Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas break TechShop Day 1 update

Test fit
First day back at TechShop after 3 months away due to the start of school soaking up the vast majority of my time and preventing me from going into DC every day. After arriving I immediately set to work on the new integration cans as the early prototypes are about ready to be phased out. Halfway through modeling the alpha I realize that I would not be able to slot in the middle segment due to it having the fittings on both the top and bottom, preventing the middle section from being able to slide into place.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Random Neopixel projects to pass time before Christmas break

Neopixel microscope detail
Sorry about the delays between posts, school has been picking up again and some other stuff keeps coming up. I am putting my stabilization system on the back burner at the moment because for it to progress I'm going to need access to 3D printers and Autodesk Inventor. I will be going to TechShop DC during Christmas break to continue work, if you're in the area stop by and say hello! (Contact me @ascii211 prior to stopping by). Currently I'm working on upgrading my little sister's cheap microscope to ditch the horrible dim and yellow incandescent bulb it shipped with.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Contest winners announced

Thank you for all 35 great names you have submitted, choosing from the available names has been very difficult. I have decided that I will choose 2 winners, each winner will receive one(1) Arduino Nano in their choice of FTDI or CH340G UART chipset. Shipment will be via eBay fulfillment and tracking numbers(if provided by seller) will be sent to your email/DM. I have also decided that the most relevant name deserves an award due to the contextual naming, Esven will be receiving some loot.
Winners are:
@indiealexh with "Isorropías" [ισορροπίας] (Greek translation is "Stability") 
@cineboxandrew with ASCII-1 (Ascent SCheme of Increased Insanity)
Honorable mentions:
@Esven_the_drake with "Dr. Wobbles: or how I learned to stop worrying and love control theory" and "Bang-Bang Controller" [Most relevant name award]
@ibuildrockets with "Steve (because there's not enough rockets called Steve)" and  "ARSE (Active Rocket Stabilization Experiment)" [Steve award]
@fgarciasit with "Not-Wiggly-Bit" and "Wiggly-Bit" [Most whimsical name award]
@J_vandie with SOLA (Stable One Legged Antelope) [Hilarious award]
Thanks for making this contest amazing, I will definitely be doing more in the future! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Current collection of dev boards

This is my collection of development boards. From top left they are; Genuine Arduino UNO, Clone MEGA, Parallax Basic Stamp homework board (serial), Sainduino UNO, Arduino Nano (clone), Genuine Arduino pro mini, Clone pro mini, Minimus AVR (KADE core), IMUDuino, MSP430 Value line, CY8CKIT-049 ($4 PSOC)
Dev boards!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

New equipment acquired! [LINKS INCLUDED]

Current haul
What maker does not like eBay? that magical place where you can buy virtually anything you need at dirt cheap prices to boot! The fact that the costs are so low is a boon for the basement makers with very low budgets or just any maker who is just dipping their toes into making but doesn't want to invest too much money in getting started. Over the past few weeks shipments have been coming in from china and the US containing lots and lots of new parts and boards. Overview is below
To start with there is the Neopixels and new MPU-6050s (toasted my old one). The MPUs can be found here for $2.34 and ship very quickly, silkscreen and LED are different though. The specific strip of Neopixels seems to have disappeared from the site for some reason though. Other than that these are exact clones of the Adafruit strips except at $4 instead of $10. Very bright and colorful!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Early November active stabilization system [Codename ARGuS] update!

Finally got back on the stabilization system development track! I finished the major school project and the replacement MPU-6050s arrived. The code recently got a MAJOR upgrade thanks to Bogdan Markovik who sent me the modified MPU6050 test code that has PWM drivers in addition to full roll, pitch and yaw control as well as fully configurable degrees of freedom for each axis. Bogdan has been assisting me with everything from code to new sensor possibilities and I hope to continue working with him as the project continues. I will be eventually moving away from the MPU-6050 as it can be kind of iffy with angles sometimes and calibration is rather annoying as I'd rather not risk the very costly high power rocket airframe to loss of structural integrity due to the sensor getting confused and shaking the rocket to bits. Thanksgiving break is coming up soon and that means my probable return to TechShop and further rapid development of the system! In addition to Bogdan helping out with the system, Sagar, the original coder of the very basic code that drove the first prototypes, is a frequenter of the same TechShop and will be working on refining his own system. Video of the new code in action is right after the break.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Name my rocket and stabilization system and win an Arduino Nano [CONTEST]

