How to Use a Ladder

Ladder safety is a must in my book. Before tackling that weekend project around the house, take a look at these ladder tips I have collected.

* Ensure the roof of the vehicle you are using is obstruction free
* Make sure the ladder is fully opened, with both supports extended to their maximums
* Look for and remove any dangerous/pointy objects from around the vehicle
* Take note of any overhead power lines and or cables

dangerous ladder setup

plus one dangerous

Here, I have safely used a ladder to open this second-story window that had been painted shut. Safely used a ladder like a baller.

DIY Minority Report

Spoiler1: This is awesome.
Spoiler2: I’ve never seen Minority Report.

I do know that there is some sort of hands free interface, and that is what I have put together.

minority report

+1 dizzy

Long story short, I have extended upon my PING))) project to include some sweet touchless home automation. I have the ultrasonic sensor interfacing with my garage door and a lamp, utilizing a servo and a PowerSwitch Tail, respectively.

Hit the bump for an awesome video of this thing in action, and for my spippet.

Continue reading

Arduino Servo Fan Control

Before you try to dr this, I have included a video to combat the tl crowd. You’re quite welcome. See below.

Now I’ll explain. I may even toss in a snippet…who knows.

Basically, I found myself with a few free hours, an Arduino, a bunch of random components in my lab (read: garage) at my disposal, and no real plan of attack. Result? Arduino/servo motor controlled fan.

Jump off component…silver spray painted Altoids can. Nice…chop that sucker up so I can smash a servo motor in there.


+1 minty

Well done. See…

works well

dang, son

Lady Ada uses these for some random projects. If you can stomach a whole bunch of crappy mints, you have a nice little Arduino-sized metal casing. Of course, it poses a grounding threat, which I experienced working with my motor shield a while back. That said…keep a few around. I have put this one to use before.

Next step…testing the servo


wires for the win

For this, I broke out my motor shield. It doesn’t have any features that would benefit this project…the servo areas are basically just power, ground, and control. Control pumps into the 16B 10 port, like a jumper…that works for my debug.

Next, implement a fan.

big fan

I'm a big fan.

I snagged this fan from an old tower, I think. I really don’t know. It seemed to react well to a 9V battery, so I tried it with a 5V source…same deal. Awesome. I used a zip tie to fasten this to that, that being the Altoids enclosure.

This thing needs a base…man-clamp to the rescue:



I picked this up, to use it as a soldering base. That ‘x-tra’ hands piece of shit that I have previously posted in pictures didn’t cut it. This is the manly version. And, it works great for this project, I believe…you can decide based upon the vid. Here is what it looks like, with some more detail.


clamp in action

Let’s add some code…oh no…sounds like we’ve reached the BALLIN ASS SNIPPET ZONE


Servo myservo; // servo opbect

int pos = 0; // initialize

void setup()
myservo.attach(10); // digi pin 10

void loop()
for(pos = 0; pos < 180; pos += 1) // from 1 to 180 { myservo.write(pos); // moves servo delay(20); // waits 20 ms } for(pos = 180; pos>=1; pos-=1) // sweeps span between 180 and 1
myservo.write(pos); // moves servo
delay(20); // waits 20 ms

If that looks familiar, it is because it pretty much the sweep example from the Arduino IDE. No changes necessary…I like when that happens.

Here is the final product:


I'm a big fan of this little fan. Sorry.

Not bad, for a quick slam-together exercise. It isn’t really robotic, since it has no sensors. I could bump this up a notch with some IR LEDs, or my PIR sensor, but that is for another time.

Blah blah blah, stay tuned, blah blah. Until then.

How To Find A Blown Electrical Component

Katie’s flat iron failed…TO THE RESCUE!

Pull that sucker apart…


there it is

Burn mark…oh snaps…TO THE LAB!



Blown switch…NOW WHAT!

I’m going to try to bypass the switch, as it only functions to toggle a LED. Maybe I will find a switch that will fit the board…I have enough crap laying around this joint.

Mad Solder Skillz

Some time ago, I snagged a robotics kit from Amazon. A few weeks after said time, I assembled the mechanical components of said kit. I assumed that the electrical assembly would be equally as detail-centric. I was quite wrong.

xtreme lead ingestion to the maxx

xtreme lead ingestion to the maxx

It was a son-of-a-bitch. Plus, I had a snaffu with the IR emitters, which are more than likely the same price as the microcontroller that is involved with this kit. Good President’s Day? You better believe it…so much fun horsing around with new connections, crappy directions, and a semi-success. Off to The Shack (Radio Shack’s awesome new advert front) to complete the project tomorrow at lunch, if all goes well. My motors are working, and all three emitters are pushing power, which indicates a solid-ass project as far as connectivity is concerned. Close, but no cigar. Maybe I’ll show off that cigar tomorrow.

