AdaBox003

AdaBox003 arrived! It’s my first box as an official subscriber. I bought 001 and 002 through the Adafruit store, but as a subscriber you get:

  1. The new box automatically each quarter.
  2. A cheaper price – $60 with free shipping.
  3. Extras!

Each AdaBox has a theme and this one is right up my alley…

THE WORLD OF IoT – CURATED BY DIGI-KEY

IoT is short for “Internet of Things” and covers a wide range of devices, including home automation. I had actually saved several of these items on my wishlist and planned to buy them when I’d finished some other projects, so it’s a very cool surprise.

AdaBox002: Make Robot Friend

Adafruit’s 2nd AdaBox is everything needed to build a full functioning robot, controlled over Bluetooth via their Bluefruit app.

When I got it a couple of months ago, I put it together and wrote a bunch of notes for improvements I wanted to make. I finally got around to spending some time on it. Adafruit’s learn guide and the associated code were a great start and I referenced some ideas from their Multi-tasking the Arduino series. Some of the things I customized with my robot:

  • No need to hold buttons in the Bluefruit app to keep the robot moving.
  • Increase/decrease speed by pressing buttons 1-4.
  • Allowed turning left/right to be combined with forward/reverse.
  • Added a backup beeper.
  • Added blinkers.
  • Added stop/go LEDs. The stop LED will blink when going in reverse.
  • Improved the increasing/decreasing speed so the robot doesn’t pop a wheelie or tip over.

I put all of the code and wiring info on GitHub. Here’s a very poor and unedited video of the robot in action. I did a terrible job of keeping the iPhone in frame.

At some point in the future I should update this to work with the iPhone’s gyroscope instead of having to press buttons. Getting my ideas for AdaBox002 wrapped up came just in time since I now have an AdaBox subscription and AdaBox003 ships out tomorrow. I’m excited to see what it is!

A New Hobby

My recent Raspberry Pi project combined with more and more interest in home automation led me down a road I didn’t expect. I find some of the home automation products out there limiting. What if I could mess around and build some of my own devices?

I’ve been thinking about putting some type of temperature sensor in the garage for a while. I heat the garage up in the winter for workouts quite often and never know when it’s warm enough. I’d found my first project! I’d need another Raspberry Pi and at least a temperature sensor. I didn’t really know much about extending the functionality of a Pi, other than I’d need to do some soldering and learn a more about electronics, circuits, etc. Enter AdaFruit. It’s a very cool company with an awesome store and a ton of resources to learn.

Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT hacker & engineer, Limor “Ladyada” Fried. Her goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Adafruit has grown to over 50+ employees in the heart of NYC with a 50,000+ sq ft. factory. Adafruit has expanded offerings to include tools, equipment and electronics that Limor personally selects, tests and approves before going in to the Adafruit store.

I saw Ladyada’s Electronics Toolkit in their store, which looked like a great way to get started. My favorite item is the “solder sucker” even though I may never use it. Such a cool name.

ladyadas-electronics-toolkit

Then I came across AdaBox.

AdaBox is a quarterly subscription service from Adafruit, centered around products from the Adafruit ecosystem. Each AdaBox will contain a curated set of Adafruit products that will help you get started with do-it-yourself electronics.

Introducing AdaBox!

The second box is shipping out to subscribers soon, but I was too late to jump on board. Lucky for me, they had some AdaBox001 – Welcome to the Feather Ecosystem still in stock, so I ordered one.

adabox-1-contents

It has a wide variety of components. Should help so that I don’t start randomly buying items. I’m hoping to get in on the third subscription, which opens up on the 19th and I will pick up AdaBox002 when it’s available in the store.

Once everything arrived, I started playing around on my kitchen table. I quickly realized it wasn’t the ideal place. I needed a workstation. When I get into something new, I tend to go all-in, which I believe helps me stick with it. So I set a plan to put a second desk in my office and bought more stuff:

I’m excited and really happy with how everything came together.

electronics-workstation.jpg

I found these organizers for about $4 each at Walmart. They work really well for storing all of the tiny pieces.

organizers.jpg

I haven’t built anything yet, but I’m learning a lot and enjoying the process. My list of project ideas is growing and will keep me busy for as long as I want. As a bonus, I now have a standing desk in my office where I can get actual work-work done when I need a break from sitting.