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1  Community / Bar Sport / Back from the dead? on: May 09, 2014, 07:54:08 am
Look what the cat dragged in!  Been off the forums for quite some time, had some medical problems and nonsense going on.  

However, I've not shelved everything Arduino related- in fact, I spent a lot of time attempting to get Honeywell to buy in to producing the gas safety valve- which is arduino-cored.  It's not a big deal, simply using MQ series gas sensors and TMP85 pressure sensors to monitor line pressure and environmental gas concentrations.  If unsafe condition is found, de-energize the coil on a normally closed solenoid valve, located outside the home, cutting off supply and preventing disaster..  Suffice to say Honeywell passed on it.  This is a project I have dreamed of for thirty years.. I survived a gas explosion which killed my parents when I was fifteen.  I've named the project in memory of them (not myself), "The Bishop Valve".  Though Honeywell passed, I have not given up and am not going to stop until the device is a reality.

Project page on Facebook:

On lighter notes, I'm also building a CNC router (second version, much learned from first design and problems therein) and a set of RGBW High-powered photography floodlights.  Using TLC5940 and Arduino Pro Micro clones, they are perfect for the job.  Each floodlight head has 10 watts each of RGB and 20 watts of White.  Fifty watts of LEDs is a LOT of light, around 4000 lumens.  I got a few bluetooth serial modules for a song a few months ago, so I am planning to slap those on for communications.  Down the road, I may consider switching the power source to Lithium cells, or to use Ryobi rechargable tool batteries, as I have several...

Good to be back around  smiley-cool
2  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Bitcoin - any comments? on: December 23, 2013, 07:45:16 pm
since ebay and paypal became one, they lost a layer of account... far too easy.
3  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Bitcoin - any comments? on: December 23, 2013, 06:43:48 pm
One comment only.. did one bitcoin purchase and was hacked, had to lock Paypal acct a week before xmas due to $8k in fraudulent paypal charges buying more bitcoins by chinese hackers.  Nuff said.
4  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Your latest purchase on: April 15, 2013, 01:14:09 pm
Well the fiber cable may be a nice strong silicone rope smiley

However, I did finally land a good multimeter:

Amprobe AM-1250 True RMS  Multi-Meter (used, tested good)

5  Community / Bar Sport / Re: My Safety Valve Project on Indiegogo (subject changed) on: April 12, 2013, 02:02:35 pm
A tidbit:  I've been talking with and getting some suggestions from someone quite connected in the tech world- hopefully he, with his visibility, might be able to drum up some media attention on this.

Hopefully, The one and only Ben Heck (endorn) may be talking about the project via twitter.  Woo hoo!

6  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Your latest purchase on: April 10, 2013, 10:21:48 pm
Another oddball item arrived today, a 75 foot Siecor Gold fiber optic cable.  Two strands, tiny stuff.  I got it on one of those 99 cent bids.. mainly because I haven't played with optic fiber and seventy five feet of it for a buck was a no brainer.

So, what exactly can I misuse this for?   smiley-mr-green
7  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Lawn Mower on: April 09, 2013, 10:40:45 am
What makes you think the mower isn't collecting data on you, watching your every move?  Sending covert messages to forward the plans of our rapidly coming Robot Overlords?

I recently had to "dispose of" an end table and spent six hours interrogating an eleven speed mixer, after I noticed they were getting a little bit TOO comfortable listening in on my phone coversations. 

You really cannot be too careful.

(maybe I ought to go take my pills now, twitchtwitch)
8  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Quit being Hysterical and Think! on: April 09, 2013, 10:08:25 am
Speaking on the subject of Henry Ford, happened to be at one of his larger failures just the other day (this image is NOT mine!):

