Mohit Bhoite

taking over the world, one robot at a time

SevenSeg

Things are very busy as always at Particle (formerly Spark IO) and we have been putting in crazy hours to get the Kickstarter project out the door. As the deadline approaches, one of my work colleagues created a countdown timer. This is one of those timer apps that sits on your desktop. I wondered, wouldn’t it be cool to build a physical one that is connected to the internet? That’s how the idea to build an internet connected seven segment display was born. I could have simply chosen to breadboard such a thing, which I did, but it wasn’t enough. I’ve been itching to build a free-form project much like the BEAM robots I used to build a decade ago. So I decided to take that approach and build this little guy. I call him the ‘SevenSeg’.

SevenSeg

Specifications:

The construction primarily consists of the Photon without the headers as the base and then a combination of resistors and brass rods form the frame.

SevenSeg_back

7seg04_small

Solder Closeup

The schematic is very straight forward:

7seg10_small
As I was programming this guy to display time and the countdown timer, I realized that I could actually give him personality by exhibiting emotions. Since he is connected to the internet, he is never out of sync!

 

Mini Kossel 3D Printer

I’ve been busy building the mini kossel 3D printer on and off for about a year now. Unlike the Desi 3D printer that I’d build entirely from scratch, this time I decided to splurge on some decent off the shelf parts. I really like this printer design, its clean, simple, fast and economical.

I collected all the parts over the course of couple of months at the beginning of this year (2014).
parts

It still looks a little messy. Need to find a better solution for those unruly wires.

front

The controller is a RAMPs board combined with an Arduino Mega. The extruder is an all-metal bowden that I bought while I was visiting Shenzhen, China.

top_iso

The hot-end is a MKV J-Head with 0.4mm nozzle.

hotend

The dimensions of the first print are off by about 0.6mm and the first layer is a little too squished, but I’ll be able to get that down with some fine tuning.

2014-12-24 23.11.33

One nice thing about this design is that it has an auto bed leveling mechanism which allows the printer to self calibrate before every new job. The original design uses an allen key connected to a limit switch to gently tap on different location on the print bed to self calibrate. I decided to try out a new design based  on Johann’s recent experiments on using force sensor underneath the bed and using the hot-end itself to tap on the bed.

The FSR sensors are currently held in place by tape while a felt pad provides support for the above glass bed. I still need to find a more permanent solution to this.

fsr

I’ll put up more detailed post on the build soon. In the meantime, calibrate, calibrate, calibrate.

Fractal Antenna for DTV

I think I was more excited about building this antenna than the prospect of watching television after staying away from it for over 5 years.

fractal-template

The fractal segments are made up of 3/64″ dia brass rods bought at Ace hardware. You can download the printable PDF template of the antenna here.

fractal-cuts

To make things easy during soldering, I taped the fractal segments together on a piece of cardboard with painter’s tape. I then soldered the 50 ohm coaxial cable to the centers. The ground shielding braid was a little tricky to solder but with a little bit of flux and a lot of heat, it managed to stick.

solder-rig

I hot glued the assembled antenna on to a 8″x9″ foam board. I bet the brass segments would look really nice on a piece of dark wood ply than on a foam board. Maybe next time.

complete-antenna

I have been able to catch about 14 digital television channels (in Minneapolis) with this contraption.

Spark Core Neopixel App

spark-neopixel-01

I always find that it’s easier to take on a project to learn about something new than to just read about it. That’s how this iPhone app happened. It’s my first crude attempt at writing code in (ugly) objective-C. The app consists of a color-wheel to select the RGB values and a slider to set the brightness. You can find the project files for the xcode and the firmware app for the Spark Core on my GitHub repository.

The project uses the Adafruit’s 24 element neopixel ring and a Spark Core. The wiring is very straight forward. The ring requires a 5 VDC supply which is directly derived from the Core’s VIN pin (coming from the USB) and the data-in line to the ring is connected to Core’s D2 pin.

The ring, when naked, is very bright. So I decided to defuse it with a thick plastic cup.

spark-neopixel-02

 

Ice cube clock

I spent the weekend building the Ice Cube Clock kit from Adafruit. The tube is a little tricky to assembly, but overall, the kit was really fun to put together. I’m thinking of adding a Spark Core to sync the time with UTC on regular intervals.

Ice Cube Clock

Ice Cube Clock parts

 

Sunday in St. Paul

A new beginning at Spark

Began a new life at Spark Labs.

DAC Board

One of the boards that I recently designed had to use QFN packages and we were worried if our old pick and place machine would handle it. Surprisingly, they are easier to use than one may think. No solder bridges either.

 

Multi-Turn Pots

I love using these multi-turn potentiometers in my designs.

Camera Iris Control

Trying to come up with a simple solution to control the Iris of a CCD camera lens.