Just a heads up about a contest I am running currently. Name my rocket (currently codenamed TA-1 [Test article 1]) and the stabilization system (currently codenamed ARGuS [Arduino Rocket Guidance System]). Contest ends at 12:00 EST on November 27 2014, and winner will be selected on December 10 2014 and the prize of one(1) Arduino Nano (FT232RL or CH340G at the winners request). Entries are highly welcome and I hope to see several very unique names for the rocket and system soon! :D. One entry per person, twitter account not required as an email address will suffice. If winner does not respond within 48 hours a runner up will be chosen. Form is after the break

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Neopixel power line feedback phenomena

While working on a christmas gift for a friend I encountered an interesting phenomena involving signal leakage over the USB power line.  The USB to UART adaptor I was using caused the signal leakage to go into the USB hub of the keyboard and into the amplifier for my headphones which amplified the signal up to an audible level. It sounds rather ethereal in my opinion with the echo fading similarly to a Meteor echo radio reflection. The program that was running at the time was a generic randomization "twinkle"program which pulsed on a random pixel, color and fade time on the strip.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Slight delay due to fried parts, drop test update

I will be delayed in the development of the system on the code side due to the loss of my MPU-6050. The magic blue smoke of failure made a surprise appearance yesterday. I connected it to the 5V pin of the Arduino and suddenly wisps of smoke wafted past my screen as the power LED dimmed and powered off. I tested the temperature of the components and found the voltage regulator to be at fault. I did not over voltage it as it was rated to 5V. Likely the component was either faulty or it might have been a low quality wafer. The replacement components will be arriving in a few weeks (they have to get here from the opposite side of the planet) so until then I will be working on the physical structure of the drop test module for the test before the end of the year. Currently my objective is to secure a location from which to drop the unit from as so it can get up to the proper airspeed for the fins to come into play and control the fall of the unit. Initially I had called the local university as they have tall buildings which the town I live in does not (aside from the precinct which will not let me drop things off their roof). The administrator I talked to was extremely helpful and asked around as to wether or not I would be able to use their facilities. I was unable to use the facilities due to their insurance policies and the fact that the roof membranes are rather fragile, however he did give me several other places to ask which will hopefully allow me to test this system.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Update on active stabilization system [Apologies for hiatus]

 //Back again with another update! Many apologies for the extended hiatus, school is quite hectic with it being my final year and the heavier workload of AP Physics and trying to maintain a relatively good GPA in addition to some other unrelated things going on that weighs rather heavily on my time, thanks for your understanding.

Back in the beginning of September I had started work on taking a prototype shield (these) and soldering the circuits on the back using standard hook up wire and converting it into a guidance shield for easier demonstration purposes and to minimize the rats nest of loose wires hanging out all over the place. This increased the durability of the entire system but hit a major hardware snag when it did not work as it did on the breadboard.   The issue was it started moving the servos a single tiny skip then shutting the whole system down. What was happening is that the servos were drawing far too much current for the 5V pin and the Arduino shut down to protect itself as it thought it was short circuiting, not an I2C bus issue as I first surmised. I figured it out at last earlier this week, when I used an additional power supply for the servos (lots of power required to move 4 of them simultaneously). This fixed the biggest hardware problems I was having with a minimal amount of changes required to my circuitry (will need only an additional regulator) and no major changes to the code (will be moving the servo pins to PWM next revision). When you encounter an issue, first thing to check is for shorts, then to see if something else has gone wrong such as a misplaced connection or a solderblob jumped terminal that should not be connected. 

Shield top, not so great wire layout

Monday, September 15, 2014

Experimenting with the ESP8266 $5 wifi module

Before I start this blog post I'd like to profusely thank Joshua Newell ‏@ImJoshNya for providing the code, wiring basis and serial settings used in this experiment. The massive amount of support and assistance encountered in the maker community is a huge part of why I love it so much, all of you have been so supportive and receptive to my own inane ideas and provided a lot of input of your own.  

