*duino work station

Inspired by the Sparkfun Arduino and Breadboard holder, I decided to build my own portable work station to use for building projects with my *duinos.

I cut a 27.7cm x 40.5 cm piece of 6mm thick (1/4") plywood from stuff I had on hand to serve as the base, and started playing around with how I wanted things laid out. I eventually settled on a setup with three breadboards around the *duino board (in this case, a Sparkfun RedBoard) and a little parts bin on the side.


Scrounged up some nylon standoffs and screws to mount the board to the plywood and I ended up with this.


I can switch between the Netduino and RedBoards pretty easily, and it gives me plenty of breadboard space to work on. The parts bin stays on the board thanks to the magic of Velcro and I used the adhesive backing on the breadboards to stick them to the plywood.

Still have plenty of room on the left side to put other things. Now I'll be able to easily pick up my projects and move them somewhere else to work on. 

My Radio Shack closed :(

My Radio Shack on Folly Road fell victim to the store closings announced by Radio Shack earlier this year. The closing was a surprise, because I had stopped in there a few days ago and there was no indication of anything amiss.

Stopped by there yesterday to pick up something I had been thinking about, and saw the sign saying the store had closed, and some bigger signs giving the location of two other Radio Shack locations. There were a number of people in the store scurrying about taking inventory or something like that.

Now instead of being 5 minutes away, the nearest Radio Shack now is significantly less convenient to get to.

The closing makes me very sad.

BarcampCHS 2014

Another BarampCHS is in the bag. I haven't seen any numbers yet, but attendance seemed lower this year, and there weren't quite as many sessions. The ones that were presented were pretty good though.

Once again, I was wearing my Star Trek bathrobe :)

I pitched my amateur radio session again, and it got put on the schedule in the first time slot. Had a pretty decent turnout of people who didn't have their licenses yet and were actually interested in getting one. I recycled my amateur radio talk from a couple of Barcamps ago and answered a bunch of questions. Tom/AJ4UQ stopped in towards the end and helped out a bit with the questions too. Then throughout the day, I had a few people stopping me to ask about how and where they could get licensed.

Joe/@joel8x got a picture of me giving my presentation

Joe did another great job wrangling Barcampers for the group photo just before lunch.

Having my talk in the first session of the morning meant I could spend the rest of the day attending sessions, and I was able to make it to some pretty good ones. Clay McCauley gave a nice talk on basic automotive maintenance. There was a short informative talk on the Shellshock vulnerability, and the last one I went to was a packed room talk on genetic programming by Ted Tanner.

Once again, another good BarcampCHS year where I learned a few new things.

It's not often I blog about politics. It's just not my thing, but I will this time.

Tuesday I got to participate in my first US election as a new US citizen. Went early in the morning to the voting place (even managed to not get lost too), which was an elementary school. It brought back memories of elections back home when I was in elementary. We weren't allowed to go anywhere near the gym (on pain of death!...or at least a severe chastising... well, more like a shoo-ing away by the grown-ups, but when you're 6 is there really any difference?) because there were secret things going on (or so I thought...nobody ever told me it was for voting).

The voting process was pretty painless. Only a couple other people were there to vote when I arrived. I showed my voter registration card and ID at the check-in table, they looked me up in the laptop and gave me a yellow card which got promptly taken away by the poll worker who set up my voting machine.

The voting process was pretty simple and the buttons on the screen were large and hard to miss. You either have to have really fat fingers, or the touch screen calibration has to be really off to mis-register a vote.

I made my selections (7 screens worth) followed by 3 more screens worth of verifying my selection, a warning screen telling me I hadn't filled everything out, and finally a confirmation screen. (Make your selections. Are these your selections? Are you sure? Really? OK.)

Then I was done. Another poll worker handed me an "I voted" sticker and off I went to get the rest of the day started.

So now that the Republicans have a majority in both the House and Senate and have governors in a lot of states, there's a lot of Republican swaggering going on and broad brush painting by pretty much everyone.

Will be interesting to see what happens in the next two years.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Coffee making: Level 2

Added a new tool to my collection of coffee-making related implements: a burr grinder. Nothing fancy, it's like an oversized pepper mill.


The main reason I wanted to get one of these is so that I can adjust the size of the grounds, which is something I can't do with the electric blade type grinder I currently have.

DSC01789.JPGDSC01791.JPGOne nice thing about this one is that the hopper is large enough to hold enough beans for a jar of my cold brew coffee, where with the electric grinder I have to grind the beans in two batches. It takes a little bit longer, but for now it's kind of fun to do.

The other nice thing about this manual model is that it's pretty simple, not a lot of pieces, and comes apart pretty easily for cleaning.

DSC01793.JPGDSC01794.JPGIt also comes with a cap to screw onto the jar to store any coffee you've just ground, but I probably won't use it much, if at all.

Looking forward to doing some coffee experiments with this.

Hops flowers!

Stopped by the hops tower today and saw some of the first hops flowers showing up!




I don't think they've been there for very long, but I'm glad some showed up. After all the growing the vines have been doing, I was starting to wonder if any were going to show up. Did a bit of research a couple weeks ago and learned that there are male and female vines, and only the female vines produce the hops flowers/cones.

I'll watch these grow and see what they turn into.