HackerBox #0029 Field Kit Updates

I’ve customized the items in the HackerBox Field Kit and explained everything in this video.

You can find the example code I put together for all of the modules in my hackerbox-29-field-kit GitHub repo.

hackerbox-0029-field-kit-modules-breadboard

I plan to keep the kit in my backpack, especially for trips up north when I visit family. Maybe I shouldn’t take this with me on flights though. Have you ever travelled with a bunch of wiring and electronics parts?

If you’re interested in an electronics community, join us on reddit and Discord.

AdaBox006: CircuitPython

The last AdaBox of the year was delivered yesterday. I was able to avoid spoilers so I did a quick unboxing video.

I’ve been wanting to try the AdaFruit M0 boards like the Circuit Playground Express, but figured they’d be including one soon in an AdaBox. Pays to wait, especially when I have a backlog of projects. This is a really neat microcontroller with a lot to explore. It works with the MakeCode block editor, which will be fun to hack around with.

More info on the box can be found in Adafruit’s Learn guide for AdaBox006.

HackerBox #0025: Flair Ware

I still need to work through HackerBoxes #23 and #24, but #25 arrived on the 1st. I’ve been spending so much time putting together my workshop that I haven’t sat at my electronics desk much in the last 2 months.

The camera was a little too close for the view angle I had set. I need to build a better camera arm/rig too.

I tried to price things out, but there are a lot of custom things in this box. Prices are from Amazon Prime unless noted. This list was copied from the Instructable for HackerBox #25.

  • HackerBoxes #0025 Collectable Reference Card – $1 (estimate)
  • LED Star Wearable Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • Color-Cycling Sign Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • BitHead ATtiny85 Wearable Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • Pluggable Digispark DevBoard – $3.08
  • Extra ATtiny85 8DIP Microcontroller – $1 (estimate)
  • CJMCU LilyTiny Digispark Module – $8.68 (AliExpress)
  • Three LilyPad NeoPixel Modules – $11.85 (SparkFun)
  • LilyPad Coin Cell Module – $1.95 (SparkFun)
  • CR2032 Lithium Coin Cells – $3.19
  • USBasp Atmel AVR USB Programmer – $5.79
  • Green Prototyping Board 4x6cm – $0.25 (estimate)
  • Lapel Pin Backs – $1 (estimate)
  • Shrink Tubing – 100 Piece Variety – $2.36 (AliExpress)
  • Tin Project Box – $1.02 (AliExpress)
  • Exclusive HackerBoxes Decal – $1 (estimate)
  • Exclusive HackerBoxes Knit Cap – $10 (estimate)

With a lot of estimates I get a total of $67.17. Since I’ve been pricing these out all but once I’ve come up with a $60-70 value. Consistent.

AdaBox 005: Break For Pi

This quarter’s AdaBox is a welcome switch away from the Adafruit feather line of boards. While I’ve created my own retro gaming device with a Raspberry Pi before, this is a nice kit with everything you need except a screen (you could use a TV). It’s a bummer that they didn’t opt for the Pi Zero W.

adabox-005-contents.png

The box came with a set of Hammer Headers, which I’ve been skeptical about since I first saw. I have no issues soldering, actually enjoy the task, and prefer it so I have solid connections to the pins. I figured I’d give the headers a try though. Plus it was good excuse to try out the garage sale hammer I bought. Take a look at the 8x speed time-lapse…

I appreciate the idea and can see that hammer headers would be a good option in schools where they can’t have soldering irons, but I’ll never use them again. It took me 6 minutes and I felt like I was destroying the Pi Zero.

The Adafruit Joy Bonnet is a cute little add-on for the Pi. The first thing I noticed when holding it was how cheap the thumbstick feels and sounds. I wouldn’t expect much out of such a small controller that’s only $15 and snaps on to a Raspberry Pi though.


When I get my 3D printer later this year I’ll make a case for this 7″ screen I bought a couple of years ago, maybe even with a way to clip in the Pi Zero. Or better yet, a Pi 3B, which is better suited for a retro gaming device.

This is now my 8th Raspberry Pi. The 7th was named grasshopper, but what type of pie should I use for the letter H? Comment with your suggestions because the Wikipedia list I usually reference has two “H” pies I’ve never heard of.

