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.

DIY Standing Desk

I spent about an hour this morning looking at various DIY standing desks online. After spending a total of $41.27, it took me less than a half hour to convert my desk into a standing station.

Supplies:

  • 2 Black Parsons End Tables from Walmart ($12.88 each)
  • 1 White shelf 10″x36″ at Home Depot ($5.69)
  • 2 White 10″ single track brackets at Home Depot ($1.76 each)
  • 1 White 46″ single track upright from Home Depot ($3.96)

I assembled the tables and then cut the track upright into 3 pieces. The 2 pieces I used were equal length and taken from opposite sides of the original piece so that I would have even tops when attached to the table legs. I drilled a couple of small holes in each table leg using the track uprights as my guide. Then I attached the uprights to the legs of one table using some screws I found in my garage. Set it all up and voila!

The thing I liked about using the tracks instead of angle shelf brackets is that I can adjust the height of the keyboard shelf if I need to. I’ll have to put something under the laptop to get it higher and may need to experiment with the height of my main monitor.

I’m really happy with how easy this was and how it turned out. When I need a break from standing it’ll be easy to disconnect the laptop and sit on my office chair or work in the other room. Maybe I’ll even get a high stool to use once in a while. Now we’ll see how my posture improves and if I can get my spine back into a more normal position.

Quickie: 03/25/2008 8:29:31pm

My new office furniture was delivered today and I didn’t even get anything setup. I won’t be able to go another day using the built in kitchen desk. My knees don’t even fit here.