Blog Digest

  • Hello, World
    Yes, the year 2022 is upon us and it has been “a while” since I updated this blog. A very kindly-written email that I received a few days ago reminded me that it had been so long, in fact, that there was some doubt of my continued existence. Please allow this short note to serve as notice that I am still here, still working on Important Scientific Research and still operating my… Read more: Hello, World
  • New Product Announcement – 12LEDstick kit
    What is it? The 12LEDstick is a multiplexed (specifically Charlie-plexed) linear array of twelve bright blue LEDs.  It uses four (4) pins to control all twelve LEDs, making it easy to add a lot of LEDs without dedicating a lot of valuable I/O lines.  An Arduino library with example sketches is provided to make it easy to add to your next blinky project. Why do it? Adding multiple LEDs to a project… Read more: New Product Announcement – 12LEDstick kit
  • New Product Announcement: Barrel Jack Breakout
    Today I have the pleasure to tell all you Good People that there is a new product available in the store. Without further ado, allow me to present the Barrel Jack Breakout board kit! What is it? Another “Hobbyist Tools” category product, the Barrel Connector Breakout PCB is small DIY kit that allows electronics hobbyists to use modular barrel connector in their project without having to solder to a female jack/receptacle. The… Read more: New Product Announcement: Barrel Jack Breakout
  • Back Orders on Certain Products Now Available
    What is Changing? In the Before Times, if one of the products in the store was “Out of Stock”, it was not possible to place an order for it. Now some of the lower lead-time products can be backordered from the web store, even if today’s present inventory appears to be depleted. The products that can now be back ordered: tinyCylon Wee Blinky Lux Spectralis 12V Dimmer Kit V2 Mini7plus Infrared Spotlight… Read more: Back Orders on Certain Products Now Available
  • Hands On with RISC-V, Part 2 – Serial Communication
    In Part 1 of this series, I introduced you to the RISC-V computer instruction set architecture and described some first steps using an example device.  In this article, I continue working with PlatformIO to program the GD32VF103CBT6 chip on the Sipeed Longan Nano development board. Specifically, we’ll use one of the onboard serial ports of the chip for both device programming and communication with the host PC. Setup for Serial Communication The… Read more: Hands On with RISC-V, Part 2 – Serial Communication
  • Laptop Battery Test using QB64
    Tags: BASIC, programming, QB64, scientific method What Is It? My laptop battery seemed to fail after about 30 minutes, with what I thought was a full charge.  These things happen, as batteries are very much a consumable thing. Another full charge back at the lab and the behavior occurred again.  Yet another charge later and it was back to what appeared to be its nominal runtime, which was traditionally 3-4 hours. How… Read more: Laptop Battery Test using QB64
  • New Product Announcement: Mini7Plus Infrared Spotlight kit
    This is Not New! Yes, Astute Reader, you have caught me in, shall we say, an “inconsistency”. This product is not “new”, but it is “new to the store”. I have been designing and selling infrared (IR) spotlight kits for decades now. In the past, I was mostly producing these for wholesale customers like BG Micro. Since I have several different models in stock now, I thought I would start making them… Read more: New Product Announcement: Mini7Plus Infrared Spotlight kit
  • Scrolling LED Sign Kits Are Now Available
    What is it? The Scrolling LED Sign kit is an Arduino-powered scrolling LED sign using NeoPixel LED strips. Big, bright messages can be extended long as you want it. This kit lets you connect your Arduino Nano to the popular NeoPixel/WS2812B LED strips. You will also need an external, regulated +5VDC power supply if you use more than around 300 LEDs in your sign. Why Do It? You know you want a… Read more: Scrolling LED Sign Kits Are Now Available
  • Arduino (Articles) on My Mind
    Writing More about Writing More Arduino Articles Since my main theme for 2020 is Writing, I’m assigning myself a much larger number of writing jobs. In fact, just telling you this is helping me achieve one of my writing goals! Approaching writing as a project can get a bit meta. I’m still happy to be writing about writing, and looking forward to writing about Arduino. Some Arduino Project Updates! This week I… Read more: Arduino (Articles) on My Mind
  • Hands On with RISC-V, Part 1 – An Introduction
