YES! Two miles down the road and into a very perfect place. The building is a three bay garage with a 600 sq. foot living space built in. One bay is taken up by the second bedroom that was added by the current residents and the other two bays are wide open to set up shop in! I’ve been wanting a place with a real secure garage for years and I finally found it! The garage is also insulated and connected to the central air so I won’t freeze or roast while working in it. I plan on setting up several benches in one bay and leaving the other one open to park my car in, or to work on there large projects. I think I’ll start doing some repairs there as well.. electronics, appliances, small engines maybe a car or two.
As an added bonus, it’s secluded and in the country so I can make all the noise I want working on projects. There are two ponds nearby as well so I get to do some fishing within walking distance this summer. The Dogs will have a huge fenced in back yard to romp in and the Cats have a nice grove of trees to hunt in well away from any busy roadways.
I’ll be moving in April 2 – 3 and I’ll post up some pictures then.
In other news, I finally got on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=110817931&locale=en_US&trk=tab_pro
… and Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/MakerDino
A quick mention about the 555 Contest. All three of my entries have made into round two of the judging! Winners will be announced next month.
More news after the move.
I’ve set up a video stream via USTREAM so people can watch what’s going on at the the DinoFab work bench. I was watching another stream Thursday evening of a girl building a robot and thought it might be fun to have my own video stream. So check it out and see if I’m on!
I’ve submitted two projects for the 555 Contest. The fuel injector tester and another one called the Light Controlled Screamer.
I might add one more…. cos I’m a freak like that.
I found out about a cool hackerspace up in Raleigh the other day called Splatspace. I went there Friday night for their monthly Lightning Talks where I gave a talk titled “You bought it, pwn it and open it”.
I hear a 555 timer calling my name…. maybe I WILL submit one more project in the 555 Contest.
I’ve finished putting all the parts together and stuffing it into a nice little enclosure. It did present a few challenges however.
It seems I made and error on my PCB. One little trace was causing a problem. It fried a 555 chip. So, I fixed the trace then made a 32 mile round trip to Radio Shack to buy the last two 555s they had so I could finish up the board. I got home with my little chips and went back to work but in the process I fried another chip because I plugged it into a socket that had power applied to it. OOPS! Live and learn to TURN THE DAMN POWER OFF WHEN WORKING ON A CIRCUIT!!
So after all that I got everything soldered up including the switches and LEDs. It tested out OK so I drilled the holes for LEDs and switches in the cover then mounted those things up and installed the lid.
I put a Molex style connector on the output wires which allows different fuel injector connectors to be plugged into it. You can also just tap into the wires and use them that way.
Tomorrow I’ll connect it up to my Honda along with a fuel pressure gauge and run a real “on car” test while shooting a video. Once the video is done I’ll upload it and the whole project with pictures and videos will be my entry in the 555 contest.
Feels good to have it finished. I like this part of a project. It started out as a thought, then went to a write up in my journal, then a schematic, then a breadboarded circuit followed by a prototype build. After a little feedback from some other folks it got a few revisions then a final build and now it’s done and it works!
Making things yourself brings about a great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. I love it.
I’ve been working on a circuit revision of my 555 based fuel injector tester. I’ve added a few things to the circuit to make it a little more versatile. Now there’s a switchable output duration of either 1 or 5 seconds and a switch that allows continuous output if the trigger is held closed. I’ve also fabricated a new PCB and spent a bit of time last evening soldering up the components to the board.
This weekend I’ll add the switches and LEDs then install into a new enclosure with some better test leads and it will be ready for use.
I’m entering this in the upcoming 555 contest in the “utility” category where I think it will be well received.
After seeing my fuel injector tester video, a viewer named Duncan heard me say, twice in fact, that I wanted to acquire an oscilloscope for my electronics work. Well it just so happened that he had a Tektronix 7633 hanging around that he no longer needed. Duncan sent me an email offering to give the scope if I would agree to pay for the shipping. Of course I said yes! How awesome! A free Oscilloscope!!!
So within a few weeks he got it all boxed up and shipped via Fedex. It arrived yesterday…
It seemed to be in one piece so I plugged it in and turned it on. I could hear the cooling fan and the reticule light came on but it made a strange arcing sound inside and the beam trace never came on the CRT. After several minutes I turned it off fearing the worst. I took into my lab and set on the bench to open it up and investigate. As I was removing the side panels a small piece of glass fell on the bench. Not good. Once the panels were removed, what I saw made me want to cry like a whimpering geek…
Sure enough, the thing had been dropped and the CRT was broken! Disappointment soon turned to anger towards Fedex and their lousy handling of a package marked “super sensitive electronic equipment”. It’s obvious by looking at the back corners of the box that it had been dropped and or handled in a rough manner more than once.
Back to the surgery… after removing a few more panels and screws, I was able to extract what was left of the poor CRT…
Sad… very sad
So FedEx gets a big THUMBS DOWN! Shame on you!
Duncan gets a big shout out for being a very cool, generous man. Thanks Duncan!
No not Polychlorinated biphenyl, that stuff is nasty! I’m talking about printed circuit boards. They’re in nearly every electronic device out there. They hold all the bits that make a circuit work and they have lots of copper traces that serve as conductors between the various components. It’s quite a process to manufacture them on a large scale. Lots of steps with lots of chemicals. When building your own circuits it’s possible to put the components on a perf-board and just solder jumper wires in the place of circuit traces, but this usually takes up more room and it can get a bit cluttered.
