TinyTV and Weekend Plans

Cari is away in Miami for the weekend and I have a bunch of little household projects I want to complete.

Out in the yard, I need to replace the old garden hoses and sprayers, pull some weeds, apply lawn fertilizer, and trim the palm tree and Bird of Paradise in the front yard.

In the garage, I have a few tool holders to hang and need to recycle some old rotors and a car battery.

Inside there are some pieces of iron artwork I need to hang, as well as some normal chores such as laundry.

And, if I can get all of those things done, I have some work to do on the DeLorean and some more organization to do in the office.

I recently saw a YouTube video from Norman Chan of Tested.com reviewing the TinyTV from TinyCircuits. Instantly, I needed (and ordered) one. It arrived a few days ago and I spent some time painting it and putting it together. Here’s a quick video.

And some before and after pictures:

This is the printed “case” right out of the box.
The front. Painted and assembled.
The back.
With the remote.

A New Year

I feel lucky that all of the craziness that began in 2020 has barely affected me and Cari. What’s missed the most is hanging out with friends, both near and far, and not being with them during the holidays. Other than that, every once in a while I get the craving to go out to a restaurant. We have not eaten out since the pandemic started, and that’s not really an issue with online ordering as it is these days.

I’m also not blinded by the fact that an arbitrary number on a piece of paper now says it’s a different year and things will be different. Sure, I’m hopeful that maybe things will be much more normal by the end of 2021, but I fear that the narrow-mindedness of people who think that everything bad died with the turn of the calendar will once again push us into a heavily quarantined state. The beginnings of which is already being felt in California.

With all that said, I’m being positive of what the future holds.

I finally got the 3D printer dialed in and can print some really great tolerances. I decided to begin an overdue project of printing divided inserts for my Akro-Mils parts organizers in the office. Over the years they’ve become disorganized and, frankly, I’m wasting space in them.

A standard drawer with a six-compartment divider.
How I’m labeling what’s in the bins.
The bin removed from the drawer.
More bins printing.

I spent some time getting some other things done today too. I recently bought a Chamberlain Home Hub and hooked that up to the garage doors so I can now remotely check to see if I left them open, and even use Siri to raise and lower the doors.

I also started power washing the lanai and the patio furniture. You can see in the picture below that it was pretty dirty. There’s still some more work to do tomorrow, but it’s looking really good.

Four plus years of dirt built up here. Need to power wash this floor yearly, me thinks.
Nice, clean furniture.

Add to library: Trolls World Tour

New Equipment, Continued Building

As I was building out some electronics over the past few days, I realized that my setup was lacking, so I ordered some new tools.

I started off getting a Hakko FA-400 fume extractor to remove the solder smoke. For some reason I’ve never had an extractor, and I decided this week I needed one. I researched the cost and time it would take to 3D print and build my own, and the effort just wasn’t worth it to me.

Next up is the Kaisi Silicone Repair Mat. These things are great as it prevents parts from rolling off the workbench onto the floor and from getting mixed together with its built-in trays. Also, since it’s silicone, the parts that you place on it don’t slide around a lot.

Lastly is a two-piece system. I saw a great review on the QuadHands Workbench Mount over at The Makers Workbench YouTube page. This system is really nice with it’s strong magnetic helping hands and heavy metal base. As is seen in the video, I also got a PanaVise Model 201 to mount in the center. These are great for holding large parts or circuit boards you’re trying to solder. Here’s a picture of the new setup with only one helping-hand attached:

New soldering station setup.

With all this in place, I decided to build a the Indie Badge kit from HackerBox 57. This is essentially a badge you’d get at a (nerd) convention.

The fully assembled Indie Badge from HackerBox 57.

This unit has an IR transmitter and receiver, composite audio and video out, a joystick with two buttons, a small speaker, all backed by a TTGO ESP32. As you can see at the top of the picture, I’ve also wired up an old 3.7V 1530mAh cellphone battery so this thing can be mobile.

The TTGO board is pretty amazing. Full color 1.14″ screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, plus a battery connector that allows you to charge through the onboard USB-C connector. I’ve never really used an ESP32 before, but I’m considering starting to now, with or without display.

Anyway, as I slip into day 7 of my time off, I’m feeling relaxed and rested. I intend on spending the remaining time relaxing more and getting some more electronics and coding projects done.

Added to movie library: Synecdoche, New York


I fixed the vertical blind in the living room, but I forgot that the lawn service usually comes on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, so I’ve postponed applying the fertilizer until after they’ve come.

Instead, I spent some time cleaning up my desk and organizing. I still have a stack of magazines to go through, so I’m going to go take a shower and then spend the rest of the day reading. Since this is vacation day 4 of 10, I feel I need to be somewhat productive in a relaxing way.

I’ve also gone through HackerBox #57, “Safe Mode”, I may start working on that too today or tomorrow.

The contents of HackerBox 57 “Safe Mode”.

Buildup to PCB

Now that the Weather Station ISD prototype is breadboarded and working, I’ve decided to start designing v1.0 of the printed circuit board. The Fritzing drawing, and schematic are complete. These will be used as reference for transferring into Eagle.

All new work was added to the internal GitLab server with commit SHA fad61e9e.

