Circuit Breaker Install

My brother had asked me to help him upgrade some wiring for his shop, because he only had one 15 amp circuit powering the entire shop. Running his planer along with a shop vac would trip the breaker. I’d never installed a circuit breaker, but I was up for the challenge. This weekend I finally got some time to make a trip down.

For the new circuit we decided to use a 20 amp breaker in case he gets a machine that requires more juice. We (Mostly him, because crawling around in the hot attic was all on him.) ran 12/2 Romex wire through the attic and across the porch roof. Then we did a bunch of outlet rewiring to swap two 15 amp outlets with 20 amp ones connected to our new circuit. We also added a new 15 amp outlet from this circuit on the outside of the shop where they could plug in their patio string lights.

We saved the scary part of installing the new breaker for last, which might have actually been the easiest part of the job. The inside of that box is still extremely dangerous when MAIN is turned off, so I just had to be careful not to touch the wrong things (or die). After closing up the box and flipping the switches everything worked as planned!

Fixing a Simple Button & LED Circuit

I found an old Christmas ornament which was supposed to light up by pressing a button. Before trashing the ornament, I tore out the circuit. While I was taking it apart and figuring out why it didn’t work, I turned on the camera and talked to myself. Probably boring for most people, but it might be interesting to see what I was thinking through the process. If you’re new to electronics (like me) it may even teach you a few things.

This is completely raw and unedited footage. Sorry about the noise in the background. I was using an electric heater because my boiler wasn’t heating up the house properly.

5v Relay Module – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I built a 5v relay module, but realized the relay wasn’t sufficient for my needs. So I had to order a heftier one that could handle more than 0.5 amps of current.

I was under a time crunch and couldn’t wait for a 5 or 10 pack, which had longer shipping times, so I had to go with a set of 2 for $5.99. These are basically the same relays used in all of the manufactured modules you can buy for less than $5, especially if you buy multiple units.

I set up my GoPro overhead and talked through the build process of my new relay module. It was not a smooth process, because I finally messed up my wiring, which I’d been so proud of hitting a 100% success rate on first attempts when putting together circuit boards. I not only messed up, but I realized my mistake, and then fucked it back up after thinking I was right the first time.

I forgot to take any good pictures of the completed relay module this time around, so here is a blurry screenshot I grabbed from the video, showing the original relay module, the non-working version (which I’ll eventually fix up), and my final version. Similar to whenever I screw up and lose a bunch of code, I made it a personal challenge to turn out my best work on the redo. As you can see, my final version saved a lot of space.

relays

Now that I’ve created my own relay modules, I won’t do it again unless I have specific requirements. Buying the same thing already made is a lot more time effective. It was fun and a great learning experience though. Here’s what the wiring diagram looks like spaced out on a breadboard. There isn’t much to it.

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You can grab Fritzing files over on GitHub. Two things that helped me out a lot with this build were a video Homemade 5V Single Channel Relay Module Shield For Arduino, PIC, AVR and an article Turn Any Appliance into a Smart Device with an Arduino Controlled Power Outlet. Between finishing my build and writing this post, I also came across Arduino Controlled Power Outlet on Electronics Hub, which is a neat site with a lot of great circuits and tutorials.

There also ended up being a part 3 to this.

Wire Loop Game

Kennedy and I made a wire loop game, using some basic cheap electronics.

  • 9v Battery
  • Buzzer
  • Old light switch
  • LED
  • Various wires
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Electrical tape
  • Wire screw caps
  • Cardboard box

The initial wiring and cutting of the box took more time than I figured and she started to lose interest until we got around to the top. We did this all on-the-fly, but there are plenty of tutorials (like one on Instructables) you can follow.

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A Raspberry Pi HAT

I successfully built the second piece to a large project I’m working on. I’ve essentially built my own XL Raspberry Pi HAT (Hardware Attached on Top). Since I’m not following the specs, I shouldn’t really call it a HAT.

I’m not sure how, but once again I correctly connected everything on the first try. Either I’m extremely lucky, my attention to detail is paying off, or a combination of the two. I’m just waiting for some catastrophic failure to happen soon when I solder things the wrong way one of these days. Every one of my solder bridges worked. I did run continuity tests on all of the early bridges, which I’m sure was a big factor to my success.

Any guesses on what this board does? Leave your best guess in the comments. It’ll be at least a month before I share more details because I need to finish the entire project first.

Solder Bridges

Yesterday I posted about multiplexing 7 segment displays, but it’s actually been weeks since I got that circuit working. After 2 weeks of travel and a busy weekend, I finally got some time on Wednesday night to start moving the circuit from the breadboard to a more permanent home. I stocked up on a variety of different sized circuit boards, but unlike a breadboard each hole on these is independent. It was time to learn how to make solder bridges. After fumbling through about 10 bridges I started to get the hang of it. They won’t win any beauty contests, but they’re functional, which is what matters.

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In round 2 last night I tried a couple of tricks. The first method is using a small wire or the discarded end of a lead (this happened to come from trimming off the ends of a resistor) to bridge pads together.

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These will be connected to ground.

Another trick is to bend over the ends of leads to create a bridge. In the left and right columns you can see this type of bridge used. The middle column shows bent leads I’ll use when I connect more wires.

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Both methods worked a lot better than trying to use mountains of solder to jump the connection pads.

By the way, I find soldering (no matter what it’s for) to be extremely relaxing. Maybe it’s something to do with the order of the entire process; physically connecting things to make a circuit work. I typically do it late at night with some music and a cold beer.

I’m glad I decided to upgrade my soldering iron, by getting a Hakko FX888D. It works much better than the entry-level iron I’ve been using.

Lit

Who would have thought it would be so exciting to light up some LEDs? I had a late night playing with a breadboard for the first time. It was also my first time soldering anything. I had to attach some headers to a Raspberry Pi Zero.