Archive for January, 2008

Bert sings the greats

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

My wife and I have a parrot, and he’s nuts, which is to say that he’s a perfect fit for us.  I had friends with birds when I was a kid, but they were skittish around strangers, so I never really understood how cool they are.  My wife got a new macro lens for Christmas and has been testing the resilience of bird’s eyes to camera flashes ever since.  This isn’t one of the super-close-up shots, but it is one of my favorites.

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He’s also been learning to sing lately (if you can call it that).  I wander around the house with him on my shoulder humming random bits of whatever pops into my head, and half the time I don’t remember the words, so I just ‘doop doop be-doop’ to the tune.  Bert seems to have caught on.  Check out the video.  I don’t have a clue what he’s singing, but I doubt he does either.

Motor control for CNC

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Lately I’ve been addicted to the idea of having a computer make things for me, and I’m not alone.  Google ‘DIY CNC’ and a lot of stuff comes up.  There are whole companies now devoted to it.  Rather than just buy something that works, I like to learn about things the painful, er, fun way.  I bought some stepper motors and small controllers, rigged up some Lego and a breadboard, and voila!

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Here’s a video of it moving.  (WMV)

It’s not overly exciting yet, but I’m making sure I have some basics down before I try to build anything larger.

CD ROM Clock, Part 3

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

I have a working clock.  It’s not all feature laden, like some clocks (you have to reprogram it to set the time) but it works.  It’s still dim, but I have a batch of LEDs on the way to fix that, and all the hard stuff is out of the way.


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The first image is a long exposure to show the hands (it’s 10:17 pm).  The second shows the main board, the motor control, and the 18 miles of wire I used to connect the LEDs.  In the lower left of the 2nd image you can see the (slightly bluish) infra-red LED used to determine RPM and disc position.

Next up, the ability to -set- the clock.

CD ROM Clock, Part 2

Friday, January 11th, 2008

I now have a second hand.  It ticks off actual seconds.

It’s pretty dim because I only have 2 LED’s hooked up, and the innards of the CD drive are all black, so they don’t reflect much light.  I have a couple things I’m going to try to fix that.  In the meantime I have to get the hours and minutes displaying and add a way to set it.  I’ll post more pics shortly.

CD ROM Clock

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Everyone at some point in their life has seen a CD clock, right?  You know, a clock, made from a CD. I’ve decided to try making one too, but using an entire CD ROM drive and some funky electronics to do it.  I was inspired by the Hard Drive Clock by Alan Parekh.

Front & rear views:

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Basically I’m using the motor and CD holder from the drive, as well as most of the original chassis.  I’ve hacked up the motor so an RC hobby brushless controller will spin it, and I’ve got a clear CD with a hand etched into it (you can see it in the ‘back’ image).  I’m going to write some microcontroller code to run the motor, sense the RPM, and strobe some LED’s at the right time (like the hard drive clock does) to make the display.

I’ll post more as it (hopefully) comes together.