Project Updates – August 13 2016

20160723_122152I’ve been thinking about the next little while and where I want to dedicate my time to. I did have some time to get some work done on the next Arduino Fountain Show, but it hasn’t been touched for weeks now. I completed a few minor projects but the big ones are always on my mind. To get myself organized, I thought I’d write a post to work things out.

CoasterCircuits.com

homebanner_cc

At the beginning of August, I launched the CoasterCircuits.com blog, a blog about Canada’s Wonderland and other amusement parks. Along with it, I made a few improvements at my main website, MWHProjects.com. It’s been a fun process and I hope to continue with the blog at least through to the end of the season in October. I’ll see where things leave me then in terms of motivation and inspiration to write during the off-season.

The next Arduino Fountain Light Show

You know the stuff you saw in my last post about the show? Well, it’s just been sitting there since. I’ve gone back to the drawing board and have figured out a few things I want to try. However, as I will get to shortly, I have another big project in mind. After some thinking, I’ve decided to effectively put this show on hold. The workbench where everything is will be cleared off as I will need it for what’s coming next.

So what’s the other project?

SkySeeker? WindHawk? Two rides that I enjoy at Canada’s Wonderland are Windseeker and SkyHawk. They’re both tower rides that spin riders around but they’re built quite differently. Basically what I’d like to do is to make a miniature model of a hybrid of both. I’ve already started sketching out details that I hope to continue to develop and improve well enough to share on the blog soon. I’m also trying to source parts and figure out what kind of materials would work best, be cost-efficient, and be the easiest to handle with the tools and space I have at home.

Since this project is taking the spotlight from the Arduino Light Show Project… well, actually, in reality, it’s not. 😉 Again, more details on this soon.

Thanks for visiting!

I hope I can start being more consistent with my posts on the blog. Thanks a ton for reading. Happy making! 🙂

So, it’s one of these update posts again.

You know the ones, where I don’t really have my things thought out well enough to make proper project posts. Take it as an update post, or an overview of what’s going on.

So? What has been going on?

A year ago, I wasn’t working so I had literally all day to come up with and build the projects you’ve seen on this blog in the past. Now that I am working full-time, I don’t have nearly as much time or energy to put as much into my personal projects. Over the past couple of months, however, I have been getting into a better routine that has given me a chance to get a couple of projects off of the ground.

Project #1: MWHProjects.com Version 4

MWHProjects.com has always been a boring static website. I’d find myself occasionally visiting it, thinking how bland it is, changing a few visuals, and calling that a new version. A few weeks ago, I finally got into an overhaul. This time, I’m going deeper!

I’ve made websites in the past that I put serious effort into, and included somewhat “advanced” homemade features, such as a blog and information database. Although the new MWHProjects.com may not see features to that extent, it will have more than just some links this time. The biggest goal here is to make a website that can be dynamic, where I don’t have to put as much effort into adding something new.

My main projects (and not just ones that have their own websites) will have their own pages with an overview of the project and technical notes. I’m still on the fence about building a blog for the site, since I have the WordPress blog you’re reading right now, but I wouldn’t mind having a place to share other things that wouldn’t fit in on this blog. It may be something I’d look into adding later on.

Progress has been going well so far. Here’s what things look like so far:

Screenshot (4)

… OK, so things look broken.

But on the plus side, everything on that page is being pulled from a MySQL database, where all the page information was submitted to from a PHP page. My behind-the-scenes administrator pages are basically complete at this point, albeit without any styling. That brings me to the design stage, where there are many more decisions to make.

I’d say things are on track to make the site public sometime next month. Shout out to Second Cup for my caffine fix while I work on this thing!

Project #2: Light Show 8

I’ve got a new light show stage designed in my head and it’s slowly coming together. It has elements you’ve seen before but I think it will look their best this time around.

20160221_191408

Yes, the fountains will be back, and they’re looking great so far! A big problem with the previous design was the crappy nozzles. They were made out of drinking straws that were squished just enough to get more pressure on the flow of water. After some experimenting with a few scrap materials from work and from a hardware store, I’ve got a new nozzle design that has been consistent so far. I’m still working out whether to have the nozzles directly on the pump or use some tubing to separate the pumps and nozzles, which may help reduce choppy water around the pumps intake.

There has been more progress made on this but that will all be shared in a post later on.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

See you later, Active Surplus.

Active Surplus is one of those stores that you could spend so much time in just to browse. They have a stock of electronics gadgets and parts, as well as an assortment of just… things. Recently, they announced that both their Steeles and Queen stores would be closing. They’ve been around for decades so it’s a tragic announcement for those who visited for all these years.

