Archives for posts with tag: Electronics

Silly Questions

Damn you, Intel Galileo! Why must you vex me with your question, so innocuously posed, in bright yellow letters?

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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.

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 »

Not perfect, but it'll do in a pinch.

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 »

Led Lamps

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.

Funny, the things you get tied into when you join an online community such as RepRap-Dev, the developers mailing list for the 3D printer I hope to eventually build for myself.

It seems that we now have a few contenders throwing their hats in the ring for a chance to be the electronics-of-choice for RepRap.

Meet Sanguinololu (or visit its RepRap wiki page). Difficult to pronounce, being a mashup of Sanguine (the word), Arduino (the prototyping platform), and Pololu (who sells motion control units for driving stepper motors that enable 3D printers to actually work); if they can hold to the mission of being less than USD100 to build, that’s really good news to cheapskates like myself.

But hold on, there’s also the Generation 7 electronics, which also promises to compete on the price performance curve.

And then there’s RAMPS (RepRap Arduino Mega Pololu Shield), which has quite a lot of momentum, but is spendy but proven to work.

My biggest issue with all of these three options is their dependence on Pololu driver boards, which are (wait for it) out of stock.

How NOT to enable a growing open source hardware movement.

How NOT to enable a growing open source hardware movement.

You just knew that was coming, didn’t you? It doesn’t matter how affordable the Pololu drivers are if you can’t actually buy them.

[If there is a unifying theme to what I’ve seen so far in the Arduino/RepRap world, it’s this: it’s a supply chain, people. If you choke off or constrict any part of it, the whole thing suffers. Newbies like me are left wondering why we have to venture onto EBay to bid or buy Arduino Mega knockoffs from Hong Kong or Shenzhen when we’d rather be supporting the people who are actually developing them? The same generally goes for RepRap electronics, Pololu drivers. Does nobody have an interest in this movement growing?]

And finally, there is a fourth contender in the ring! It’s getting positively crowded in here! Along comes Repic, which claims to come in under USD90, but requires RepRap folks to venture into the land of Microchip PIC microcontrollers in order to go there. I sense a black sheep, but I’ll keep an open mind.

I can at least agree with list member Neil Underwood, who put it nicely:

3 open source electronics all competeing head to head to lower the price point/increase the capacity for RepRap electronics can’t be a bad thing.

Sanguinololu
RAMPS
Gen7

I can’t help but see this as a good thing

Yup, legitimate and honest competition, even in Open Source Hardware, is a good thing.

Peace.

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