Enter the DIY PCB. Lots of do it yourselfers are making their own PCBs right at home. They’re are several techniques available but the one I’ll focus on here is the laser printer image transfer technique. Laser printers use a powder made of very small plastic particles. These particles are transfered to the paper and then fused or melted in place when they get passed over a heated roller. By printing the image of a circuit board trace layout onto glossy photo paper it can then be transferred onto a copper PCB blank using a common household clothes iron. They are quite a few videos on the internet that demonstrate this technique. After watching several I tried my hand at making one and it worked!
I decided to make my own project video to demonstrate how it’s done so I set up the camera and spent a day doing just that.
Funny things happen in video production. You get focused on making the video being sure to cover every step of the process and show off your success at the end as you encourage other to give it a try. BUT, behind the scenes mistakes can happen. That’s OK though, it’s how we learn things…
It turns out that I mistakenly printed a “mirror image” of my PCB layout. I created the layout using a free program call Express PCB. The layout window shows your work as if you were looking down onto the board from the top. Imagine that it’s transparent and you can see through it. You can view the top or bottom layer of copper as you work on your layout. When you print it out, it prints exactly what you see. So It’s ALREADY flopped over! Yes that’s right. That nice looking PCB at the end of the video, the one I spent an hour or so soldering all the components onto, IT WAS WRONG! I realized this when I had installed everything and I was ready to insert the 555 chips into the 8 pin DIP sockets. OOPS! Pin 8 was now where pin 1 should have been. I sighed, unplugged the soldering iron and walked away from the work bench. After a bit of chill out time I realized where I went wrong.
The next day I gave it another go with the correct layout and I now have a proper board to solder the components onto.
I love the process of learning and creating. It’s not perfect, and therein lies the beauty and the promise of knowledge gained. Don’t ever be discouraged by your mistakes. There’s an opportunity to learn in each and every one.
I have a new job at a garage as an auto tech which I’m enjoying and I’m getting back to the ol’ tech bench on some projects. I’m currently working on a fuel injector tester that uses two 555 timer chips and a few other goodies. It outputs a series of pulses to energize an injector to check its function. This is the analog version, but I also plan on building a digital version with a micro controller. It will have two pots to adjust duration and pulse width and an LCD display to show the current settings.
In other cool news, there’s going to be another Maker Faire here in North Carolina June 18th in Raleigh! I’ve already been accepted as a participant with my All Terrain Roverbot made from Roomba parts. I’m really looking forward to meeting some like minded people and showing off my stuff. Should be lots of fun! I hope there’s a good turnout.
Still getting used to living where there’s four seasons with one called “winter” as in COLD! We’ve had snow twice so far and it makes me chuckle to see how folks deal with it here. Four inches of the stuff and everyone freaks out and stays home! I grew up where it took four FEET to bring about any sort of inconvenience. Heating bills are pretty crazy. Last month I spent over $150 to stay warm!!! Where’s my wood stove and a few cords of wood? Eh… warm is good, what ever the cost.
For now, I like it here. I have the first REAL job I’ve had in over two years with a steady reliable income and things are looking up. We’ll see what the future holds after some exposure in June at MakerFaire NC.
I logged a little over 700 miles and along the way stopped in to see an old friend in Memphis. We hadn’t seen each other in 32 years! He’s a high school friend and it was good to visit.
The day went well without any mishaps. The trailer is performing quite well. It tracks straight and true and handles the bumpy parts of I-40 well enough. Some sections of it in Oklahoma and Arkansas are pretty rough! It’s old cement and it’s falling apart. Think of how many trillions of wheels have passed over it! They’re rebuilding quite a bit of it in those states.
Today I plan on reaching my destination of Angier North Carolina. I have about 9 – 10 hours of driving ahead so I best get on the road.
A few pics from this morning and yesterday.
Cooking this mornings breakfast
Sophie takes a break
Fritz samples the air with his nose
Sophie and Seamus dreaming of cookies
Welcome to Arky Sauce!
The mighty Mississippi as it passes through Memphis
I got a good nights rest last night. Figaro cat woke me up several times though with his pleas to go outside to pee. I’d wake up, put him in his litter box and then he’d do his thing. He can be very persistent!
I took apart my Canon digital camera last evening, well, as best I could while working on a picnic table around twilight. Damn those things are tricky to take apart! Anyway, I couldn’t get in deep enough to find the problem. It’s like the whole lens assembly is out of sync and it’s jamming the drive motors up, then it goes into “lens error” mode. When this happens, the camera wants to shut down. So if I try to download the pics I took yesterday, it wants to park the lens at neutral but it can’t so it shuts down and I can’t download!! Frustrating! Makes me miss a straight up point and shoot camera. BUT, I do still have my Blackberry and the camera it has on board. Not the highest resolution but a camera to record events none the less.
Here’s a few Blackberry pics from yesterday for you to gawk at. Time for me to pack up now and get on with day three!
New Mexico/Texas border
Leaving Amarillo behind
Oklahoma City was my original destination for the day