Motor Shield Assembly Steps

Good news…you don’t have to listen to me blather on. At least blather on too much…there will be some blathering.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was feeling lousy about failing to post some junk. Junk and stuff…electronics…programming is uber-super…blathering again…et…cet…etcetera.

awesome lab

awesome absolute must

make a list

diagrams. come in handy.


asterixes astericies astericxses

soldering x3

doot doot doot doot deet deet doot deet doot deet deet

nipple clamp


looks better

divert your gaze upward




crocodile done-dee

How Fiber Optics Work

Index of refraction. End of story? You wish…I’m going to pontificate for a while. Where did I set that soapbox…

I dig optics. The coolest class I took was my graduate level optics class at the old alma mater, Montana State. I missed my calling as a physicist. Or rather, I missed my calling as someone who gets paid to play with lasers in a laboratory. Lasers lasing all over the place. Plenty of fiber optic cables around the lab, you can be sure of that, Jack.


fiber optics is fiber-y

Spools and spools of fiber optical cable is a pipe dream, though. That stuff isn’t exactly free, due to the nature of the beast. As pictured above, fiber optic cable is multi layered, and as I mentioned, is all made possible due to refraction. Index of refraction, to be more specific. See the above picture…the layer around the core is of a different index, keeping the photons bouncing towards the finish line (in a huge nutshell.)

The reason these things work so well is that the core (usually a glass of some nature) deals with photons instead of electrons. Massless and charge-free, photons are not crushed and or distorted by elecromagnetic noise. They can be setup to carry tons of data…aka very high bandwidth…thustly making fiber optic cables a perfect choice for high quality, large connections. Jack.

Hit one of those links to see some sweet home uses. Hit wikipedia to see the physics behind the scenes.

The main reason to push signal through fiber instead of copper is reliability. You really can’t wear out glass.

How to Hang a Heavy Bag

This is not a chipper tale of how-to boastery. Far from it. I cartoonified the shit out of the following pics, in order to further convey the surreal darkness that was involved in this seemingly trivial task. Buckle up…it is not likely to be pleasant blog-reading.

The mission objective was simple enough: hang a heavy bag. The mission-turns-out-to-be-a-little-cooler-and-a-little-more-involved moment came when I realized there was approximately one punching bag length between the ceiling in my garage and the spot where I wanted the top of said bag. I’ll let the pictures tell the story, for the most part. My knuckles are all sorts of funked up, which is an indication of the title’s eventual success. Or aptness. Or giant fail…I’m still very confused.

Enough rambling…first thing I know, I’m standing on my Honda Trail 90, wondering how I ended up with a heavy bag (and Honda Trail 90) before I managed to end up with a goddamned ladder.


Unsafe at any Speed

When in Rome…snap a pic. It’s pretty much all about the photo-documentation at this point.

smoove criminal


“Uh” is incredibly right. That sucker was bouncing around looking down…not so stable when my arm and or both arms were above my head. Good thing I’m limber. Huh?

My grand idea involved two threaded rings. Innocent enough looking…

oh, nice

oh, nice

…fucking wrong. Far from innocent, when said threaded ring is dropped into spider-central…

darkest hell

darkest hell

Well, I managed to knock most of those webs out of place with my trusty framing hammer. Unfortunately, I knocked them right on that stupid shiny thing I was attemping to arm-fish out of the hole between the particle board, studs, spider poop, drywall, and darkest hell.

I got the stupid thing, did the weird shudder thing with my shoulders/neck for a half-minute, and got back into gear. Survival mode at this point. Darkest-hell-been-and-back-survival mode.

Either my creeped out spider dance brought me luck, or my engineering was sound. Or both…but it worked out, against most odds.


Position 1


Position 2

It works, and there is a box of delicious OML in the frame. So I guess I’ll count that as a win???

Soldering Station

Since I’m really dragging my feet in regards to posting anything of substance, take a quick look at my new Aoyue soldering station.

soldering station

also pictured: clutter

It works like a champ…pretty pumped that I heeded Lady Ada’s advice on this one.

I still need to post my Motor Shield assembly pics. I also really need to post some stuff about the Droid 2…which is constantly blowing my mind. Stick around…it’ll happen.