Electronics guru creates masterpiece

TOWAMENCIN – Have you met the genius behind the blinking prom letters? That’s Anthony Quigel, a senior in the Technology and Engineering Department at NPHS. He spends half of his day in the sanctuary of H-pod, exploiting his knowledge of electronics, pushing the limits of the department’s electronics manufacturing capabilities. Anthony is the mastermind behind the circuit design used in the giant blinking J-PROM letters.

To understand this project we need to discuss some basic electrical jargon. Voltage is a force which gets converted into light, heat, sound, or motion. Additionally, there are four main parts of a circuit; a source for voltage, a path for current, a load that uses the voltage, and a control which turns it on and off. For the prom letters, each blinking light set used a computer controlled switch that turned the voltage on or off. All of this was controlled by a simple microcontroller running some basic “on” and “off” code with a short delay in-between.


Lighting the prom letters was especially difficult in this project because it used alternating current, or AC voltage, and that required a relay and a transistor. The relay is a switch, but it’s turned on by a small voltage. The transistor is an even smaller switch, also controlled by a smaller voltage. So, the transistor drives the relay, and the relay controls the on or off voltage to the wall outlet. Add a simple microcontroller, like one you’d find controlling your thermostat or coffee maker or microwave, to the transistor-relay circuit, and you can control just about any high current device. This project used cheap and easily replaceable Christmas lights that plugged into a standard outlet. How cool is that?


His talents are tough to match with a near-fulltime job managing employees at Rebounders and a busy schedule at school. At home, Anthony spends time trying not to get hit by cars through designing light up skateboards and the high current DC voltage electrical systems that go along with them. Ask him about his rough start to the school year. He also spends time getting caught up on sleep, and considers himself more of an afternoon person. Regardless of his flaws, he’s going places with his penchant and natural gift for understanding and building electrical circuits.


Currently in his free time, he’s working on an expanded control board, one that can independently control up to six different relays. We’re thankful to have him working hard for us in H-pod and can only imagine the crazy things he’ll create after high school.

If you have ideas that make you dream big, an idea for something amazing, or simply want to hang out where all the action happens, come down to H-pod find out what everyone’s been talking about. Better yet, sign up for Technology and Engineering courses to Discover your Future today!