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4Jul/110

My Bhut Jolokia Chilies

First Round of Bhut Jolokia Peppers

First Round of Bhut Jolokia Chilies

I've always been a big fan of hot foods and hot chilies have always been a staple in our garden. This past year, however, I was educated by the inter-webs that I had always assumed incorrectly that Habanero chilies were the hottest on the planet. In fact, the Bhut Jolokia is by leaps and bounds the king of heat. The Habanero chili is about 300k scoville while the Bhut Jolokia is nearly 1 million scoville. Yeah, while I haven't tried one yet, I'm expecting the worst!

I grew these plants from little seedlings and I'm super excited that I've started seeing the first round of chilies already! Apparently I'm either talented as a gardener or super lucky, these guys don't typically do well in my zone and are supposed to take forever to produce the first chilies.

I'm actually gonna try to whip up some homemade sauce with these guys as they are suppose to have a mango-like flavor under all that heat which should make for some great sauce.

Update: Well, heck fire. While I was researching a bit on the Internet for information regarding the Bhut Jolokia, I found out that there is already a new king...guess I"ll have to hunt the world over to find some Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chilies for next year..

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24May/110

Oh yeah, I’m licensed!

ARESSo as I talked about in my previous post, I headed up to Dayton Ohio last weekend to witness Hamvention 2011 first hand. Well, what I failed to enlighten the world on is I had been studying to get my license so I could be honest-to-legal HAM operator!

I was able to take the test for free (it's normally ~$30) at Hamvention and once I passed (you doubted me?) had my call letters that night, yep, that's some effecient government work there, isn't it? I picked up a little Wouxun (pronounced woah-sean) radio to get me on the air quickly. With any luck I'll be getting a package in the mail with my base rig, a FT-7900R so I can crank up the amps and actually talk to some folks simplex...

 

24May/1135

A new way to control water!

h20 Shield

Update: I've updated the design of the board and the transistors used to ensure better compatability with the Orbit valves. I was getting reports from folks that some valves would open but not close with the shield. The updated design can be downloaded at the bottom of this post.

I've been working on a rather large project for some time now and while my new h20 shield is just one piece of the larger project, I thought it deserved it's own post and documentation. I can see this shield being quite useful for lots of folks wishing to control water using one of the fairly inexpensive Orbit 62035 garden hose valves.

First, allow me to give credit where credit is due, the hard work for the control circuit and voltage booster came from this incredibly smart gentlemen and the shield wouldn't be possible without his hard work figuring out how to control the valves! His design for controlling the valves works wonderfully!

This shield is a three valve controller with LED indicators for valve status. I used the long headers thinking I'd make the shield stack-able but the 50v cap scrapped that idea. If I make another version, I'll use a different cap/layout to ensure you can stack this shield, as it now, this will just be the top shield in my project. I also used only through-hole parts (I normally would have used nearly all SMT components) to make the shield easier for folks to solder and I had many of the components in through-hole package on hand.

h20 Shield

The circuit is quite simple really, it's comprised of two main parts, the 24V voltage boost circuit which is required to open and close the Orbit water valves and three open/close control circuits. The shield uses 7 digital pins and 3 analog pins. I have one pin each for open and close for each of the three valves, they each drive a transistor which close the 24V through one of the two valve connections. One will open the valve and the other will close it. The final digital pin is used to control the LT1303, when held high, the circuit will shut down thus saving power as the 24V is only needed when opening and closing a valve. I've used the three analog pins to control the LED indicators for the three valves, I needed the other digital pins for other shields that are part of the bigger project I mentioned earlier.

I got the 3.5 mm connectors from SparkFun.com and the rest of the components I either had on-hand or purchased through digikey.com.

I've included high-resolution pictures of the completed board along with the Eagle schematic and board files and a sample Arduino sketch for those interested! As you can see from the video below, the board works perfectly! If you find a use for this design, let me know, I'm always fascinated by how folks use controllers like this!

 

 

h2o shield Project Files
Title: h2o shield Project Files (719 clicks)
Caption:
Filename: h20shield.zip
Size: 13 MB

h2o shield Project Files
Title: h2o shield Project Files (719 clicks)
Caption:
Filename: h20shield.zip
Size: 13 MB

17May/110

Heading to Dayton Hamvention 2011

Hello fellow geeks, as many of you may already know, Hamvention 2011 is this weekend and I'm heading up to Dayton to check it out. This will be my first time and while I don't have my license just yet (exam is June 21st), I'm stoked to have the opportunity to attend the world's largest HAM convention! I'm also quite lucky to be attending with some great folks who are HAMexperts. Perhaps a Yeasu FT-60 is in my future this weekend? What do you guys reccomend for a first radio?

 

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7Mar/110

FotoMoto Feature

FotoMoto Feature

Today was another good day! I got an email from FotoMoto letting me know that one of the photographs I had taken of the family cat was chosen to be featured on their homepage! Very cool indeed, I've always loved photography and it's nice to get any level of recognition for it! If you haven't heard of FotoMoto, check it out, it's a great way for folks to sell photographs, I had signed up so that when I get some great shots of the new baby, our family can very easily order prints if they want. FotoMoto is a great company and I'm honored to be featured for the day!

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16Feb/110

Photography and Electronics, a happy marriage.

Nikon D7000

So with the new baby coming, my wife and I decided we needed to get a new camera. I think it's almost a fad with parents-to-be and while I initially refused the idea of spending money on a new camera (we had a perfectly good point-and-shoot), I eventually caved and started looking. Unfortunately I had forgotten exactly how much I loved photography and quickly realized I wanted a NICE camera. I ended up purchasing the Nikon D7000 and added a few bells and whistles.

Back in the day, I had my own setup to develop B&W photos and digital cameras were just getting affordable enough that I looked into them. It didn't take me long to turn my nose up at them, however. The cameras at the time left a lot to be desired at the price range I could afford so I naively dismissed them and never looked back.

It really wasn't until a few weeks ago that I gave the new DSLR cameras another look and boy am I glad I did! It's amazing how much can change in the span of 10 years! I couldn't believe my eyes, they had finally convinced me that DSLR cameras are as good (if not fabulously better) than my old 35mm film equipment. But I digress...

Having a few days to learn the camera, I quickly realized how symbiotic photography and my electronics really could be! It didn't take me very long to whip up a new circuit to emulate the IR remote that Nikon sales and setup some nice time lapse photography with my Arduino telling my camera to snap a photo every 60 seconds! I was giddy with excitement and after 1/2 hour with my best friend Google, I realized this could go way further. The type of pictures that I could capture with my knowledge of electronics and photography seemed limitless. The articles I had read showed some serious setups which used an Arduino as an intelligent camera trigger for sub-second action shots!

Oh yes, I think I'm going to enjoy (taking pictures of the new baby) this new camera!

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