Sunday, February 7, 2010

New home!

So you may have heard the recent news that Blogger will stop supporting FTP publishing in March. This makes me rather distraught because I use that publishing method for this site, so it can peacefully co-exist along side my photo gallery and other such things while remaining simple. Unfortunately none of their proposed solutions will allow me to operate the site how I want.

Also, I've been meaning to make many large changes to the site, such as:
  • Dedicated Project Page - so that readers can see project specific posts and details without hunting through the archives.
  • Dedicated Resume/About Me page - so that prospective employers can easily access all the information they'd like about me and my work.
  • Better Photo Gallery Setup - I love sharing photos, but right now my current Photo Gallery is not working well....
  • A more professional name/appearance - as much as I love The Matt Cave, given my foray in to the working world this May when I graduate, I need a more professional web presence that will be easy to read/navigate for those employers. This means a nicer color scheme as well!
Because of these desires as well as dissatisfaction with my current hosting, I've gone ahead and registered and imported this whole blog in to a WordPress installation at that location. It will take me a while to migrate all the links and such, and likely many of them will not work once this site goes offline. Unfortunately it just isn't worth the effort of the undertaking, because of the difficulty in converting from Blogger's static file layout to the PHP/SQL indexing WordPress uses. Once the migrating is as done as can reasonably be, I will be taking this site offline, but I will retain ownership of the address which will redirect to my new site. Thanks to my loyal readers, and please see the new blog to update any RSS feeds and bookmarks!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

LED Madness, Audio Mixer and more!

Received my SparkFun order today, amongst the contents were the things I was seeking most, several 10k breadboard compatible potentiometers, three dual op-amps (LM358), three super bright 10mm LEDs (One red, green and blue) as well as a few other toys. The two biggest deals are the opamps and the potentiometers, while not strictly the right equipment, they're close enough that I can test my mixer I showed earlier and see if the design works for 2 and hopefully 4 channels. If it does I do intend to order a PCB as well as the OPA2134 and audio taper slide pots in place of my linear taper rotary pots. Also, I am going to see about controlling the brightness of the Red, Green and Blue Super LEDs of Doom to make some kind of USB powered controllable lighting array for.... fun?

Mark McCurry stopped by to collect his part of the order and we soldered up our audio breakout boards, and put one of the pots to work as a brightness control while we played with the super bright LEDs. They were listed with a forward drop of 3.4V for the Green and Blue and 2.3V for the Red. I carefully connected the LEDs inline with a multimeter (visible in the attached photos and video) and made sure the voltage being delivered only corresponded to the sum of the drop voltages as I tried the LEDs in series, even so I probably should have had more resistance in place than the pot to limit current, but I was having too much fun to care :P. Don't be like me, protect your LEDs.

As usual (ok not really the usual since I never did this much before but I'm trying to now) you can find the photos in my Photo Gallery, links to the direct albums provided below!

Til next time,

LED Photo Link
Mixer Photo Link

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I really dislike Perfboard

I was building a project using Perfboard today. I hate using perfboard, mostly because I'm bad at it and it always comes out looking like crap. So I'm using it specifically to get better at it because it's much cheaper than a PCB, and easier to fix, and generally faster (though not currently because I'm so bad at I keep having to stop, back up and re-plan, so it's taking a while.). Anyways, I thought everyone might like to look at my board and tell me if they think it's actually not horrendously ugly. When its done I'll post more photos and a description of what it is and what it does!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mark's first AVR Project!

videoI recently turned fellow Ham Radio Operator and Clarkson student Mark McCurry over to AVRs and today I helped him build his first LED project. Once he had the obligatory blinking LED 'Hello World!' style project and running we added some pizzazz in the form of variable delay and a second LED fading with PWM. Video attached!

Friday, January 15, 2010

2 new projects!

One of the biggest problems with college is between the time and money commitments, it leaves very little of either for projects, which is why most of what I post here is design and simulation. I spent the money on parts to build one of my projects and then my soldering iron broke.... so currently that's got everything on hold, irritatingly enough. I do however have some new designs for you guys, and maybe soon one of them will be more of a reality!

First up, in my ever present quest for a low cost, versatile, but small mixer I've designed yet another iteration.... this one is only a 2channel but it's proof of concept for the design. If it works additional channels are simply a matter of another jack, pot and summing resistor! By making it only 2 channel I can cram the PCB in to a smaller format (4" by 2.4") which saves me money on the PCB fab if and when it comes to that. Without further ado, the schematic:
And the board layout, sans grounding planes:
Next up is the CUClock project, for those that don't know I'm a licensed Ham Radio Operator (Callsign: KC2RGZ, General class) and I am a member of Clarkson's Amateur Radio Club K2CC. I like helping the club find projects to do and I've been looking to get one of my designs beyond a breadboard stage for a while. Most of my completed work is because it's school work and I have their backing, so I decided to try that again. In the atrium of the Clarkson Engineering building (Center for Advanced Materials Processing, or CAMP) used to be a nice LED graphic matrix display digital clock. However it drifted like an inner-tube in a hurricane, and nobody at the department office really knew how to set it, so it's been replaced by a clunky old analog clock that isn't even hung right.

A while ago I came across SparkFun's 12ft Clock Project and it inspired me to build my own giant clock using the LED Light Bars they used (and sell!). However money and time are as usual in short supply. But here is my stroke of genius. I modified my sketches and came up with a good preliminary design for a 5' clock (Yeah, not nearly as big, but still big!) in my schools colors, that could be set automatically using ham radio receiving gear to read the WWVB coded time signal! And the best part, if the school goes for it, they'll pay for the materials (I hope!) and the K2CC members will put in the labor to construct it! We get a legacy, they get an awesome clock, I get a project. Everyone wins!

Here's the preliminary CAD Sketch:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Scored me some cheesecake!

Oreo Cheesecake. My favorite!

ROAR!!! You are here

Day at the museum!