Thursday, January 1, 2015

Great things in 2014

Here are some of the great things that happened in 2014 (maybe the best year ever):
  1. I found Adafruit!
    +Adafruit has made my life better. Through this company have have learned more than I imagined I could, and watched and participated in multiple internet shows (4 appearances on Show-and-Tell, a question answered on air on Wearable Wednesday).  My questions on the support forums always get prompt, clear, informative responses. Adafruit is a community more than a company, and I am really happy to be a part of it. AND--I love their products, too.
  2. My electronics projects (and learning to solder)
    I asked for and received a bunch of electronics stuff for Christmas last year (+Arduino, books, etc.). In addition to Adafruit, I got help from +JeremyBlum 's tutorials, and Charles Platt's book "+Make: Electronics." 
    I constructed a bunch of circuits for learning purposes, and will get back to that next year. I also recruited my former (and now current) boss to teach me to solder once I could go no further without soldering.  I'm now have adequate soldering skill. I plane to learn to solder surface-mount components next year.  Some highlights:
        .  In an early success, I could not get the component I needed for Jeremy Blum's tutorial #8 involving digital potentiometers. His spec was for a quad from Analog Devices, but I could not find one.  I got 2 duals from Microchip Technologies.  I ran into trouble following the datasheet to daisy-chain the 2 devices. In the process, I learned about schematics and Eagle CAD. I sought help on the Arduino Forum , but did not get an answer.  Finally, I went to Microchip tech support, and after a phone call I got the answer I needed to get it to work.
        .  The Adafruit candle-flicker hair bow for my granddaughter. She loved it. I made one for my daughter, too. She was less impressed.    . An exhaust fan for soldering using a case fan from an old computer, scrap wood for the frame (it's what I had), some brackets and screws for mounting, a toggle switch, a potentiometer to make it variable speed, a power jack, and a 12V power adapter from a dead laptop. I use it every time I solder.    . A useless flashy thing from the Charles Platt book--taking it a step further by putting it in an enclosure and adding a toggle switch.
        . Talking Halloween Candy Cauldron (see entry on this blog)
        . The Head Move Donkey--also on this blog
  3. My granddaughters continue to be wonders
    Nora loves "playing electronics with Grandpa," including  the candle flicker hair bow, "the E is for Electronics coloring book," and the Adafruit videos (which she calls "Adabot Videos"). We made a lemon battery that she thinks is really neat.
    Frankie turned one this year.  We had the great fortune to have her here for over two months in the summer, including her birthday, and got to see her learn to walk.
  4. My daughters and their husbands are great
    I am very proud of all of them and all they have accomplished.  What a blessing!
  5. Our trip to Canada
    I have always wanted to see the Maritimes, and we were able to go to Prince Edward Island, returning through Maine with a stop in Bar Harbor, where we honeymooned 43 years ago.  It was wonderful.
    PEI was beautiful and peaceful, just the break we needed form Cape Cod in July/August.  Bar Harbor was crowded, but the hotel we stayed in kept us out of craziness, and there was good public transportation into town.