TaW: Week 9 – Gadgeteer Temperature Logger

It gets cold in our office as for reasons unknown the AC unit appears to be binary; on as cold as possible or off, heat is an unknown concept to it.  To that end, and to see how cold an erratic the temperature is in our office I threw together a .NET Gadgeteer based temperature logger.  It records the temperature and relative humidity to an SD card every thirty seconds but also hosts a simple webserver to allow for on demand readings by anyone in the office.  It was a nice break from screaming at the list of errors the TFS Integration Platform had been throwing at me for the proceeding days…

To speed things up I took examples of code from Mike Dodaro and Stephen Jonston‘s blogs, if you are fans of Gadgeteer these are two blogs you really should keep an eye on.  In fact, I’ve covered some of Stephen’s work in the past with the payload system he developed using the Gadgeteer platform.

My data logger using the temperature and humidity sensor for the obvious reason; an Ethernet module to allow for on demand readings and time synchronisation; an SD card for storing the log; and the usual USB power/GHI Spider mainboard combo.

The code can be found here and requires the latest firmware and SDK from GHI, as of the date of the post that is.

TaW: Week 9 - Temp Logger Photo
Mounted on cardboard using cable ties, quick and simple.

TaW: Week 8 – Dad’s Birthday Card

Unsurprisingly my Dad had a big part in shaping my life, he is a structural engineer by trade and has been running his own business for around 40 years now. My first day of school I was driven there on a crane (I shit you not!), I grew up in a workshop with a couple of MIG welders and more kit than most Hackspaces can shake a stick at and where most kids were building dens out of wood, I used scaffolding.  The most important part of shaping who I am is that he never taught me to weld or use any of that kit, he saw early on that if he did I’d follow in his footsteps and he didn’t (still doesn’t) want that for me.  His work has him outside in all weather, working his arse off, even now.

When I was eight or so, he bought an Epson EL-2 and had a friend of his teach me to use DOS.  Over the years my skills with computers and electronics grew to the point where I now have a degree in Computer Science and ended up working at Microsoft for six years.  He was way ahead of the curve, I still want to learn to weld though…

For years I’ve made my parents birthday cards but today is the first I’ve hand painted.  He intends to retire before too long, his definition of “too long” varies, but one of the hobbies he intends to take back up is sea fishing.  This seemed only appropriate;

TaW 8 - Sea Fishing

TaW: Week 7 – Dual Prototyping Board

Currently working on three things at once to be unveiled over the weekend but realised I needed MORE POWER and thus a second board, I threw together this board to host an Arduino, a Netduino with ECG shield and a breadboard.  Made from a Patron XO Café box and a couple of bolts, there’s a hint if ever you want to buy me something. 😉


Week 7: Dual Prototyping Board
Week 7: Dual Prototyping Board

Controlling a Syma S107G with an Xbox 360 Controller

As a tie in to my No ‘Air Ambulance Challenge, a sponsored body wax for the local Air Ambulance charity, I’ve decided to upgrade my old project by swapping the RC car out for a Syma S107G.  If you enjoyed this post, please donate a few quid or whatever you can here.  It’s for a very good cause and as it’ll put me through a *lot* of pain you can be sure I’m not asking for my health!

I tried to implement the IR protocol in C# using the .NET Micro Framework for the Netduino but it proved more than a little tricky to get the timing right.  As there are a few implementation out there for the Arduino I decided to stand on the shoulders of giants and build on top of existing code, two in particular.


One thing worth of note is that my helicopter uses Channel B, as you can see in the comments in my code (heavily based on Kerry Wong’s) it is easy to switch between the two channels.  For the serial control aspect I implemented a similar method as with my Netduino project and in Andrew Barry’s implementation.  For the Xbox 360 Controller interface, I updated my previous application to listen for the trigger for the throttle and the right analogue stick for pitch and yaw.  I had some fun when I got the values backwards and I slammed the copter into a wall.  Thankfully they are built tough to survive kids and geeks alike…

The IR emitter is  a 500Ohm resistor inline with a pair of IR LEDs, connected to Pin3 on the Arduino.  Video demo below;

Xbox 360 controller interface to enable control of a Syma S107G.
Xbox 360 controller interface to enable control of a Syma S107G.

