What’s going on?

Things have been fairly quiet in my “workshop”. There’s some things slowly going, but mostly I’m just sitting around waiting. Here’s what’s going on.


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My favorite website project has come online again! Check out Canada’s Wonderland Facts!

The website was last online in 2012. Since then, PHP and MySQL has changed so I spent a full day updating the code. Now, I’m just sort of catching up by updating and adding more content. There are still some functionality changes that I want to make eventually. I’ll probably get more motivation to do it as we move into the Wonderland season, which just began yesterday. I’m considering getting a domain name but I don’t want to buy one if I’m just going to give up on the website like I’ve done in the past. We’ll see how things roll.


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I’ve got new PCBs being manufactured right now! I’ve gone back to basics with the ATmega328p Breakout Board with nothing but the breakout pins and only using through-hole components. I think these changes will make most makers more interested in it because it’ll be easier to assemble since the original had surface-mount components, and more components in total compared to this upcoming one.

I also put in another design to get manufactured that’s mostly for my own use. There’s some breakouts for 0805 and SOT-223 surface-mount components. I also finished a new voltage regulator design that uses the NCP1117 low-dropout regulator. I had ordered a small set of components for that board in my last Digikey order. I also have some AMS1117 regulators in hand, which is the reason for those 0805 and SOT-223 breakouts. I’m not quite sure if I will put those regulator boards up for sale but I like to use them in my own projects with 9v batteries.


None of my eBay orders have arrived just yet. To recap, some of the items coming in are for an update to the Light Show Project. I’m especially excited to try using WS2812 RGB LEDs for the first time. I can’t wait!


So that’s it for now. Thanks a lot for visiting! Good luck in all of your experiments and projects!

 

 

 

 

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Website Tour: More Than Starlight

More Than Starlight was a website that featured fountain and light shows in theme parks, city parks, and other venues. It originally began as a blog with me going on and on about how pretty everything is. I thought that adding a database would spice things up as it would be a unique one.1The database did not get very populated since it was managed by just me and had the same low traffic woes as my other sites. I didn’t think it turned out that bad, though.2Each show had its own page with a feature to rate each show. It’s another feature I’d definitely like to put into some other project as it seemed to work well. It’s just that no one actually used it.3So that’s another site to come and go pretty quickly. The last site I have left to share built off of this project and came out great, but it had an even shorter life.

Website Tour: Canada’s Wonderland Facts

Canada’s Wonderland Facts was my most recent website. The purpose of the site was to create a resource full of information about the park. No rumors. No forums. Just facts. I wanted some interaction so I had plans for things like quizzes and a rating system. This was another case of being too ambitious and giving up when it became too much. It was online for only about a month but it’s probably the project I’d go back to if I were to get back into building websites.

1As you’ve seen in my past posts in the website tour, it’s usually a hit or miss when it comes to the visual appearance of my sites. With the combination of the CSS tricks I learned in recent years and experimenting with jQuery effects, I thought I came out with a really clean look. I was happy that it didn’t take a redesign to do that like in my past sites.

Just like with More Than Starlight, the database didn’t have enough content on it. Other parts of the site was alright. The timeline is complete up to 2012. The random facts database isn’t too bad either. I occasionally go back in, by running the site locally, and add new facts and things to the timeline. I really would love to revisit this site one day or at least throw it back online for fun, but I’d really need to get the plan for the site in order before I do. If and when that day comes, at least it wouldn’t be too outdated.

So those are my websites. To see the entire tour, click the Web Design category on the sidebar. Thanks for reading!

Website Tour: My Theme Park

My Theme Park was the most ambitious project I ever took on. I believe it was a month into it where I felt like it was just too much for one amateur to take on. My Theme Park was supposed to be a detailed theme park manager where you could buy and sell rides, control staff and set wages, and handle emergencies such as weather storms or accidents.
1This was actually the last thing I worked on before giving up on the project. Whenever I make sites and complete the first release, I immediately find something I want to add that would have me adding a column to a table. That’s why I wanted to make the registration as detailed as possible without making it too long. My plan was to have basic setup, and then nagging notifications to get you to fill in necessary things to get started once you first log in.

2I took the registration and log in system from previous projects, but I also added a confirmation email that sends at the end of the registration which was something that was new to me. That’s still my first and only time doing such a thing (sending emails with PHP). And just so you know, the “use the golf cart” thing was just a link to let you skip redirection wait.

