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Grant Prototyping Progress

I’ve been slowly working on the grant / pump skid prototyping. Some more electronics components (primarily a new Crydom 1210 SSR, heat sink, and a load of Molex headers) came in from Allied Electronics today, and I spent some time figuring out how best to crimp the wire into the header socket terminals. They are so small and easily bent that I hosed 7 of them before I got a decent crimp… good thing I ordered 100 of them knowing I’d mess the first few up. It took a few iterations to also figure out how much/little to strip the wire back. I found my wirestrippers did a very poor job for the wire I’ve got on hand, and ended up getting the best results with an Xacto knife and a steady hand. These initial tests were just with 2-conductor wire – I can’t even imagine what a pain a 10 conductor wire will be. I am actually thinking of using a mix of regular CAT 5E LAN cable (8 conductor) for the signals and some 18 or 20 gauge wire for the 5V and GND lines. It will not be the cleanest approach, but I don’t think 10 conductor wire is very common – and stripping ribbon cable sounds completely unappealing.

This weekend I also did some messing around with my remaining PICAXE 28X1 and found it is totally fried. The same download circuit that works great with a 28X (and 4Mhz resonator) does nothing when the 28X1 is plugged in. I even tried my REV-ED prototype board since it is guarenteed to be wired correctly, and nothing – so I ended up ordering a couple more 28X1 chips from Advanced Microcircuits which should arrive in a few days. I don’t know that I really needed them, but not having to fool with an external resonator and the extra program room and RAM available can’t hurt.

I have been doing a little more playing around with the PICAXE VSM environment to simulate the circuits and also made some major headway understanding the DipTrace software package for designing custom-etched circuit boards. I don’t have any of the stuff I would need to actually etch my own boards at this point, but I suspect I will try it out sometime in the next month or so. It shouldn’t be overly difficult, provided I find a local provider of the materials I need. Radio Shack has been getting out of the components business, so I don’t know if I can really get it from them… most stores don’t even have a components section anymore.

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