This morning I decided to fire up the ultra cheap software defined radio (DVB-T dongle) so my PC could grab some weather satellite photos from the NOAA satellites.
If you haven’t heard- you can now buy a $10 USB device which functions as an all band radio receiver. Tonnes of freeware programs now exist to work with these signals. One fun use is decoding the weather images directly from the satellites. It is really a simple process and your PC can stitch together multiple images to cover a large portion of any area.
Here is a composite image which is actually 3 satellite passes today which were automatically stitched together and displayed. Not too bad for a $10 USB stick 🙂
I am using a commercial QFH antenna but you can easily make your own as well. If you haven’t already- check out my videos on the cheap software defined radios- the number of things we can receive is quite incredible!
Here is the website which my receiver automatically updates when I have it configured to receive the NOAA images.
Recently I had anothere sever clog in the hot end of my Solidoodle 3D printer. I have cleared these before but this one proceeded to “ooze” ABS all around the extruder hot end. Due to the fact that mine is still the original unit encased in a type of “cement”- this was going to be some fun to clear. I opted for grabbing a new unit while I rebuild the old.
I ran across this video this week and had to share. This is exactly why I started the DIY robot arm with brain interface project. Mine is not suited for this application but the concept is the same. As makers and creators I think we have a unique perspective on certain things. With the advent of affordable and semi-reliable 3D printers- we now have the tools to quickly fabricate components in a matter of minutes- not weeks.
Did some work on the InMoov 3D printed robotic arm recently. I had been meaning to get around to fixing a servo issue I have had since I initially assembled the arm. Basically for my setup- I need to ensure all servos stop before their limits to avoid buring them out.
I concluded some time ago that this particular arm would not be suited for assembly into the entire robot build (which I’m not sure I will do yet). The arm has a few pieces with strength and quality concerns so I decided I would use it exclusively for my DIY brain/robot interface project. The arm and brain interface may work out well for a DIY medical recovery/training type tool or some other application.
Here is the video of my servo adjustment. Some fingers have some travel issues but the adjustments in the code prevent any harm to the servos as a result.
After much agonizing and running constant landing predictions for the last 6 weeks- I have decided to delay the launch of the High Altitude Balloon. Currently the conditions in Goderich Ontario Canada are not suitable for a safe controlled launch, flight and recovery.
This, unfortunately, means we will not be able to partake in the Global Space Balloon Challenge hosted by M.I.T university. Although this was never the primary focus for the mission, it would have been fun to participate.
Much of the recovery area here in Ontario is still covered in spring melt water (and today 2 inches of fresh snow). This makes recovery difficult. As well, the high altitude winds have allowed for only 4 suitable launch days in the last 6 weeks of simulations.
We will simply need to wait a bit longer so we can achieve our goal of a near-space mission with our balloon and payload module. I will update everyone as soon as we have a projected launch window.
Thanks to everyone who has followed along with this project. It has truly been a fun journey and we haven’t even launched yet 🙂
Well the DIY space program is indeed coming along. There are so many things to build/engineer that I fear I may indeed run out of time before the scheduled launch day. This isn’t really a problem as we can just delay until all systems are go- but it could be a disappointment.
Recently I tested some hand warmers for the payload heating with great success. I don’t think I should have any trouble protecting the electronics from the -60 Celsius outside out capsule.
GPS tracking is proving to be a real pain. I purchased the Spot-Trace unit as well as I have an Android cell phone for backup text messaging. Neither is currently working as desired and much more testing will be required before I can draw any final conclusions.
Dear Spot GPS- I wish you were open-source so I could effectively troubleshoot you 🙂
On a plus note- the Arduino data logger is working flawlessly and all the other systems are slowly coming together. this will truly be a fun project.
Live tracking has been enabled and tested- the tab on this site will go live shortly before the launch. Anyone will be able to track the Aurora-1 from anywhere in the world. We will try to send out Twitter updates as well with the cell phone GPS coordinates. between the two- we should be able to give live updates for the balloon throughout most of its mission to near-space from Goderich Ontario.
I look back at my life and some of the most fond learning experiences I can recollect are of exploring a new hardware or software that I did not yet understand. To me, this is the foundation for knowledge building and “hacking” as I know it.
In Grade 9 as a high school student I was fortunate enough to have an electronics teacher with a very “loose” curriculum. Very few “rules” were enforced and students were encouraged to explore, build and learn with any equipment we had available to us (most donated junk but we actually built some very capable PCs for the time (monochrome monitors and MS DOS haha)
I learned more from the after hours meetings and “borrowing” those PC parts than I could have ever imagined. Skills we developed would be the foundation for our careers and mindsets for many years to come.
One caveat- unfortunately not all areas of the education system shared this open attitude and several of us found ourselves “banned” from the library and all other school owned PC’s, phones and equipment for simply attempting to discover how this “network” thingy worked 🙂
Long story short- The inquisitive nature we seemingly all share as makers, hobbyists, hackers and inventors drives us all to do amazing things. Most of which- we won’t fully realize until many years later.
Here is a documentary which I always though summed up the “spirit” of true hacking and exploration.