Back2School Jeffa Nerding Projects


jeffa April 4, 2010

If we add together parts of parallax propeller .spin ping and radar. What do we get? Spingdar!

I recently finished a course in .net C# (.cs) at Spokane Community College. So over the spring break, which ends today, I reviewed pingdar from Parallax What my programs do is effectively the same however I display the data on a pc using GDI+ in C# on a radar like circular graphics object on a form with a sweeping line and a dot for the location plot. The math is done in the .cs rather than the propeller. I wanted to begin learning about the xbee radios so I utilized them to connect my Stingray with Lynxmotion tilt pan servo assembly to the pc. That’s my dog Sampson under the workbench. He’s my best bud. Above the ping sensor is a TTL micro cam from 4dsystems. I haven’t begun to work on that yet. It’s just sitting in where I think I would like to mount it.

Now about this project and the source code. I had a goal to accomplish a certain amount of functionality. At this point it was just for the learning. I accomplished that goal. The code is not pretty and the entire project isn’t of much use except as a learning experience so keep that in mind if you download the source.

When I have time again this summer I’d like to move on to a phase two of this learning project and enhance the graphics and add probably some code as delegate in .cs. All the graphics and the input data manipulation occur in a serial received data event.

PingServoSampson PingTTLuCamServos lynxmotion-pan-and-tilt-kit-aluminium





ttl micro camera (Hope to make a project out of this real soon!)

Parallax ping sensor,ProductName

Parallax Stingray Robot,ProductName

Sampson dogMyDoggieBoy http://not-for-sale.NoWay.jose

pan tilt

Excellent GDI FAQ/Tutorial


Very useful program and informative for general .cs programming techniques and specifically for serial communications in C#



  Visual Studio 2008 project for spingdar


.spin code for the propeller

Jeffa Nerding Projects

DHCP, Parallax Stingray, Dust Bunnies and the Xbee ASP DotNetNukes Discovery

Wow! That’s a mouth full! “How will he tie all that together?”

A couple nights ago I lost internet connectivity at the beginning of what I thought would be an all nighter of coding. When I woke up the next morning I had a new DHCP assigned ip address from Comcast my internet service provider. Since early spring last year I have been evaluating CMS, Blog and wiki software and reacquiring  my system administration skills as well as learning some new computer programming languages and other sundry and various nick nacks of nerdom. I had a couple different sites up at home testing various platforms from,,, and others. Ohh yea, and Ruby on Rails which is so cool I’m getting shivers just writing Ruby on Rails. You may infer correctly that I’m interested in open source projects. With the ip address change, it looks like Comcast was rearranging subnets, I had to reconfigure DNS hosted at godaddy to point to the new ip address to continue to serve those eXperiments in my basement on a Fedora Linux system. This blog,, was hosted there in the basement of my home. Now I’ve moved it to a hosting account at You can read about that experience here. Late note, in between beginning and finishing this story I not only moved the site from my basement to godaddy, but then from godaddy to where it lives now on a virtual machine.  The positive spin I’ll say about the DHCP ip address change is that it motivated me to move I had not wanted to advertise the sight much while it was at home. The legalities, bandwidth, the possibility of ip reassignment and exposing my home network to so much attention. So way cool! I’ve moved rodaw and feel more comfortable letting it loose. OK that covers the DHCP, now the Stingray robot, the dust bunnies and the xbee .asp .net discovery of which ties into the C# class I’m taking at which well it just wouldn’t fit in the title of this blog. So UPS dropped of my package from Parallax. They didn’t knock on the door but as I had been anxiously awaiting the package I looked out the front door every twenty minutes or so to see if I had missed them. Yup there it was. If I hadn’t had that ip addressing problem I wouldn’t have moved rodaw. If I hadn’t moved rodaw to a hosting site I wouldn’t be writing this article and feeling comfortable sharing it with people. And for some more cosmic cogs and wheels turning I wouldn’t have received the stingray robot at this time unless I hadn’t had some snafu with my credit card processing when paying for the robot at Parallax. Interesting how all these things tie together (interesting to me at least…) So I (im)patiently wait through Thursday and Friday going to class and completing my homework so I could put a block of time together for the assembly.

Saturday morning arrives and it’s time to put on a Western and assemble the robot. IMG_0339 You can see a bad man shooting a store keeper on the big screen, and on a tv dinner tray note the blue CCFL tubes hooked up to a power supply. I bought those along with the Parallax Stingray. Now get a look at the Stingray kit on my coffee table.

