Opening a drawer and finding those five bubble envelopes you got, paid a dollar each for, and forgot-- only to open and find the inspiration for the next wildly useless portzebie. Why do I have an industrial ultrasonic transducer designed for use in measuring the volume in tankers? Because it was a buck (though lists for a thousand!). What will I do with it? Stick it on a shelf, and then pull it out when a ping sensor (at five bucks) would work. I saved four bucks, even if it is a thousand dollar part, actually
It's the fact that many of these are so low cost that makes it possible or reasonable to lose things in a drawer for six months until Geekmas... it's not too hard to forget three items costing a total of two dollars that take a month to arrive, especially if you were buying them to shelve them in the first place
Hehehe..well, it's usually to let folks know when I stumble across something particularly crazily priced (like the 7219's, the recent logic mosfets, etc).
The thing is, I am killing hours when I am cruising that stuff out. Long story short, I have an illness which puts me in the loo for up to five hours a day, sometimes hours at a stretch, many times in tne middle of the night. The internet is what keeps you from going insane... eventually I made kind of a game of browsing for things that slip through the cracks. The reality is that I am surprised how FEW items are garbage.. at the prices I am going for, sometimes from unknown vendors- many times at what has to be a loss. I expect a certain of garbage- and have found that the amount of garbage is surprisingly small. Vendors don't want bad feedback, it's poison to an ebay vendor. I think a certain number of these sales are put out there simply to solicit positive feedback- and I'm okay with that, as long as I am getting a good deal, I'm happy to praise them for it
It may seem I get things cheaply, but trust me, if you incorporate the hours it takes to find these things, it is anything but cheap!
I've used fiberglass... I have also used cotton gauze, twist ties, and even formed a pour mold of duct tape for use in creating structures never intended or recommended to be composed of an adhesive. If there is a wrong way to do it, rest assured, I have done it or am planning to.... I absolutely love things like epoxy, PVC pipe, duct tape and heat-formable plastics (even those not actually designed to be formed). Another good starting point for inappropriate construction is utility and junction boxes from hardware stores.. and never forget threaded rod. A discount store up the street sells hot melt glue in three temp ranges, big bag of sticks for a couple of bucks. Throw in some drywall screws and plywood, you pretty much can build a mockery of anything decently made. Some day I'll have a 3d printer, until then, pass the epoxy and staplegun...
I'm the guy that mounts heat sinks with hotmelt glue and an attitude of letting fate decide if the magic blue genie will emerge... I actually HAVE mounted power LED's (twelve one watters) to a chunk of a floppy drive made of a hunk of aluminum as a heatsink with hotmelt glue.
Doing things the right way is almost sinful when tinkering, in my eyes. Production, work- another story, real work you do right. For my own personal use, I almost prefer the slight air of danger every time something is powered up...
Well, I'm well-known for my bottom-feeding on ebay.. and if the device being made was critical in any way, I would use "real" parts purchased from a reputable retailer.. but in reality, almost none of my projects are something I would directly sell or depend upon for any real purpose. I will buy "as-is" and "NOS" as a priority, knowing the risks. The fact is, I feel more comfortable buying from a Shenzen seller with twenty thousand sales on ebay than I do with a Los Angeles seller with sixty sales.. I trust the Shenzen volume seller to care about their reputation more than the new account from California.
In the years I have been grabbing ebay dregs, I only once have gotten trash- a four pack of ATMEGA88's that wouldn't do a thing- and the seller refunded.
"polida" (the vendor for this particular deal) is one that I have bought a number of things from- and if you don't need customer service (language barrier) I haven't had any problems with and tends to ship pretty quickly. I think their angle is sheer volume, if you look at their total number of customers it's in the tens of thousands.
