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These pages document some projects that I have taken on in my free time. Mostly this is for myself, to write down my way of thinking in these projects, but it might be of some interest and inspiration to others as well. One thing in particular that I hope transpires through from the different projects, is that you can do nice things with relatively little in the way of tools. Most projects here were completed using hand tools, small power tools, and some space outside. Living in a terraced house at the outside of a small city, I don't have access to a shed or garage to work in. Also, having two small children, I don't have lots of continuous time to work on the projects; the work is mostly done in 2-hour blocks, either in the middle of the day, or in the evenings when the children are asleep and the household chores are done. The key to completing these projects has mostly been the ability to divide the work in small chunks that can be completed in the short time intervals available, so that there is always a feeling that a part has been completed, and that there continues to be progress.

New project: Portable game console

UT.6.03 at University of Austin (Texas) is a course that teaches microcontroller development using a Texas Instruments Tiva launchpad. The one-but-last lab in the course is a mash-up of everything done in earlier labs, with the goal of creating a simple Space Invaders style game:

Project: XY-table

The goal of the XY table project is to make this work:

[Update: the XY-plotter is working! I'm not using it for drilling however, I use it to draw PCB layouts directly on PCB stock, using Staedler Lumocolor permanent pens, which use etch-resistant ink. The software is home-brew Python code that converts 200 dpi PNGs exported from Eagle to commands in a very simple custom plotter control protocol.]

The original goal was to use this as a tool to drill massive amounts of holes into a PCB, for what is to become the second version of my LED matrix; this time, it would be a 24x24 matrix, which would require drilling 576 (number of LEDs) x 2 holes in a PCB. Additionally, the controller for this matrix would have lots of chips in it, and I do not intend to drill all these holes by hand, both because of the sheer amount, and because of the low precision that you can achieve by hand. So: let's automate the drilling!

Stage one of this project is to figure out how to control the axes on this table. Long story short, we first make a controller board that makes it easy to connect two stepper motors and a servo to an Arduino to control them: