I’ve been starting tomatoes in my greenhouse for several years now, but I’ve just now learned something new: If you start tomatoes too early, it seems to stunt their growth. The tomatoes above were the last that I planted, and yet they … [ Continue Reading at http://itfarmersblog.com/?p=2787 ]
This year I managed to get all of my tomato and pepper seeds started at roughly the same time. I started all of these trays in my home during the germination stage, and they were placed around every available window. A few trays didn’t receive nearly enough light, and when they were [ Continue Reading at http://www.itfarmersblog.com/?p=2779 ]
The winter blues finally got the best of me, and so I gave in, and started planting seeds early. I told myself I was doing a tomato trial of sorts, rounding up seeds from years past and plugging them into the soil. I carefully marked each seed type, from my experimental Cherokee Wine and [ Continue Reading at http://itfarmersblog.com/?p=2763 ]
I’ve been working on Ike, my toy robot project for awhile now, and I’ve made some serious progress. What once started as a concept is starting to really show itself as a reality. The Arduino board I once imagined controlling this bot is now securely fastened to his back. All of the pins that supply output and input to drive this contraption have been mapped, and the real work of putting him back together is beginning.
The Arduino board itself is quite impressive, but it’s not a robot control solution in it’s self. The board still requires the help of some additional circuits, and additional power. The motors that drive Ike’s movements use 9 Volts, and both wires need current at different times. To solve this dilemma, I’ve added H-Bridges, that convert the Arduino’s output into 9 Volts on the required wire. This allows the motors to more forward or back as needed.
Below the H-Bridge cluster is a series of connectors and resistors which will enable some of Ike’s sensors, and under that, the row of resistors is an area dedicated to powering Ike’s new multi-colored eyes. He originally had only blue eyes, but now his eyes can range wildly from blue to red to white. The LEDs are also capable of green, but Ike’s visor filters most of this light out, and it appears a dull gray instead.
In addition to Ike’s new eyes, and control boards, I’m re-wiring every component. In place of the thin wires that didn’t last, I’m putting some seriously thick wire where needed. I found this ridiculously thick speaker wire which was meant to power those thumping stereos in the younger generation’s cars. It should definitely do the trick, and last for quite a while as well.
Here’s an exploded view of sorts, which shows how the two boards will be stacked. The Arduino board will be about an inch below the new motor control board. The second board will be integrated into Ike’s exoskeleton. I’ve had to cut a big chunk out of his backs plastic to mount this board.
I’ve been considering adding a third Raspberry PI board on top of the Motor control board…… but, I better finish this stage first. If I do add this third board, Ike won’t require a USB connection, and I should be able to add in Voice Recognition.
All in all, I’ve made a lot of progress. This robot is more then just a toy, it’s a method to force myself to learn something I’ve always wanted to know: How to wire electronics. I’ve long ago mastered the methodology of computers, but electronics has always eluded me. It was always something I was planning to do in the future.
The future is now, and I’ve learned far more then I thought I would from this project. When I finished soldering Ike’s motor control board, I realized I could use the same methods modified just a bit to build robots that build walls…. Just as a car factory uses robots to build cars.
The last few days have been bitterly cold, but before that, our winter was fairly warm. Since it has been cold enough to put the plants into a winter slumber, I’ve been pruning them on warm days. The grape vine above needed a great deal of care, as I didn’t prune it back as much last year as I should have. This year, I’ve decided to do it right.
I started at the roots of the plants, and followed the vines as they split. I cut off most of the runners, except for the more desirable ones. Most of the vines would double back over themselves, climb up the shed nearby, or grow back towards the ground. These vines were cut, and only the vines that grew towards the other end of the trellis were left. I plan to cut them back even more next year, but first I want to make sure I get the outcome I’m looking for, before I turn this trellis into a holder for only four vines.
At night, when the sun is no longer available to help with pruning, I’ve been pruning wires. It all feels like the same activity anymore, especially when we just finished re-wiring the network at work. We ran 7000 feet of cabling, and with pruning grape vines, and cutting wires, I’ve spent a lot of time chasing ends.
The board shown above is Ike’s motor control board (Ike is a robot project I’ve been working on). I got started before reading the directions, and the board itself is upside down. oops. The circuits still function, but they aren’t quite as neat as they should be.
The black boxes will convert signals from an Arduino board (not shown) into 9 volt outputs to drive Ike’s motors. [ Continue Reading @ http://itfarmersblog.com/?p=2736 ]
I recently purchased a toy robot from a co-worker. The robot is a RoboSapien V2, produced by Wowwee, but this robot was worn-out, and I purchased him knowing that he would need some serious re-wiring. You can see what he was originally intended to do here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCGp2EfmnS0 Rick named him “Ike” after “Isaac Asimov”, a famous sci-fi writer, and I thought it was fitting, so I’ve decided he should keep the name.
I took Ike apart, knowing that his wiring had frayed over time. My intention was to repair the wires with some electrical tape, and put him back together. I wasn’t prepared for the number of wires which needed work, and how tedious and time consuming the work would be. After covering many of the wires with electrical tape, I decided the problem needed a new solution. [ Continue Reading Here: http://itfarmersblog.com/?p=2725 ]
I’ve been working on an X shaped bar for several months now. The whole project was an evolution of ideas, starting with the desire for a more open space. I wanted to rip out the wall between my kitchen and my living room, and replace the structural support the wall provided with a central pillar. After kicking around some ideas about the best way to implement the idea, I settled on an X shape to hold the weight of the roof, with a hollowed out top portion that would become my new kitchen table. What a great way to save space by combining a wall and a table !
The project has taken quite a bit of motivation to complete, but now that I’ve finished all of the wiring, lighting, flooring, trim and bar stools, it’s time to move onto new projects.
My family has had this white bench as far back into my memory as I can dig. It used to be a brilliant white, with a fresh looking blue cover, rounded out with small studs to hold the blue fabric in place. The white paint faded long ago, and with chipping it looked pretty worn out. The fabric too succumbed to the passing of time, and the bench found itself in storage, left to the first passerby who would give it a home. So one day I did just that and took it home.
It didn’t take long for the bench to become a sticking point in my concentration. Like so many other things, I became obsessed with how it could be improved. I decided that this bench would look so much crisper if the wood grain was exposed, so I began collecting the tools needed to refresh it. [ Continue Reading at http://itfarmersblog.com/?p=2712 ]