Review or Discard at Will

Friday Night Diversion

All the batteries in my perhaps ten year old four handset cordless phone system are pretty much giving up the ghost. Out the door from CostCo I get a new Panasonic system with another four handsets for about eighty bucks. The technology has come a long way. These are so much easier to read. Plus the system is Bluetooth compatible allowing me to make and answer calls with my cell phone. Sweet! Inspired by teardowns by nifty nerds such as EEVBlog and Fran Blanche I do my own tear down of one of the handsets – with a band saw! Pretty dull evening particularly for the band saw blade! r r r r...

Solar Eclipse 2012

Solar Eclipse 2012

May 20, 2012

(edit, added Eclipse pictures) As a break to reading about XAML data binding in Windows 8 Metro applications I decided to make a solar observing telescope for the upcoming Eclipse around 5:30PM here at my Mom’s home in Los Angeles. I raided the Christmas supplies for a couple elongated toilet paper rolls. One slightly less in diameter than the other. I created a shim between the two with some thick packing paper to keep the tubes relatively aligned. Then I cut a viewing hole at the bottom and used a couple rubber bands to hold a piece of paper on one end and some aluminum foil on the other. I pierced a pin hole in the aluminum foil. I may attempt a darker paper on the viewing end.   My creation note the rubber band mounting to the tripod head. I left the shadow for an artsy look! Fun. Didn’t take that long to construct, and it’s not every day you get to experience an eclipse. Next time I want to get a long piece of PVC. I found a couple useful resources out on the ‘net. http://shadowandsubstance.com/ Nice track of the center line of the Eclipse geo located. http://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/pinhole3.html Some viewer construction...

Dottie; BoeDuinoBot.Net

  Meet Dottie (Doing Other Technology That Is Extensible) my BoeDuinoBot.Net Robot built on a Parallax Boe-Bot (parts kit) with a netduinoPlus (a netduino is in the mail somewhere…) rather than a basic stamp. Note the Parallax Li-ion Power Pack Mounted under my BoeDuinoBot.Net RCB (Robot Controller Board). I’m planning to control the Boe-Bot from Arduino and Netduino. I’m building a PCB shield to support both platforms. Check out my effort to move from concept, prototype to PCB board. I learned about Fritzing and etched my own PCB at home with a toner transfer method using an easy process using laser printer and clothes Iron. I’ll be blogging further on this project as I drill the PCB and install it on Dottie, add sensors and continue refactoring BoeDuinoBot.Net. Dottie got off to a little bit of a wobbly start in this very first prototype of the basic hardware platform. Uncentered servos and a high center of gravity will be fixed right away. Read on.     Running this code on Dottie results in the following wave form. using SecretLabs.NETMF.Hardware; using SecretLabs.NETMF.Hardware.NetduinoPlus;   namespace CenterServos { public class Program { public static void Main() { PWM leftServo = new PWM(Pins.GPIO_PIN_D5); PWM rightServo = new PWM(Pins.GPIO_PIN_D6);   leftServo.SetPulse(20000, 1500); rightServo.SetPulse(20000, 1500); } } }   Very solid 1.50ms pulse for center and the frequency of 49.75 reciprocal is pretty darn close to 20ms keep alive. The continuous motion servos were no where near centered. Continuous motion servos should be still with no rotation when fed a 1.5ms signal. I adjusted a set screw on the servos to stop there motion while being fed this signal generated from the previous code. Centering the servos and lowering the center of gravity has improved Dottie’s stability.   Here is the program I ran for the above video. Not sure I want to share the boeNetBot class yet until I clean it up a bit. It’s a mess right now. Hmm… The code insert plugin expanded all my carefully collapsed #regions I had created to increase readability. The commented out code might be instructive. Some of the test I ran in development of Dottie. Note: This is pretty early code....

