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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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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Color Fire Hero Preview

Posted in Projects by Bill
20 Jan 2011

The following is a teaser for my current project inspired by Chris Marion’s Fire Hero. It will be controlled via an Arduino running my PS2 Controller Library much like Chris did, but my approach for the color flaming is radically different. This was the very first flame test to verify proof of concept, but it still needs fine tuning; as you will see in the video.

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LED Lighthouse Keeper; DIY Christmas Gift with DIY Retail Packaging

Posted in Projects, Software Libraries, Tutorials by Bill
21 Dec 2010

Nothing means more to someone then a gift that took more time to make than money to buy. This is an example of such a gift. Set your way-back-when machines to 2002. Getting ready to finish high school, I had built up some hacker level of electronic knowledge. My parents; both nautical people; have a large lighthouse fountain in their backyard. My mother’s only wish for Christmas that year was for me to build something that would illuminate the lighthouse as if it were a functioning beacon. I obliged, with a circuit consisting of a 555 timer and a 4017 decade counter.  It resulted in a simple device that did the job.

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Not So Tiny Power Meter

Posted in Projects, Software Libraries, Tutorials by Bill
19 Dec 2010

The Kill A Watt is an awesome product; it measures volts, amps and power factor of an individual appliance which can be used to calculate power, cost to run, etc. It’s also quite hackable. But I wanted something that would give me the same data for my whole apartment. After some Googling, the best I could find was this project from picobay, but I didn’t want to invest in an expensive network IO platform. There were also some off-the-shelf solutions, but they too were expensive and limited. Well, time to design my own solution then.

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LED Lab Coat 3.0

Posted in Projects by Bill
28 Oct 2010

It’s the time again and I bring you an update to my ever aging ‘Mad Scientist’ Halloween costume. What started out as a college budget built led labcoat with just a clock and 4017 decade counter has evolved to include now two Arduino micro controllers. One runs the individual LED rows you see running random patterns. The second runs the scrolling marquee hanging off my chest. Everything is run off a 14.4V Li-Ion battery pack that I custom built.  Even the LED Marquee is custom built.

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ShiftTrix, An Arduino Powered Marquee. Design Log

Posted in Projects by Bill
6 Sep 2010

I’ve set out designing what I’d like to call ShiftTrix, a Arduino powered Marquee. The idea is this, low cost LED matrix driver boards that are easy to work with at (hopefully) around $10 a board including the LED matrix itself.  A similar serial driven LED matrix can go for $35 per 8×8 matrix. That can add up fast if you want to chain more then one together for a large display. Instead, my design is 1/3 the price, and can easily be chained together to create larger displays.

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SAGAR Update, New Motor Controller and Motors

Posted in Projects by Bill
7 Aug 2010

Hey Guys,

It’s been a while since I posted an update on SAGAR, but here’s the latest.

I wanted her to go faster. My original motors would only do about 1.2 m/s tops. Well, with a little help from a friend, I found new motors that would bring up the top speed to well over 3 m/s. However, they require more current to reach that speed, more then my original controller could handle. So it had to be replaced.

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SAGAR System Overview, Part 1

Posted in Projects, Tutorials by Bill
20 Apr 2010

My SAGAR project has gotten to a point where I would like to document the system design through a series of detailed posts.

First I’ll show the new interface, and talk about how it communicates with SAGAR.

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SAGAR Update!! Mission Mode with LabView Panel

Posted in Projects by Bill
13 Apr 2010

In a joint effort between my girlfriend and I, SAGAR now has a super fancy LabView based graphical user interface. The video below is a screen capture of the interface as SAGAR runs a mission taking it around a parking lot. All communications are in the form of NMEA sentences. The DIYdrones ground station gave us a few ideas of what we wanted to do.

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