Category Archives: Maker

Makey Makey

Fritz was confirmed recently. I had asked him what he had wanted. He mentioned a Makey Makey. I had heard of this but wasn’t quite certain what it was. I bought it for him.

This week I asked him about it. He began explaining it. It sounded strange. He brought it over this weekend. This thing is kewl!

It’s an input device for another device. Classically, it would be a game controller. It is built within the makers arena. One is expected to doodle with it.

We tinkered today.

The idea is that one must complete a circuit in order to be able to mouse click, use the directional arrows, or the spacebar.

We tried many different connections. Lots of fun.

I had made a little program in Scratch a while ago with the cat singing the Yabba Do song Fritz and I sing to each other. To activate it, one must click on the start button. Fritz concocted all sorts of ways to activate the click button.

In the end, he built a game controller with a lime, lemon, and a banana to play a video game on the Raspberry Pi I have.

This board has a small microprocessor on it that can run a bit of code. I am fairly certain I could upload a Simon type game to it. Then one could play it with fruit as the buttons. Now I have an idea for a gadget cache. 🙂

Handbook of Model Rocketry

Handbook of Model RocketryHandbook of Model Rocketry by G. Harry Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saw Millville Public Library had this and picked it up. I wasn’t expecting much with it being more than 25 years old. I figured things have changed since then and this will satisfy my enthusiasm until my rocket arrives. This is turning out to be a much better read than I thought. Love how Stine writes. It hearkens back to a time prior to the PC-police. He tells the reader he is stupid if he does certain things. It’s refreshing. Stine sounds like many of the adults who guided me to adulthood. I like that. And most of what I am reading is still relevant all these years later. I do laugh at the references to phone books, phone chains, Radio Shack, and BASIC. Yes, times were different. 😉

This book is exciting. For someone like me who is just getting into the hobby, it was full of information. More important, it was full of enthusiasm. Stine was an advocate of the hobby and he was energetic in his writing about it.

Some of what was presented here is a dated. I suspect hand-eye sighting for altitude is not used much these days. All the trigonometry to calculate various things is no longer done. I know K-sized motors exist. Only G are discussed here.

Nevertheless, a whole of topics were raised that I had not even considered. And while I doubt I will ever build a model to scale from research I conduct, it is fascinating to know this is an area of the hobby. I was equally fascinated with the depth of glide recovery systems. That seems like a larger field of the hobby than I would have thought.

Having finished this book, I am even more eager to begin.

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Geocaching Map Candles

20-12-24 Geocaching Map Candles

Back in July when I first moved to 3-Cubed, I re-acquainted myself with the Geocaching Podcast. I used to listen to this back in the day when XpunkX began it. At some point in the intervening years, probably on Geocache Talk, I saw Scott Berks and his now wife Shorty Knits. So, I was familiar with the names. And somehow, I came across Shorty Knits’ web site.

One of the things that caught my attention was her craft for geocaching map candles. I bookmarked it and then didn’t think much of it.

Advance forward several months. I am settled. It is cold. I am in a creative mindset right now. I developed a plan.

I wrote for state maps from Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, and Florida, all states that my sister and I have cached in together this year. I also ate this Oui yogurt. It was fine, but overpriced because of the nice jar it comes in. 😉

Tonight I sat down and made these. They came out all right. I got better as the project went on.

I plan to give these to Patty when she flies east next month.

RetroPie

Hot damn! I didn’t know she smoked!

Dad

Once upon a time I fancied myself a maker. I learned that I am not. What began as trying to learn electronics with my son, quickly fell to the wayside. He wasn’t as interested and my life became complicated soon after. With the move toward a more simplistic life, all those failed projects were purged. Now that I am settled, happy, and efficient, I decided to take on something new. After a fairly careful consideration, I decided to get back into electronics, specifically Arduino. But Arduino is not sexy. I decided to add on a Raspberry Pi 4 too. Might as well accomplish what I had failed to do before.

The idea came about a week and a half ago. The children talked about video games. I am not a gamer. I never was. I never will be. I tried. I purchased a Switch last year thinking I would be able to bond with The Boy. I suck so much at video games. The one thing I did get out of that experience, however, was a realization that the old Nintendo games were far more my speed the current high definition and complicated games.

The children seemed to think a gaming console here at the apartment would be a good addition for when they visit. 🙂

They have an Xbox. They have a Playstion. They have Switches. They have DS. They have iPads. They have iPhones. I don’t want to replicate what they already have.

That is where RetroPie entered the equation. RetroPie is software with emulations of the old gaming consoles. If I could find ROMs of those old games, this seemed like a neat project.