I purchased an array of Ping sensors for the robot and during assembly I needed to refer to the parallax site for some assembly notes for the ping array. Here is the coffee table with the kit beginning to take shape. IMG_0340 

And that brings us to…

OK so where was I? Ohh yea the dust bunnies and the xbee .asp .net discovery of which ties into the C# class I’m taking. I load up parallax home page find, and to my extremely pleasant surprise they have a big banner announcing that they’ve got a bunch of digi xbee stuff. I love learning about new sensors, and other nerdlets at parallax because of the sample circuits, source code, instruction and lively forums they have with their products. They really have some excellent educational materials for students, hobbyists and professionals to learn from. Well I click on the link and doh! the rest of the site is down! :-( I can’t even get to the ping sensor array assembly instructions I was looking for let alone read about the xbee radios! An error message was exposed that referred to the site which I learned is a Web Content Management System (CMS) and Application Development Platform for Microsoft .NET which I’m learning about in the C# class. And yet another cosmic cog and wheel come into place. Cool, I already have a MS Server 2008R2 system running with a couple VMWare virtual servers in place to experiment with Microsoft stuff, I’ve been doing a lot of experiments on the linux server although I run Windows 7 as my main client system. I’m doing Macintosh a bit too for the first time in years in a photoshop class over at But I digress. Don’t you just love virtual machines? A great way to have a development you can mess up and restore in moments from an image configured just the way you like before the experiment. Can’t wait to take a look at the dotnetnuke stuff. I think I’ll try to put together a shopping cart with customer order history. I do work at a little company,, that writes and distributes authentication and billing solutions as well as wireless hot spot and IM solutions. We use visual studio to create C++ applications that are ported to windows and linux. But I digress again – which was easy with that run on sentence. OK so the parallax site comes back to life real quick I suspect they were just adding the xbee announcement when I happened along, I hadn’t seen it previously. Now where was I? …

OK so the dust bunnies. It’s so miraculous, more cosmic? Funny like a laugher is an audible smile. I happened to drop two tiny little set screws for the hub on the stingray motors shaft. They were a good bit smaller than a ladybug. IMG_0346 I didn’t notice for about ten minutes after I had mistakenly opened the plastic bag upside down. I though what a bummer I’ll have to order a couple. Luckily I had two of the four so I would be able to attach the hubs to the motor shafts. What the heck I’ll look for them a bit. Check out the dust under the couch and coffee table where I was building the Stingray.  IMG_0342 This is like a dust bunny coral colony! Note my handsome dog Sampson. I found them both! Unbelievable! With the hard wood floor I guess it was possible but had that been a shag carpet I wouldn’t have found them. And wouldn’t be writing about the dust bunnies or if I did it would have been easy to pass the off as a weave for my carpet! OK well with all this dirty laundry out in the air so to speak I feel it’s important to say (read that defensive or guilty) that I did sweep up and vacuumed a bit. IMG_0352  This is the dust mop collection of the living room dust just prior to it’s trip to the trash can. It was hard to throw away I thought it might make a good wig for the Stingray. Check out how the dbclc (dust bunny coral like colony) dwarfs the stingray robot! IMG_0355


Check out a couple more pics of the Stingray as it begins IMG_0347  to take shape and the finished kit. IMG_0350 IMG_0351


Well there you have it. That’s how DHCP, dust bunnies, UPS, Parallax, Dotnukes, Microsoft, Visa, open source, C# class, my dog and a few other things all occurred to bring me to write this true story and share it with you.

rodaw, – jeffa


Outboard Motor Auto Pilot

I would like to make an auto pilot for my boat. This is a wide shot of the stern to get a general overall feeling for the space involved.

BCC_W Stern view.

This is a detail of the interface of the steering control arm and the Mercury 85hp motor.


Detail view of the stern. Note where the control arm meets the meets the control horn on the motor.






Question: What might I use for the actuator. I’d like to stay away from hydraulics on this small of a project.


OAP_horn_Detail OAP_Engine_Mount_Detail

Notice the bolt (left picture) at the center that connects the motor to the steering control arm. Here is a detail showing there is enough room to perhaps get another thingie of some sort attached. Plenty of room to change bolts (right picture) to allow some bracket to hold the house for the thingie!

So what might we use for a thingie? Worm drive? Mega stepper? Help!