I love K8. Their reasonably priced LED equipment is the basis for my favourite solo juggling act, the “Electric Glow Juggling Show”. I bought my K8 clubs over 7 years ago, and last month they finally died.
Since the pandemic finished (or at least since we all learned to live with it) I have never been busier. People want to book my shows. Luckily, a friend has some working K8’s I can borrow for now, but long term I need to sort this out. I’m not changing manufacturer so the choice is to either purchase a new set or fix the ones I have. The pandemic also had the effect of limiting my finances for the past two years, so new purchases are on hold for now – so I opened up my K8’s to see what can be done.
Inside the K8 clubs and balls
First impression: these things are well put together. It took me the better part of an hour to get the electronics out without destroying the club in the process. I found the problem: a really fat lithium battery, completely finished.
Then I found something really interesting. The actual circuit is pretty straightforward and is running on a replaceable Attiny chip. So a few years ago I made some code for Arduino which was an attempt to emulate the K8 IR RGB internal workings. With a few adjustments this old code actually works inside of my favourite clubs – it was as simple as matching the alignment and dropping in my own chip. Thank you K8 for not soldering your chips on, and using a header instead!
First priority is to get the replacement batteries – I ordered these ones on Amazon: the same size as the original but bigger (>2x) capacity. Should be great if they work!
In the meantime I am working on the code, with upgrades such as variable strobe (like Aerotech equipment), and timed record and playback of settings for my show*.
*I understand that K8 have implemented a method of record and playback functionality in their latest equipment, as well as more new settings – if you need LED equipment I highly recommend going there and getting some. Also, their customer service is brilliant. https://k8malabares.com/
Here is a sneak preview of a new setting running on the bare circuit – Red/Blue with variable strobe!
If anyone is interested, the code is up on Github here – most of it is from many years ago and not very good, but I am working on it, need to have everything working without bugs by the time I receive the batteries. After I upgrade I don’t want to have to open the clubs again! When I get everything working I will do an “instructables” style tutorial – even if you aren’t interested in the firmware upgrade, the battery replacement is worth doing to extend the life of this amazing equipment. By the way, one of my K8 balls stopped working ages ago – I just opened it up and the battery is replaceable too!!