It’s not often I get permission to take stuff apart. More precisely, I spend a lot of time doing creative stuff, so my purely destructive side rarely gets its time in the sun to frolic and cavort and otherwise express itself in all it’s entropic glory. Today, however, is different.
But first, a story
A tidy little instrument from the front.
On a recent trip south to the desert to visit the family (something of a do-over for Christmas, since we were all sick as dogs over the holiday and didn’t see anyone other than ourselves), my brother-in-law gifted our family a used Squier Mini Player Strat with a built-in amplifier and speaker. This thing is a true piece of guitar oddity, and pretty freaking rare apparently. It’s a “mini,” which apparently means it has a 3/4 size neck, even though the body is the same size. Usually Stratocaster-style electrics have three pickups and a selector switch, along with a couple of tone knobs and a volume, but not this one. Because of the speaker, there’s really only room for a single humbucking pickup, one tone knob, and the volume. Of note is despite the somewhat toylike look of the body with the speaker grille, there’s really nothing toy about this; it’s a real instrument. Read the rest of this entry »
I roll pretty hard when I put together a build. Mostly, it’s that I don’t screw around, I find a challenge, and then I beat it into submission. Unless, of course, I don’t, in which case I sulk off and go back to trolling Facebook or Reddit. But that hardly ever happens, yo.
Take for instance the Goat Webcam project. As soon as I knew I was going to do this, I checked out the Raspberry Pi wifi adapter listing and tried finding something that would be able to do dual-band networking on 802.11n. It’s not that I need (or that the RPi can support) 300Mbps throughput, because I seriously doubt this little board could sustain that kind of beating. Realistically, this is more about being able to play in the 5GHz radio spectrum, with the ability to stream something at about 4-5Mbps wirelessly without being completely hosed by everything else that crowds the 2.4GHz band (for instance, the neighbor’s 2.4GHz WiFi access point with the SSID “F*ck Off”, except without the *). Read the rest of this entry »
My wife raises dairy goats.
Yes, she even kisses them.
If I sound matter-of-fact, it’s only that I’m continually reminded of this by the 365 days-a-year bleating of the teeming masses, especially cacophonic around mealtimes (and yes, cacophonic is a word). What makes it relevant here is that something the wife asks me for has been a “goat webcam” so that she can monitor the goat mommas when they are pregnant and about to give birth. She’s gone so far as to throw a good amount of money at “solutions” (I use the word so very mockingly) that didn’t work. In particular I refer to one “wireless” camera that only transmitted an analog picture, very bad sound, and had a range so short, you basically had to be in the room with the transmitter to get a decent picture.
And so I simmered the idea on the back burner for some time to create a goat webcam that streams wirelessly (perhaps even in HD, we shall see) to a live streaming site like USTREAM or Livestream or Justin.TV (like Justin.TV wants to have baby goats being born on their site — but we’ll just see about that, won’t we). Read the rest of this entry »
The sometimes vexing and mostly curious InfoLithum M
As part of my business, I deal with a fair amount of batteries. I’ve dealt (and still deal) in all flavors of these: alkalines, nickel metal hydride (NiMH), sealed lead acid (SLA), the god-awful Nickel Cadmium (NiCd), Lithium Polymer (LiPoly or LiPo) and the now rather venerable Lithium Ion (Li-Ion). Recently, I purchased a really amazing camera for the production company, and in so doing have come into possession of some Sony InfoLithium batteries (the “L” type, for professional camcorders). As it happens, I already had some of them because of a piece of audio equipment that runs on those type of Sony batteries, but that’s not the point, is it?
Years back, I purchased a Sony MiniDV camcorder, a really nice compact one. And as part of that, it came with a (now totally defunct and dead) InfoLithum M-type battery, model number NP-FM50. Now that those years have passed and this battery is no longer viable, I figure its best purpose is for science, wouldn’t you agree?
Read the rest of this entry »
So, just when you thought things couldn’t get more interesting, I’m setting up to launch the next dimension of awesome here at Randy Builds Things: my own YouTube channel! Yes, that’s right, you’ll soon be able to play and replay videos of your favorite Randy tearing into boxes that get delivered from suppliers and other people, teardowns of things both exotic and ordinary, and even occasionally some research or other things I might do to make sure I’m not about to kill myself doing this silly hobby. Don’t miss it. It’s coming. Seriously. I promise.
Not perfect, but it’ll do in a pinch.
So, this is something else I like to do: tinker with PCB layout and taking projects (some blatantly ripped off from elsewhere, some not) and creating a board that I might like to have manufactured.
Almost always I’m doing this as a mental exercise, but often the results are handy to have, and so I figure they’re worth putting up here. Read the rest of this entry »
Looks mean. And by that, I mean it looks wonderful.
From Vimeo and the Freefly crew. The motion-control geek in me just got a big slap in the face.
CineStar 3 Axis Gimbal from Freefly on Vimeo.
Henning Sandstrom stopped by FreeFly HQ on his way to Maui to teach me how to film beautiful forest scenes like he does so well!
The weather was really challenging, but we got the chance to do a few flights with the newly completed 3 axis gimbal. This video shows the gimbal with a Sony FS100 and 18-55 lens.
Henning also was flying his CineStar 8 for some of the zoomed in shots with a 160mm lens equivalent (Canon 100mm lens on 7D)
We shot the behind the scenes with a RED EPIC at 300FPS.
Really fun to get to see how Henning works his magic and get to feed him some huge American cheeseburgers
Led Lamps (Photo credit: Dedication of Merits)
OK, rebooting… stand by…
All right, here’s where I am: I now run a production company out here in Sonoma County, which if anything gives me even more reason to make stuff and use it credibly as part of my business.
The upshot of this is that I’m 99% likely to start YouTubing my projects, including teardowns, characterizations, research and more. So, if you’re into fat dudes tearing electronics apart with gusto, stay tuned, should be fun!
And now, the updated project list:
- A motion-control rig (start with two-axis, then move to automate dolly and even perhaps crane/jib)
- (Still want) flexible LED lighting in both tungsten (3900K) and daylight (5600K) color temperatures, without kowtowing to Litepanels
- A high-quality DIY reflow oven, built from a toaster oven, but with the ability to program reflow profiles at runtime
- A solar-powered weather station, including wireless sensor network and the ability to update the firmware over-the-air
I know, I know. It’s like Christmas reading this list, I kinda want to already have gotten started (oh hey, I have already gotten started(!), and will be posting about each of these projects to properly introduce where I’m at with them!) In the “pending” category are the following projects:
- The home power meter is on the back burner with all the other awesomeness I’m trying to get to.
- Wine Biz Radio is on a more-or-less permanent hiatus, so getting an “on-air” light isn’t quite as pressing as it once was. Yeah.
And I promise you, I’ll love this blog much more than I have for the last umpteen months.