Happily, most of these vendors seem to know their customers are going to be hobbyists and the like- they tend to have a lot of the stuff we tend to buy. Modules of various types (sensors, voltage regulators, SD card, ethernet, etc) can be ridiculously cheap- I have gotten ethernet modules for $3, Bluetooth for $2, and stepper motor controller (ULN2003) plus stepper motor for $3. Outside of the modules, you can always bottom feed on certain items- 2N3904/3906 transistors, ULN2003A Darlington Arrays, LED's of all types, MOSFET's, and a dozen different "uino" clones. I had to dedicate my "real" Arduino Duemilanove to a project for a couple months, so I decided to give (reference to counterfeit product removed by moderator) a try.. they are one of the larger clone outfits. Their prices are hard to beat also, I got a Uno clone, a Proto Shield with 65 jumpers and a mini breadboard, and an LCD keypad (looks suspiciously like liudr's design) shield... all of it for $39 shipped. It's coming from California, so shipping isn't even the couple of weeks of waiting that ordering from China is.. it's just the normal 2-3 days for mail. Today, I am making a 24-channel PWM controller (8 channels of RGB) using AT90S4414.. I bought two TUBES (twenty MCU's, 40-pin AVRs) for $7 TOTAL a while back (I just realized to myself that amounts to just over a penny per GPIO pin!). I have been planning to using them to make quick and dirty SPI-to-1602 LCD interfaces, should work great for the purpose. I am still looking for a good use for the half tube of Dallas 12887+ clocks I bought for TWO BUCKS also. Yes, I know all of these components are likely to be factory seconds or overstocks- but as I said- in several years and dozens of purchases, only ONE has ever been outright bad. One thing is for sure- the vendors take take "Feedback" very seriously and will bend over backwards even on a deal to avoid getting bad feedback, it seems. I wouldn't try to "take advantage" of that, but it does seem they care about those stars a lot.
I will give a report on the (reference to counterfeit product removed by moderator) "uino" when it arrives- but I see no reason for it to be anything other than a good ole basic Uno..
scope: new ones obviously have a ton of features, DSO's have been around for decades, and while not as featured as a new lcd model I use a Kenwood CS8010 at home from 1987. It was free and outside of a few times its been perfectly fine for home. One was on ebay recently and sold for 61$ and 25$ for shipping (which is way too much for a 20Mhz DSO with 2 k of ram) but keep your eyes open.
soldering station: hakko (or if you want to cheap out hakko clone) its just a good iron that is not stupid expensive and parts are everywhere. I use a xytronic (which was about 50 bucks instead of 75 for a hakko), which I love but since the place I bought it from went out of biz the only place I can find tips is Jameco. Dont bother with models with a digital temp readout, they are just a pain in the butt to set IMO
What's the take on these DSO nano things? I am not seeing the drawback on these, at least for use in low-bandwidth situations. I really don't foresee trying to sample gigahertz frequencies (or even many megahertz for that matter). What I really COULD use would be multi-trace.. for digital, that would be far more useful. That in mind, what about the soft/hardware scopes for bench use? PC with either card or USB for the actual interfacing... and those frequently have multitrace function and are also low-cost. None of these devices is exactly cheap, I am just trying to get the most bang for my buck, keeping in mind my actual usage.
I think I will go with the Hakko in terms of an iron. Everyone basically says the same thing- reasonable price, well made, tips are easy to find and cheap. I see a bunch of funky models with ESD protection and all that, but I think the standard workhorse 926 is what will suit me best. I have been a bit under the weather for a couple of days actually, but I am hoping to get out tomorrow- I have learned that there is a "technology recycling" company the next town over, and I am hoping that they have an inventory of used equipment from the many failed companies of the past few years. I don't mind used stuff at all, as long as it works- and saves money, and is "green" and all that. I dumpster dive for parts. Second hand bench equipment is a LOT better than that..
One item I am investing in has to be a decent swing-arm magnifier light. Soldering and such can be insanely difficult at times, I seem to have accuracy similar to typing with a ham on a ten foot pole when I am trying to carefully solder the first pin of an unsteady connection.. The eyes just don't seem to want to work like did when I was twenty either for some reason. Dollar store magnifier glasses help, but a decent bench magnifier is such a better idea.