         Recently the maker community was all abuzz about (alliteration eh?) a new WiFi chipset that was at a record low price ($5 or less/board) that included not only WiFi connection but also the ability to simultaneously connect and broadcast its own access point, in addition to having an onboard microprocessor that has GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) pins easily triggered on this standalone unit. The whole unit is slightly smaller than the ubiquitous NRF24L01 with the same 2X4 header interface (with different pinouts though). For $5 this will quite literally boost the IOT (Internet Of Things) maker movement to a whole new level like the widely used NRF24L01 did for basic RF communication and sensor meshes. Well as this is a VERY new module there exists (as of the time of writing) no Arduino libraries but I'd be willing to bet that within 2 months there will be a plethora of both libraries and variants of this amazing chipset. After reading the Hackaday post about this module, I went and bought one off of the quintessential EBay. Unlike most of these modules for sale which shipped from China and took a week or so, I got mine form a US seller so it arrived in 3 days and at a better price point than most Chinese sellers. In addition to the module, this seller provided me with extensive documentation in proper English that hadn't hit the internet yet. You can find said documentation Here. The module I received was "V2 GPIO" with an additional LED and 2 GPIO pins broken out. Details on the different versions after the break.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Stabilization system development slowing down(temporarily)

Hey there, Sorry about the rather long hiatus. School has started up and it not only is using up the vast majority of my free time but also it has removed my ability to frequent TechShop which is where most of my work is done from designing to 3D printing. My school does issue laptops with the Autodesk Suite installed, I will be requesting issuance of a computer so work can continue on the system. My school does not, however, have a 3D printer but oddly enough the middle school does. I am investigation wether or not I can book time on their machine. In return I would give a lecture and presentation to hopefully get the students excited about STEM careers and technology in general. My younger brother is the vice-president of the STEM club so he might be able to help create a line of communication and a possible partnership. Blog posts will be few and far between for a while, but when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around they will be picking back up in frequency as I will be back at the TechShop again.

Per Audacia Ad Astra
Arsenio Dev

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fin development

Evolution of fin design
Fin development is one of the hardest parts of designing and building a stabilization system in my experience. It has to be aerodynamically sound, servo compatible and not break when initial liftoff forces kick in.

Integration can V1 completed

Finished printing the integration can. It is based around the modified upper retaining plate that was designed so long ago.
Fin can design

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Preliminary fin printing, lessons learned.

Yesterday I moved the fin into preliminary 3D printing. Initial print was flat on the print bed, apparently the support structure caused it to warp and the layers stacked strangely. Vertical printing worked a heck of a lot better! Also reprinted the baseplates to the correct size and spacing of servos.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adding on to code for opposite fin pair drive, fixing a MAJOR problem

Today I decided to fix the issue of opposite servo pairs actuating in opposite directions which would result in a uncontrolled spin and subsequent destruction of airframe. It only took a few modifications totaling in 10 additional lines of code. This site was extremely helpful in explaining the servo drive code for opposite servo pairs.


Obfuscated = valNull;


Obfuscated = valNull;

What this does is take the opposite servo and drive it 180 degrees in the opposite direction of the reference servo(1)[Yes I censored the code because this is ITAR regulated, Deal with it. If you really do want to take a look at my code, you will have to prove you are based in the US and sign a waiver that transfers all responsibility for what you may do with my code to you].

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Working on the fins

Started work on the servo-actuated fins today, Simple extrudes and lofts based around a standard servo arm, will print these before the end deadline

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Apologizing for being unable to open-source my project.

Realized to my dismay(and likely yours) that I will be unable to open source this rocket guidance project. Due to ITAR and this being classified as Defense-related I cannot export this code or hardware outside of the continental US. Link for those who wish to research more on these regulations. ITAR Regulations 121.1, Category 4, paragraph H:
(1) Flight control and guidance systems (including guidance sets) specially designed for articles enumerated in paragraph (a) of this category (MT for those articles enumerated in paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) of this category);
Note to paragraph (h)(1): A guidance set integrates the process of measuring and computing a vehicle's position and velocity (i.e., navigation) with that of computing and sending commands to the vehicle's flight control systems to correct the trajectory.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Finally got rid of the cardboard structure! (size of prints is still wrong :[)

At long last, the horrible cardboard vanishes(except the fins). With the print that was completed today the tolerances came closer than ever before to being perfect but they still are wrong (D:). I had to take an exacto knife and shave the notches slightly wider but for some reason one of the plates was not circular but rather an oval which was nearly imperceptible except when they are stacked on one another(:/).

Femtoduino IMUduino is here!

Thanks to Alex Albino of Femtoduino for sending me this IMUduino to use on my rocket! He had tweeted out that he needed testers of unreleased boards and I stepped up because hey, hardware testing is awesome! Got sent this board (functionally equivalent to a Leonardo with an IMU and BLE!) and am currently working on integrating it as the controller for the guided rocket. Many thanks Alex! [If you wish to purchase one of these yourself go here]
Its so tiny~!

3D printing plates

Started printing plates to replace the crappy cardboard demo model. First time(black plastic) I had the slots for the servos too small; fixed it and am now printing it again(red plastic)
The initial print had issues with the quality of filament bead as is seen in the partially completed picture
printed revised prototype


Friday, July 25, 2014

Rocket Guidance/ active stabilization system proof of concept is up and running!

