Come in, we’re open! (Updates on everything)

I’ve got a few things going on at the moment so I wanted to organize my thoughts in a post.

The Store

A couple days ago, I opened up a “store” selling the Attiny85 Programmer and Breakout PCB internationally. I’ve now expanded it so that Canadians can purchase an assembled board! Check out the purchase page here. The reason it’s only offered to Canadians is because of shipping. I hope to eventually ship assembled boards internationally, but I’m taking baby steps with this.

I want to expand the store to include other items because I have some parts that I never used that I’d like to sell. I want to do it independently of eBay and other sites like that because of their fees, which are on top of the PayPal one.

The PCBs

I went ahead and ordered a new set of PCBs. These PCBs are an Atmega328p breakout and an ASM1117 voltage regulator (3.3v & 5v) that I showed in the last post. I tend to sit on purchases like this for too long so I thought I’d just do it. They’re already at the board house being manufactured so hopefully it won’t be too long of a wait. What pushed me are the facts that I already have the components to assemble both and because of the store idea.

The Fountain Show

As with every Light Show to date, I always reach a point where I have no motivation to do a new show and/or I have a bunch of different ideas for it. I already feel these things.

My biggest issue is that I don’t like working in my basement because it’s dark and there’s bugs… It’s hard to focus down there. I’ve always been fearful that bugs will crawl into the stage when I leave it there for the night because it’s a damp thing sitting in the dark. Even though I cover it up, one bug so far has managed to get in. It’s covered up more tightly at this moment, but the nozzles are damaged…

As the stage sits now, there’s not a lot I can do to make a new show that’s different enough from the first show. That’s always the challenge which is why I end up adding something soon after one or two shows. I had some ideas for additions, but with my imperfect nozzle design, I feel like it’s not worth adding on to the current stage with its problems. I’m going back to the drawing board and starting from scratch… Stay tuned.

EDIT: Web Hosting

Yesterday, I decided to take a look at free web hosting options to move some of my external websites (listed on the side bar) out of Google Drive, in case Google Drive suddenly decides not to allow web hosting. The new Drive look also is unfriendly to it.

I found a host that seems to be holding up well. I hope to have my online store up on the new host first, and then migrate all of my existing sites over to it. I’ve been thinking of rebranding to MWH-Electronics but I don’t want to break any links so the WordPress blog will probably forever stay as asimowalk5. Existing and new external sites will go under than name I guess.

Back to PCBs

With the first fountain show complete, I’m taking some time to consider my next plans for it. I have a few ideas but I don’t have the motivation yet to go through with any of them. I feel like switching gears back to my PCB designs because I had projects going on that had stopped because of the fountain project.
2This is the next board that I’m working on sending out to get manufactured. The main design is the ASM1117 voltage regulator board because I’d like to try working with SMT parts again. I already bought the ASM1117 regulators so I kind of have to get this board made eventually. I’m just a little worried that they won’t work like the shift register boards. I’m still trying to figure that out…

The other design is an Atmega328p breakout. Pretty straight forward.

I hope to send this board out by the end of the week to get made.

Before the curtain rose

Yesterday, I posted the first show of my new Arduino Fountain Show (Arduino Light Show 6). I wanted to give a better look at the day and provide some notes on the progress.IMG_2976This was my programming station which only yesterday got the table. I’ve been kneeling and lying down in awkward positions before then. Originally, this was actually looking at the stage from behind but I realized that the fountains looked pretty good from here so I programmed and filmed the stage from this side.

I’ve probably mentioned it once before in a random Linux post on here but I will say that the quick Arduino upload speed really helped shorten the programming process (though the mistyping on the small keyboard kind of goes against that). On Windows, it takes about 5 seconds to upload. On this netbook running Linux Mint, it’s just one or two seconds. It adds up when you’re uploading constantly to adjust the code.

Anyways, before setting up like this, I had the stage on a table where I taped up the LEDs to the nozzles that I prepared a couple days ago.

IMG_2972I did some testing to make sure the LEDs and then to set up my template. The template defines and declares variables and constants that make it easier to work with the fountain and LED I want without using cryptic pin numbers everywhere. In this picture, each fountain is set at its “min” value. The pumps are connected to PWM outputs and, since each pump performs differently, all of the values are different to get the same height. This is an example of something I’d want to have constants recorded to a variable for easy use.
IMG_2997The  fountains and LEDs were performing well until I got into the last hour of programming where the middle fountain started to fail. It seemed to do well whenever it was set to the maximum height but struggled at any other height. I’ll have to take a closer look at the nozzle soon. Still, I’m almost surprised things turned out the way it did. I’m satisfied with it. I had a secret feature I wanted to include but I was too much in a hurry to get a show done [before I broke something]. I hope to implement it in time for the next show.

Here’s a video of some of the testing before I began programming the first show:

Thanks for reading!

Gearing up for a good Friday

I spent today preparing the LEDs for installation tomorrow. It should be a great Friday if everything works out.
IMG_20140821_130856The process was soldering resistors to three of the four legs of each LED, soldering them to long pieces of the stranded core wire, soldering short pieces of solid core to the ends, and then heatshrinking and taping everything.IMG_20140821_133601The heat shrink and tape combination seems to be a decent way to waterproof my connections. If you’ll notice at the bottom right of the picture where the ends of the wires are, there are pieces of a yellow paperclip taped to some of them. That indicates the common anode leg of the LEDs.

These LEDs will be going in tomorrow. I’ll do some testing and hopefully I can get to programming my first show. I already have a short song lined up.

Thanks for reading!

Just add color!

I spent about four hours working on the fountain project today. Let me show you the progress!IMG_2926I set up the remaining pumps, which I’m happy about because I thought I wouldn’t be able to fit all five pumps and have them function properly. I set them up in a staggered formation.IMG_2928Once I got all five pumps up and running, I tried calibrating them all to the height of the weakest fountain. It’s still a decent height since anything higher makes too much of a mess anyway. Sometimes some of the pumps will perform differently the next time I power it up but it’s usually not too noticeable, and can be addressed in the code if it’s that severe.IMG_2938I’m done with trying to straighten up the streams as I feel like this is the best it’ll get. It was time to add some color! I tried with just one RGB LED on the center fountain. With the fountains close together and some of them shooting water at each other because of bad aim, the other fountains get lit up too.
IMG_2936I was too exhausted to start soldering more of the LEDs so I’ll do that tomorrow.

I’m a little anxious because I’m running low on shrink tube and I don’t have any more solid core wire. I do have an almost fresh roll of stranded wire so I should be able to solder up more LEDs, coupled with the scraps of solid core wire I have lying around so that they can be connected to the Arduino and breadboard. I guess I’ll have to go spend a couple of bucks for some shrink tube if I do run out.

To end this post, here’s some video of the fountains as it stands now:

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!