Outside of the tools, I have a philosphical question for you guys:
If I don't succeed in bringing this to actual production, I am considering the wisdom of releasing the design into the public domain. As I have always said, this isn't about money. This is about getting this device into homes, so that people don't die.. even if it's someone else getting rich, getting credit, getting it done. Making the design public doesn't make me happy either. Public means people might just try to make this themselves. This is NOT a device to be made by anyone but professionals. The fact is, people could die trying, and that- well I don't even want to think about it.
How could I release into the hands of people who are QUALIFIED, without making it TOO public, encouraging a dangerous situation where DIY folks end up causing more tragedies than I am trying to prevent?
I try and view this type of thing from a glass-half-full kind of perspective. Since I am on a tight budget, I get a lot of my supplies and components the old-fashioned way. Geekcycling. Those older items make it so much easier and productive. Like you said- many of the parts are built to last, unlike today's.
Many things lend themselves to being salvaged from the old equipment that you do have to toss. Power supplies are an obvious one- hard to beat a PC power supply for clean 5v and 12v. Printers have stepper motors and a ton of hardware. Virtually all older equipment has worthwhile components to desolder and use- power resistors and transistors, switches, and always take ribbon cable. Network cable is GREAT hookup wire, eight conductors. A two meter network patch cable is really sixteen meters of wire! Never let a good heatsink go to a dumpster.
Like you said, the older stuff always is always labeled-- while the newer stuff, not so much- and so much harder to manage SMD devices anyway...
Since when is Radio Shack reasonably priced? Went to the MALL store and got a Seeed Studio Proto Shield for $9.99!
Okay- Credit where credit is due.
Seeedstudio-- the protoshield kit is awesome. This is a great deal at ten bucks. I expected the board headers and such, and not much else. However, they also toss in an extremely useful collection of common components: two red and two green LEDs, a bicolor LED, resistors for the LEDs, a 10k pot, two 40-strips of male pin headers, a 40-strip of female header, a 40-strip of long male headers, spare spacers, four tactile switches and two slide switches, and a USB socket. That's a heck of a lot for ten bucks!!!
Well, it's been hard to come up with what would be relevant things I could actually offer. For all the obvious reasons, I can't provide a valve, nor should anyone ever consider installing something home made into a gas line, what I am doing using even a propane camping cylinder is VERY dangerous and should NOT be attempted !! (Worth saying)
I had many suggest to me to simply not offer any rewards, if for no other reason than to keep the focus on the project itself and not the token items which might cheapen it, in a way. To be sure, anyone throwing money at this knows it's not an investment or a purchase. The rewards are meant to be a come-on, but I think the project itself is the eyegrabber, not some "perk".
As I am a photographer of a sort too, I figured that the idea of the photobook for someone dropping that kind of money might at least be something I can provide. The goal here is to get this viral, to get it built. If in fact that happens, who knows.. maybe such a thing might be worth something, at least on a "I helped make it happen" level. Maybe I watch too much Pawn Stars.
You make a very good point relating to the perks, one that I have yet to come to a really good answer for. I'm open to suggestions! What I absolutely don't want to do is spend too much effort or cost in the perks department and thereby create more of a problem than is solved... this has been mulled over quite a bit, and I still haven't a decent answer. Luckily, I can always ADD perks if I desire.
Lefty-- Precisely my intent. There's simply no way that a single person or even a small company can make this a reality. Certifications alone, never mind actually making the device.
I am hoping that this device and campaign captures public attention enough that I can present the device to someone like a Honeywell or GE.. someone who can make the thing real. Companies already entrenched in the industry, with the legal teams in place.
If there is visibility enough, my hope is that the groundswell is enough to have the public asking "Where is the one on my house?" and the manufacturer sees the hundreds of millions to be made off of replacing every gas meter in the country (or more) over a period of years.
