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Member #134773

Member Since: May 19, 2010

Country: United States

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I started playing with electronics in the mid-1960s, and with computers shortly after Neil Armstrong took "one small step". I got a degree in CS in 1980, and started working then as an engineer.

  • I got a kick out of the "speed trap" when we took the tour of SparkFun a year or so ago. Lots of great people, and LOTS of neat stuff to see there -- I highly recommend the tour if you get the chance, and BTW, it is "accessible" -- I had no real problems going through on my scooter.

  • Sometimes my mind works in strange ways... humorously referring to a certain phone call in the news, I guess today's announcement of a new kit makes Sparkfun a "Qwiic Pro Co",,, or maybe if a certain type of bird shows an interest in your project it would be a "Qwiic Pro Crow"... especially if you used a certain fruit (for which Georgia is known) as the container (so it could be said to be "in peach"...)

    I think that's enough punnishment for now... ;-)

  • Will Sparkfun be carrying the book? (Unfortunately, I don't think I can make it to the Workshop.)

  • A few random thoughts:

    A few years ago, I built a "Flashy Santa Hat" based on some Neo-Pixel LEDs (11 of them, to be exact) with a (5 volt) Pro-Mini to control them. It has a 3-D accellerometer that is used to detect movement, and randomly change the patterns on the LEDs. I also included an analog light sensor so it could adjust the Neo-Pixels as they can be blindingly bright. (Also check out these sewable LED mounts which is what I used for the Neo-Pixels.). Maybe have the lighting synchronize to the wearer's motions?

    You also mention rechargable batteries. I'd be a bit nervous about having LiPos in suits -- need to arrange so that if one does catch fire it can be removed QUICKLY. I'd be more inclined to use 3xAA (or 3xAAA) alkalines -- they will provide near enough to 5V that most things won't care, and can provide several hours of operation per set. (Durcells are also pretty reasonably priced at Costco!). If you need 6V, 4xAA and 4xAAA are readily available. If you need more capacity and really need 9V, I strongly suspect that Digi-Key will have something you can use for 6xAA or 6xAAA. (The aforementioned Flashy Santa Hat used a 3xAAA and it works well.)

    On synchronizing to music, I know that there are "commercially available" solutions that folks use to synchronize Christmas displays to music, but I suspect that they'd be out of your budget range.

  • I've been doing electronics since the mid-1960s, and computers since a few weeks after Neil Armstrong took his "one small step". I've had a LOT of unsuccessful attempts at things since then. (Speaking of which, NASA did several unsuccessful things along the way to get man to the moon.)

    I like to think of it as my projects "evolving". Once I decide on a goal, I'll decide on a way to get there. I'd built up a box to record indoor temperature once an hour (to a "private" web site) so I could know that the heating/air conditioning was still working and the house had power. I wanted to add some more sensors (e.g., an outside air temperature sensor), and it was clear that they'd have to have some sort of wireless link. When I started on this part, the "obvious" way was to use the (now obsolete) RFM-12B module, but my "box" was based on a Beagle Bone Black and I couldn't get the interface software to work. I eventually decided to put Arduino Pro-Minis at both ends to "talk" to the RFM-12Bs, and had gotten the Pro-Mini to talk to the BBB via I2C, and initiate the RFM-12B, but when I tried to transmit to the other RFM-12B, the near-end would lock up. After a few interruptions in working on it, I eventually eliminated the RFM-12Bs and Pro-Minis and switched to using an ESP-8266 on the far end, A few minutes ago I was able to note that the outside temperature of my home in the Phoenix area is about 10 degrees lower than what the outside temperature is here in Connecticut (the sun had just come up in AZ, so it will soon warm up and get back to "normal" of being warmer than CT).

    BTW, I've found that when trying to do I2C on a new-to-me processor, first try to talk to something you've done successfully on another processor (like a temperature sensor). Also, my first venture into I2C several years ago was adding something on a second I2C port to someone else's design. Finally tracked down that the reason the second port wasn't working was because I hadn't put in the pull-up resistors. (Most of the "break-out boards" include them.)

    One last point: "Mother nature" does a LOT of experimenting too -- remember that 99% of all species that have ever existed on this planet are extinct, meaning that you are the end product of billions of years of "trial and error".

  • I'm a bit worried about the insole sensors shown in the photograph: back in the 70s, we used to joke about "waffle testing" circuit boards when we couldn't figure out what was wrong with them. What's a "waffle test"? Glad you asked! Place circuit board on floor and apply "waffle stomper" (Vibram lug soled boot) firmly. Always solved the problem!

    Alternatively, the circuit board could become more painful than a rock in your shoe...

  • Great project, Pete! I hope that sometime I'll get to take the Sparkfun tour again and see it in person! (Unfortunately, due to "family" health issues, that's not likely in the near future.)

    And, you gave me an opening to mention something else that IMHO would look great with some programmable LEDs inside the "empty box": Costco is, again this year, having a sale on "crystal" boxes containing 48 Ferroro Rocher candies for under $10 (at least here in the Phoenix area). Fantastic price on the candies, AND you get a faceted plastic box just begging for an LED project to be put into it!

  • I think it's a nifty idea! I've toyed with the concept myself. A few months ago I happened to attend a presentation by Adam Savage. I was hoping to be called upon during the "Q&A" portion at the end, but no such luck. I wanted to ask where they'd sourced those honking big servo motors that they used to steer cars & trucks...

  • Over the past 50+ years, I've built several boxes that had the same intent as the breakout board. Most of mine also included a switch, and usually binding posts as well. These boxes, though, cost a lot more than your kit!

  • I should add that we can still be friends, despite our difference of opinion as to what makes a good cup of Joe...

No public wish lists :(