licensing agreement with Utah State University through the Collegiate Licensing Company. This discussion has already been initiated and I know all the step I need to take to finish the process and will do so if the KickStarter is successfully funded.
- Third, ramp up production to deliver all the KickStarter rewards.
- Fourth, make the product for sale generally after the initial KickStarter run.
Risks and challenges
There aren't a lot of risks here. I made a working prototype on a breadboard (see the video and pictures above). The electronics are pretty straightforward and off-the-shelf, and the web interface software is mostly completed. I even have a prototype printed circuit board (PCB) completed and tested. The bulk of the remaining work is to iterate the PCB design, order the items in bulk to keep costs down, 3D print or resin cast or injection mold the case and topper, and assemble them.
The current plan is to 3D print the Aggie A pedestal in blue and white with a dual extruder 3D printer. If the response ends up being overwhelming, we would likely have the funds to do a much higher quality injection molding run. This isn't feasible if the number ordered is small because the mold die costs are high.
I have an undergraduate electrical engineering degree, graduate degrees in mechanical engineering, have worked on agricultural robotics, medical robotics, and the James Webb Space Telescope. I have more than enough expertise in PCB design, electronics, coding, CAD design, and 3D printing to make a really nice product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)