Member Since: April 7, 2012

Country: United States


I've been developing hardware and software since my youth - an early project was a matrix display (5x7) using flashlight-style incandescent bulbs wired via homemade 36 wire cable to an array of screw heads on which a metal template could be placed to light up corresponding bulbs. Since then I've designed weather stations, test equipment for aircraft electronics, energy management systems, and all sorts of other things. I'm currently doing some Arduino and Raspberry Pi based projects. I was the technical reviewer (editor) for Beginning C for Arduino, published by Apress, and am working on some additional books. You can find more at

  • How does the revised version of the lightning detector board differ from the previous version?

  • "possesses a 0.1" ball tip with a 0.005" radius, " Wow, that is one funky ball shape. :-) I think you mean 0.010" ball tip.

  • Is that available with a side of chips?

  • A little surprised that it has been three months now and the assembly instructions haven't been updated to include the corrections I suggested.

  • Suggestions for improving the assembly instructions for the pan/tilt mechanism:

    Install the single-arm horn into its upper bracket before assembly of the sandwich of the upper servo + brackets. (Once you have the sandwich assembled, you can't put the horn attachment screws in straight unless you have a tiny right-angle screwdriver. There is no reason not to attach the single horn to its bracket first, while you can put the screws in straight.)

    The instructions mention needing both horn-to-servo screws, but left out the instruction to put in the one of the two - the one through the base, into the lower servo.

    The instructions say to use longest machine screws from the baggy to attach the upper servo to the top platform. The shorter machine screws are the better choice. They are long enough, and don't create the potential hazard of rubbing against the servo wires that the longer screws do.

  • I use DesignSpark PCB for layout. It isn't open source, but it is free to use (including for commercial designs). It can produce gerber files, and has an autorouter. It can handle multi-layer boards, up to 1 meter x 1 meter in size. It doesn't have some high-end features like buried vias or automatic differential pair routing, but I've found it more than adequate for typical boards. I've found it pretty easy to use. It is provided by a large worldwide electronics distributor (RS Components (unrelated to Radio Shack), which also owns/operates Allied Electronics here in the US), You can find it at RS Component's DesignSpark Community website. They also offer a free mechanical CAD program.

  • I'd also like to know: Are the AC measurements RMS? and Is the USB electrically isolated? If not, you could run into problems quickly measuring circuits connected to an AC line.


  • I'm curious - a quick search shows the APDS-9960 chip for sale thru Asia-Pacific and UK region distributors, but not US distributors. Anybody know the reason behind that? Patent issues?

  • On the Connecting the Hardware page of the tutorial for this, it says: "The four pins you need are labeled GND, 3.3v, OUTPUT, LO-, and LO+"

    Um..., that be five pins, folks. :-)

  • I still have some calculators that use these. They also remind me of this passage from Isaac Asimov's book, Foundation, written in the early 1950's, long before these were available:

    Seldon removed his calculator pad from the pouch at his belt. Men said he kept one beneath his pillow for use in moments of wakefulness. Its gray, glossy finish was slightly worn by use. Seldon's nimble fingers, spotted now with age, played along the hard plastic that rimmed it. Red symbols glowed out from the gray...

    By the way, some of the 4-digit displays of similar digit height that are current and available (made by Avago (spin-off from HP), Osram, and others) are, as others mention, much more expensive. But they are also full alphanumeric, with a 5x7 dot character, and have intelligence built in for driving them. So some aren't that much more expensive than these bubble displays would be with a backpack controller board.

No public wish lists :(