I don’t have a good track record with mechanical projects – anything that moves. I do much better with purely electrical devices. As soon as you have moving parts you have to deal with things like friction, backlash, wear, tolerances, inductive spikes… I don’t like any of those things. Every couple of years I forget this and think it’ll be different this time, so here is another mechanical project.
A couple of years ago while still at university I started a balancing robot project. I quickly gave up. The reason was that my robot was free standing and balanced on two wheels. There were a number of issues:
- The robot would run around and I didn’t have enough space of my desk to allow it to balance
- The programming cable would restrain the robot so I also had to unplug my programming cable each time I wanted to test it – not ideal for quick iteration
- It was hard to control the environment and get the motors aligned
- The robot could not have an external power source so had to rely on batteries
This time I am still going for a balancing robot but I am going for a rotational robot, rather than a free standing robot.
A “sketch” (Sketchy drawing)
Continue reading “Project: SpinBalance – Introduction”
This project ultimately just uses the power of the BBC Microbit to communicate via radio and control the LED strips, therefore this board started out purely as a passive breakout board to mount the MicroBit and connect it to the LED strip but quickly became more complex.
Continue reading “Project: MicroLit – PCB V1”
I used Python all the time but I’m normally a bit skeptical about microPython for similar reasons as I am skeptical about Arduino – both of them seem too much like doing hardware from a software approach. Nonetheless it seemed like a reasonable tool for the job in this case.
For my new room I invested in a pair of nice wifi speakers and I want visuals to match so I decided to build an LED controller. Of course, I can buy off the shelf LED controllers, but I want to program my own light patterns and also it’s more interesting to build my own.
I still haven’t got round to shipping all of my equipment from the UK – until this week I didn’t have a multi-meter and I still don’t have my oscilloscope, so I’ll put off talking about hardware for a bit.
I decided to use a BBC microBit which is most easily programmed in microPython. It seems suitable for the job because my lighting is something that I might want to tinker with from time to time, and Python (and so presumably microPython) is quick and easy to iterate. I could build my own microcontroller circuit and program it in C, but really what new would I learn?
Continue reading “Project: MicroLit – Intro and Software”
I have an interest in capacitive touch at the moment – I have no particular project in mind but I wanted to see the current state of cap-touch solutions so that I could use it in a future project.
To test it out I made a board with a single touch pixel. I can use this board in other projects as a drop in touch solution. I decided to go with Microchip’s (formerly Atmel’s) qTouch library with their Peripheral Touch Controller (PTC).
Continue reading “Mini Project: Single Pixel”
This project started about two and half years ago when I took an FPGA class at MIT and the professor happened to give me an HP1662AS logic analyser that MIT were throwing out. Despite the fact that I lived in the UK and this thing is massive and weighs 20kg I took it anyway. I thought it would be a cool project to replace the cathode ray tube with a larger, LCD display. I thought I would get this done before I left the US three months later… Little did I know it was going to take me another two years (although not of continuous work). Now I am nearly done, and just in time to ship it back to the US when I move back for work.
The HP1662AS on the desk where it was left for me in MIT
Continue reading “HP2VGA: Project Write Up”
I was soldering a QFN-25 in flip-chip configuration and forgot which way round I soldered it… Here’s how I figured it out.
This PCB represents two firsts for me – first 4 layer board and first BGA package. The former isn’t really a big deal and is really just necessary because of the latter. Due to my memory requirements, I was forced to use the Lattice iCE40HX8k which has more RAM than the smaller variant, iCE40HX4k, and also only comes in BGA packages.
Continue reading “HP2VGA: PCB Design with a BGA”