As I researched it I discovered that the 8bitdo sn30 pro+ controllers were the preferred controller. Again, I am not a gamer, but these look like the pro controller I got with the Switch last year. These would prove problematic for this inexperienced gamer/lame Linux user. These controllers are Bluetooth and Bluetooth is an extra headache in that they do not work right out of the box. Well, they do, if you know what you’re doing, but if you don’t, they don’t. 😉

I got RetroPie installed without issue. I had to wait for Amazon to deliver my micro HDMI cable . . . nine days. All the other stuff arrived in three. Then I realized, d’oh! with the case I bought, I needed a regular HDMI, not a micro.

I got everything installed save the ROMs. But I couldn’t do that, it seemed, until I connected a controller. And that I couldn’t figure out. I read. I watched. I prayed. Nothing. I finally asked for help. Nada, at first. Then I went to the actual RetroPie site. I posted there and basically got a RTFM respose. But I did. And that lead me to something else, which led me to something else. I kept opening tabs in the browsing researching. I eventually got the controller installed. I finally saw someone pair the controller with the Raspberry Pi. Oh, that makes sense. No one else even mentioned that. And that I kept dropping to the command line and had to type setup scripts, it was something.

Then it was getting the ROMs on. While the Pi was on my home network, I couldn’t touch it from other devices. I grew tired. As I lay in bed, it dawned on me what I needed to do. First thing this morning I got up, did what needed to be done, tansferred some ROMs and actually played a game of Crackout (Breakout rip-off).

After work today, I sat down and finished the set up. I paired the other controller. I mapped both to make certain they worked the way I needed them to. I then went through about 1,000 games and picked out the ones I thought would be most fun for the children and me. I left off the Sesame Street stuff. 🙂

All works splendidly! I am proud of myself. I am so grateful to all the folks who have worked to make this available and the others who write and make videos demonstrating different aspects of this.

Christmas, when the children arrive, will be a blast! They have no idea this is going to be waiting for them. In the meantime, I need to get better.

And, of course, there are plenty of tweaks and customizations I can make. One thing I want to do is get the old Apple II and DOS games on this. That seems to be possible but a little more involved.

Here’s to learning!

Electronics Hobby

Look, he done gone and done it again!

I’ve cleared so much from my life that it is easy for me to dive head first into new activities without even batting an eye. That’s how I came to order a soldering kit, an Arduino kit, a vise, and a Christmas tree!

The last two days I have been scouring previous researched turf, honing in on a new hobby.

Much like when I took on barbecuing and when I returned to geocaching, I am setting out my approach ahead of time.

I’m going to pursue my interest in electronics. There are three main things I am looking for in doing this:

  1. fun
  2. learning
  3. content for this blog

Rather than just do the “color by numbers” approach with a lot of these projects, I am looking to actually learn. Despite purchasing some things to get started, I am looking at taking an approach that has me tinkering.

I am resigned to the fact that this will generate stuff. I can live with that. I imagine I’ll offload some of the projects after a while.

The focus is electronics with a sub-interest with Arduino. I like Raspberry Pi and am drawn to them, but I am going to try to remain clear of them for a while so I learn the electronics better before dabbling on that platform.

But I also see me taking on a broader maker approach to some of this. I am enamored with making greeting cards with LEDs and sound. Paper circuitry fits my interest.

So, I am looking to be creative. It’s a hobby that has me doing things, not just reading. I am looking forward to that.

Above is a list of projects I have identified that I am interested in completing. There’s enough there to keep me busy entertained for some time. 🙂

First Flight

Almost 20 years ago I recall finding myself in a hobby shop near the apartment I lived in at the time. I believe I purchased a rocket for one of my nephews for Christmas or his birthday. I recall thinking, “This would be a neat hobby.” Somewhere around there, someone at the school I taught at had a parent come out and demonstrate a rocket launch. I am not certain, but it may have been a water rocket. I just don’t recall, just a vague memory.

Advance forward until a year or so ago. I began thinking that rockets might be something Fritz and I could do together. Nothing materialized.

About a month ago it was announced that the Scouts would be building a rocket to launch. Unfortunately, Fritz’s group was considered too young to do so; we built balsa airplanes instead. The following week we went to see the rockets launched. Very kewl! I thought that Fritz and I could do this. I visited Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and that same hobby shop I visited nearly 20 years ago. I learned a little about the hobby. I began reading online.

I am not a crafty person. I decided the “Ready to Fly” kit would be best. But the weekend got busy and we didn’t get one. Then my sister came for a visit. Fritz and Beetle were in their school performance. In lieu of flowers for Fritz, his aunt wanted to get him something else. I suggested a rocket. He was so excited!

Today was her last day visiting. We put together the “Ready to Fly” rocket and headed out. It was cold and breezy. Making the connections with the alligator clips was a touch tricky, but eventually the thing shot off. Very kewl!

It flew away from us with all the wind. Beetle retrieved it. The parachute was all tangled and we were cold so we headed home after one launch. That was just fine; the rocket flew and it was neat. I look forward to future flights. Rockets are fun!

14-11-18 First Flight