Passive Infrared Controlled Outlet

I created this PIR (Passive Infrared) outlet for the lamp by my door so I no longer have to flip the switch when I walk in with my hands full.  I know you can buy wall switches with PIR in them but I haven’t seen an outlet yet.

PIR Switched Outlet

PIR Switched Outlet

PIR Switched Outlet

PIR Switched Outlet

I basically took a dual-gang electrical junction box, an outlet and a standard switch, I drilled a hole in the center of the cover plate and mounted the PIR sensor (Walmart special, $9, intended for a Brinks outdoor light).  The PIR sensor takes hot and neutral and switches out hot when it’s triggered by a change in thermal trace.  This switched hot was then wired into the outlet and whatever is plugged into it is obviously now switched.  So, what’s the switch for you ask?  It’s simply to override the PIR sensor and keep the light on when I’m sitting on the couch.  It’s just wired in parallel into the outlet.

PIR Outlet Parts

PIR Outlet Parts

TGIMBOEJ – A Basement in Chicago

I’ve received another Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronic Junkthis one from Chicago.

It took me a little while to get this one out the door, but it has been passed on towards greener pastures.

This box contained a variety of toys, oddly enough ANOTHER US Robotics Data/Fax Modem, a huge amphenol connector (which meant I had to include a bigger one!), a hard drive, several coax in-line amplifiers, a whole box full of random IC’s.  A nice decade set of capacitors, a dead backup battery, some adjustable capacitors and much more electronic “stuff”

A Basement in Chicago TGIMBOEJ

A Basement in Chicago TGIMBOEJ

Quite a Bit Fits in Such a Small Box

Quite a Bit Fits in Such a Small Box

I ended up pulling out the decade capacitor set, a set of pressure sensitive resistors, a CF card, a random 6 pin connector I run into a lot on old equipment, and last but not least an ancient PCMCIA flash card:

Parts Removed

Parts Removed

I ended up adding a development kit from Freescale Semiconductor, a huge capacitor, a giant amphenol connector and an old police radio that doesn’t seem to work??

Parts Added

Parts Added

Additionally, I realized today this box of decade capacitors has random smilie faces drawn on them:

Happy Capacitors

Happy Capacitors

At any rate, the box has been passed on to Tim and will hopefully be on it’s way to another lucky recipient shortly!

Enabling Devices Ultimate Switch

Anyone out there who’s more of a DIYer looking for special needs solutions may consider purchasing one of these Ultimate Switches from Enabling Devices. For ~$60 it might look like a cheap buy next to some of their other devices like this ~$250 Little Tikes toy.

Ultimate Switch

Ultimate Switch

Inside the Ultimate Switch is nothing more than an Omron single pole single throw momentary switch.

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch Top

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch Top

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch Bottom

Omron Z-15GNJ55 Switch Bottom

Digikey previously sold the same switch for $30 at one-off-quantities, you can likely get it cheaper from a supply house or from Omron directly in their industrial automation limit switches category.

FIRST Lego League

I was given the opportunity to judge the Madison area FIRST Lego League competition.  The kids, other judges, and I had a lot of fun looking at the robots and the challenges they had to solve.  If you don’t know anything about FIRST have a look here.

Uber-Geeken

Uber-Geeken

The challenge was focused on transportation, which resulted in the teams competing to pick up rings on the layout board, knock down or keep standing walls and poles next to the “road” and to navigate a harrowing ramp and ultimately deliver a cargo of 4 Lego people to the target area.  Many teams chose to dead-reckon the course, with few utilizing line-following and fewer using the ultrasonic and touch sensors to verify contact with objectives or to avoid walls.  As judges we were most impressed when the young (primarily 4th-6th grade) competitors used the sensors and coupled them with an effective strategy to deal with the course obstacles.  We also liked to see teams that had clear collaboration amongst the members with all of the competitors equally aware of the goals and strategies of the robot.

Ultimately everyone had a great day and we all had a lot of fun watching the robots compete for points and prestige.

Awesome Competition Arena

Awesome Competition Arena

The gym set up was 5 projectors, 4 competition tables, 4 party lights and rocking music – it’s as much a party as it is a competition 🙂

Fuji PYZ Series PYZ4RAY1-4V Controller Dead

I’ve got 3 PYZ series PYZ4RAY1-4V controllers who have all decided to quit working in a week or so of eachother.

Fuji PYZ Controller

Fuji PYZ Controller

They all won’t respond correctly to the sense input (TC, RTD, Voltage/Current) and 2 of them are stuck at -208 no matter what. I don’t see any glaring issues on the boards, the capacitors are all happy, nothing burned out/damaged. Can’t find any reference to them on the internet except for a manual here.

I’ve also got an Omega CN8500 with similar issues.

Anyone else familiar with these controllers?

Fuji PYZ Controller

Lots of Fuji PYZ Controllers

Pollution and Our Planet

Ran across this photo series the other day and I’ve been thinking about the images and repercussions for a while – have a look. This goes a long way to show how minimizing pollution in the US and other major developed countries will have little impact on the overall effect of pollution/emissions on a global scale. . .

Related to this, and very much worth the time to watch, is this video on our planet

And while we’re on the topic, you should stop by YouTube and check out these videos that will really put things into perspective.

Snag Films

Have to say this is an awesome idea!  Snag Films allows you to watch documentaries streaming on demand, the price you pay is nothing but the occasional commercial. Looks like they’re just getting started so I’m sure they’ll end up with a different revenue model down the road, but for now head on over and enjoy free movies!

I’m hearing the groans now, “it’s just documentaries, who wants to watch that crap. . .”, so no, you won’t find action films or anything on there, but otherwise there are some excellent films if you’re in the mood to open your eyes to the rest of the world 🙂

Dear MSN Messenger. . .

Does anyone MSN message links with http://look***.com/ legitimately?  I feel like this shouldn’t be that hard to filter out or perhaps that you’re afraid of filtering too much. . .

Yes, I know I can set my preferences to only accept chat messages from people on my contacts list, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a instant messaging client.

Introduction to Arduino Powerpoint

If anyone else out there is planning on presenting an Introduction to Arduino in the near future feel free to build off my presentation here.  I’ve tried to cite anywhere that the images came from, keeping in mind that I was using the images in an educational setting which has magic rules for fair use.

Fair use explicitly allows use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Rather than listing exact limits of fair use, copyright law provides four standards for determination of the fair use exemption:

Let me know if this helps you out or if you have an glaring complaints 🙂

DOWNLOAD:

Introduction to Arduino Presentation

Presentation and demo (not included) given at the 2009 Enlight student organization kickoff meeting at the University of Wisconsin – Madison

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Dell Precision 650 Bad Capacitors

I was given a full Dell Precision 650 that wasn’t booting. In taking a glance at it, it was obvious what was wrong with the poor thing:

Bad/Leaky Capacitors

Bad/Leaky Capacitors

Dell Precision 650 Motherboard

Dell Precision 650 Motherboard

I pulled the motherboard and swapped all of the electrolytics out for known good capacitors.

Good Capacitors

Good Capacitors

After swapping out all of the bad capacitors it fired up like new!

Lots to replace!

Lots to replace!