I've been consumed lately with saving power with my designs and I decided to focus my obsession on my new "FakeFireLEDDriver" design I got inspired to build from this example. I knew that I wanted to hand out Halloween gifts, in this case Jack-O-Lantern fake fire boards to my family who always pacify my obsessions du-jour. I knew that the first version worked and worked quite well, but I couldn't stand the thought that it was definitely a battery hog. Much could be done to improve upon it's energy consumption. Knowing that AVRs are known for their power saving design, I set out to figure out how to squeeze out more efficiency from this design. What is attached below is my first attempt at power savings with the "FakeFireLEDDriver" design. I've basically implemented a WDT (Watchdog Timer) to tell the system to wake up (if the system is asleep) every ~8 seconds and check the photocell, if it's dark, flicker away, if not, go back to sleep. This simple change in logic should save considerable energy. My next step is to only give power to the photocell during that check, which is about as much energy as I can see saving with this design. Check out the attached code and as always, feedback is most welcomed!
Bleh, my company decided to shave some cash and put many of it's workers on furlough. One week, isn't too bad and I'm quite glad to have a true vacation without any email or phone calls. I guess by law they can't allow employees to work at all, so it's gonna be a real vacation! I'm expecting to get quite a few things done this week, perhaps I'll finally get the ventaliation installed in the bathroom. I'm definitely gonna go shooting at least once this week, practice makes perfect! Anyhow, expect lots of updates this week!
So I finally got my next shipment of PCB boards from BatchPCB.com. The boards were perfect, not one mfg issue (I suspect this is mostly thanks to what I learned from SparkFun.com). It's fantastically rewarding to see your ideas come to life, I posted here originally about the Arduino controlled dog stairs I had built but I wasn't satisfied. I wanted to free up the Arduino, it's not what a development board is for anyhow. I have since crossed the hurdle of building my own code in C using AVRStudio. I decided upon the ATTINY13A chip because it was small and really had just enough functionality to make this project work as I had wanted it to. The Arduino was overkill; an ATMEGA328 is WAY overkill for this project. I've learned so much about AVR programming I can't even believe how far I've come. I've posted the AVR source code, high resolution pictures and the eagle files so you can build your own. I figure I've got no more than $10 invested in this not including the stairs!
And here are the boards I got from BatchPCB.com the other day.
Anyone who knows my wife knows that she loves to "fall-ify" as much as she loves to decorate for Halloween! This year I found an example using LEDs to simulate a flickering fire. I decided this would be perfect to put inside our jack-o-latern and as soon as I got home today from work, I whipped up a working version for myself. I've attached a ZIP file which contains a few high-res pictures and the embedded C code you can use to program any AVR. I've used an ATTINY13A for this as I have a bunch laying around and they work perfectly for this project. They are also very cheap, I got mine from DigiKey for .87 each. The whole project cost me about $3.50 excluding the batteries. I think I may expand on this design a bit to include a photo-transistor and a small solar panel to only turn the circuit on at night and recharge the batteries during the day...Once I get the updated version, I'll update this post. Check out the video below of the LED Fire in action!
My wife had been asking for some time for us to head up to the IKEA store in West Chester Ohio but I had been stalling. I had never been to an IKEA store and the things I had seen online didn't really impress me that much. Seeing as how we were in the midst of redoing the bedroom, I figured we'd make the trip and invited my parents along. All I can say is take the time if you haven't even been to one and visit your local IKEA store. This store was massive, had a 350 seat restaurant inside and had some of the most amazing things I've seen. I couldn't believe the prices either, they had really great quality things for really great prices! Natalie and I picked up some curtains and other sweet sliding shade thingies...I'll post pictures once we get them installed, that's another DIY project...Oh, they had none of the White Lampan lights I really wanted, going to hack them with an AVR and some RGB leds to make a sweet multi-color light which is kid friendly...
I finally got around to trying my hand at making my own liquid soap. It's something that I was intrested in since Natalie and I started making cold process bar soap. Funny thing is we never realized that so many people (men and women) have moved away from bar soap in the shower in favor of the shower loofah! I actually prefer using bar soap, perhaps because I'm bias, but I never liked the old washcloth solution either, plain old bar soap! Anyhow, with the tred of using shower gel I decided I needed to learn how it was made. Homemade liquid soap was my first step, more for washing your hands than shower gel but I figured it I could master liquid soap, shower gel would be a no-brainer. I think given the time investment (~6 hours), I'll be making larger batches, but the first batch turned out perfect. Natalie thought I should break up the batch into three scents, so that's why there are three mason jars full. We did Island Coconut (yellow), Tea Tree Oil and Lavendar (green) and China Rain (purple). We picked up some soap despensers from Hobby Lobby (which Natalie hates). More pictures in the attached ZIP file.