Monday, February 7, 2011

Robots, Rocks, Chairs, and some Snow too.

It's been a very busy month for us here in beautiful downtown Kyle TX. There have been a lot of things going on, and we have been gearing up for spring and all that it brings with it. The other night I was at a robotics meeting ( ) and taught some folks how to program microprocessors.


I really like to teach people about electronics and such. Most times they feel that it is likely over their head... that they would have a hard time learning and mastering it. But the truth is that if you start slow... it's not really so bad.

We started off by putting a microprocessor into a breadboard (Atmel Tiny-26) and connecting up some LEDs. We made them blink on and off... then we used a Red, Yellow, and Green LED to make a traffic signal. After that I taught how to connect an LCD screen up and make it work.

We programmed the whole thing in a simple to learn language called BASCOM BASIC. So far I have taught about 350 to 400 people how to program like this... and it makes me feel good to know I have helped so many people. The youngest I have taught was about seven years old, and the oldest was in his eighty's.

Not everything was about robotics this time around...

Eve and Sandblasting

Eve is gearing up to start sandblasting perhaps as early as this week... some of the equipment has already come in, and the remainder should get here this week. We are both so very excited about that. Here is a video that sums up our weekend... it's a short video... and I think you'll like it.

Rocks and Chairs
(And Snow too!)

Since we are on the subject of movies... I finally got around to making the first in a series of videos from our Canada vacation this Christmas. This is about 20 minutes long and has lots of family time... there are aslo interesting and amusing videos from downtown and sights to see.

Canada Christmas - Part 1

Enjoy and thanks for the visit!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Making Stuff Again

So today I had a friend call me up asking if I could make a part for his Cricket. I had no idea what a Cricket was... turns out it is a little machine to cut paper and such for scrap books.

 He wanted to be able to use it like a plotter to draw on paper. It has these felt tip pens you can get... but he wanted to use a fine tipped pen. Anyway... he came over with the machine, some pen holders, and a piece of aluminum rod stock. I grabbed a piece of graph paper and a pen and started taking measurements and drawing stuff. Before long we had a plan and headed to the lathe.  It feels great to have a lathe again... I REALLY MISSED being able to design and build stuff.

So anyway... off we went to the garage and started making metal pieces fly. (With appropriate safety equipment of course!)

Making the body of the pen holder.

Cutting the notch where the cricket grabs the holder.

Finishing the bottom with a nice 10 degree surface and rounded edges.

The original knife blade (top).
The Pen  (center). Should face the other way.
The finished pen holder (bottom).
The notch on the pen holder is actually perpendicular... 
but it looks angled in the image because of reflections.

From start to finish it was about 3 hours I guess... but we took our time, I explained what different tools did, and probably made it more fancy than I needed too. But it was great to use my hands and tools again. Sorry, no video of this project... I was too busy to operate the camera and turn metal at the same time. Perhaps next time! (I need to make a camera mount on the lathe... there's a project for me.)