Lifelong Learning Knowledge should be uncompromisingly sought after and freely given away.

6Oct/090

Those pesky SMD parts always seem out of reach….

Aoyue Soldering Iron 2901So, I decided after ruining a few boards that I'd research soldering SMD parts to see how I could possibly be messing up these boards so badly. After all, it never crossed my mind that it would be this difficult to solder SMD chips...Once again (I know, I know, I praise these guys too much), I ran upon a series of tutorials on SMD soldering from those fantastic guys over at SparkFun.com. They provided invaluable information on exactly what I was doing wrong as well as how I could make my designs and my life much simpler my learning the fine art of SMD soldering. I bit the bullet and picked up a nice analog soldering iron, my radio shack special was not gonna cut it any longer. They sell a nice Aoyue 2901 for ~$79, more than other online sellers but I'm fine with giving them a few dollars more for supporting the communality as they do! I picked it up with some other essentials, like de-solder braid and tweezers...I should have the order Thursday and I can't wait to see how easily SMD soldering can be with the right knowledge and tools! I'm also adding the Aoyue 968 SMD rework system to my wish-list! At any rate, I'll be added those seemingly out of reach SMD discrete components to my designs going forward!

Filed under: Electronics No Comments
6Oct/090

Saving Power With an AVR

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!

AVR Power Saving Example
Title: FakeFireDriver1.2 (520 clicks)
Caption: AVR Power Saving Example
Filename: fakefiredriver1-2.zip
Size: 2 KB

AVR Power Saving Example
Title: FakeFireDriver1.2 (520 clicks)
Caption: AVR Power Saving Example
Filename: fakefiredriver1-2.zip
Size: 2 KB

Tagged as: No Comments
4Oct/090

So I begin my week of furlough…

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!

30Sep/090

ATTINY13A Automated Dog Stairs

ATTINY13A Motion Dectector Dog Stairs 

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!

ATTINY13A Dog Stairs

And here are the boards I got from BatchPCB.com the other day.

BatchPCB.com Boards

Images and AVR Code
Title: AVRDogStairsSmall (628 clicks)
Caption: Images and AVR Code
Filename: avrdogstairssmall.zip
Size: 220 KB

Images and AVR Code
Title: AVRDogStairsSmall (628 clicks)
Caption: Images and AVR Code
Filename: avrdogstairssmall.zip
Size: 220 KB

Tagged as: No Comments
21Sep/090

LED Fire For This Year’s Jack-O-Latern

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 toSimulated Fire With LEDs and ATTINY13A 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!

 

 

 

[youtube]OhWhZjwBKAQ[/youtube]

LED Fire
Title: LEDFire (755 clicks)
Caption: LED Fire
Filename: ledfire.zip
Size: 809 KB

LED Fire
Title: LEDFire (755 clicks)
Caption: LED Fire
Filename: ledfire.zip
Size: 809 KB

20Sep/090

IKEA is freaking awesome!

IKEA Store

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...

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments