Skip to content

My My Raspberry Pi, 2 that is..

20150218_231404 I got  my Pi 2 a few days ago and have finally done a bit of playing with it.

First thing I did was get Google Coder on an SD card. Second, I tried “Snappy”. Third, I’m waiting for the latest Raspbian image to burn as I type. I look forward to trying the Windows 10 soon.


Google Coder – Is Awesome
If you know about JSFiddle then you feel right at home with Google Coder.

It’s a web development tool right out of the box. Boot it as an appliance, headless.  Log in using “coder.local” and you have a web IDE. Complete with web server, editor, and if you use Chrome you will have a debugger.

I am anxious to try some hardware hacking with Coder. Maybe get PWM going to drive one of my servo Gauges.

Ubuntu Snappy – not what your looking for
I don’t mean to say that “snappy” is not any good, just that it’s not a canned ready to go image for your typical Raspberry Pi user.  I’m not sure what “snappy” is meant for. I saw “Ubuntu” for Raspberry Pi and jumped without looking…

Raspbian – Expected Bliss
As I watch the SD card image writing progress bar pass about 30% I’m hopeful for a nice X windows and the comfortable SSH shell. I am not ready to give up “apt-get” just yet..  The Pi-2 could be a lot faster then the original one. I was not happy with the performance of the GUI in X on the PI so I lived at the shell.  I do feel comfortable in the shell but it would be nice to see a snappy (LOL) UI.

What are you going to do with your old Pi?
I have a few old Pi’s all are the B+ models. I know I’ll make one a permanent Google Coder machine on my home network. Maybe try some hardware hacking with Coder.

I’m thinking another one will be converted into a Pandora radio. I did the Adafruit Pi Radio thing about a year ago and thought it would be nice to have a small PCB with just a few buttons. Skip, thumbs up and down, nothing else. Modify the setup to use NodeJS for a web interface and put it all together in a neat laser cut enclosure. Simple plug into your network, set it up for your Pandora, and it plays.

I wonder if I could sell the “Pandora” board and enclosure to others via Tindie.  Would be a cool way to put your old Pi to use.

Feedback Please
Is anybody out there? Marko?

Posted in Development Tools, Discovering, Interesting, Linux, Raspberry Pi.

Room Temp on Custom Gauge

RoomTempGauge We recently made a product and got it up for sale on Tindie.  This article is a kind of quick start for the ServoGauge Proto.

The general idea here is to monitor the temperature of my home office with high resolution. The temperature here is controlled and is not going to change very much. A typical temperature gauge would cover a large range of values, like 0 to 100C which would not be interesting here.

Enter the ServoGauge Proto.  Now I can easily have a custom range for the temperature gauge.  My gauge is set to work over just 10 degrees, 69 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit


Posted in Uncategorized.

Arduino Tip – Better Serial Debug

NanoOnBBWithAdapterFTDI Here you see the same photo from my review of the Nano. In that post I mention talking about the adapter board in the upper right of the picture later.. This is later…

By keeping a separate dedicated Debug serial connection you avoid the pain of having to keep closing and reopening your Debug terminal. Other benefits include having a VT100 Style terminal so you can build a nice view on your application. Controlling text color, X/Y position, flashing etc..

In the picture above you see the Arduino Nano connected to USB as you would normally have it.  This is fine but we can do a lot better.  The serial terminal built into the IDE is convenient  but closes each time you program. You have to reopen it to see your data.


Posted in Arduino, Development Tools, Hacks, Ideas, Microcontroller, Parts, Projects, Tips, Workshop Tips.

My Favorite Arduino, the Nano


The Arduino Nano is my favorite version of the Arduino. Pictured here in my breadboard next to a custom made FTDI adapter, more on that later.

The Modern Device Educato might be a close second but I don’t have one to play with yet.. The reason is simple.  I use the Arduino with solderless breadboard all the time. The Nano plugs into my breadboards with some room to spare on both sides. Provides easy access to all the I/O and is a full speed Mega328, my favorite AVR chip


Posted in Arduino, Development Tools, Discovering, Microcontroller, Parts, Review, Tips.

Arduino POE

5057970 I’ve started playing with an Arduino Ethernet board with POE.  This board is well suited to IOT projects where you can run an Ethernet cable to the device.  POE stands for Power Over Ethernet so the only connection we need to the device is an inexpensive CAT5 cable. Both a data connection and power are provided via the cable.

I got my Arduino Ethernet board from Newark/Element 14. It looks like a normal Arduino with an several extra goodies.  Ethernet RJ45, micro SD, and a second board attached to handle the POE feature.

Since the board is setup with Ethernet the “Thing” can communicate directly with IOT servers.

My first project plan was a hydroponic tomato garden. Unfortunately I was a bit delayed and learned that the local squirrels like green tomatoes.. My plants will not be able to produce for me so I scrapped that plan. Anyway…

I was going to monitor soil moisture and temperature with data sent into the cloud. A separate application would monitor the data and send back commands to open a water valve to fill the reservoir in my Earth box. 

I still plan to explore IOT using this Arduino POE module and will blog about it as I go. First step will be figuring out what to use on the inside for connection to the CAT5 cable going to the Arduino.  I know it will need to connect to the outgoing RJ45 and have a way to connect to my network (another RJ45) and a wall wart power input.  The device will combine the power and Ethernet signals into the cable for the Arduino to consume.

What should I get for the inside connection?  Have any advice, please post it in the comments.

Posted in Arduino, Development Tools, Discovering, Microcontroller, Projects.

UDOO Up and Running

2014-07-23 13.52.18 Just fired up a UDoo to play with in the lab.  A UDoo is a combination of a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino. But4 X the speed of a Pi and the Arduino is really an Arduino Mega built into the same board. It’s not a Linux board emulating an Arduino, it’s a LInux board with a built in Arduino.

The great thing about this combination is that the Arduino is great at handling all the hardware interfacing, lets you plug in Arduino shields even.  You get all the speed of the microcontroller for bit-banging in real-time. And you get all the network Swiss army knife of an embedded Linux board. Best of both really

My first impression is that Linux runs nicely on the board. I have a version of Ubuntu running now and it’s smooth and responsive in the GUI.  There is an Android OS for the board as well, I hope to play with that soon.

Of course the UDOO Ubuntu includes the Arduino IDE so you can write code for the Arduino. I’ve not done that step yet, probably do another article this weekend after I play with that feature set.

Related Links:

  • UDoo Linux SBC with built in Arduino Mega
  • Arduino Super popular microcontroller platform
  • Ubuntu Super popular Linux OS Distribution

Posted in Arduino, Development Tools, Discovering, Microcontroller, Raspberry Pi, Review.

Raspberry Pi in the Lab

IMG_0528 Here is my model B, days before it’s going to be replaced with the B+.

It’s in the Adafruit case with an Adafruit T-Cobbler Breakout to my solder-less breadboard.

I’m using an Apple keyboard as it has a built in 2 port USB hub where I connect the dongle for a wireless mouse. Connected to the Pi’s other USB is a WiFi dongle where I can watch it’s activity LED flash.

On the breadboard there are two LEDs. One (red) shows that power is on. The other will be connected to a GPIO. This will be used like the default LED on an Arduino for things like the Blink demo.

Lastly there is an XMEGA Xprotolab micro O-Scope on the board, currently in voltmeter mode checking the 5V and 3.3V supplies.  I noticed my 5V was only 4.83 so I switched around the USB power warts till I found one that got the voltage up to 4.95.

The Xprotolab will come in handy as I play around with the I2C and SPI GPIO. It includes some logic analysis, including decoding I2C and SPI.  Looking forward to playing with that.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Inexpensive Soldering Tools Review #2

image In the fist soldering iron review at uCHobby we played with a low cost soldering station from MPJA.  That iron cost $15 and was quite usable. Here is a quick run-down for this one.

The fist point is that while the iron claims it work on 220AC it also works fine on 110AC. I found it takes about 2 minutes to heat up. Perhaps it would heat up faster on 220. Honestly this was a mistake on my part, I totally missed the 220 spec until I tried it out.


  • Cost: About ($10)
  • Space Saving (save bench and tool box)
  • Temperature Controlled


  • Large wand (not as delicate in the hand as a Weller or Hakko)
  • Bulky cord (not a supple as a top end tool)
  • About 2 minutes to heat up (not a big deal, a Weller is ready in about 20 seconds)
  • Two prong power connection means you have a separate ground lead. (Most irons have a three prong power connection so that the tip is grounded.)
  • Takes a while to get to you (shipping from China)

The negatives are similar with the other inexpensive iron as well. They both suffer in the wand compared to a Weller or Hakko.

Overall the quality seems good. I will know better how well it works when I put it to the test of a few projects, will let you know.

907 Constant Temperature Electric Soldering Iron Lead-free 22OV 60W (Link)

2014-07-17 16.23.41

The extra wire with the alligator clip is for grounding.  The iron does not have a three pong power connection so you could do a static discharge from you to the board when you solder. To prevent this you can connect to ground on your board or bench. This could be an advantage, you might even be able to solder on an active circuit as the tip should be isolated when the ground clip is disconnected.

I will keep using my Hakko mostly because of the better wand and well I paid for it…


2014-07-17 16.21.18I don’t know if I like the see through nature of the wand. It’s nice that the “Heat-On” LED is easily seen, on the wand itself. But this plastic seems out of place on a soldering iron. It’s strong, but would melt so easy if touched with an iron.. Not really an issue for a home electronics bench. 

BEST BST-5G Soldering Iron Tips Resurrected Cream (Link)

image Tip Fixer.  This stuff is great. If your like me, you often forget to turn off your iron. The tips get dirty and stop working, you can scrub them and re-tin but it’s a pain and soon the tip is painful to use. This tip refresh does wonders to fix up a dirty tip. Just stick the hot iron tip in the paste and let it sizzle a bit, then re-tin and your tip is great again. I am glad to find this finally, have been hunting for this stuff for some time. Just found this at Banggood and I’m very hopeful that it works as well as my treasured tiny can of the stuff I’ve finally worn out after years of use.


10pcs Solder Iron Tips For Hakko Soldering Rework Station  (Link)

image Do you have a Hakko iron?  Banggood has tips for a good price. I will do a review of these tips once I get some time with them. They look very good so far.


Want to get a Hakko? adafruit sells one for $110. I got mine there a few years ago, works great. Looks like they have done some improvements since I received mine.


Cheap Stuff at uCHobby?

I have to take a moment here and praise companies like adafruit, sparkfun, and the Maker shed. They have great products and do a lot for the maker community. Take a look around, especially at the tutorials at each of their sites. They don’t always have the lowest cost on things but they do put back into our community.

There are a lot of other similar companies, don’t mean to leave anyone out. I just shop at these place more often then not. Go ahead and plug the companies you think provide great products and give back to the community in the comments here. I will delete any obvious spam though…


I think the low cost tools reviewed in this and other post at uCHobby are fine for general hobby use or I would would not be featuring them. But, with that said, a serious maker should buy serious tools from providers like adafruit, sparkfun, and the Maker shed. They (we) are all in this to make money but they do give some back for the greater good. If you want to make things and need to sacrifice a bit for a great deal, then go ahead, competition is good.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Scrounging out a Printer

IMG_0501As part of the spring cleaning mentioned in the previous post, I had an old all-in-one printer/scanner that I saved from the trash a while back. I kept it around, planning to scrounge out any useful parts before I let it go to it’s grave. Maybe some of the parts would be useful in another project.

Driving home on trash day, I saw this printer sitting on top of a garbage can, I snatched it up. This is it’s final story…

IMG_0504 Stage 1. After removing ever screw I could see, I pulled the unit in half. The center of the picture shows the printer parts, the scanner is facing down. First impression is Wow, there is almost nothing in there. Looks like modern printers use no stepper motors, just a few DC motors with encoders.


IMG_0506 The main board has a power supply, the big inductors (coils in the lower center) are typical for a switching power supply. I saved this PCB to scrounge out those inductors. Just tossed it into a box of other boards I have marked for scrounging.

IMG_0515 In the end, here are the bits I saved. Three DC motors, an optical interrupt detector, a small board with a button and LED and some wire.

The scanner glass is nice for the work bench, it’s strong glass and makes a perfect surface for cutting paper with an Exacto knife. I kept large white plastic piece to use in the Laser Cutter at our Tech Shop.  I still have to confirm that that plastic is OK to cut with a laser…

All in all, there is not much in a printer theses days. Not for the hobbyist anyway.

Posted in Discovering, Parts, Scrounging, Scrounging Parts.

Parts Bin Organization

SamplePartsBinLabelsSpring cleaning at the uCHobby lab. I got a few of these parts bins to hang at my work bench to organize things. It’s amazing how many of the lost parts you find when you organize what you have into drawers.

I made some nice labels to place on each drawer with large text and pictures. Some are shown below. I’ve included the PDF file in case you have use for the labels.

photow1 I plan to create another more specific set of labels for my other cabinets. I have one with 64 small drawers to hold things sorted out like resistors and caps. When I’m done I should have a full set of labels for a serious electronics home hobbyist.

Posted in Development Tools, Ideas, Parts, Workshop Tips.