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Showing posts from 2018

Binary Resistance Decade Box

I built this project in June of 2013 and posted it on Instructables


Binary Resistance Decade Box I've been an electronics hobbyist for many years, so I've used and even built my share of resistance decade boxes. Each one consisted of rotary switches with labels identifying a different power of 10 for each switch. You "dialed up" the desired resistance by turning the appropriate knobs to add up to the target resistance value.

Well, I'm also a computer geek, so I got the crazy idea to build a decade box using DIP switches (instead of rotary switches) and binary values (instead of decimal values). Each switch represents a power of 2 and the resulting resistance equals the combined value of the "ON" switches.

Since binary DIP switches are more difficult to read on site than rotary switches, I decided to include two sets of binding posts; one set to attach to an ohmmeter (to verify …

Solar Shrub II

I built this updated project in April of 2013 and posted it on Instructables


Also mentioned on

Solar Shrub IIIt's been almost a year since I posted the original Solar Shrub on Instructables. It was a great success from the standpoint that it did what it was supposed to do (charge small devices using nothing but energy from the Sun) . Plus, winning the grand prize in the Green Tech Contest was definitely an ego boost! But there were several specific problems with the original design:

1. Low Current: The current produced was too low to charge some devices in a reasonable amount of time. I harvested the original cells from solar garden lights and the specs were quite a bit lower than I initially thought.

2. Intermittent Charging: Because it was generating power real-time and feeding it directly to the USB port, the chargin…


I built Fijibot in June or July of 2012 and posted it on Instructables. I later posted it on Let's Make Robots, which recently became RobotShop.


Fijibot Fijibot is an autonomous, self-charging photovore. I built him using a 1.5 liter Fiji Water bottle, an Arduino Uno, 6v solar panel (plus various other parts) from Radio Shack, an Arduino Proto Shield (plus various other parts) from Adafruit, and the wheels and steering arrangement from an RC car.
I decided to use a Fiji Water bottle as the robot's exoskeleton because Fiji Water is an environmentally conscious company and Fijibot recharges its batteries via a solar panel. Plus, I think the round-edged rectangular shape and the (see through) clear bottle make a really cool looking robot!
The Arduino code is posted on Instructables along with the project

Solar Shrub

I built the original Solar Shrub in July of 2012 and posted it on Instructables


Won the Green Tech Contest

Solar Shrub I call my creation the "Solar Shrub". It's designed to resemble a round-leafed plant in a flower pot, but unlike a real plant, this one can charge my iPod, iPhone, and any other USB chargeable device!

I used eight 1.5 Volt round solar cells (leaves) attached to shrink-wrapped wires and clothes hangers (stems) to create an array capable of producing 5 Volts at about 300mA. I wired two sets of four cells in series (to get the voltage) and then wired the two arrays together in parallel (to get the current). I stabilized the power by building a 5 Volt Regulator circuit, then added an on/off switch, power LED, and female USB connector.

Motion Sensitive LCD Real-Time Clock/Alarm/Timer

I built this clock in July of 2012 and posted it on Instructables 

LINK TO PROJECT: Motion Sensitive LCD Real-Time Clock/Alarm/Timer  I needed a clock for my home office (where I spend weekend mornings building robots and such) and I wanted it to fit in with the decor of my electronics work bench. I decided to build one with all the "guts" exposed. The specs were:

- Real Time Clock
- LCD Display Date and Time
- Include Minute Timer (for timing things while building projects)
- Include Alarm (to remind me I've been in here too long)
- Motion Sensitive (save power by turning off LCD when I'm not in the room)
- Look Cool on my work bench!

The Arduino code is posted on Instructables along with the project

Leo (the robot)

I built Leo in March of 2012 and posted it on Recently, they merged with and Leo is still there.


LeoWhy Leo? I decided to name this robot Leo in honor of one of my heroes, Leonardo da Vinci. Plus, I thought it was a really cool name for a robot!  Scope I wanted to build an autonomous roaming robot that avoids objects using an ultrasonic sensor. I also wanted it to be small; something that could roam around the house. I've built several kit bots before, but this time I wanted to build something completely from scratch using inexpensive parts and my own ideas. Leo navigates around a room autonomously avoiding walls and other objects. Actuators / output devices: 2 x Parallax Continuous Rotation Servo and one standard 180 degrees servo.CPU: Basic Stamp 2Power source: 9v battery for logic and 6v battery pack for servosProgramming language: Parallax BasicSensors / input devices: Paral…