Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The 10-Month Hiatus

Yeah, I know.
10 months.

I cannot stick to a schedule. I know that as well. But, I keep on working. I may not document what all I've been doing, even though I want to, but I just don't end up having that much time to do it.

You might ask then, What have I been doing since the last post here.

It's been a roller coaster, frankly. If you guys follow me on Google+, you would have some idea as to what all has happened.

First, let's talk about the update to my RasPi Lights. (Previous post)

The Main "Brain"
This took more than a year, from start to finish, and back then, I knew nothing about anything in this pic.

As you can see, It's now more or less in its final form. Here are the basics.

  • RasPi connected to
  • BMP180 for ambient temperature and pressure
  • DHT11 for ambient temperature and humidity
  • DHT11 for room temperature and humidity

IP address at top
Readings from BMP180 (outside room)
Readings from DHT11 (Blue sensor just below the screen)
Readings frm DHT11 Outside the room, alomgside the BMP180

All the sensor reading are now recorded and stored in a web server database at intervals of 10 minutes.
Graphs of all the readings plotted in real time on the web page hosted by the Pi itself.

BMP180 readings graphs, Opened on Chrome.
Blue is Temperature, Red is Pressure
I can actually predict the weather with these!

And obviously a much neater RGB LED Driver system.
Prepare to be dazzled!

My favourite setting. There's a red Laptop missing from the table here tho.

I saw somewhere speakers from LG that had LED Lights in them. That right then was a "Challenge Accepted" moment.
Turned out to be pretty good, I think

Obviously, It's an RGB LED Strip

Not sure if this is gaming mode, or the red one is...

Usually in this setting. The LED's are very bright and I do not end up needing any additional lighting in this config.
Photos look dark because they are underexposed to -2EV

Next, There's now an Arduino Nano controlling the power to my Pi, Speakers, Desk-Lamp, which is controlled by Bluetooth.
And it also monitors the Battery Charge, current drawn and the voltage of the Solar power system.

From left to right:- Buck converter, ACS712 Current sensor, Nano, Relay board (hidden), Screen.

Yeah, Everything I've mentioned above is running off solar energy. 12 Watts panel connected to a total of 14Ah of Lead Acid battery.

Salvaged PWM Solar charge controller I had lying around. Gives a total of 150W of backup.

And no more breadboards here. Its all Permanent, Although I think I could have made it a little better with more planning. But it works fine ATM.

That's what I have done for my room. But that's not the only thing. Me and my pals were also working on a project for college.
Here it is.

Basically, what we tried is to make a robot that mimics the movements of the human arm and replicates it in a servo driven arm with at least 1 degree precision.
Its close, but calibration is quite hard, considering all the parts we are using are cheap ripoffs and no original stuff can be found here. Tough luck.

For the curious, we are again using a Nano, with 6 Potentiometers as the angle sensors, and then feeding the angles measured to servos via a PCA9685 PWM driver board.
Servos are Tower Pro MG996R (Again, not originals)

The electronics on this were easy. The manufacturing and assembly of the parts were not even close to easy. It took a lot of time (about 3-4 months), and a little blood, to get to this point here.
And the best part was, when I got to present my project, the teacher just scoffed and said that we got it made from the market.

And then people ask why India is not doing so well in R&D. Short answer, because of people like him, no one actually bothers to work.

But that's not the worst.
Along with all this, I also got involved in what has to be one of the most challenging and amazing projects I have ever heard about. The CanSat competition organized by the American Astronomical Society and NASA.

We had to design a can shaped payload, which would be  launched and ejected into the atmosphere at approximate 10km from the surface. The payload then would descent, using parachute, and at a height of 400m, a fixed wing glider should be deployed, which is recording the temperature, pressure, humidity, air velocity, GPS data every second and transmitting it back to the ground station using XBee radios, whose graphs were to plotted using MATLAB in real time. Not to mention, there was also a TTL Camera to be there in the Glider.

That sounds AMAZING, right? That's because it is. We had to make everything from scratch, test everything, pack everything in a space of nothing more than 300mm by 120mm diameter, having a weight of less than 500gm.

And I'm pretty sure we would have managed to make the satellite, possibly even be in the top 10, if it were not for some really, REALLY big IDIOTS in the team. And sadly, those idiots were my seniors, and I couldn't really do much. It was out of my control.

The work got delayed, the parts were late, there were only discussions, and no actual work had started until April, and were were scheduled to go to Texas, USA for the launch in June.

Now fortunately / Unfortunately, we were kicked out of the competition in the final round of presenting the Critical Design Review to the judges, Mostly because the guy making the presentation had english grammar skills worse than that of a 10 year old. Also, we had not actually made a single thing, and we were presenting a CRITICAL DESIGN REVIEW of that.

I say fortunately, because thankfully I do not have to deal with such level of insane and imbecility anymore, let alone stay with them as a team for 2 weeks in US during the competition.
Unfortunately, because this was once in a lifetime kind of opportunity for me, and because of them, we lost it. Not to mention the visa fees and other stuff. Those guys were just looking for a visa and I don't think that they were really interested in making cool stuff.

I should have been packing my bags for the trip, but I'm just typing away at my keyboard. Feels bad, but what are my options anyways?

One option is, to make Sound Reactive LED lights, the ones that respond and change color and brightness according to the beats of the song. It looks good!  I've already started working on it, and as of now, after spending about 5-6 hours on that, at least the basic circuit is working. 

I also got a 10 watt RGB LED module, just because I was curious, and I am working on that as well. 

It's a MONSTER! At full power, you cannot even look at it, and heats up the Intel 775 Heatsink fairly quickly.
Just  pure insane, but very fun!

And that is what I'm gonna be doing in my Vacations now. Apart from maybe a few other small things. I'll try to write some small guides here... some sort of documentation, but I can only hope.

If you guys like what you see here, Follow me on Google+! There's my Photography Collection and a basic IoT Collection as well. And obviously, its not updated once in 10 months. :P

Questions, requests and feedbacks is much appreciated.  Until next time, and it will be sooner than you think. :)