"Ford's Folly", a monument to poor planning smiley

The grist mill is great however, and still in operation.  Even better is Nathan, the caretaker.  Not only does he mill flour and stuff with the mill daily and sell baking mixes and the like, he MAINTAINS the mill by hand.  Every part replaced is a hand-made part, most carved from wood.  He's a fascinating guy to talk to- if you let him, he'll drag around to weird little spots and tell you how long it took to replace a hand-carved wooden gear three feet across.  And show you how he made it. Truly defines the word Artisan.
9  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Good, Cheap Camera for Close Ups? Macro? on: April 09, 2013, 09:27:42 am
Hey Michael, by the way-  if you are ever interested in doing it, there is always call for local theater groups and that sort of thing.  The gigs are of course usually unpaid or at best a token payment, but you do get visibility and experience that is hard to get otherwise-- and theater people are a quirky amusing bunch.  As you are into the Steampunk/Ren/etc fair scene, it's pretty much that same, odd subset of folks that are the theater folks.  They also tend to get really amazed and appreciative of any technical assistance on props- Making a "haunted" table jump (solenoid) and bang... that's a miracle to them, frequently.  For Blithe, they needed a crystal ball to light up, but had no way to do it without a cord.  I slapped a  three watt power LED and a cell phone battery in the base, and it's the best thing sliced bread as far as they are concerned.  Low effort, but amount of comments and accolades for it has been just silly.  I haven't even done anything actually involving an Arduino yet.. but it will happen I'm sure of it.

If you give a call to the local arts groups, you will rapidly be inundated with requests.. and though not usually rewarding cash wise, it's usually very much so, amusement and challenge wise.. over the next couple of weeks I'll be doing Wizard of Oz, Annie, Blithe Spirit, and MacBeth.  I'm sure there's plenty around Ayer- it occured to me after chatting at KRF that if you aren't already, you seemed the type that really ought to be well ensconced with the local theater groups.

Attached is a shot of "Charles" for "Blithe Spirit", local theater doing it.  Took the press shots for the local paper last Thursday.  Supposed to come across as 1940 ish British and snobby... but look at it from the Depth of Field standpoint-- that's where those lenses that you can drive a truck through really shine.  No flash used, this is 100w Halogen PAR sidelit at about 6000K, hair and balance at about 2500K, 50w halogen and 20w LED.  Next to it is a still from the original 1945 film, where Charles is played by Rex Harrison.  The shot was taken with my Canon Rebel T2i, you can buy the camera with stock lens at Walmart for under $500.  A Canon 50mm prime f1.8 is another $89, the f/1.4 (only recently purchased, the King Richard's Faire gig paid for that lens) is more like $600, and still debating whether that upcharge for that increase is really worth it.  I know that you are another who takes pride in good results from minimalist equipment smiley

Making shots like this happen is a LOT of fun smiley  I am quite pleased with the work I did, it doesn't look out of place even next to the original cinema work.  As the guy with the camera, you become the director. Getting the "Charles"  look right took quite a while, but I think it came out pretty decent smiley-wink.  Not bad considering he's a local accountant.  "Elvira" will be coming over to the house later tonight, so I can shoot some stuff with her that emphasizes that she is quite dead, while still elegant, flirty and witty.  That's right, an attractive zombie.

(okay I promise no more hijacking the thread, didn't mean to get so far off track!)

OP:  The thing is, I would recommend that you go and search around Craigslist or something, and see if you can buy yourself a gently used digital SLR with a basic lens (usually they come with 18-55mm or similar basic zoom lens).  A Canon Rebel XT or XTi with that lens could probably be had these days used for two hundred dollars and would give you a tool that you won't regret having gotten!  I'm a Canon guy myself, but Nikon and Minolta and Sony (among others!) also produce a decent entry-level digital SLR for several years now- so the secondary market is easy to shop for a bargain.  Maybe try a Adorama or another well-known vendor of refurbs also.

I did a single search on ebay, and "Buy it Now", here's the first hit that came up- I am not recommending this one or anything, it's just to show it's typical pricing and setup:

It's selling for $140.. so there's going to be quite a few for the under-$200-price tag range.  My Rebel XT was my first digital SLR, and it's still going strong today.  Several shots for Blithe came from it.

Used for Macro, that camera and lens can do quite well.  This stop-motion shot I took with the XT and 18-55mm, using Arduino to trigger a flash timed for the impact of a paint drop into a bowl:

10  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Quit being Hysterical and Think! on: April 09, 2013, 09:10:00 am
Making chalk mark on generator     $1.
Knowing where to make mark         $9,999.