Nearly 2 months after I actually started actually working on the system I finally got the proof of concept down. It uses the cheap and very common MPU6050 6-DOF IMU to read angles and an Arduino UNO to translate the angular output into servo movement. Thank you to this tutorial for helping me understand the implementation of the IMU.
IMU detail

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Launchpad and Cypress PSOC came in! :D

Ordered these off of digikey, can't wait to get programming! I will be using the Energia IDE which allows you to program the MSP430 using the same code as an arduino (just different pinouts). The PSOC was only $4 which can be bought Here

Why Atmel is awesome

This is a short recap about my EXCELLENT experience with Atmel.
It all started when I went to request sample chips from Atmel to use in teaching my understudy how to solder and give them their own micro controller while they were at it(also asked about stickers). I sent a tweet to @TheAVRMan and we got to talking, he directed me to use the "Request samples" page on Atmel's site, however as I use a Gmail address it wouldn't let me request samples, told me "Your email domain is not authorized to request samples from Atmel com. Please use your company email domain to request samples." . The crux of the problem was that my gmail address is my company email. I tweeted him back about the issue and he said he would discuss it with his team. A few hours later he got back with me and told me he would get around the block, gave him my email and not long afterwards had an email from the sample department asking which stock number(s) and how many I needed, sent back an email with the request and later that day got confirmation that they were shipped. I was stunned at the lengths that they went to get me free chips, they have gone to ridiculous lengths to get a tinkerer like me hooked up with awesome loot. Two days later the stickers came in first and they sent me 10 sheets worth! The following day the chips came in. I felt like a kid on christmas opening the boxes and anti-static bags and pulling the chips out. Thank you Atmel, from the bottom of my Maker heart, I was dumbfounded at the effort you put into a little guy like me.
Ten sheets worth of Atmel stickers!
The anti-static bags the chips came in
The chips they sent

Friday, June 13, 2014

How to get a $3 CP2102 USB-UART bridge programmer to work with arduino

Had some difficulties with getting this cheap programmer to work on my machine to program the pro minis I bought (off the same site). Did some searching and found out that it requires a driver (found here), install and it fixes the issue.
The programmer

Before driver install
After driver install

Electrodragon loot arrived! (workshop storage shelves update too)

Hey guys, made this order on electrodragon, it shipped and arrived in under a week using the lowest cost shipping option. All this loot cost me only $22.45. The pro mini is a genuine sparkfun pro mini at only a third of the cost! Pro Mini
Loot! :D

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Workshop status (6/7/14)

Decided i'd do a writeup on my workshop and equipment in it. Im using the unfinished back room of the basement in the house which is about 100 square feet without storage shelves and workbenches. The workbenches are basic folding Home Depot's workbenches are nice and sturdy with a solid MDF work surface and an undershelf, Im planning to paint the MDF with a polyurethane sealant as so any water from the soldering iron cleaning sponge doesn't cause it to "fluff". The soldering iron i use is a Hakko FX888-D Soldering station, moving up from an old 30W Weller "Firestarter" it is amazing how much of a difference a good iron makes; heats up faster, holds temperature better, precise temperature range, finer tip, and best of all, so very comfy. Ive got bins of electronic components and misc parts I've salvaged over the years, midsize and large RC helicopters (ill convert one into a drone), several Estes rockets, and a myriad range of wires and hardware. Im currently trying to figure out how to put part sorters above and behind my workbench for easy access during tinkering. My whole workshop is lit by LED bulbs as they don't give me headaches unlike some fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, further they don't have the flicker effect show up on video (i will be making workshop videos now). I use a Cree 1200lumen to light the workshop, and 2 phillips LED bulbs in soft light for the focused workbench lights. That's about all I have to say about it at the moment, I am planning on adding a workshop computer so I can program in the workshop and have a mobile computer.

Friday, May 30, 2014

And thus, a grand adventure begins

Hey there,
Thought I'd start off this blog with an introduction. My name is Arsenio Dev, obviously an alias though my IRL first name is indeed Arsenio, Im a younger tinkerer based out of northern Virginia that meddles in rocket science and experimental energy weaponry. This blog will be detailing my adventures in blogging, rocket science, tinkering, and my inane arduino creations! I hope all of you will be along for the ride and will be glad to open source the projects and answer any questions you may have about the projects.
Per Audacia Ad Astra
~Arsenio Dev