Though these events are rare, they are very graphic and horrific. Houses blown to bits, heavy news coverage each time. I'll edit back this and put up a few story links. It doesn't take much to whip up fear (or more appropriately, concern and a desire to act) if you can present people with such a graphic, current image.
We all know that I am far from the best engineer. I am however motivated, and willing to see if I can change the world for the better. The appeal I place here is not so much for donations but for possible contacts. There are some very well connected people here, some under assumed names. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that the story passes in front of the right eyes. If you can, tell folks you know about it. The way I look at it, there's no possible downside to trying to make this a reality. I truly believe that the money is a far-back second to getting visibility and public interest. What I need is media attention, and although I am terrified of it, I also think I can make this happen if I can present the idea and the story. What better poster child than a survivor of such a thing, one who is campaigning one possible cure to the problem? This campaign at the core needs to be about getting people's minds on the subject, not necessarily on my particular whack at it.
The fact is, it is the right thing to do, and it ought to be in your house right now. I am just enough of a loudmouth to possibly be able to engage folks if I can get the story and the intent in front of them. As you know, I can't work.. at least not in the normal setting. I feel like this is something productive I can do. Even if it's not my valve that ends up making your home safer, maybe it will be BECAUSE of the ruckus that I make that someone else will.
That's all I want from this, really. To not read these stories anymore, and be able to forget my own a little more, maybe.
What it's all about, for me:
I am Paul. I was about five feet in front of that chimney, watching cartoons on a Saturday morning, and the world ended. This was thirty years ago. If there's even a tiny chance I can stop these things, I have to.
By the way, part of this is going to upgrading from a ten dollar home depot multimeter and dollar store tools. Being disabled as I am, it basically impossible for me to work for someone else.. to call my work schedule erratic is an understatement. Putting together a halfway reasonable bench here in my home is the right answer. Living as I do, on a social security disability income, I have made do with what I can, but this should be done with at least the basic tools.
I could use a few recommendations for a bench and portable meter, a bench power supply, and an inexpensive storage oscilloscope capable of the frequencies we generally deal with in Arduino projects (Ghz not needed), and a good soldering station.
Thoughts? I had a friend tell me to get a Fluke Scopemeter... Looks like an amazing device, but overkill and too expensive. I am just trying to put together a little more reasonable workspace for this...
Selling the fear is easy.. I just need to pull up the news. This happens all the time... As in every few days.
I can talk about those that died- a schoolteacher and a distinguished veteran. I can do what will be needed- which is bring the reality and emotion when I am interviewed.. As I did with Patch.com. It's not a matter of trying to muster up some tears, it's a matter of holding them back enough to tell the story.
I know that at this point, it's people that are the real requirement, not the funding. I could beg borrow and steal enough to finish a prototype, probably. It needs to be more than that. I need media visibility and groundswell. Here's to hoping I can light a big enough fire to put out the ones I am trying to make a thing of the past!
I am aware that someone, probably multiple someones, are going to end up making a lot of money at this.. And I am unlikely to be part of it. I would need to already been in the patent process, too much has already been laid out.
The thing is, I can't let that stop me. If I didn't do things just because the world isn't a fair place, I would never get out of bed.
If by doing this I end up ratcheting up awareness and thereby get something.. Even if it isn't mine.. Implemented by the industry then I will have succeeded.
I can tell one hell of a story. I'm putting myself up to capture the public eye (pity I am such a goofy looking little weirdo) and act as a focal point (ha!) for what I hope can be a media snowball.
Tele, what you are missing is that this is a cutoff for residential use. It is specifically being designed for the purpose, and recent manufacturing changes has drastically reduced the pricing of key components (for example, MQ series sensors).
