Thursday, August 23, 2012

Little Bits Electronics Kit

So as all parents tend to do, I project the things that I wish that I had done onto my child and have been very excited about the prospect of teaching someone very young about electronics.

I previously had been interested in the Snap Circuits series[?] or here[?] of educational toys, but I'm sort of afraid that they are too limited (though very safe for little hands).  The Little Bits electronics kit looks more polished and will give a more compact finished product, but I'm concerned about the tiny pieces ending up in kids mouths.  Snap Circuits advertises as for ages 8 and up, where as Little Bits doesn't specifically have an age group.

Both of these options have some great opportunities to teach not only responsibility (with somewhat dangerous parts), but hopefully pique my child's interest in electronics.

Source: Techcrunch

Friday, December 02, 2011

Dual temperature Logger

Oh you poor neglected blog, I really should be paying better attention to you.  Here is a project I have started to work on that I believe belongs on this blog and not really in my homelife.  I have a friend that has a unfinished crawlspace that is easily accessible (read walk in height) that I've mused about placing a barrel for aging weird beers in.  The trouble is it is unregulated temperature, and I want to have an idea of the ranges I can expect from it before I lay my precious beer down there.

I purchased a TI Launchpad a while ago, for the purpose of having a cheap and available development board to play with.  These are great at $4.30+shipping you don't need to worry about ruining them and they have the USB host for programming them built in.  It is quite a nice dev-board for the price and I know Texas Instruments is just trying to buy market share here, but if it drives down the Arduino and Phrallax devboard prices I'm all for it.  I need an experiment and want some long tail results about the temperature inside the crawlspace vs the outdoor temperature to get a feel for how stable the temperature is.  My hope is that it stays above 40°F (his furnace and hot water tank are down there so it should be above freezing) and stays below 70°F in the summer.  Below 60°F would be really ideal, but for free you can only hope for so much.

My general plan was to get two temperature probes and tweet the temps a few times a day, hack-a-day posted this little project that has me thinking that I may use WUnderground for a destination to store the data.  I could I suppose roll my own CGI script to take a post datastream and keep it in a text file, or use a wireless accessory to get things really interesting.  This will probably have to be an ongoing post because I haven't decided how I want to proceed.  I can work on interfacing directly with the network using the Devboard and a Wifi module.  That route has some benefits and runs around $50 for the wifi module.  Another route is to use a bluetooth module and interface with an Android phone to do the heavy lifting for me.  I could just log the data to the phone on an SD card, and using No-IP access a webserver to just check on it from time to time.  The beauty of using the Android device is it has built in WiFi, storage a built-in battery backup and is really pretty compact.  A final option is to use the Open ADK and plug in via the usb port.  The drawback is it was designed for Arduino boards, so I'll be inventing the wheel here to make it work with the TI board.  I'm not opposed to buying something like the IOIO, given the costs fall pretty much in line with the cost of the WiFi module, I had just hoped to pull this off with the TI boards.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Liquid cooling minor case mod

I put together a PC for a Vista build about 3 years ago, and every summer since then I have had concerns about its ability to survive the heat of our basement. I had been considering a water cooling rig for my Quad-Phenom machine because it idles at about 40c during the winter months.

I didn't want to have to build and leak test a system myself so I settled on Corsair H50 All in One CPU Cooler as an alternative.  I thought this would be a good compromise to the noise/heat dissipation as well as the overall build and test problems of normal water cooling systems.  The theory was really there, but it all fell apart when I realized that I didn't have a 120mm rear exhaust fans.  The only option that I had was the Acrylic side of the case had an 80mm hole.  After a little research I found that a 4" holesaw is ≈ 102mm and decided I would give that a try.  If you have ever tried to cut a hole in acrylic you probably know what was wrong with this plan, despite having 4 clamps holding the acrylic down, everytime I lowered the drill press down to the material it caused it to jump a few millimeters before I could get the drill head released.  The surface area of the hole saw allowed too much grip.  Plan b was to drill the hole in some particle board and use a trim router to finish the hole.  The key to this is going slowly enough that you don't heat the bit up too much and start melting the acrylic.  All things considered, for 45minutes of work it was a pretty successful project and I managed to not ugly up the acrylic too badly.

Softmoding Xbox original

Some links for my own use

The softmod route

The modchip route

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TI Valueline dev board links

I ordered some of the Texas Instruments value line microprocessors today, like most geeks on the internet I saw them yesterday on Hackaday and was interested. Unfortunately so was everyone else and the servers where unable to take it. Relying on the short attention span of other geeks I waited until today and was able to successfully place my order. Below are some links for my own reference when the darn things show up.


Dev Wiki

MSP430 ValueLine product family page

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I am an Amazon Associate

So I took the plunge and am now an Amazon Associate.  In the interest of full disclosure, when I post a link to Amazon it will be with an affiliate link embedded.  This is advertising, plain and simple and I should you follow that link and make a purchase I receive compensation for those purchases.

Why am I disclosing this?  Well the answer is really kind of clear, the FTC decided that failure to disclose the incentives you receive for "word of mouth" marketing is an actionable offense.  My traffic is really low, but I don't want to find out how actionable it is.  

Friday, April 30, 2010

Rooting Android Sprint HTC Hero

Oh shiny toys!  I have seriously been jonesing for the Android 2.1 rom for Sprint's HTC Hero to drop, only to be disappointed a couple of times.  Up until now I had not considered rooting my phone, but some of the Lag issues and multi-tasking bog down was getting to me.

I read that Damagecontrol had dropped 2.1 for some of the older models so I went looking and found this androidpolice article about updating his phone.  I followed the links that where in his article and am no rocking the DamageControlv2.07.2 rom without a hitch thus far.

The first step is to root the phone follow the instructions they are very clear.

The next step is to backup, androidpolice article worked very well for my Hero.

Finally get the Rom you want to install, DamageControlv2.07.2 link from xda-develop forum, copy that zip folder onto the sd card of your Hero, fire up Clockwork again and choose to restore from the Rom you just copied to your sd card and about 15ish minutes later, you get to setup your phone just like its new. 

I would just link to the Androidpolice article and call it good, but the last step wasn't specifically written out anywhere, and I didn't know that the Rom needed to stay zipped to restore it.