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Asymptotically Approaching Graduation

Recently I’ve described myself as a “full-time freelance writer and part-time student”. This semester (Fall 2010) it turns out I’m a full-time student. I just counted up my hours and after exhausting all the available digits, I removed one shoe and discovered I was taking 14 hours, which most people consider full-time status. I have had the pleasure of knowing younger, more ambitious students who were taking 20 and 24 hours in a single semester, but I think we can agree those people are crazy. Or doctors by now.
After reviewing my scholastic accomplishments with one of the fine counselors at the local community college, it occurred to me that I could graduate in the spring if I just worked a little harder. I must admit that this idea holds a certain amount of fascination.
Wish me luck!

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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 perhaps slimmer. It should run on two AA batteries.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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12V Dimmer V2 coming soon!

12V Dimmer Kit V2 prototype with terminal labels
12V Dimmer Kit V2 prototype with terminal labels

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 1%, 10%, 25%, 50% and 100% and back to off again.

The 12V Dimmer kit will be available in two to three weeks (*crosses fingers for luck*) for only $14.95.  The production version will be much more attractive than this prototype, with a real soldermask and silkscreen.

Since the power terminals are unlabeled on this prototype, I’ve included this photograph to illustrate the proper connections for both power and load.

You can control a *LOT* of LEDs with this kit, as well as motors and fans as a speed controller.  There are actually a lot of applications for a simple circuit such as this.

All the design files, including the schematic and microcontroller source code will be released when the kits are ready to ship.  I have several units in the field being evaluated by my trusty beta testers.  Hopefully there will not be any big surprises between now and the launch date.

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Closed for Summer Vacation – 30 June to 12 July 2010

I’ll be closed for business from Wednesday, 30 June 2010 and back to work on Monday, 12 July 2010.  Any orders placed during that time will not be shipped until I return.

We’re packing up the family and heading north to get out of this Texas summer heat, because we heard “it’s cooler near the lake”.  See you in a couple of weeks!

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Spending some time learning the tools

I would like to be thought of as a “tool-using animal”.  I have a deep appreciation for well-designed and effective tools.  Likewise, I have a distinct aversion to low-quality or ineffective tools.  I try not to be a “tool snob”.  There is truth in the old saying “It is a poor craftsman indeed who blames his tools”.  Yes it is also true that “You can build a doghouse out of anything”.  So it’s important to me to use the right tool for the job, when it matters, as well as have a fundamental understanding of what constitutes its proper use.

Continue reading Spending some time learning the tools

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A Place for Personal Notes

I just created a new category here under “News” for items of a personal nature. Obviously, there’s nothing super-secret or confidential here. It’s just for items that I would like to jot down and perhaps review at some point in the future.

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Rebuilding the web site again, from the ground up

This time I think I know what I’m doing. Maybe, maybe not.

Please bear with me as I reconstruct my online empire from the rubble of my previous online empire.

If you’re looking for assembly instructions, please go to the Information page.

If there’s anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can be reached via email at, or you can call me on the phone at (972) 486-1317 or toll free from the US or Canada at (877) DALE WHEAT.  I hope to hear from you soon.