 

Unboxing – HackerBoxes #0023: Digital Airwaves

I was able to avoid spoilers on this month’s HackerBox again, even though something happened with my shipping over the weekend. It arrived Monday instead of Saturday like it was originally scheduled.

Unique box. I’m excited to go through the Instructable for this box and learn some stuff about antennas and WiFi. The PVC pieces and copper wire are for making a custom antenna, which will be fun. I checked my box of goodies to see which WeMos board I had recently bought and it was the Mini Lite. I think I have one of each of their tiny boards now.

I tried to come up with a value for the box again. All prices are from Amazon (with my Prime account) unless noted.

  • HackerBoxes #0023 Collectable Reference Card – $1 (estimate)
  • USB Wi-Fi Interface Device with RT5370 Chipset – $5.89
  • WeMos D1 Mini Pro-16 – $5 + 1.81 shipping (AliExpress)
  • WeMos I2C OLED Shield – $4.50 + 1.58 shipping (AliExpress)
  • WeMos ITX to SMA Antenna Coax – $4.95
  • Exclusive PCB Yagi-Uda Antenna Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • Exclusive CPVC Yagi-Uda Antenna Kit – $1 (estimate)
  • SMA male to RP-SMA male Coax Adapter – $5 (estimate)
  • Mini Tripod with Shoe Mount – $7.79
  • USB Extension Cable – $3.35
  • MicroUSB Cable – $4.16
  • Exclusive Yagi-Uda Antenna Decal – $1 (estimate)
  • Exclusive Digital Airwaves Iron-on Patch – $2 (estimate)

This was a hard box to price out, so there are a lot of estimates. I didn’t see the PCB antenna anywhere and the parts for the PVC antenna are obviously DIY. The random bag of connectors doesn’t seem to be from a kit of any kind. There was also another antenna in my box not on this list. So I’ll add another $10, which all adds up to $64.03.

RBT 1911 Pull Back

I’ve always wanted a rubberband gun, so when I saw awesome kits by Rubberband Tech at Maker Faire Detroit I had to get one. I could have a sweet gun and build it myself. The 1911 immediately got my attention because of the slide action and the functional clip. The hardwood version (I picked zebrawood) of the kit was an extra $10 to make it $30 and a big bag of extra rubberbands was $5.

The build, spread over several days, took about 7 or 8 hours, which was much longer and harder than expected. A lot of difficulties were from the instructions being short on details. They tell you to sand several pieces but don’t get into how much sanding is required (A lot and then a lot more!), especially to get the trigger mechanism working properly.

I tried to video the entire process, ending up with over 140 GB of footage! On a first pass through iMovie at 20x fast forward the video was way too long, so I exported and ran it back through at 8x more. At the end of the video is a demo at normal speed showing the gun in action.

The stain I used on the zebrawood pieces was called Espresso and the one I used on the rest of the gun was an English Chestnut. I finished it off with 2 coats of a finishing wax. As mentioned in the video, I’m not happy with the end result of the staining. I wish I had done a second coat of the espresso stain on the hardwood pieces, or gotten a little lighter stain for the rest of the gun, or even both.

Now I need to make some targets. I have some ideas involving electronics for timing and scoring.

AdaBox004

I received the latest Adafruit AdaBox last Thursday and made this unboxing video.

 

As you may have guessed, AdaBox004 has a music theme. I’m excited because I’ll be using several of these parts in my current project. I need to finish it before the weekend so I guess I better get my ass in gear.

When you lay it out, this one seemed a light compared to the first 3 AdaBoxes, so I added up prices from the Adafruit store. It came to $73 without factoring in the empty white box for making a custom project enclosure, collectible “Boomy” pin, SD card, Make volume 57 signed by LadyAda, and free shipping. Probably about a $90 value for $60 as a subscriber, which is worth it. The $25 Music Maker FeatherWing with the $20 Feather HUZZAH really drove up the price, limiting what else could be included.

If you enjoyed the music in the video, it was released by Adafruit’s in-house musician to go along with this box. Check out “ADABOX004” on SoundCloud. BartleBeats also has a full album I’ve been listening to a lot while working at my hobby desk. “Frequency” is available on SoundCloud or via iTunes.

Next up… this morning I received the tracking info for HackerBox #0020. Note that AdaBox uses a 3 digit identification system, while the HackerBox uses 4 digits. The difference between a quarterly and a monthly subscription I guess.