Monthly Archives: May 2013

Electronics

Electronic Hobbyist

I was looking for some interesting news sites for electronics as I do from time to time. Not much out there… well at least none with articles that were of immediate interest to me.

I came across this article and nearly commented but it was from 2007 with zero comments, so there wasn’t much point:

http://electronicdesign.com/archive/whatever-happened-electronics-hobbyist

I’m an amateur radio operator/builder, I like building embedded systems and I’ve built a robot, so I guess I get to fit into all three of his “types” of electronics hobbyists of the future. I think he’s probably right on with the separation of electronics hobbyist .. unless you count students; I wouldn’t. Is that a big deal? I don’t think so. Technology had made it difficult to take the old “easy” kits to offer to youth to spark some interest. Who knows how long AM will be around? Give it a decade and someone will be leaning heavy on the FCC to shut it down and sell off the spectrum. AM isn’t making any money these days.  This article also feels a little “back-in-my-day” which gets eye rolls from anyone under 40.

So my only real beef with this article is his opinion that QST is a quality magazine that supports electronics hobbyist… I totally disagree. QST isn’t worthy of toilet paper in my opinion. It’s the ‘US Weekly’ of electronics magazines. All Ads, back-in-my-day articles, and sponsored reviews. QEX on the other hand is an EXCELLENT magazine, we are in agreement there. I would recommend QEX from non-hams if they’re looking for more reading material as there are plenty of projects that could be re-purposed.

If anyone coming across this happens to have some “favorite” generic hobbyist news feeds drop me a comment. I’m always looking for interesting articles.

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking/Backpacking

Deception Pass State Park

Melissa had the weekend off so I had to opt for a low accent hike and semi-scenic. I had never been on North Whidbey Island so we headed out this morning. Not the hike for those seeking solitude… But a nice beach walk was included and really it was 80 on a May weekend… There were going to be people everywhere… Back to the Raspberry Pi tomorrow… Going to configure it and perhaps I’ll try out a few of the OSes.

20130505-175819.jpg

Electronics

Stacking Pi plates MacGyver style

20130504-175801.jpg

Using the stacking SIP connectors for Arduino’s works enough to get me by stacking these boards. One thing to note, this isn’t soldered in place, it actually needs a temporary spacer while soldering it so that the depth of the connector to the raspberry pi matched the original connector. (put the connector in place without soldering then try to plug the plate into the raspberry port and you’ll see what I mean)

 

EDIT: 5/8/2013: http://www.adafruit.com/products/1112  … don’t know how this slipped by.. easy to buy and cheap…problem solved.

Electronics

Pi Plate Stacking

Short (normal) length leads don't allow for Pi plate stacking.
Short (normal) length leads don’t allow for Pi plate stacking.

So I need to find long leaded 26 pin headers if I’m going to stack Pi plates.. I’ve found some over seas but I don’t want to pay shipping and I was hoping for a state-side supplier, anyone buying these out of the US?

Electronics

Fresh Pi in the mail

Newly arrived in the mail today! I received my first Raspberry Pi as I feel immediate guilt over the Tindie PIC boards I have waiting to be populated and explored. I look forward to loading up the OS and finding some to plug this into for video… my TV isn’t very practical for hacking away at hardware. I appreciated the low cost of the shipping from Adafruit but the items shipped in a soft pack and the box got somewhat crushed as view below. Maybe it’s a little retentive but I wish they would have shipped it in a small box. Nothing was functionally damaged of course so I can’t complain to much. I’ll spend the evening putting together the LCD interface it, Proto Plate, a little level converter for my BMP085 breakout board (Sparkfun) and The Pi Cobbler kit.

 

The Raspberry Pi Model B with 9V to compare size.
The Raspberry Pi Model B with 9V to compare size.

 

Unpacked from Adafruit, the Raspberry Pi and peripherals.
Unpacked from Adafruit, the Raspberry Pi and peripherals.

Product links:

Proto Pi: http://adafru.it/801 4 bit level conv:  http://adafru.it/757  cobbler kit:  http://adafru.it/914 16×2 LCD display: http://adafru.it/181

 

 

Electronics

OP Amps

I remember my first electronics book was a project book with assorted transistor and tube circuits. I steered clear of OP Amps through my younger twenties even.

I recommend some day you’re sitting around at your bench wondering what to make or fix next… day some time to refresh your OP Amp skills.. I could never match W2AEW’s Op Amp video, a great refresher for those who forgot how much we forgot and the newbie!

 

Electronics

Talos the Sumo Roomba

My sumo roomba is running around but has a lot of tweaking yet to be completed.

To do list:

Fix the IR sensor interface, it’s flaky.

Add bumper sensors & code to turn into them.

I probably put too much work into measurements and sensors monitoring. I have a tablet that I can monitor most items in case I want to record anything. It’s bluetooth (the only use for the bluetooth module). You’ll note it runs on two PICs, one for drive and offense/defense, the other for monitoring, communication, and subsystem work. The battery was bad so I dropped a 12V 1.2AH SLA into the case.. not the best fix but it works fine.

PIC MCU board. This replaces the old board and all sensors and motor control is done on this board.
PIC MCU board. This replaces the old board and all sensors and motor control is done on this board.
Bottom view of Talos the Sumo Roomba.
Bottom view of Talos the Sumo Roomba.