Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Tuesday, 14 September 2021
Sunday, 12 September 2021
Tuesday, 7 September 2021
Monday, 6 September 2021
I LOVE it so much when people make use of something I've shared or written about and I feel really pleased that Calderdale college elected to build their PiWars entry robot based on the opensource MTV Robot platform that I designed and wrote about in Hackspace magazine back in issue 37. The MTV robot is built around a really cheap tracked chassis that can be bought online and a stack of 3D printed parts you can add yourself.
For those of you who don't know PiWars is a brilliant robotics competition that anyone can enter and your robot has to compete in numerous different fun challenges. It's a really lovely community and even if you don't enter it's a fun group to watch to get interesting ideas for robotic projects!
The Calderdale college team made numerous changes and add ons to the MTV platform and the team came 5th overall in a beginners class of 15 entries and they even came first in one event "up the garden path" which was a challenge where you had to control the robot with voice commands. Superb stuff! Read more about the excellent Calderdale team/experience on this great blogpost and grab the free PDF of Hackspace magazine 37 to get the links and info for the MTV design files.
Tuesday, 31 August 2021
The Digital Multi Meter or DMM is never far away from my hand and gets a lot of use. I was recently reminded of how it also can make some aspects of electronics more accessible. DMM come in fantastic variety of flavours and models and are available from around £5 through tow hundreds of pounds. They have heaps of uses and capabilities, measuring voltages, current, resistance, checking capacitors, and much more. I tend to use two functions of mine massively, checking DC voltage level is a popular task and also checking continuity ( a mode where if there is a connection between the probes it will beep) is so useful to check if something is connected.
Many DMM will check resistance but with some you need to know the order of magnitude you expect the resistance to be. These are selected using the rotary switch. Some DMM are "auto ranging" and as such will switch the units detected to the correct one for the measurement. So when checking a resistor that is 10,000 ohms it will detect and switch to give the value in kilo ohms. I ran a soldering workshop recently and I always give a short example of using the colour codes on a resistor to decode its value. However one of the participants was red green colourblind and would struggle to decode the band colours. Not a problem with an auto ranging DMM! The list of features on a basic multimeter is impressive but the list of all possible features in endless. Whilst for regular mains work I would want to spend more on a quality known brand, it's fair to say that for low voltage work electronics hobby stuff really good auto ranging DMM can be found for less than £20. A useful addition to any bench.
Tuesday, 24 August 2021
This week I've been swapping some wheels around on my old VW Caddy Mk2, well actually on two Caddy's, my one on the road, and my off road spares donor vehicle! It's common for tyre companies or garages to fit wheels using a compressed air impact driver and as such wheel nuts can be pretty heavily over torqued and difficult to undo. The answer is the humble but incredibly useful breaker bar. A breaker bar is a long oversize bar with a socket fitting at one end so it can receive a socket wrench. They are usually none ratcheting as socket wrench ratchets aren't often capable of very high torque. My breaker bar has a 1/2" socket wrench fitting and it lives in my van with a 17mm socket on it at all times as that is the size of my wheel nuts. I also carry a 19mm and a 21mm socket with it in case I can offer help to anyone changing a wheel as these are the other two common wheel nut sizes.
They work very well and definitely make life easier than trying to use the shorter lower quality tools that are often bundled with a a small spider jack in many vehicles.