Posts Tagged ‘soldering’

A SOPA you can get behind

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Introducing a useful SOPA- The Stop Online Productivity Avoidance box.

After having an extremely productive day on January 18th, I had a thought: What if every day were January 18th? Well, at the push of a button, now it can!

The button, switch, and display are wired to an Arduino.  The Arduino communicates with a python script running on the router, which controls a Squid3 proxy blacklist.  In SOPA mode, the whole of the internet is my oyster.  In NOPA mode, however, distracting websites like reddit, hacker news, and hackaday are blocked.  This isn’t very useful without a great deal of self control, however.  In weaker instances, nuclear mode must be employed.  Turn the key switch and press the button and all distracting sites are blocked for one hour.  The only recourse is to restart the router, but the router requires 15 minutes to restart, blocking the entirety of the web for the duration.  Overriding nuclear mode is not appealing.

All code is posted online at https://github.com/Zuph/SOPA-Box

A video demonstration and more pictures of construction lie below the break.

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How to Build the World’s Lightest Quadrifilar Helix Antenna

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Another day, another repost from another project I’m working on. This time, from White Star Balloons, the world’s lightest quad helix antenna.

After the scrub on the launch pad for flight attempt A, we went back to the books, to try and figure out what we could do to improve our odds the next time around. One of our biggest setbacks was the inability make an antenna suitable for our use: We needed an antenna tuned for 149 MHz, not needing a ground plane, weighing as little as possible.

After 4 tries, and some expensive test equipment, the end result was a Quadrifilar Helix antenna weighing only 80 grams!

Our ground test antenna was a 5/8ths wave whip antenna, which works well, but unfortunately needs a ground plane. Tests with both a quarter-wave dipole and a J-pole antenna were lackluster. Documentation from our satellite service provider implied that a quadrifilar helix antenna would provide the best coverage at all. While these antennas are pretty, their design and construction was voodoo magic at first.

Thanks to some design documentation here: http://jcoppens.com/ant/qfh/index.en.php and some help from the balloon community, we had some baselines for creating such an antenna. We still went through *quite* a few revisions.  We went through 3 revisions that didn’t work, and one which works pretty darn well!

Here are the antennas which didn’t work:

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MintiBoost workshops 12/6 and 12/18

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Just in time for the holidays! Build a small & simple, but very powerful USB charger for your iPod, iPhone, mp3 player, camera, cell phone, and just about any other gadget you can plug into a USB port to charge! Perfect holiday gift! Only $35 – cheap!

Sign up for the class here: http://wiki.lvl1.org/MintiBoost

Surface Mount Soldering Workshop

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Photo Licensed CC-BY-NC-SA, Flickr User atduskgreghttp://www.eventbrite.com/event/1000984973

The LVL1 Hackerspace will be hosting a Surface Mount Soldering

Workshop on Saturday, November 20th, 2010 from 1 to 5pm.  This
workshop will teach you the basics of soldering surface mount
components with a standard soldering iron, using a standard soldering
iron tip.   You’ll be given the tools required to build your own
surface mount projects, and during the workshop, you’ll work on
assembling your own Open Balloon CPU (A design of LVL1’s own White
Star Balloon Team).  You’ll solder 0805 Resistors and Capacitors, 1206
LEDs, and TQFP Microcontrollers, among others.  You’ll learn about the
packages  which can be hand soldered, and the packages which cannot,
along with the techniques required to assemble a working board.

At the end of the workshop, you’ll walk out with the knowledge and
skills required to build any reasonable surface mount project, along
with your own Open Balloon CPU.  These tools include small-gauge
solder, flux, non-magnetic tweezers, and a magnifying loupe.  The Open
Balloon CPU you’ll be assembling is a VERY general purpose sensor
platform, which can be used for a variety of projects which aren’t
related to Balloons or UAVs whatsoever.  Aside from the form factor of
the PCB, everything about the electronics design is generalized for
whatever development the user sees fit.  We will be outfitting the
Balloon CPU with a temperature sensor and Microcontroller, along with
all the passive components required to burn code onto the chip.  If
desired, workshop attendees may add additional sensors (a Real Time
Clock and/or a Barometer) for additional cost.

If you can read newsprint, and have a reasonably steady hand, you can
solder surface mount components!  We will also be doing demonstrations
of hot-air soldering and hotplate reflow soldering, to provide a small
taste of even more advanced soldering techniques.  We can provide
soldering irons, but if you would prefer to bring your own, feel free.
We also recommend you bring a laptop.  If you’ve got an FTDI cable
and AVR programmer, you can start hacking at your balloon CPU
immediately!

For a preview of the skills we’ll be teaching, watch this Youtube
video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NN7UGWYmBY

Note:  If we do not fill at least 12 seats by November 10th, 2010, the
workshop will be cancelled, and all tickets will be refunded.  Sign up
early, and sign up often!  Any questions, feel free to send them to
bradluyster (at) gmail.com

Sign up early, and sign up often!  Seating is limited.  Buy tickets at eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1000984973

LVL1 Hackerspace
1205 E. Washington St.
Louisville, KY 40206