You can find the code here Syma360.

TaW: Week 6 – Arduino Based Syma S107G Tx and Xbox 360 Controller Interface

After the last two TaW items have been less than successful, and as a last minute tie in to the No ‘Air Ambulance Challenge I’ve decided to upgrade one of my old projects.  Rather than an RC car I’ve gone with a Syma S107G 3ch helicopter and standing in for the Netduino is an Arduino.  I had a go at implementing the IR protocol in the .NET Micro Framework but it proved a little tricky.  More information can be found in this post along with a video demo.

Xbox 360 controller interface to enable control of a Syma S107G.
Xbox 360 controller interface to enable control of a Syma S107G.

TaW: Week 5 – UPS Cable

I’ve a few weeks to make up for due to the madness of the Air Ambulance challenge but here is the belated Thing for week 5, a UPS cable for my PC at work.  I used a cable from one of my colleagues machines to get the pinout at the RJ45 end, cut a spare USB cable and crimped it.

Alas, I didn’t notice that the original cable had 10 pins and RJ45 only has 8…  Fail!  The thing is ultimately useless but a valuable lesson learned.

Week 5 - Failed UPS Cable
Week 5 – Failed UPS Cable

TaW: Week 4 – RepRap Controller Board

I’ve been working on this for over a week and to be honest, failing.  The driver boards I soldered at the Hackspace were a breeze and despite having the same soldering iron at home now I’m really struggling.  I’m going to head to the space on Wednesday for open hack night, take my kit and ask if anyone can point out where I’m going wrong.

This Thing isn’t finished yet but it’s important to acknowledge issues like this, I’ll update the post once I’ve figured out what I’m doing wrong along with how I improved matters.  In the mean time I’ll start on Week 5 in parallel to try and make up for lost time.  No idea what week 5 will be, it likely wont require soldering though…

TaW: Week 3 – Dual Stepper Motor Controllers

After a trip to the Reading Hackspace and a few hours with one of the excellent soldering irons they have I’ve made short work of the two dual stepper motor controllers for my 3d printer.  The only components missing are the drivers which are ESD sensitive so I’m fitting once the main controller board is complete and all three boards are ready to be fit to the printer.

Week 3 - Dual Stepper Motor Controllers

Next up, the main controller board.

TaW: Week 2 – Modified Bag

Week two of the Thing a Week challenge is a simple but effective modification to my bag, the addition of a second strap to keep my bag in place while cycling.

Week 2 - Modified Bag


I’ve been looking for a decent bag for a while but stuck with this one as it’s yet to die or find one better, I think this will be a much abused item in this project and this wont be the last mod.  Adding padding to the back is on the lost but I’ve not figured that one out yet.


{X} a {Y} per {Z}; Make, Thing, Week

At the start of every year there are things people embark on, more a new years hobby than resolution, like take a photo a day or go for a run each week.  I hadn’t planned on joining in but found myself making a case for my tablet at the end of the first week and though, sod it, why not do this for the year?  I’m also using this as a weekly excuse to use my DSLR and hopefully get more used to it, had it for a while but still useless with it if I’m honest.  It’ll also spawn a weekly blog post so it’s a triple threat of productivity in the guise of a game.

The power of the game, once more shows itself.

Week 1: Tablet and Kindle Cases

Thing 1: Matching cases for my tablet and Kindle.

The only issue with these “{X} a {Y} per {Z}” projects is that people often hear of them after the year has started which is a shame as it has a tendency to dissuade people from joining in.  I’m not sure if this is an artefact of the human nature to  pattern match and that being out of step with the calendar is somehow offensive but it sounds plausible.  The thing with the calendar is that it’s arbitrary, invented by man and easy to tweak or ignore.

TLDR;  If you like the idea of making a thing a week, taking a photo a day or any other such thing then choose your own damn calendar just do it anyway and to hell with anyone who calls you for being out of step!