February 5, 2013
Tutorial - Lessons from Rebuilding Illumitune
about a month ago
I just stumbled upon this tutorial. Nice write-up! I want to thank you for it, because it just helped me out. I’ve been working on a project, which has fallen to the back burner, primarily due to analysis paralysis. I was trying to come up with one large board that could do everything for the project, but kept getting hung up on the details: how many optically isolated inputs do I need? How many outputs? How many analog inputs? What other special I/O will I need? My plan is to make several of these systems, and distribute them in various locations, all collecting data and controlling equipment and reporting back to a central location.
Well, the problem was that different locations needed different combinations of I/O, and the board was quickly growing out of hand: one location needed lots of inputs, another needed lots of outputs, another needed more analog, etc. No location needed the maximum amount of everything, so there would be plenty of wasted resources if everything was on one big board.
First lesson learned from this post? Use a stack of simpler shields. Therefore, only the required functions are installed at any one location, with minimal wasted resources. One place needs extra inputs? Stack a second addressable shield onto it. Another place doesn’t need analog inputs? Don’t add the analog shield.
Next lesson? Use polarized connectors. At one point, I was going to put a row of screw terminals along one edge of the board. What a pain that would’ve been to replace the board if (no, WHEN!) needed.
I appreciate several other lessons learned from this write-up, but I don’t think I have to list them all. Just know that I appreciate the post, and will take it to heart! My project is back on track. Thank you!
News - Enginursday: Radio Shack:…
about 2 months ago
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that we have so much information available online, and so many online sources for more parts than I ever imagined were available back in the ride-the-bike-to-Radio-Shack days. Finding datasheets online and downloading them into a tablet makes it much easier to find the information you need. But there are still fond memories of being able to walk into any Radio Shack for a good selection of parts, and also flipping through a well-worn 7400 series databook.
Wow, this brings back memories! As a kid, I remember how excited I was when I was finally allowed to cross the the busy road a few blocks from the house, all by myself – it meant I could ride my bike to Radio Shack any time I wanted! It was only about 6 blocks away and I went there often. It was interesting seeing all of the fancy equipment on the shelves, but I always went straight to the back of the store where there was rack upon rack of parts – almost half the store, not the small cabinet of drawers they have now. You could get just about anything back then: I built many complete projects with nothing but Radio Shack components. And browsing through the catalog – man, I couldn’t wait until a new catalog came out: looking through it was almost like porn to a young budding engineer nerdling. And I don’t know how many wonderful hours I spent building all manner of projects with the 100 in 1 kit.
In recent years, it’s been so depressing going into a Radio Shack. I remember when the guy behind the counter actually new something about electronics, and could actually help with problems and give advice on projects. At the time, their motto really made sense: “You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers!” Now, the motto might as well be “You’ve got questions? ummm… We’ve got cell phones!”
It will be sad to see them go. But as it was said in the opening lines of this blog: in my mind, they died years ago. :-(
PS: I also really miss HeathKit..
News - New Product Friday: What'…
about 2 months ago
Actually, I saw it misfire twice. ;)
News - New Product Friday: A New…
about 3 months ago
Yes, that sign is somewhat distracting… I spend too much time looking at it (as evidenced by my other comment to this video.) Maybe it wouldn’t be so distracting if it did a slow fade between colors?
What’s up with the sparkfun sign in the background? Every so often, the last LED in the bottom right corner of the sign gets the wrong color - usually instead of white, it’s yellow. It stays that color during the pause, and then as soon as the letters start turning red that last LED goes white. This happens a few times during the video. And during the first pass in the closing title, with Robert in the inset box above the new year party, the last LED is purple when the rest of the LEDs are red.
Does the code have a glitch in it that doesn’t always update the last LED properly? Or is it intentional and you’re just looking to see who will notice? ;)
News - He's Back! "Accordin…
about 4 months ago
Welcome back, we really missed you! I’m looking forward to watching the video, but for some reason it won’t play on an iPad. This started around Thanksgiving, and now even videos that would play in the past won’t play anymore. :( Of course, the other videos weren’t important enough to get me to actually comment on them!
Guess I’m going to have to wait until I get to the real computer…
News - Enginursday: Leaving the …
about 4 months ago
A very successful flight! It’s a shame that the main stream media couldn’t care less about a significant milestone: the first time that a manned capable craft left low Earth orbit in 42 years. But unless there is a catastrophe, riot, shooting, or a celebrity having a hissey fit, nobody cares. It’s a sad state of affairs that good news or science and technology are no longer interesting.
News - Robotics 101 - The Actobo…
about 4 months ago
Some say… that he misses the subtleties of humor. And that he replies to jokes with serious answers.
News - "Ask Me Anything&quo…
about 5 months ago
I suppose lame videos may dilute good ones… but so far we don’t know if that applies to the According to Pete series – there haven’t been any lame videos, only good ones! Please, get them started again. Please?
No public wish lists :(
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