IMG_20130521_112947

For me, I only discovered the store a couple of years ago and have only visited the Queen location a handful of times and the Steeles one once. Each time, I wandered around in awe of all of these neat parts, while reading all of the quirky product labels. I never actually purchased anything from Active Surplus since I was strapped for cash those times I visited (ie. unemployed) and didn’t want to end up with random things I wouldn’t use. I was planning to go today but I scrapped those plans because I didn’t have the energy to take the trip downtown, and because I’m trying to get rolling on a couple of projects, in between playing Cities Skylines…

Anyways, it sucks to see them go. From what I gather, I take it that they will reappear again in the future so there’s still hope. In the mean time, I have Sayal, a chain electronics store in the Greater Toronto Area. There’s also the online stores like Dipmicro and Chinese eBay sellers.

Do you have any cool stores in your area like Active Surplus? Share in the comments!

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for some upcoming projects!

This battery was excited to see me

20150904_212131

I have a small area on my desk for batteries of various sizes, including these 9-volt batteries. I came home one day last week to see one of them popped its lid… I’m not sure why. There was nothing across the terminals or nearby that would short it out. I’m not sure if it slowly rose out of its casing like a growing flower but I’m glad that if it was violent at all that it wasn’t harmful to anything around it.

I had to share because it’s not something you see every day!

No more floor boards!

That is, no more boxes of circuit boards laying all over the floor!

I visited Dollarama today and picked up a couple of 3-drawer organizers. They are stackable so I now had 6 drawers to stick all of my circuit boards in.20150906_140626

Even better, I put a piece of cardboard across each drawer to divide each one so I now have 12 compartments to work with. The new set of drawers fit in well with my other Dollarama organizers to the left.

20150906_143224

Once I fitted all of the drawers with cardboard dividers and labels, I put a piece of tape down both sides of the drawer to keep them together. I found that they don’t snap together quite as snug as I would have liked. With the drawers in place, I put beads of hot glue to glue them down. Normally I’d tie the drawers down with a string (because I think that sort of thing looks kind of neat) but I don’t expect to move these drawers around and I think that this solution would be the best.

20150906_150257

This is what that area looks like now. I’d like to keep building up the drawers since they’re relatively cheap ($3) and I could always use more compartments to store things.

Time to throw out my old organizing boxes… 🙂

State of the Blog / Thanks for a good January!

I gotta say… I wasn’t expecting such a smooth transition to the new blog domain.blogstats2014While I make projects to learn and have fun, I couldn’t honestly say that posting to this blog and having an audience hasn’t helped keep my motivation up. It’s not huge or anything, but the growth is great. I’ve given up on blogs before because they start off slow, so I was worried the move would cause another slow start like the one you can see in the graph. The final view count for January 2015 is just over half of where we left off, which is more than I was expecting. Thank you for visiting!

I’ve been thinking of ways to improve the blog, from writing more tutorials, to adding new features outside of the blog (discussion forums, anyone?!). Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for tutorials. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks again! 🙂

New year. “New” workspace.

While I won’t have anything close to a professional work area, I decided to work on it so that I could feel a little more organized for a new year of making. I started working on this just before the end of last year so I’m pretty much already settled in with some work area improvements. Things may get shifted around with some new parts arriving in the coming weeks but I’m pretty satisfied with how things turned out.
IMG_0822My desk, which I’ve been using from elementary school through college, came with these cheap cardboard drawers. I never used them for anything meaningful so I emptied them out and put them to much better use by organizing my electronics parts. The space underneath the drawers has my multimeter and little cardboard bins with different types of batteries. The bottom right drawer is opened faced because the plugs are in the way of it pulling out…IMG_0823I divided the drawers by cutting pieces of cardboard and taping them in place. I really like how it turned out.IMG_0824One thing I really disliked about my storage spaces was my old way of storing my resistors. I made a kind of rolodex using pieces of paper with groups of resistors taped on. It was a huge pain actually retrieving a resistor from it because I’d have to deal with the tape, so I went to Dollarama and bought a bunch of these organizer boxes. The new ones fit all of my resistors and capacitors. The other two boxes sitting on top are ones I got earlier. One holds my LEDs, the other holds small components like oscillators, transistors, and regulators.

IMG_0826The white box (inside out Q-Tips box) holds shrink tube, and now the wooden box holds my spools of wire.
IMG_0827The top drawer stayed pretty much the same as it’s dedicated to my plastic bags, and wires and cables I never use.
IMG_0828The second drawer had pretty much all of the things that ended up in my cardboard desk drawers.IMG_0829The last drawer is still my disaster area, with “everything else” stuffed in it. I’ll probably go through it and maybe split the contents with the second drawer now that it’s so bare.IMG_0830The wire shelf that the plastic drawers are sitting on also remain pretty much the same… Cardboard, old soldering irons, and binders. There’s not much I can do about it so it’s fine.IMG_0831I’ll cap this post off with my depressing soldering area.

So that’s the reorganization of my workspace! It may not seem like much but I’m happy with it and it has me excited to put it to use. I have a bunch of things on its way for some new projects so stay tuned. Thanks for reading!