11  Community / Bar Sport / Quit being Hysterical and Think! on: April 09, 2013, 07:59:01 am
Today is the 148th anniv. of the birth of Charles P. Steinmetz.

It's also the 98th anniv. of the birth of John Presper "Pres" Eckert Jr.
12  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Good, Cheap Camera for Close Ups? Macro? on: April 09, 2013, 07:48:35 am
So true.  Even worse when camera dorks like me forget to do that kind of thing on an ACTUAL 24 megapixel image.  In RAW (without lossy, poorly done JPG compression done on an MCU) it's not uncommon to have 20 megabytes for a single picture.  Since the first hard drive I ever owned would have only held half of one picture, I think we can agree that storage amount is overkill.

Most digitals have many resolutions to choose from, even the cheapos.  Since a lot of people don't want to edit, just frame, click and post- at least setting the resolution to something reasonable like 4 megapixel or something like 1024x768 is good electronic hygiene.  

The sensors, even the cheap ones, are getting remarkably good.  The Iphone 5 sensor's signal to noise ratio is better than the sensor in my first "Prosumer" digital SLR- but the fact that the sensor is larger and has infinitely better glass in front of it make the images, though technically noiser, a heck of a lot better than anything any iphone ever will produce.  Light physics doesn't change to meet marketing blurbs, usually.  That being said, it's usually the expensive gear that has aperture ranges that create the depth of field issues.  f/8 is probably about right, but if you are trying to do macro with a 50mm f/1.4 you're gonna have a problem.  The fifty dollar f/8 lump o glass is far better for macro than the $700 1.4 (at least until you stop down the 50mm to f/8 that is)

Photography is great in that in many ways it is a very exacting science- I find it hard to think of it in terms of Art, I picked up a camera as an outlet after being an engineer for years.  I like to think that my tendency to overthink and overengineer shots as being just another aspect of being the nerd I am proud to be smiley-grin  I am well known locally (and getting requests from troupes regularly now) for doing theatrical photography-  extremely tricky low-light work, and worst of all, it's PEOPLE, so they actually have to look good!
13  Community / Gigs and Collaborations / Re: In search of assistance. on: April 05, 2013, 03:37:42 pm
As I am sure you know, it takes time and practice to rewire things after something like that- but if exercised, that muscle between the ears can be incredibly resilient.  You've had to reteach some things to yourself, but having done so proves you are likely to be able to do more.

Enough drivel from me, off to email proggie.
14  Community / Gigs and Collaborations / Re: In search of assistance. on: April 05, 2013, 12:04:13 pm
Yep, was about to put together an email to you.  I need to run to the pharmacy and pick up a few things, but the planned mail boils down to:

Everything you have described so far is well within the possible.. in fact, I am using my first RTC on a project at the moment, I am using Dallas 12887+.  Did you post about your project before, on the old forum?  I seem to remember something similar to your project, if it was you, it may be useful for us to review it as a "here we are and here is where we are going" thing.

I've posted before about Arduino and tinkering in general being a great form of therapy.. and I applaud your efforts on many levels.  Recovering from something like that is a tremendous battle, and engaging and challenging your mind is a huge part of that recovery.  Taking the initiative on that-- guiding your own recovery- I consider it an honor to be able to help with that if I can.

Do you ever use Skype or that sort of thing?  Whatever suits you best.

Off to do those errands, then I'll send that email with my contact information and all that.  smiley

15  Community / Gigs and Collaborations / Re: In search of assistance. on: April 04, 2013, 10:20:51 pm
The cost will be exactly zero, at least for any assistance I provide.  I'm disabled myself, Crohns and some associated fun and games.  One thing I often have is time.

I'll be happy to help, and may be of particular use because I spent five years working with disabled patients including adaptive equipment and therapies- I have background in practical Occupational and Physical Therapy, as well as adaptive learning and communication hardware.  

What do you need, and how can I assist?

Curious, BTW- "midwest"-  Where in the Midwest?  It's a pretty big place, spent most of my growing up years in a tiny town in Wisconsin..
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