Weather Station ISD

Last year I picked up an electronics kit for building a miniature weather station. I finally built a prototype of it tonight on a breadboard. It’s fully functional and I believe I can consider the codebase release v1.0.

The next step will be to design a custom PCB for this, which I’ve never done before. Should be an interesting challenge.

Making and Catching Up

Yesterday I spent three hours cleaning up and organizing in the garage. A lot of the worked centered around putting away all of the spare aquarium supplies and equipment back into their proper places on the shelves. Then, I took the time to finally break down a ton of cardboard boxes and put them into the recycling bin in preparation for next Monday. Because of COVID challenges, Hillsborough county has moved our recycling pickup to every other week for now. That means all cans and plastic containers need to be smashed down flat and all cardboard needs to be cut up to smaller pieces so we get efficient, compact usage of the bin. Anyway, I also put away and re-organized several tools and finally did a big cleanup of the workbench area.

One of the little organization things I’ve been wanting to do is to get my drill bits into a “first order of retrieval” state. This required getting them out of their store-bought, pocket sized holders and into something that could be mounted on the pegboard over the workbench. Last year I found these holders on Thingiverse and printed out the 1/16 thru 3/16 and 13/64 thru 1/4 blocks. However, I had some other odd sized bits and a plumb-bob I wanted to also fit into the this format. Yesterday I finally created those two blocks, printed them, and got them into the garage, completing that project.

A screenshot of one of the drill bit blocks in Tinkercad.

Sunday I went to Lowe’s and picked up all of the materials for the front yard flower box. I’ll begin working on that soon.

I received HackerBox 0057: Safe Mode. I’m still organizing how I want to tackle all of these outstanding kits. I have boxes 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 54, 55, 56 as well that all need to be completed. I also bought an ESP8266-based weather station kit last year and am including this in the pile of kits to build. This one might be the first, actually.

The Invisible Man (2020) and Scoob! went into the library this week.

And finally, an inexpensive book stand arrived last Wednesday and I started reading some aviation magazines I’m behind on.

Bucket o’ Updates

I really need to get back on board with blogging. It’s been so long…

I’ve re-enabled my subscription to HakerBoxes. So far, I’ve received boxes 54 (Smart Home), 55 (High Roller), and 56 (Demon Seed). I’ve created some project pages on my internal wiki, but have made no progress toward assembling the kits.

I have a large box of unpainted D&D minis sitting here next to me that were originally intended for a campaign I created for a bunch of friends. Of course, this was all before the COVID-19 craziness. We haven’t played yet, but I do want to start chipping away at painting all of these. Eventually we will use them.

About a month ago my main PC crapped out. I decided to do something I’ve never done before; spec out a high-end machine and order all new parts. I did such, and got all of the components from NewEgg, however the motherboard arrived with damage. I got a return RMA but, because of COVID-19, the RMA took a long time. I should be getting the new motherboard this Monday.

The main 37-gallon fish tank needed a thorough cleaning, so Cari and I took it into the garage and emptied it last week. I’ll be spending a good chunk of time today cleaning everything. I suspect that the tank will be back in place this weekend. Currently, the fish are is a surrogate 10-gallon tank.

Still working on the DeLorean model monthly. I received a special-order package of several mods for the kit. More to come on this.

Movies added to the library this week:

Lots of Digging

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted up here. I’ve created a reminder on my phone to post at least once per week, so we’ll see if that helps me or not.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve finally gotten on the Minecraft bandwagon. Yeah, I know it’s late, but I tried playing the game about 10 years ago, and for some reason I wasn’t interested. But, I revisited it and have to say that it’s really been a great mental relaxation game. Nothing too heavy. Simple. It’s been fun playing on a server with a couple of friends, which helps too.

I’m still working on the lighting project for the kitchen cabinets. I’m really hoping to be done with the entire project by the end of September. Decided to use a Raspberry Pi and a microcontroller, which is new for me. It’s taking more time than expected, but is moving forward.

Keeping my eye on this:

Site Tweak, Beginning the Weekend

Since the site’s back up, I decided to head over to the Internet Archive‘s Wayback Machine to force a snapshot of this site. After doing so, I thought to myself “I wonder if there’s an automated way to do this?”. And, there is. I’ve installed a plugin that will submit a new snapshot each time the site is updated. Publishing this post will be the first test.

There are several projects lined up this weekend:

  • UPS Battery: I ordered a new replacement battery for the UPS on my workstation, since the battery in there is pretty much dead. Gotta go pick it up from the store tomorrow.
  • Patio Set: Heading to the store to get a new patio set for the house.
  • Ceiling fans: I ordered three ceiling fans; one for the office and one each for the upstairs bedrooms. Tomorrow they get installed.
  • Loft Furniture: We got two couched for the loft upstairs. One was a regular sofa and the other was a sleeper-sofa. The sleeper-sofa still needs to be moved upstairs.
  • Clean House: It’s time for a through once-over; cleaning the bathrooms, good mopping of the tile floors, and vacuuming the carpets.
  • Organize Garage: Will be heading out to get some shelving units for the garage to tidy it up and prepare to house my new (third) car.
  • Build Hacker Boxes: I signed up for the Hacker Boxes subscription service. I still need to build kit 16, and kit 17 just arrived.
  • 3D Printer: Need to get the printer up and running.

Ok, I’m gonna start prepping stuff. More later…