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Frank Milburn's Blog

28 posts
Now that the TI-RSLK robot RoadTest is finished I have turned my attention back to a problem spotted in the last round of PCBs ordered for the AIS alarm project.  But first, I have a new toy. I have been looking for the right used Nikon microscope in budget but finally could not stand it any longer and bought this Chinese model after my friend bought one.  I am amazed at how much better this is than peering through a magnifying glass or loupe.  At low magnification stereoscopic ...
fmilburn

ToorCamp

Posted by fmilburn Jun 25, 2018
I was able to attend an interesting "hacker" camp last week and thought it worth a post.  ToorCamp is advertised as "The Five Day, Open Air, Tech Camping Event where you create more than just ideas and build more than just inventions".  I don't think that is a particularly good description but I really enjoyed it.   It is located in the Orcas Islands which are located between Washington state in the U.S. and British Columbia in Canada, a very beautiful location.   Aroun ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   Project Update: In the last post I described the hardware state and showed a photo of the new boards.  This past week I have been testing the refactored firmware and chasing a bug that caused me to get out the logic analyzer. Logic Analyzer to the Rescue: When I refactored the code one of the changes was to the ring buffer which I described in an earlier post. ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   Project Update: In the last post I published a video of the completed prototype of the alarm and announced plans to continue working on the firmware and user interface.  In the meantime I ordered additional materials and today my friend and I cooked up a batch in his toaster oven. They turned out really tasty and I have the ingredients to make more :-) I've r ...
There is an active group of hardware / microcontroller enthusiasts that meet up monthly here in Seattle and I regularly attend.  Recently Scott Shawcroft who is a contract programmer for Adafruit attended the meeting and handed out the Adafruit Gemma M0 with Circuit Python to attendees.  This was a special edition that was made for PyCon 2018 with a custom silkscreen and I snagged one.  Here it is connected to a small Li-poly battery and shown next to an Arduino Uno to give scale: ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   May 11, 2018 Update:  Added video demonstration and added update on future plans   It has been a while since I have worked on this project - had to do my submission for the Open Arduino contest and the Portable Electronics Kit .  But today I went back through the code and implemented the remaining features and did preliminary testing.  Everything ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   The faceplates came back today and here is a photograph: If I make another order there are a few tweaks I will make but overall I am happy with it.  I might make the holes slightly smaller.  I hit the edge of the PCB with sandpaper where the tabs were and then a sharpie to make it blacker but otherwise it is as received.   Time to finish off the fir ...
*** UPDATED 2nd April 2018 - At bottom - first attempt at soldering QFN *** UPDATED 14 June 2018 - At bottom - second attempt at soldering QFN - FAIL *** UPDATED 16 June 2018 - At bottom - third attempt it's alive!  See bottom of post for what was wrong and how it was repaired   For sometime I have been using the Texas Instruments MSP430G2553 in most of my projects.  It is relatively inexpensive at $1.98 in small quantities, comes in DIP and TSSOP packages that can be hand sold ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   Two boards have been populated and tested now and everything seems to be working.  This update will cover thoughts on the PCB, faceplate design for the enclosure, and an update on the firmware.   I am satisfied with the PCB for the most part now but will decrease the drill hole size for the LED as the fit is a little loose.  Three different buzzers were ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   I worked most of last week to complete my RoadTest of the TPSM84A21EVM DC-DC Converter but on Friday the revised PCBs for the AIS Alarm arrived and today I populated two of the boards.  This is an update on how things are coming along.   The revised board is shown fully populated on the right.  If you have a look back at the first version it is clear ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   Over the weekend I modified the PCB design, submitted it for production, and started thinking about refactoring the firmware.  This post will show the new PCB design and outline some of the thinking that went into it.  A first pass at the state machine will also be introduced.   Here is a rendering of the new PCB that is now being manufactured: The main ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   Over the weekend the remaining parts arrived and I finished populating the board.  I found a few more problems and will document them here.  Normally I don't document problems unless they are somehow unique and instead give the final state but for this project I am going to publish warts and all.   Here is the populated board next to a dAISy receiver.& ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   The PCBs arrived today but unfortunately I was slow in ordering the more obscure parts for the design and they have not yet arrived.  This blog post will describe populating the board with the parts I have on hand and first impressions of what will be needed for the next revision.   Here is a photo of the board as it currently stands: It looks pretty spa ...
Last summer my 5 year old grandson spent the week with me and I promised his mother it would be educational and him that it would be fun.  Early in the week we wired up LEDs, beepers and switches, learned about polarity, etc.  We played with a simple robot that could be programmed to run a route.  I kept it to only a couple of hours a day and allotted  time to do other stuff.  The highlight was a project we did at the end of the week.   My objective with the projec ...
Project Objective: Develop an open source AIS Alarm that alerts sailors that a new marine vessel with AIS is within range   With the schematic complete it was time to design a PCB.  This blog entry will outline the PCB design and layout along with the primary considerations. The "L" shape of the PCB is a direct result of the enclosure that will be used and is necessary to avoid interference with other components already inside the case.  The dAISy radio receiver will reside un ...