Hack your own Steampunk Arduino/LCD name badge

Loading the Bitmaps

I used a two-part process to create the bitmaps. Inkscape [2] lets you use vector elements to build images. I used a 960x768-pixel canvas size, which scales down perfectly to the required 160x128 resolution. Use layers to separate the background from the logo, text, and other embellishments, then export the image as a .png file.

Next, I used Gimp [3] to open the previously saved .png file and crunch the image down to 160x128. The image can then be saved as a GIMP .xcf file and also exported as a bitmap. Make sure to export to the Windows .bmp format with the 24-bit selection under the Advanced Options button; otherwise, the picture won't display correctly. Once the graphic is finished, you can copy the .bmp file onto the microSD card and put it back in the card slot on the reverse side of the display. Then, power up the badge. After a reboot, the picture should show up on the display and alternate with the ambient temperature reading.


The Steampunk name badge turned out great. Friends at the Orlando Robotics and Maker Club thought it was cool and interesting, and it should be a hit at upcoming conferences.

A few things could be improved for version 2.0 of the badge. As I mentioned, some kind of jig would help to align tubing sections during soldering. The sections moved around quite a bit, but a little of that "homemade look" is frequently a desirable feature of Steampunk. It also might make sense to use a larger display. Adafruit offers displays from 1.8 inches up to about 5 inches, with and without touchscreens. I see lots of possibilities for new badge features and designs.

You might also loop different bitmaps, use a bar graph for the temperature readings, or perhaps add a GPS radio to display your longitude and latitude. Get into that Steampunk mindset and have fun overdoing all the embellishments.

The Author

Rob Reilly (aka Dr. Torq) is an independent technology consultant and speaker. He provides specialized expertise to individual clients and companies and frequently presents at tech conferences covering open hardware, the DIY/maker movement, Linux and free software, and the tech media. Book him at mailto:doc@drtorq.com or call him at 407-718-3274.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF

Pages: 4

Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Raspberry Pi Geek

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content