    What is RISC-V? Everyone (including me) is excited about RISC-V these days, but what exactly is it? How can I get started learning more about it? My favorite way to find out these things is to dive into the deep end of the pool and just start playing with it. In this series of articles, I will show you what I’ve done and show you how you can get started, too. Once… Read more: Hands On with RISC-V, Part 1 – An Introduction
  • Brady’s Scrolling LED Sign
    How It Began About a year ago, my friend Brady Pamplin W5LH was teaching a class at the Dallas Makerspace. Brady teaches a variety of Arduino and microcontroller-related classes. See his web site for a list of what’s available. This class was about how to use NeoPixel LED strips with Arduino. NeoPixels are addressable RGB (red, green and blue) LED chips. Most importantly, it is not hard to chain them together. He… Read more: Brady’s Scrolling LED Sign
  • Dale’s Theme for 2020 is “Writing”
    Pick a Theme Instead of a “New Year’s Resolution”, CGP Grey suggests picking a broader “theme” for the year: This year’s theme for me is “Writing”. If you asked me what I do for a living, I’d tell you with a straight face that I was a writer. Your reaction is almost always either a smile, a twinkle in your eye or, at minimum, a raised eyebrow. I know you’re deciding between… Read more: Dale’s Theme for 2020 is “Writing”
  • KI5SME, I’m a HAM
    At the prompting of friend and inspiration Brady Pamplin W5LH, I sat for and passed both the Technician and General Class exams for amateur radio operator at HamCon last month. I now have limited privileges on limited frequencies. This has been something I have wanted to do since I was a Scout (they were called Boy Scouts in my time). While I was originally issued a ‘systematic’ call sign of KI5FDS (kilo… Read more: KI5SME, I’m a HAM
  • Why the Yellow Banner? This is Why:
    The more observant amongst you may have noted a striking, yellow banner emblazoned across the top of each and every one of the pages of this, your favorite web destination. What could be behind such a serious and dire notification? Rest assured, nothing was amiss. I simply wanted to let you know that I would not be able to ship your orders until Monday, because I had slipped the leash, jumped on… Read more: Why the Yellow Banner? This is Why:
  • Looking for Documentation?
    Are you here to download some product information, class notes or assembly instructions? Just visit my Information Page.
  • New Project – Whiteboard Plotter
    Today I start the Whiteboard Plotter project. Wish me luck!
  • New Product: 12 LED circle
    Today I’m happy to announce a new addition to my blinky LED kit line-up, the aptly-named “12 LED circle“, or 12LEDcircle for short. It’s a small, round PCB with 12 bright blue LEDs around the edge. It comes with a pre-programmed microcontroller that lights up the LEDs in various mesmerizing patterns. You can see a demo of the various blinky modes on my YouTube channel. The assembly instructions, schematic and source code… Read more: New Product: 12 LED circle
  • I Wrote Another Book – Building Your Own Electronics Lab
    I wrote another book.  This time it’s about building your own electronics lab, titled Building Your Own Electronics Lab.  It gives the reader a gentle introduction to electricity and electronics and how to safely learn and play with them.  Basic tools and components are discussed and some simple starter projects are presented.  The main idea that I tried to put forward is that the electronics hobby is fun.  It’s also fun to… Read more: I Wrote Another Book – Building Your Own Electronics Lab
  • Lux Spectralis 2 Now Available
    I’ve updated the popular Lux Spectralis kit! The new Lux Spectrlais 2 kit uses three separate LEDs for the red, green and blue color channels. The circuit still does exactly the same thing (blinks multi-colored LEDs).  This will make it much easier to modify for custom color combinations.  Check out the Lux Spectralis 2 Kit in the store! The new PCB is a little bit smaller than the previous version.  It uses electroless… Read more: Lux Spectralis 2 Now Available
  • I Wrote a Book – Arduino Internals
    Over the summer, I wrote a book about Arduino internals, called Arduino Internals. It is being published November 16, 2011 by Apress. It has a lot of detailed information about Arduinos as well as Atmel AVRs. There are several projects in the book that illustrate some of the topics. It’s a paperback book that runs to just over 350 pages. There’s also an “ebook” available in several popular formats. You can buy… Read more: I Wrote a Book – Arduino Internals
  • Going to Maker Faire!