3This was the main page of the portal once you logged in. An example of the detail I wanted was that weather would have been affected by the location you chose your park to be in when you registered.
4The Park Analyzer was your park profile and operations panel. Another example of details is that the more hours you had your park open, the more earnings and expenses you’d get and higher ride maintenance costs.

5The administrator panel was also taken from previous projects but this one would have a lot more things to manage. This is an example of adding rides to the catalog where park managers would be able to pick up new rides.

The biggest challenge was setting up the PHP script that would run daily that would automatically tally up numbers throughout your panel (such as expenses, revenue, total ride operating times, etc). It became a lot to handle and I couldn’t get it working reliably. That was the point where I gave this project up, though I don’t regret working on it at all. It was a big project and I got to experiment with many new features that I’d love to add to future sites. You’ll see some of the things on the last two sites I have left to showcase. Stay tuned!

Website Tour: Electronics Engineering Toolbox

The Electronics Engineering Toolbox was my first attempt at making a website using PHP and MySQL databases. The highlight of the site were the calculators that helped you convert between number systems (like binary, hex, octal) and figure out values of your components.

v1The first theme of the site wasn’t the most polished, kind of like the first version of my personal website. The focus at that time was the functionality of the site. PHP has functions to convert between number systems so that wasn’t much work compared to the component calculators. Those didn’t take all that long either.

v1pageI could never get the colors to work together… There was something just off looking at the entire page.

Before a redesign came, I tried implementing a user system. I wanted to make the site more interactive by offering quizzes and allowing people to favorite terminology pages or save calculations. I did get the user system up but none of the features that would use it were completed. Obviously it was a bust, so I went ahead with a redesign and threw out the user system.

v2This was my first site that actually looked decent. I was really proud of it.
v2pageThe pages and content remained pretty much the same while everything around it changed for the better. This is definitely a layout I would reuse again for a resource website.

So that’s the story for the Electronics Engineering Toolbox. It was a great project to work on as I got a good taste of working with PHP and MySQL. Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the next website tour!

Website Tour: My personal website

In my return to web design a few years ago, I came back with the goal of learning PHP which was something I always wanted to learn. With that goal, I also expanded my use of CSS and different HTML techniques to come out with a better looking final presentation, in most cases.

v1The first version of the website was kind of cheesy-looking but certainly better than the bland square tables I used to use before. After getting a hang of PHP and opening up the Electronics Engineering Toolbox website, I felt a redesign was in order.

v2_0The redesign came back using more techniques I was experimenting with. With some more CSS research, I could achieve rounded corners (which were done with graphics before) and shadows. With the PHP and MySQL knowledge from the EEToolbox, I built myself a simple blog system. Soon after, I added More Than Starlight to my web portfolio. The blog thing also got a little tired. The next version (numbered as 2.1) was moving toward a static portfolio. v2_1The site was stripped of the blog and it was back to mostly HTML as I got my fix of PHP working on the other two sites. Around the time of the redesign, I was midway through my electronics engineering training and I was starting to work on other projects. I wanted a place to gather and present them all so the next changes were made (version 2.5) to create a portfolio that expanded past my websites.

v2_5There were some more CSS and PHP techniques thrown in again. As you hovered over those four menu items seen in the screenshot above, the opacity of the image would change, thanks to CSS. All of the content was thrown into one file and the appropriate content was displayed using info from the link, grabbed by PHP. Otherwise, I would have created separated pages for everything, although there’s not much of a downside for a site this size. It was just because I could.

It’s always satisfying seeing a website grow in stages. Luckily for me, this was not the only site to do that. Next, we’ll be taking a look at the Electronics Engineering Toolbox. Stay tuned!

Adventures in amateur web design

promoI really enjoyed making websites which was something that started when I was much younger. The sites I made back then were mostly poorly put together Canada’s Wonderland fansites until I just gave up. I did try to return to designing websites in recent years with success in terms of bettering my techniques. Like I said, I really enjoyed making websites, but I lost motivation because they never got the traffic I was hoping for.

Recently, I’ve wanted to throw a couple of my recent sites back online, but I know I’d just end up taking them back down again. Instead, I’ll post screenshots and commentary on the projects.

As far as I can tell, I’ve got four websites to talk about. The series will not be in the order that the websites were made in, but each post will be the beginning-to-end story of each website. To get screenshots of my sites, I have to run the sites locally. If things go according to plan, the series will begin tomorrow. See you soon!