5 Minute Hack: Turning my GameHäus Cafe day pass stickers into refrigerator magnets

Last Thanksgiving we went to visit my sister and her family in the Los Angeles area. While we were there we went to GameHäus, a board game café that some friends from my old LA gaming group opened a little over a year ago. A small cover charge gets you in and where you can play games all day. They have about 1000 titles to choose from or you can bring your own. They also have a food and drink menu with the best pie you will ever eat.


(From left to right) Hannah, Lia, Mac, Pauline, Nico and me

When you pay the cover charge you are given a sticker to wear to show that you paid for the day. After our day of gaming and pie eating, I hung onto our stickers because I wanted a memento of our visit. To turn them into something more permanent I mounted them on adhesive magnetic sheets I bought at an art supply store. The adhesive on the back of the stickers wasn’t as sticky as it was originally after picking up lint from having been on our clothes so the adhesive on the magnetic sheets helped create a secure bond between the sticker and the magnetic sheet. It was just a matter of cutting the magnetic sheet into squares that were just a little larger than the sticker, placing the sticker on the adhesive side of the sheet, then using a metal ruler and hobby knife to trim off the excess magnetic sheet.


The newly-made magnets


The completed magnet on our refrigerator

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LED Matrix Evil Eyes

Sometime in the weeks leading up to Halloween I came across a fun blog post called “Spooky motion-sensitive Halloween eyes” which detailed the construction of a pair of Arduino controlled LED matrix animated eyes connected to a motion sensor that changed the color and demeanor of the eyes from “good” to “evil” whenever it sensed movement.

I liked the evil blinking red eyes but didn’t have a need for the motion sensor or the eye changing effect. I also didn’t have any of the Adafruit bi-color LED matrices on hand, but I did have a couple of red LED matrices from Fried Circuits, which suited my needs perfectly.

So, here’s my version of the LED matrix evil eyes. I took the original code, stripped out the code for the “good” eyes and the motion sensor and changed it to use the Fried Circuits MAX7219 display driver IC based LED matrix boards. The code is available on GitHub at github.com/dragongears/LED-Matrix-Evil-Eyes.

I used a small female header to put some space between the two eyes. I didn’t have a 5 pin header in my parts chest so I used a 6 pin header and just let the extra pin hang out. I connected the controller board with some short pieces of wire to help get it out of the way and make it less noticeable in the dark.

TODO: Break out the graphics functions into their own library.





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Thought Bubble for Android

Let everyone know what you are thinking with Thought Bubble. Type a message or choose one from a fully customizable list of thoughts. Then hold your phone or tablet up to your head to show what’s on your mind. The words of your message are automatically sized to fit perfectly inside a thought bubble on your phone’s screen.

  • Tap the down arrow next to your thought bubble message to save it to a list of thoughts to be used later.
  • Tap a thought message in the list to use it in your next thought bubble.
  • Long press on an item in the thought list to remove it from the list.


Screenshot_2014-05-31-22-36-44 Screenshot_2014-05-31-22-36-55 Screenshot_2014-05-31-22-37-02

Thought Bubble on Google Play

Thought Bubble source code on GitHub

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Spin For It for Android

My first Android app, Spin For It, is now available in the Google Play store. Spin For It is a spinning decision maker app that I originally wrote for myself to use on board game nights to determine who goes first. Since I use it all the time, Spin For It has become my “go to” app to write when I am learning to develop software for new platforms.

Spin For It is small, it’s free and it has no ads. So, download it, give it a try, and let me know what you think.


Screenshot from 2014-04-22 12:38:48 Screenshot from 2014-04-22 12:41:02

Spin For It on Google Play

Spin For It source code on GitHub

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Easy Enyo Checkbox Labels

In a recent Enyo project I needed a labeled vertical group of checkboxes for setting the app’s preferences. I was hoping that I could just put a bunch of onxy.Checkbox components from Enyo’s Onxy widget library inside a Group component and use the content property of each checkbox as its label. This is the code:

Unfortunately, the results weren’t quite what I expected:


The content text was displayed inside the checkbox and the checkboxes were positioned horizontally instead of vertically. Happily, just a little bit of CSS solved the problem:

With the above CSS, the checkboxes were displayed just as I was expecting:


So, how does it work? An Onyx checkbox is just a DIV tag with a background image which displays its state (checked or unchecked). First, we set each checkbox to display:block so that it appears on its own line. Next we give it a width:auto so that it takes up the entire width of its containing element. To get the label text (the checkbox’s content property) out of the checkbox itself, we use padding-left to move the text to the right. to vertically center the text, we set the line-height to the height of the checkbox.

While we’re playing around with the CSS, we’ll add some margins to give some extra space between the checkboxes and the containing element.

A nice side effect is that the user can tap on the label as well as the checkbox to select it since the checkbox DIV is now the width of the containing element.

Tested in Windows on Chrome version 25, Firefox version 19 and IE 10 and on Android Chrome version 25.

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  • About Me

    Art Dahm

    Art Dahm

    mobile and web developer, electronics enthusiast

    enjoys creating things, riding his motorcycle, and playing games.