Tuesday, December 10, 2013

electric imp-Controlled 120VAC Relay Switcher

     I bought an electric imp about a year and a half ago when they were released. I loved it's simplicity and made a few temporary projects involving it but wanted to keep it for something more advanced. After all this time, I decided it's better just to use it for anything rather than leave it just sitting in a box in my room, so I've made an internet-controlled 120VAC relay switcher for it and an "app" for my iPhone to switch it remotely. I'm sure there are other ways of accomplishing this project, but I was able to build the whole thing using parts I already had on hand. This blog post will be a high-level overview of what I did to make it.

Update: I've updated the software as shown in this blog post.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Past Few Months

     I noticed I haven't posted anything for four months. Now that I have a job doing electrical engineering, I don't have the same urge to tinker on the nights and weekends. I've still being doing some small things every once and a while, but since I haven't finished any of it yet, I haven't posted anything about them yet.

     I got some new development boards that I've played with. I got two different watches from Texas Instruments. One is Bluetooth (and doesn't seem compatible with any phones made in the last few years) and the other has a 915 MHz radio that I wanted to connect with my home security system (but it has a proprietary wireless stack and I don't want to rewrite it to use with my system. Also, I had to take my security system down after a thunderstorm hit my apartment and destroyed the power system for it.) I also got a TI BLE Sensortag which seems pretty neat, but I need an Apple computer to mess with the iPhone app, so I haven't used it for much of anything. I bought some ATTiny13 chips to work with those programmable LED Christmas lights. I was having a problem using my cheapo programmer to set the clock frequency right, so I stopped working on that. I received my 2 Borderless Electronics Arduino clones. I haven't done anything with it yet but I'm keeping one of them in my car in case a situation comes up where I need to hack something. The creator of the project just launched a part 2 for that project which I decided to back because of how quick and professionally he dealt with the first one. His fundraiser was the best experience I've ever had with a crowd-funding website.

     Last week, I went to a design workshop for work and got to play with a Avnet Wi-Go module so I could use that for an internet-controlled project in the future. I also won one of the new MSP430 Launchpads with the USB HID interface but I have no idea what kind of project I would use that for. The last thing I've been working on is an internet-controlled AC switch that uses the electric imp for it's brains. I need a MOSFET with a Vgs of 3.3V to finish the electronics of the project. I can't believe I have so many electronic parts but can't find a suitable MOSFET. After that, I'll create a 3D-printed case and it should be done. It's pretty simple overall, but I'll still try and write up a blog post on it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Adjustable RGB LED Color Cube

     I took a sculpture class during my last semester at Penn State so I could meet the required number of credits to graduate. One of the last projects in that class was to create an interactive art installation. I went through a few ideas in my head and doodled them in the Paper app for iPad. You can view the PDF of my ideas here. After I had a good idea of what my design would be, I ordered the parts I did not have on hand from Amazon and eBay. I ordered an Arduino Mega clone, the SainSmart MEGA 2560 Board for Arduino, some Common Cathode RGB LEDs, and some slide potentiometers. I also made a trip to the local hardware store for materials for the overall structure. Before the break is a video explaining the operation of the final project. After the break, I’ll explain how I created the three main pieces to this project - the electronics, the code on the Arduino that controls everything, and the casing for both the base and the controller.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Programming Arduino Bootloader on ATmega328p with ZeptoProg II

     I love creating electronics projects in the most cost effective way. If you're going to use an Arduino in a project, you could embed the whole $30 board, or just the $3 IC chip. Unfortunately, after using just the chip, a brand new ATmega from electronics resellers won't work with the Arduino right off the bat. You have to program the bootloader onto the chip for it to work properly. This blog post will show you how to program the bootloader using a great $20 electronics multitool, the ZeptoProg II, in a few easy steps.

Arduino Diecimila and ZeptoProg II 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Closet Door Lightswitch

     There is a closet in the hallway of my house that is affectionately known as "The Only Hallway Closet". It stores my family's jackets, shoes, blankets, and batteries. The problem with this closet is that it doesn't have a light. Sure, we've tried those stick-on lights that they sell in infomercials, but they don't work that well and it's very easy to forget to turn them off. My dad bought a ceiling light for the closet, but it was never installed. I decided it was about time there was a permanent light source in that closet and I wanted to do it in style. I designed some sensors that detect when the door is opened and closed and will accordingly turn the closet light on and off. This blog post details everything about creating this project, including the electronics and installation.

No lightswitch required

Video overview

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why I've Been Gone

     I just finished my next-to-last semester at Penn State, and boy, was it a busy one. I took 5 courses spread over electrical engineering, computer engineering, and computer science, plus a physical education course. Academically, I did very well, but it didn't leave me any time for hobby projects. I only turned my 3D printer on once, and didn't even have enough time to finish a print. The only thing I have completed is a makeshift 3D-printed case for my MSP430 Reaction Game. I call it makeshift because I had some rough parts printed out before but heavily modified them with a drill and knife. Also, I had to use a different potentiometer and buttons with this case setup. I'd really like to make a case that can keep the stock parts. I made this case the night before a job interview because it seemed the company would be more impressed with the addition of the case.

     Over the past month or so I got a bunch of new gadgets. On Black Friday, I got an iPad mini. I really like it and can see how it'll be convenient when I'm tinkering because I can keep the small device on my cluttered desk to reference things on compared to a huge laptop that takes up space. Plus the voice dictation makes it practically hand-free when I need to look something up with my hands full of tools. A few days ago I was able to update from my iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5 and the speed increase is very impressive.I don't think the taller screen is revolutionary, but Siri is very useful and I use it a few times every day. I also installed Windows 8 on my laptop's second drive so I can dual boot into it whenever I want (which will be never). I was able to get it for cheap as a Penn State employee, so I took a shot at it. I only booted it once after the quick and painless install, but I hate just about everything about it. It seems so counterproductive. It might be OK as a "second-screen" device like an iPad, but I can't see how it would replace the old Windows desktop. Last, but not least, I got a new Weller soldering iron for Christmas from my girlfriend. It's about time I get a replacement for the second-hand iron I started out with.

     I'm hoping this semester will leave me some extra time for my own projects. I'm taking fewer classes and one of them is my senior design course, so it's guaranteed that I'll be working on something. I am unsure if I will be able to post anything long or in-depth on this blog, but I'd like to post some snippets of my work on my Google+.