DLNA Adventures

It’s 2014. There really ought to be a good way to handle mp3 files and be able to organize and listen to music in some kind of sensible manner. I was a college kid in the early 2000s, so I had a haphazard collection of mp3s ripped from CDs and shared around campus. I attempted to organize it at least a half dozen times since then, and it has become so scattered that it just became unmanageable over the years and the new computers, external drives, backing everything up to CD and DVD, etc. The current solution: It looks like a decade of procrastination has allowed other people to nearly solve the problems of managing a media library. The current solution looks to be DLNA, which strikes me as the OPC-UA equivalent to the media space. Without boring you with the details of arriving at this solution, here is my […]

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Designspark Mechanical

I just heard that Designspark, working with Spaceclaim, has just released a free edition of spaceclaim designed to help make enclosures for PCBs designed with Designspark’s other free EDA tools. This could be a huge advancement for the hobby 3D printing market. Designspark Mechanical can export STL, and being based on spaceclaim means that editing will be quite nice. I have used Spaceclaim Engineer in a previous job, and really was impressed. Other common tools for 3D hobbiests: Autodesk 123D: Painful interface (on older computers), and a medium learning curve, but still quite usable. They recently hid the 3D export option, but it is still there. SCAD: Much larger learning curve, but very good (especially paired with DraftSight to make DXFs). Also very nice for the parametric aspects. Sketchup: As someone with real CAD experience, making precise things and doing any kind of editing was quite painful. Sometimes has problems […]

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New electronics for the makerbot

Sparkfun had an awesome deal for people who liked them on Facebook, so I decided to come up with a project. I’ve been looking with envy at the RAMPS board for reprap, and wanted to start getting parts to upgrade my cupcake. A bit of research shows that it’s a stack of an Arduino Mega2560, a connector board, and a couple of Pololu stepper drivers. Ultimachine has a complete kit (solder yourself) for $150. Poking around Sparkfun, I found this collection of goodies for $143 (before the discount): Arduino Pro Mini MegaShield Proto QuadStepper Motor Driver FTDI Breakout I’m planning on using the Proto shield to act as a connector board between the Pro and the QuadStepper. I won’t have to add much to it to get the other RAMPS functions, and I probably have most of it in stock. I may even put in a 24V power supply and I’ll […]

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Hello again, world!

Whelp, I managed to drop my entire database while working on some web development…. The automatic backup didn’t work, and I have nothing to restore. I managed to get my blog content out of google’s cache, but it will take some effort to turn it back into blog posts, so this will be empty for a while….

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PID explained

The topic of PID often comes up when I talk with FIRST teams. This post is how I explain it to students. I was recently explaining it in a post on Chief Delphi, so I decided to turn it into a blog post while I was at it. The basic idea for PID is that it corrects for errors. if you make a PID loop based on position, it will move your motors such that the position is what you want. you can replace the word position with the words velocity, angle, and even acceleration or motor current. you can also loop multiple parts of your motion. (i.e. Loop position and velocity), but for FIRST, you usually only need to put a loop around one thing. Let’s use position for discussion, which is easiest to visualize. First, you need a way to measure your position (an encoder can be used […]

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