Author Archive

Halloween Maker Projetct – Lego Minifig Mk. 2

by on Oct.31, 2013, under Arduino Projects, Crafts, Electronics

LegoMk2

This is my LEGO Minifig Head Mk. 2

The original head was starting to get beat up pretty good, so I built a new one. As they are made out of solid Styrofoam, they get pretty warm, so I have a fan system to keep me cool. In the previous version, the fans were activated by a switch in my left LEGO hand and run by a battery pack in my pants pocket. While this worked, it was a chore to get in and out of, and I would usually require assistance getting the wires run and connected.

When I started building Mk. 2, I decided to try to eliminate that issue. I have taken an Arduino Uno and an Arduino Mega 2560 and connected them via two Nordic NRF24L01+ boards. The Uno has 3 switches and is run by a 9V battery. I am currently only using one, the other two are for future plans. When the pin connected to the fan switch goes high, it sends a code (the number 11 in this case) wirelessly to the receiving unit on the Mega. When the Mega receives that code, it closes a relay and starts the fans.

I used Maniacbug’s RF24 Library available on Github – https://github.com/maniacbug/RF24. I found the examples included with the library kind of hard to understand (I’m not a programmer), but I found this example – www.bajdi.com/rf24-library-revisited – and I got my project up and running.

The sketches I used (note, I had a lot of serial.print statements for debugging and I’ve commented most of those out):

For the sending unit:

#include <SPI.h>
#include “nRF24L01.h”
#include “RF24.h”
int msg[1];
RF24 radio(9,10); //define the CE and CSN Pins
const uint64_t pipe = 0xE8E8F0F0E1LL; //Send and receiving units addresses must match
int SW1 = 5;

void setup(void){
Serial.begin(9600);
radio.begin(); // set up the radio
radio.openWritingPipe(pipe);} // Open the radio for sending

void loop(void){
if (digitalRead(SW1) == HIGH){
msg[0] = 11; // Code that is sent to the receiving unit
radio.write(msg, 1); // send code if Pin defined above is HIGH
//  Serial.println(“Switch high”);}}

And for the receiving unit:

#include <SPI.h>
#include “nRF24L01.h”
#include “RF24.h”
int msg[1];
RF24 radio(48,53); //define the CE and CSN Pins
const uint64_t pipe = 0xE8E8F0F0E1LL; //Send and receiving units addresses must match
int relay = 7;

void setup(void){
Serial.begin(9600);
radio.begin();
radio.openReadingPipe(1,pipe);
radio.startListening(); // Open radio in receive mode and start listening
pinMode(relay, OUTPUT);} // Set relay pin to OUTPUT

void loop(void){
if (radio.available()){
// Serial.println(“Radio Available”);
bool done = false;
while (!done){
done = radio.read(msg, 1); // poll Radio
// Serial.println(msg[0]);
if (msg[0] == 11){ // if Radio receives ’11′ from sending unit, set relay pin high
delay(10);
digitalWrite(relay, HIGH);
// Serial.println(“Pin 22 High”);
}
else {
digitalWrite(relay, LOW);
// Serial.println(“Pin 22 Low”);
}
delay(10);}}
else{Serial.println(“No radio available”);}}

Here’s a short video of the system working:

The next plan is to wire a couple of other gadgets to the Mega and I have a relay board I will be using to control them.

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Vegetable Garden Project – Getting Started

by on May.09, 2012, under Projects

My wife and I will shortly be moving into a new house. This house has nice side section on the side that is fenced off and I think will make a good vegetable garden, so I figured I’d keep a project log.
There are a couple of facts I need to make the reader aware of
1) Here is how this area looks now:

As you can see, it has been pretty neglected and left to run to seed.
2) The closest I have ever been to growing things has involved an animal-shaped pottery and some slimy seeds (http://www.chiapet.com/index.php/original-chia-pet). Since when it comes to growing things I am a complete dummy, it should come as no surprise that I will be using this book:

To guide me along.
My ultimate goal when finished is to have a garden of different types of vegetables (and maybe some fruit here and there) to supplement our groceries, help us eat healthier and make things more convenient than having to run to the store all the time for different items.
The first step (and most likely the hardest) is clearing out this area. Complicating things is that there is no telling what is hidden in the overgrowth, so until I clear the space out I will list the “treasure” I find each day.

DAY 1
TOOLS:
1 Gardening hoe (no jokes!)
1 Garden Fork
Based on the images above, I made the assumption that everything was dirt from the shed to the far fence. However, once I started, this is what I found instead:

Bricks and paving stones!

Bricks and paving stones!

It might be hard to see above, but click the image to see the large size – there are bricks and paving stones covering much that area. So, I will need to pull most of these up before I start planting. I will probably leave a small area for a path and place to put a small table and chair under the awning.
Even with the little surprise, I was able to accomplish what I planned for today – I cleared as much of the overgrowth from the fenced in section as I could and enough on the other side to allow both gates to open and close freely.
GOAL: Clear out fenced in section of overgrowth
Status: Mostly Complete, with a surprise!
Treasure: A 5ft long post hole digger(handles intact and metal in excellent shape), bricks/paving stones, a decomposing Croc, and some empty aluminum cans, vintage indeterminate
OTHER THOUGHTS: I should have brought a large blade straight edged and a curved edge shovel and a couple of shears/loppers of various sizes. Those will be included next time as I go to work on the saplings and brush that has sprung up in and around this section of the garden.

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What is Twitter? Free class, learn how to use twitter.com

by on Jul.07, 2011, under Events, Meetings, Presentations, Workshops

twitterWhat is Twitter? Are tweets, tags, and other Twitter text causing you confusion? The Midsouth Makers will be hosting an “Introduction to Twitter” class on Friday, July 15th from 7:30pm until 8:30pm to guide you through the twists and turns of Twitter! Learn the basics with us in this fun and free class taught by an actual human being! We’ll be hosting the class at Republic Coffee (2924 Walnut Grove Rd) in their large conference room in the back. Sign-up for this class at the following link: http://www.midsouthmakers.org/events/ (though you are always welcome to show-up on Friday even if you haven’t signed up!).  Feel free to email us any questions, comments, or critiques at info@midsouthmakers.org.  #seeyouthere!

Topics to be covered include:

  • What is Twitter?
  • Creating an account
  • Twitter vocabulary
  • Best Twitter practices
  • and more!

So if you – or someone you know – would like more information on Twitter, sign up on our Events page, then come see us on July 15th!  And remember, there is no charge for this class.

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Set your DVR’s – a Maker on TV (sorta)!

by on Mar.10, 2010, under Events, News

Just as an FYI…I will be appearing on the Fox 13 Morning Show sometime during the 8am hour and on the ABC24 11am news promoting MidSouthCon.  Just look for the silent guy with the big yellow head :).

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Current Project – Cigar Box Guitar

by on Feb.17, 2010, under Projects

Cigar Box Guitar components

Cigar Box Guitar components

My current project was inspired by an article in the current issue (21) of Make Magazine – a Cigar box guitar.  My project log for this is up on the wiki.

EDIT: The project is complete and the log updated!  Everyone who was at the 2/12 meeting got to see (and hear) it in person.

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Random Quote

Events in the past may be roughly divided into those which probably never happened and those which do not matter. — William Ralph Inge