It’s been a while since my last blog post. During this past year, I’ve built a few other cameras yet released on this blog. In the meantime, I have been looking into options to make this work available to fellow amateur astronomers as a viable product. One major blocker here is the cost. FPGAs are expensive devices due to two factors: 1. They are less produced compared to ASIC and still uses state of art silicon process. 2. Massive area dedicated to routing and configuration logic. Let’s look at a simple comparison. The MicroZed board I’m using cost $200 with dual Cortex-A9 core clocking at 666MHz. This contrasts with quad core Ras Pi 3B clocking at doubling frequency. And it only cost $30.
I made some wireless sensors, using BME280 temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors, together with SYN115 transmitter modules. I used these to verify the storage of vacuum sealed “PrintDry” 3D filament storage containers.
The Korg SQ-1 is a great little sequencer, and one of my favourite bits of kit for its simple hands-on feel and penchant for lucky randomness (I have 3 of them!)
I tend to use it in a live setup with no computer but with a lot of guitar effect pedals on 9V daisy chain cables. The fact that the SQ-1 can only use batteries or USB power becomes a bit annoying so I decided to hack one so it can run on the same power supply as the pedals.
There are many ways to measure radioactivity level, semiconductor detectors sense interactions between ionizing radiation and p-n junction. Because in hobbyist area most popular are Geiger-Muller based detectors (in short: not a semiconductor but lamp based devices), I think it’s a cool idea to take a look at this approach.
In this post I will present such home-made sensor and a set of software to parse collected results.
Above you can see my prototype. I’m using a 4.2″ e-Paper display from Gooddisplay, together with the Waveshare breakout board. I have a couple of ENS1J-B28-R00128 optical encoders that I attained on eBay. I specifically chose these encoders instead of traditional electro-mechnical encoders due to the high numbers of pulses per revolution. A typical electro-mechanical encoder will net about 24 pulses per revolution. The optical encoders I bought on ebay are 128 pulses per revolution. Our 4.2″ ePaper has 400×300 pixels. To traverse the major axis would require 16 full turns of the electromechical encoder but only 3 turns of the optical encoder.
The hardware is so simple that there’s not much more to say. The encoders are connected to GPIO pins of a Raspberry Pi. Note that there are resistors inline on the encoder outputs as the encoders are 5V and the Raspberry Pi uses 3.3V GPIO. The e-ink display is connected to the SPI bus.
See the full post on his blog here and the GitHub repository here.
Quinn Dunki wrote a great article describing the conversion process of a 1980s-era Earmark into a bluetooth headset:
The obvious thing is to convert it to a bluetooth headset for modern use, right? As I previously warned, converting a 1980s-era air traffic control headset into bluetooth headphones is probably the most hipster thing possible. Normally, I don’t allow projects like this around here. But look at these headphones. They are amazing and I love them and I want to use them so I am going to make them bluetooth also shut up. If I have to punch myself as result of now being a hipster tool, so be it. I set out to do this in a non-destructive way that was reversible, at the very least. I wanted to respect the original hardware as much as possible.
Dr. Scott Baker has developed an adapter that allows you to use Playstation 2 analog controllers on an Atari 5200, that is available on gitHub:
This adapter allows you to use a PS2 controller on an Atari 5200 gaming console. The 5200 was notable at the time for its use of analog joysticks, but the controllers that shipped with the console are pretty lousy. They don’t self-center and they have a mushy annoying feel to them. The fire buttons aren’t very tactile in nature. The controller in my opinion just doesn’t feel or work good. Nevertheless, you have to give the Atari 5200 some respect for trying to be a pioneer in the technology.
As such, several solutions have been proposed for using alternate controllers. There are adapters for Atari 2600 digital sticks, adapters for analog PC joysticks, my own handheld controller, etc. I decided to adapt the basic technique of my handheld controller to a PS2 adapter.
Kevin has been working on building his own thermostat, that is available on github:
Does the world need another connected thermostat?
When my thermostat went on the blink last winter, I looked at Nest, and Ecobee, and the other me-too thermostats, and I decided I would rather build my own.
Josh Levine has a nice write-up about a software only workaround for the Beagle Bone Black PHY issue:
Sometimes the Ethernet port on a Beagle Bone Black does not work on power up. It takes either a physical reset button press or a power cycle to fix it. This problem affects all BBB’s and until now could only be solved with hardware hacks.
The final official word from TI on this problem: “There is no solution for this on the BB Black“