Home > Tech geeks > So many toys, so little time…

So many toys, so little time…

Well, at long last my PZ541 drill press is on its way (arrives Tuesday), so if I were at a point that I had settled on some PCB designs, I could expose, etch, and drill them… essentially get moving on the grant prototype. My original design plans for the grant have been scrapped after thinking through the possibilities of incorporating wireless technologies into the design. The idea of sending the grant switch states and temperature readings to the control box without running 3 seperate hard wires has significant merit, namely there are fewer PCB connections to make and fewer wires to trip over, with the single drawback being a necessity to power the sending circuit with a battery pack. My inital test was less than successful, but after taking a week to regroup and do a little online investigation, I may retry the 315MHz modules from SparkFun and see if I can make it work.

If the extra testing proves useless as well, I’ve got some XBee stuff to play around with now… I will have 2 modules (sender and receiver) once SparkFun sends me the extra module they shorted me in the original shipment. Not a huge deal since I still need to assemble / solder up the test boards, but again that means more time investigating and playing instead of brewing and using the prototype. I am going to have to use the XBee technology any way you look at things to provide 2 way communication between the sculpture components and the PC, so if the 315MHz doesn’t work it doesn’t impact much in the grand scheme of things. It would make things a little cheaper, but only by about $15.

So this weekend my brewing activities have been limited to soldering up some test boards and playing with the 315Mhz modules again, instead of brewing that belgian-style beer I’ve been meaning too. I did make it over to How Do You Brew? to pick up more StarSan, 15 pounds of wheat malt, and some other various sundries, so I’ve got all the ingredients – including a couple packets of the new S-06 Safale Wheat dry wheat yeast. I could totally brew tomorrow if I found motivation… I won’t be playing with the XBees since I don’t have a pair yet (the replacement won’t arrive until Tuesday either).

Our new home PC, nicknamed “Beast”, has arrived and is a radiant vision of black and stainless steel wonderment. We’ve got all our files moved off the old PC and I believe we’re ready to reformat it and recommission it as a media center PC. “Beast” is unbelievably fast, although I’m not sure what I was expecting given its specifications, but it flies through any 3D requirements we’ve thrown at it without missing a beat (namely Sketchup and Google Earth, since our lives are too busy for gaming). Windows XP boots in a couple seconds flat, shuts down just as fast, and appears limited only by the speed of the auxiliary systems and devices connected to it (like our broadband connection or the webcam capture rate). The kids are thrilled with the ability to talk with their grandparents over the webcam – it is an almost daily occurance now. I hope to bring up my VB.NET environment and take the BrewzNET designer functionality out for a test drive and see how it performs… I might recapture a better AVI movie of the designing process in action, since the last one had a horrible 1-2 frames/sec rate.

Categories: Tech geeks
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