Nailed it! – Target Sale

Talk about good timing. Saw Target had a sale for 16 gb Lexar Twist Thumb Drives, for $3.99. Didn’t really have a need, till a project at work came up, image 500 netbooks. So ran to Target and purchased all they had which amounted to 8. For a total of $31.. Sometimes sales are handy.

Oh, on another note while confirming they had the drives still, I found out Best Buy also had 16 gb thumb drives on sale, for $3.99. Just no Lexar.

Score!

Outdoor Sensor Array


How many sensors can we plug into one Arduino and setup outdoors? This is how many I was able to cram into one Project Box.

The system uses a ESP8266 Wifi / Arduino Card with a screw terminal Shield. — I attempted to run it all with two 12 volt solar panels with a solar charger. Didn’t have enough juice, so ended up just plugging into outlet located outside.

Hardware

Screenshot 2016-03-06 12.32.51

 

Lightning Detector using an Arduino

Screenshot 2016-05-21 20.14.26Been wanting to get this to working for years. Finally took the time to hookup and try it out.! Worked first time (once I got the wiring correct).

Now have to wait for a spring storm to test (sigh).

Updated layout, and tested. Sensor allows for a 40 miles distance detection of Lightning or related electrical noise for an approaching storm.

UPDATE:  Spent the afternoon tracking storms across South Florida. System reported Kilometers, which I added a conversion to American Standard Miles. Worked very nicely.

 

 

Atlas 3D Scanner – Kickstarter and Kit

Looking though Kickstarter I found a guy building a 3d scanner, that was printable, and had an option that included all the hardware  (motors, laser, etc). You just had to print the parts and assemble.

And of course, you have noticed I haven’t had any luck with my Solidoodle 3d printer, so the kit has just been sitting. UNTIL they started selling laser cut kits. Bought one on the spot.

My stepson and built it over a long weekend, but couldn’t get it to align. So I did some surfing and never got a correct answer, until I found SoliForum. Found some real helpful people and I was able to piece together the problems.

Atlas3dComplete           Settings

Quirky – Wink Home Automation

Wanting to get my feet wet with HomeKit I started looking into newer home automation equipment. Finding Quirky items cheaper on eBay I decided to give them a try.

First, gotta open one. This is a Quirky Plink-Hub1, a second generation less hackable version of their Hub.

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I was able to pry open and stick paper clips in to keep the case open long enough to remove guts.

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This is what it looked like inside. Very clean, power supply on one board, wifi and wireless on second.

The big down side is that the Quirky Wink automation system is made to be controlled by a phone, not a computer. At least not in Yosemite.

We were able to create some applescripts which react to emails sent from the Wink Robots. From there I was able to update a web page. So all and all not all that bad. Yes far from what I wanted, but for the cost I can’t complain.

We also installed a few GE LED lights, which are very limited in usage. Limited by the software. So hopefully HomeKit allows more features at a later date. (also get these really cheap off eBay).

There is a Pivot Power Genius, power strip (with two controllable outlets [not very functional/features]) , Spotter (multi-sensor unit [VERY FUN and useful]), Porkfolio (Piggy Bank, [which we never got to work after many hours of work]) and of course the GE LED bulbs.

There is also Nimbus, a desktop digital display. Very easy to setup, but very limited on what can be displayed. If you can find it cheap it is fun, but not worth the $50 asking price (think we paid less than $20). Would like more control over what can be display, say something we send it.

The system also works very well with DropCams. We normally use Network cameras, but wanted to give it a try. We purchased a few DropCam HD units, which we are very happy with. On doing more research the PRO costs almost $100 more, and requires a yearly subscription. We will stick with the HD.

We are awaiting a Insteon Hub and automation kit to try as well.

UPDATE (07/18/2015 #1):

After using Wink and its assorted hardware for over a month, I can not recommend this system.

Wrote tech support for help hooking up Porkfolilo, problems with getting second Nimbus working and issues with second Spotter. All I got back was a canned reply, that wasn’t helpful at all. – Will a second hub help, does Wink support Second hub, does it increase coverage area? (they didn’t bother to address any of that).

The hub has ‘disconnect’ and I can no longer communicate with lights, nimbus or anything else that was working. And I am unable to add new devices. Wink must have built in limit… Or it could be interference or wifi noise, whatever, the system isn’t working.

I’ll continue to play with the system as time allows and see if I can get something working.

Update (07/18/2015 #2):

Played with Quarky, Wink a little today. Notice my hub was off-line.. Reinstall/configured, yeah. Then! WHAT? None of my devices are listed, no lights, Numbis, Spotters or Pivots, all gone. Meaning they all have to be reconfigured. So if you were thinking of using this system in a vacation home, DO NOT DO IT!

 

Teensy

Since the clerks at work do me a lot of favors I wanted to something nice for them. Build a desktop flower, controlled either by the computer or sensors in the flower or flower pot. For this I looked into the Teensy 2.0, costing less than $15, it is with our companies restriction on gift prices ($25).

Basically  the Teensy, is a tiny Arduino. Easy to program and wire into projects. Allowing for smart projects.

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Solidoodle 3D Printers

I had high hopes for printing in 3D, maybe too high.

A few years back I purchased a MakerBot Kit, from MakerBot. Which took almost a week to build, align and get working. But it did a fair job at printing 3d objects. But we wanted better.

So I order a Solidoodle 2nd Generation printing. Much sturdier I thought, will work much better. First day the extruder broke, mostly due to a different method of loading filament than the MakerBot. My fault. I purchase parts to repair the head, and even a replacement head. IT NEVER printed a 3D model as good as the MakerBot, which is sad.

Then last year Solidoodle introduced the Press, a self leveling, unibody 3D printer. Ordered, and waiting 5 months. At first look the printer is impressive. large 8x8x8 print area, filament holder inside the case. I was excited.

Went through the calibration  test run, hopes quickly died.

Filament doesn’t adhere to the print surface at all, but it holds on to the extruder very well.. Prints one big blob of plastic.

On top of that the print bed rises to meet the extruder, when printing completed or it stopped, I fully expected the bed to lower. The print bed didn’t lower. So for big handed users like myself getting in the printer to clean the blob is difficult.

So, in no way can I recommend this printer. I’ll detract this if Solidoodle support gets back to me with fixes.

[UPDATE #1]

After getting the standard, set temp higher for both extruder and build plate, and spraying the build plate with hair spray. I finally got what has to be my best print ever.

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HOWEVER!!

When I attempted to print a second box today, in greater detail, the extruder was clogged. I attempted to increase the temperature to the extruder, extruding 100mm of filament and retracting the filament. However all I got was a  thumping noise out of extruder head. Emailed tech support, AGAIN. And of course they are closed on weekends.

~David

iPhone and Infrared (IR)

Ok..

I’m not an engineer or anything but WTF!

A few years ago I purchased a IRTrans from IRTrans (http://www.irtrans.com/en/index.php). Back when I was using an Apple Cube (tells you how long ago that was). Well I got out the IRTrans module the other day to start working on a new project, that I hadn’t started on yet. Every time I put my phone on my desk, the LED would blink. Didn’t think anything about it.

Then I noticed it only blinked when one of the cameras were facing the IRTrans. Odd. Of course I had to purchase and upgrade to the software, iRed2. Once I got it started I monitored IR activity and Dang it starting getting signals, repeatable signals from the iPhone.

Received one type of signal when the screen was locked, another unlocked, then another when I opened a app.. OMG!!!

Please someone else say they see that! Can Apple make their iPhone (iOS devices) into full fledge IR controllers!..

Note, You heard it here first!

~David