I'm kind of curious as to why integrating the gas detector (among other sensors, including inline pressure sensors both before and after valve) into the residential valve is such a bad idea in your opinion, considering that such equipment can exist for reasonable cost. And actually- the flammable gas detector you advise would still leave my parents dead and three kids orphaned. Since it was primarily the crawlspace where the leak occured, with little in the basement, a single alarm in the basement (normal placement) would have been of dubious value, even if they had existed at the time. However, an inline pressure sensor would have sensed the drop in line pressure and lack of backpressure in the line.
Let me ask you this: Such devices exist, cost has been the prohibitive factor, as you pointed out. Only major expense operations could or would afford. Now, you recommend that gas detector, somewhat effective- but why wouldn't you integrate that ALARM into a CUTOFF? The very same sensor you recommend is the sensor in my design- except I go further in the full design, correlating across several sensor types to minimize false alarms. In addition, I am proposing a change in valve standard from NO to NC. Positive action via solenoid required for gas to flow. Simple. There's no legitimate reason for gas to be on to residence if the power fails. Using the stove for heat means death by CO poisoning. Since a manual bypass could still be enineered in (though why it would be is beyond me) there's still no drawback. Happily, MQ series sensors detect CO. The design also allows for both wired and RF linked sensors (2.4Ghz or 350 Mhz modules), which allows for multiple location monitoring for cheap. Last but not least is that I plan to provide for integration into existing domestic alarm systems. Addition of bluetooth or web interface is as simple as an SD card and ethernet or bluetooth module. What I did for the video was not for technical folks. I wanted it to be simple and straight to the point. My 84 year old father in law got it the first time he saw the one minute demo video.. which was the intent. Trying to explain all the other stuff wasn't needed, and wouldn't help. He, like most people, didn't know that this type of thing was even possible, much less within reach. By the way, my neighbor, an OSHA inspector, is also intrigued. Seems that maybe, just maybe, I might be the right guy in the right place saying the right thing at the right time, if I can pull it off. That's the goal.
The demo I did for the video was extremely simple, just using a single MQ2 sensor. Calibration isn't necessary for this demo because it operates on a delta rather than absolute (though absolute threshold is there too)... it senses a drastic change from sample to sample, therefore it is an alarm situation. Rapidly rising gas concentration in the environment? Shut it off... everything else is secondary. Further, as the system is "smart" (not simple mechanical) it could also provide data and remote cutoff potentially, to the utility.
The reality is that this can happen now. The technology is affordable and reliable enough for this purpose- your recommended alarm shows that show this to be the case (as does the one I have, and have had for years, I am quite reasonably a little paranoid about such things). What it really needs is a catalyst. I am trying to be that catalyst. I am willing to tell my story, and offer a possible solution (even if it isn't the one eventually implemented) to get this ball rolling. I did an interview for Patch.com which will run on Monday, and I hope to be talking with two local television stations next week. Even if I totally fail, I can try. If pulling together twenty five grand, trivial in terms of R&D money, has even an outside chance that it could make this happen--- I'd be a fool, and possibly be unable to feel too good about myself if I didn't give it all that I can... this is thirty years of an orphaned teen's motivation. I want to make this happen for every right reason there is, and I don't care at all (Though I probably should) about making money from this. It's about saving lives, It's about the idea that I may be able to prevent others from knowing what it is for the air to be on fire, concussion injuries, and the horror left behind. I won't lie, thirty years later and there are times when.. well, let's just say that the nightmares and occasional daymares still won't stop completely. Maybe I can make a little peace with a few demons by doing this, while I am at it.
As I said, the technology is relatively trivial. The cost has become so. What is needed now is capturing the public's imagination, a groundswell. In November, a house blew up right here in my city (Crossroads, too) and the guy died. There's a story every day of this. I barely survived.. my home and parents didn't, and not a single thing has changed in terms of the valves since that day. The same fault that killed them could kill anyone. Any time. Given that, how can I not try to change it?
Considering that I have at least an outside chance of success, particularly if I can engage the proper resources- of creating some meaning from the tragedy, wouldn't it be the largest sin of all to NOT try?