DIY Ambient Sounds at the Museum

Posted in Education Outreach, Projects by Bill
10 Jan 2012

In my little town known for Spring Break, there is a little museum called the Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida. I grew up in museums and love teaching kids science, so of course I am on a first name basis with everyone at the Center. In fact I have started volunteering to make improvements and repair exhibits. They don’t have a big budget, in fact they only have 2-3 full time staff so any improvements or repairs has to be done on the cheap. This is how I added some much needed ambiance to two of the exhibit rooms without breaking the bank. I’ve documented what I did here so other non-profit museums can replicate the design.

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Hacking My Car’s Headlights

Posted in Projects by Bill
10 Jan 2012

I have two loves. The first is my geeky fiancée, the second is my 2004 Volkswagon Passat TDI. Recently the headlights on my Passat have been yellowing and physically breaking down and it was time for new ones. Instead of buying OEM parts, I decided to pay a little more for an aftermarket brand (Spyder) with fancy LED ‘eyelids’ and HID low-beams that I added. I can’t resist things with pretty LEDs on them. But when I installed them I discovered they didn’t quite work they way I wanted…

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Ana’s Perimeter Defense System; Configuring Xbees for Remote IO Reading

Posted in Projects, Tutorials by Bill
15 Dec 2011

A coworker of mine is soon retiring and moving to South Florida. Her new house has a screened in front porch and side gates for back yard access. The gates can’t be kept locked as the meter readers need access and her front porch is open. She came to me wanting to build a system that would alert her to anyone walking onto her porch or past her side gates and I was more then happy to help. In the process I figured out how to configure Xbees to use API mode and act like remote I/O modules, and have a tutorial to show you how to do it as well.

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How I Asked Mara to Marry Me or The Best PCB Design Ever

Posted in Wedding by Bill
3 Sep 2011

This is the story about an electronics geek and how he proposed to the girl of his dreams; who also happens to be a geek. I try to keep my blog about projects and not about my personal life, but in this case I’ll make an exception. This is pretty big after-all.

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My Eagle PCB Library

Posted in Eagle Parts, Software Libraries by Bill
13 Aug 2011

Like most real engineers and at-home hackers, I find myself in situations where no existing Eagle Library has the part I need, so I have to design an Eagle Part for the device. My library is starting to grow, so I figure it’s time to post it for anyone else that needs it. Most parts are tested, the few that aren’t say so in the description. Please drop me a note if a part is wrong or if the library came in handy for you.

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How to Add Multiple Serial Connections to your Custom Arduino Board or What Those 1k Resistors Do

Posted in Tutorials by Bill
26 Jun 2011

A friend of mine is working on his own custom Arduino powered LCD backpack and asked me to look at his design.  I noticed it had a header for the all to familiar FTDI board to program the Arduino and a separate header for power and data connection. Both headers had the ATMega’s UART pins broken out. The problem with this design is it then requires the user to disconnect whatever they have connected to the second set of UART pins whenever they want to attach the FTDI board to upload a new sketch. With a few more passive parts, he could eliminate that need. This is a quick tutorial for beginners looking to roll their own Ardunio boards and may have missed this very easy and time saving design trick.

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Tesla Hero, An Awesome Million Volt Guitar

Posted in Education Outreach, Projects by Bill
4 Jun 2011
TeslaHero, an Awesome Million Volt Guitar

Who needs an amplifier when you’ve got a million volts to work with?

Introducing Tesla Hero, an RGB LED adorned Guitar Hero Controller interfaced with a Dual Resonant Solid State Tesla Coil (DRSSTC).  That’s right, Guitar Hero on a Tesla Coil. It was only a matter of time.

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EasyTransfer Arduino Library

Posted in Arduino Libraries by Bill
30 May 2011

The purpose of this library is to make it easy for the everyday Arduino user working on projects with multiple Arduinos communicating with each other and sharing data. I had many people ask me for the code I used in my PS2X library example that sent PS2 Controller values wirelessly to my SAGAR robot. It got to be tiresome answering the questions and I had an idea to write a library to help the inexperienced with micro controller communications. This is a easy to use and no frills way to send data between two Arduinos.

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Arduino Playstation 2 Controller Library Troubleshooting Guide

Posted in Arduino Libraries by Bill
27 Mar 2011

Ok, if you are here, you are having trouble getting your Arduino talking to your PlayStation 2 Controller via my Handy Dandy PS2X Library. Well, never fear, I stand by my leet coding abilities (Ha! who am I kidding? Really though, the library works, there’s tons of examples using it.) and I’m here to help. The problem is there’s not much I can really do unless you live near North Florida and want to come pay me a visit. It’s hard giving help over the internet! But maybe I can guide you in the right direction with this troubleshooting guide.

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‘Science Brothers’ Premiere Show!

Posted in Education Outreach by Bill
2 Mar 2011

Last night was the first live show by the ‘Science Brothers’ starring yours truly! The show was part of an event called the ‘STEM Community Forum’ at FSU Panama City. There were multiple sources filming the show and taking pictures, so check back for more media. Until then, a quick clip from the local news covering the event:

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