Journey to PCB

I’ve spent the last week learning about Fritzing to create printed circuit board art work. It’s a cool program with a quick learning curve. You might enjoy this quick video. It’s a great demonstration introduction. (Note: Fritzing is not limited to adduino)   I also spent a bit of time trying to produce a PCB board. After quite a bit of frustration I learned it’s pretty easy to do. The numerous tutorials I found weren’t exaggerating. Turns out it was the laser printer I was using, an HP Color CP2025. Love that printer. But $50 bucks at Office Depot bought me a Samsung ML-1865W monochrome laser printer. Once I had this new printer I produced this board with my second try at applying the art work to the copper using the toner transfer method. Turned my frustration into excitement for using this technique for lot’s of electronics projects. It’s not much more time and effort than doing it on a perf board and it’s quite a bit more durable. You can send the circuit you create to a fabrication house for production too once you come up with that great idea for a new product. After checking out the various tutorials in the Resources section below I highly recommend the Yahoo group: ‘Homebrew_PCBs’ Big win here was Staples item# 633215 Color laser paper. $12.49 / 300 =~ .042 cents per sheet. I also bought some 3M color transparency paper at Office Depot for the sticker shocking price of $35.49 / 100 =~ 35 cents a sheet. I haven’t tried the transparency subsequent to the laser printer purchase. For that price I can deal with the few shards of paper that stick to the artwork. I’m assuming you’ve read one of the tutorials and are familiar with the terms used in the remainder of this post. This is a nice little video from Instructables. Check the links in the Resources section of this post. Doesn’t hurt to read a couple different tutorials to drive the concepts home.     This is the PCB view in Fritzing of the board I created. Here are a few pictures of my first circuit board using the toner transfer...

12vdc Motors Matched Set; possible robot drive

I found these mirrored left and right motors for $24. They were apparently automotive windshield wiper motors. I’m looking for ideas on how to mount a wheel of say something like five inches to them. In the first picture are some hubs I found at a hobby store. One disadvantage to the tires I’ve found in the hobby stores so far is they don’t appear to be designed to carry much weight. I might have to use a solid tire. I’d rather use a tire with an inner tube or otherwise more solid. Do you know any resources for small tires, wheels, and hubs? Anyone have a metal lathe I can use or you can help me to turn these down enough to accept those hubs? Note in the partially dismantled picture the nylon gear. I hope that could be pressed off and back on again to allow the shaft to be mounted in a lathe. I found this site http://dumpstercnc.com/ that has shaft couplers and collars. Perhaps you know alternate sources? Or how to make them? I’d really appreciate some brain storming on this. Comments, suggestions, ideas are solicited and welcome. Is there a hacker space that has metal working lathes and mills? I’m currently in Los...

Power over other Pairs

Power over other Pairs (PooP – perhaps the second o is silent) I’m working on a project I’ve entered into Parallax, Inc. Spinneret Design contest. The first thing I need to accomplish after ordering and receiving the parts from Parallax is to create power for the Spinneret. Hello World on my Spinneret will have to wait for me to create a power supply and delivery method.   Basically what PooP allows for is to plug in a DC wall wart into two of the unused of four pairs in 10/100mb cat5 cabling and on the other end add regulation and filtering to supply 5vdc to the Spinneret. I could power the Spinneret with 3.3 but I want the 5vdc for an LCD and Sensirion (temperature/humidity sensor) Last night I sketched out this rough idea with parts list and a couple questions. Click on any of the following images for a larger display. Then picked the parts at a local electronics store. For curiosity sake I also picked up this surface mount RJ45 connector. I have not used it in this current project. Note that it has two LEDs They aren’t powered from the Ethernet. Rather they are supplied by circuitry on the motherboard. I’ve often noted that they power this circuit even with the computer off. Note how I created a strain relief with a zip tie  I got this low profile box at a hardware store (Lowe’s or Home depot) It shows the input jack, the LED power indicator, and the little circuit board I got at Radio Shack to build the regulator, capacitors and power on. My handwritten schematic with some pain.net annotations. I think the 3.3 vdc regulator can be placed off of the Vout of the the 5vdc regulator contrary to the ‘proposed addition’ If you know of any resources for drawing schematics please leave a comment. Perhaps clip art or templates for use in gimp, paint.net etc.. Or an actual circuit drawing program. Budget is tight. Here it is all buttoned up. I have fifty feet of cat5 between the boxes. They are sitting next to one another for the sake of the picture. And here we go! Hello...

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