    I’m going to Maker Faire this weekend, May 21st & 22nd! Most of the time, I’ll be in or around the Maker Shed, explaining how vitally important it is to have more blinky LEDs in your life. I’ll also be making a couple of short presentations. Saturday at 11am I’ll be talking about the Breadboard Arduino project. Sunday at 4:30pm I’ll demonstrate the Tiny Wanderer robot. If you can, please come out… Read more: Going to Maker Faire!
  • Build a Wee Blinky Using Incandescent Bulbs
    You can build the Wee Blinky kit using incandescent bulbs instead of the supplied LEDs.  Just omit D1, D2 (the LEDs) and R1 and R4 (the current-limiting resistors for the LEDs).  Connect one lead of an incandescent bulb to the bottom lead of where the LED was supposed to go, then the other lead to the bottom lead of where the resistor was supposed to go.  Repeat for the other side. Here… Read more: Build a Wee Blinky Using Incandescent Bulbs
  • Dale Wheat’s USB to TTL Adapter
    This is a minimalist USB-to-TTL adapter for use on a solderless breadboard. I designed this to use with my Breadboard Arduino class. It’s based on the FTDI USB UART chip, which is the same, identical chip used on “real” Arduinos, so it uses the same, identical drivers and works on most PCs. The only differences are that it is tiny, it plugs into a breadboard and lines up with the RESET, TXD… Read more: Dale Wheat’s USB to TTL Adapter
  • Errata for Breadboard Arduino Article in MAKE vol. 25
    See the correction on the MAKE magazine web site: The text on page 65 concerning hooking up the right-side power connection is reversed.  The photos are correct.  Thanks to all the sharp-eyed readers out there that caught this for me!
  • Breadboard Arduino Class at Pumping Station: One
    Patrick Callahan of Pumping Station: One, a Chicago hackerspace, will be presenting a “Breadboard Arduino” class on Saturday, 12 February 2011 at 4PM.  Follow this link to find out more about the event or to sign up (4 seats left as of this writing):
  • Welcome MAKE Readers!
    MAKE vol 25 features a little article I wrote about building a “Breadboard Arduino”.  You can buy a kit that contains all the parts for $40.  Click on the giant “Buy Now” button to order one today! The kit includes everything you need:  a solderless breadboard, jumper wires, a pre-programmed ATmega328P with pin label, USB adapter and basic components to perform the basic “software experiments” in the article.  You need:  a computer… Read more: Welcome MAKE Readers!
  • 12V Dimmer Kit V2 Now Available
    The long-awaited 12V Dimmer Kit V2 is now available.
  • More is better, right? 12 LED Cylon scanner Prototype
    While waiting for my 12V Dimmer Kit PCBs to arrive, I spent a little time building yet another Cylon-style LED scanner. This time it has 12 LEDs! That’s more than 5! Quick, someone do the math! Here’s a short video showing how it’s coming along so far. It’s still on a solderless breadboard at this stage. I’m thinking about a PCB that’s about 4 inches long and maybe one inch across, or… Read more: More is better, right? 12 LED Cylon scanner Prototype
  • 12V Dimmer V2 coming soon!
    ** Update ** the kit has been released! Here is an actual photograph of an actual prototype of the long-awaited updated version of my ever-popular “12 Volt Dimmer“.  It’s an especially efficient PWM controller for 12VDC loads up to 60W.  The previous version was only rated at 25W, so this is a big improvement in capacity.  Also, I’ve added an extra pushbutton to allow cycling through preset power levels, which are currently… Read more: 12V Dimmer V2 coming soon!
  • Chibi Dale Buttons from Kwartzlab
    Look what come in the mail today! It’s a bag full of Chibi Dale buttons from my friends at Kwartzlab, a hackerspace in Ontario, Canada.  Thanks, guys!