I have been keeping an eye out for a good, name brand bench DMM for personal use for a few months now. Did a bit of research and started looking for a Fluke 8842, 8840, or a 45. Watched some popular auction sites and even CL. These Flukes, especially working ones go for $150+ and well, didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for one. So, during my research, I know that these have VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) that dims after a time. Figured I could get a dimmed display DMM cheap.
I finally came across a 8840a with the AC option 9 and the GPIB options included and had one person bid at $32 with 13hrs remaining! In the description, it stated that they did try some solutions found on the web to get the display working, but couldn't. Long dramatic story short, I placed a bid in the last 2 seconds and won an 8840a!
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As some of my readers will have gathered, I am a Star Trek fanboy, especially the series <abbr title="Star Trek: The Next Generation">ST:TNG</abbr>. This was the first Star Trek show that I watched as a child. Since then, I've been fascinated by the Enterprise D and her technology. Now that I am a grown man, I can indulge myself. About 8 or 9 years ago, I bought and built a custom model kit of the Enterprise D, the 1/1400 scale AMT. I built it with custom fiber optic lighting for the windows and LEDs for the Nacelles, Impulse Engines, and the navigation lights. Unfortunately, that model was destroyed during a move and didn't take many pics or document the build process. I will admit that this model wasn't painted or had decals since I didn't have any experience.
Since then, I have wanted to build another one, but with more detail and screen accurate. Of course I wanted to design and install custom lighting and a few more features that popped in my head. But this time, I will document the build and share it so maybe someone would use my build as motivation and create their own ideas.
There are a few model kits to choice from, the latest and greatest to the older, less detailed kits. Since I'm a poor man, I had to choose the older kits, namely the AMT #6619 from 1988. This kit is simplistic and easy to build, but still has some neat textures and for the most part, has some nice features. Namely, enough room for electronics and LEDs.
To start, here is a break down of the features and build outline:
- Fiber Optics
- 1.0mm Window
- 1.5mm Side Glow for Nacelles
- 5mm White Ultra Bright for Fiber Optics
- 3mm Green/Red/White for Navigation Lights
- 3mm Red for Torpedo Launchers
- 5mm Red for Impulse Engines
- Custom Sound Effects
- Warp Sound
- Torpedo Sound
- Ambient Sound effect (background noise from the bridge)
- Don't forget Captain Picard voicing the ST Moto! ("Space, the final frontier. These are the...")
- Powered by rechargable LiPo
- Effects Controlled via Bluetooth from smart phone (Android)
- Custom base station/stand for control without smart phone
At this time (12/28/20), most of these have been implemented and functioning. Electronics have been designed and I am waiting for prototype PCBs from the fab.
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Making a USB Business Card
May 25, 2020
I've been kicking around the idea of designing and etching a USB business card. USB business cards have been around for a few years and there is a few designs and software options to choose. My plan is to use an Atmel microcontroller to open a browser and direct them to my website. There is a few issues with this idea as Windows doesn't like to execute code from USB since this could circumvent security. But, I am not at this stage and will tackle that later on.
I have started designing the schematic and there is nothing exciting about the design. It's just a minimal microcontroller circuit, but may add some LEDs for show. I chose the ATTiny85 as it's common with loads of firmware examples.