Saturday, November 28, 2020

LED Mood Light

I built a funky mood light!

A little while back I wrote about a "crate" subscription service that I had tried out.  It was certainly a lot of fun putting together the ukulele that came with my first kit, but I found out that the neighborhood kids were also quite keen about them too, so I have ended up pretty much giving away a lot of my recent kits to them. I don't really mind - It's very refreshing to see kids tackling something that doesn't involve a screen. 😀

However, once I started getting the kits, I was starting to regularly see online ads for another kit from a company called Creation Crate. I really like how those Facebook algorithms know how I would be interested in these things... 

The particular spin with Creation Crate was that they were almost all electronic projects with a focus on teaching you electronics. 

This actually has a more direct appeal to me since the only formal training I had in electronics was with the course I took to get my amateur radio license - even then it was very much focused on theory.  So far all my hands-on learning with electronics has been at an experimental level. While I can make a few interesting gadgets, I don't really have a full understanding of how things work. The thought of being able to build something and learn why it works was certainly quite appealing. 

Of course, I ordered a crate and in a few weeks, my first project arrived - an LED Mood Light based on an Arduino. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Simple Public Safety Radio Scanner with the Raspberry Pi - Putting It All Together

Waiting for fire calls

In my last post, I designed and built a cabinet for my Raspberry Pi radio scanner. Now it is time to wrap this project up and install all the electronic bits into the cabinet. 

As a first step, I gathered up all the bits of the cabinet, Raspberry Pi, and other components and laid them out on top of my work table. 

The other components included the SDR dongle, the USB sound card but also included 3 short USB extension cables that I had picked up from Amazon for a few dollars. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

A Simple Public Safety Radio Scanner with the Raspberry Pi - Building a Cabinet


Scanner Cabinet

Once again I turn my attention to my Raspberry Pi radio scanner.  Now that I was happy with my electronic solution, I now needed to figure out how I can house my creation as something that looked fairly attractive. 

I did have a 2-watt laser engraver that up to now I've been using to engrave some wooden signs, but the manufacturer of my engrave also claimed that it could also be used as a cutter that can be used to make parts out of thin materials. 

I always wanted to give that a try and I figured that building a cabinet for my scanner would be the perfect first project to try this out.

Based on the literature that was provided with my lase, it was claimed that I should be able to cut through 1/32 inch thick plywood. With that bit of information, I immediately ordered a few 12"X12" sheets from Amazon

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Building a Tablet Computer Stand


Stand for my tablet

It's been a while since I made some real sawdust in the shop and the opportunity finally arrived when I started getting a bit annoyed with how I was using my tablet computer the other day. 

I find tablets to be a very handy gadget - you pretty much have the capability of a full PC in a format that is totally portable. They are much nicer than a smartphone since they also carry a much bigger screen - an added bonus as my hair is starting to go grey.

The only annoyance I have is when I don't need to have the portability, but rather I need to use it sitting down at my desk or I need to have it sitting on my workbench so that I can use it to look at something while my hands were busy.  The issue in those cases is that this often means that the tablet is sitting flat on the tabletop, which makes it a bit hard to read without doing a bit of neck calisthenics.

To solve this problem I really needed some sort of stand that I could set the tablet on, with the screen positioned at an angle to allow for easy viewing. 

As luck should have it, I just recently got my hands on a couple of pieces of 3/4 inch thick spalted maple that I scored from the "Free Wood" bin at my local cabinet maker. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Building an Instagram Posting Bot

As a result of the 35mm film slide converter project that I had built a while back, I have managed to digitized a good number of film slides. The tragedy of all this is that while I definitely enjoyed looking at and preserving images that haven't been viewed in decades, I didn't just want to have them be just stored away again on some hard drive, only to be faced with being obsolete and lost to time again in another 10 or 20 years when technology moves us in a direction that I can't even conceive of now. 

Instead, I wanted to somehow share these treasures with the world. I started out by setting up a new webpage, "A Slide A Day" where I released a new photo each day with the capability of loading up several years worth of photos - so theoretically, if something catastrophic ever happened to me, I can pretty much guarantee that this website will continue to serve up new pictures way into the future. 

While the website is a nice archive for the photos. it may not ever get the broad audience reach that I think these photos deserve. 

While trying to figure out this quandary, I happened to chance upon Instagram. I knew that Instagram was a fairly popular photo-sharing app, but I didn't really pay a whole lot of attention to it until now.  

When I looked into Instagram a bit more, I was actually quite intrigued by how easy it was to share a photo with a large audience.  

The problem that I had with Instagram was that it was very much focused on people that used smartphones, so much so that the only way that you can post a picture on Instagram is via a smartphone. If you pulled up Instagram on a Windows-based computer web browser, you can only view pictures, not post them.

The other issue was that Instagram was very much an "in the moment" type app - meaning that you could only post in realtime. You do not have the capability to schedule your posts ahead of time.

This was a bit of a problem for me since I really didn't want to have to stop what I was doing at some point during the day and remember to post something - I really want to have a bunch of pictures loaded up in a folder and just drip-feed pictures at a regular daily schedule - publish "a slide a day" like the name of my site suggested.