Micro Electronics

Didcot Railway Centre Swindon Panel Museum Electronics

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I think this is the first time I wore a hard hat! Had a fab time at Didcot Railway Centre testing out some electronics I am preparing for the Swindon Panel display. The electronics operate a signal from a control board out the window by the track. Fairly simple arduino and xbee combination which during testing worked very well.


TechCity IoT Widget

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I recently ran a workshop at TechCity with Ryan White of rLab where we designed a IoT widget based on the ESP8266 chip. Participants got to make the whole board using modern surface mount soldering and through hole soldering techniques, look at the software toolchain and walk away with a widget that can sit on their desk that connects to the internet and tells them the current weather and the forecast – particularly helpful when you work in the basement and want to know if it is raining outside!

Aquarium monitoring and the ESP8266

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I really like the price point of the ESP8266 and the ease of use it offers tinkerers to add wifi to their projects and in particular the Arduino.

I have an issue with topping up from evaporation in my aquarium so I decided to hook up a system (designing a pcb and software from scratch) that not only tops up the aquarium when it’s running low, but can send me an email before its resivour is too low.

On top of that it can monitor (and log online, I’m using thingspeak.com) the temperature. One other nice thing it can do is tell me when I need to empty my protein skimmer collection cup – without having to open the cupboard door.

Here’s what the prototype looks like:


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Today there was a build-your-own-quadcopter workshop at rLab. The designed in-house, the main elements of the airframe cut from acrylic with our laser cutter, and all of the parts ordered and assembled into kits in advance.Total price per quadcopter – ~£100!

The build was a great success, with eight out of nine of the quadcopters in flight by 5:30 – the ninth had a faulty motor.

Unfortunately I didn’t find the acrylic very robust for an amateur pilot, so I recently upgraded to a carbon fibre frame.

20 min Twinkles

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I love it when a plan comes together, I had been commisioned with a project to make 2 led strands I picked up in China twinkle or fade, 20 mins later with a few spares about and wa la… I love it when a plan comes together. I’ll have a tweak later in the week but it’s looking good!

Sunny DCC Sundays

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Well what are Sundays for? A bit of R&R and playing with the model train controller Barnaby and I have been putting together since our trip to China. A few teething issues in version one but nothing thats stopped us working to date which is fab, anyway a shortie vid and a disclosure, we did have a sunny walk and a yummy dinner cooked by Barny’s beloved 😃

China Shenzhen Dangerous Prototypes Hack Camp & Maker faire

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Back at the beginning of April Ryan, Richard Barnaby and Myself from RLab (Reading Makerspace) had a crazy impulse control failure and booked on the Dangerous Prototypes first Hack Camp and oh my god was it a trip of a lifetime!

The Continuing Professional Development (ah hem holiday), consisted of some of the most amazing tours around insights into conducting business in China through all the development cycles which included a Tour of the Huaqiangbei electronics market (just wow!) with a group of pros who source tools and components there on a regular basis. Talks covering how to bargain, what to eat, getting around, how to import/export. The course was so well laid out and hospitality via Ian and Jin was simply above and beyond – these guys are just so super great.

So anyway, here is a snippet of our 10 days in China/Hong Kong in what I am calling a Blogamentory (my perspective), but there is some more professional stuff from the guys on their own site you’ll dig into here

Thanks again guys and for those of you that get a chance if there is a next time be quick! its awesome!