Back from Holidays

We’re back from our family holiday on the French atlantic coast. We were at the Dune du Pyla, europ’s biggest sand dune. It’s a big playground for children as well as adults hanging below a paraglider wing. Conditions were good on three days to fly on the big dune. So I trained touching the flat slope with the wing tip without hitting the sand myself. Levin did his first four hour kayak trip, of which he slept more than an hour.

I wasn’t so cut off from the internet for a long time…

Levin in Action

Receptiongreet basic functionality working

Today I did important progress in another toy project. It’s name is receptiongreet and you can find out more on SourceForge.

Basic functionality was running today for the first time! The app starts up, reads all the face images provided in a sub directory and trains them. It then observes the area with the web cam, looking for faces. If it detects a face, it compares it to the trained ones. And if that leads to a match, it outputs a personalized greeting to the pc speakers.

So, from here on it’s polishing.

Weatherstation problem

The plan was to build a mobile weather station with an arduino, two old windspeed sensors from the local paragliding school, a temperature sensor, a solar panel and an old cellphone.

As the first part I wanted to read the anemometers. I got them for a bargain from Touch&Go. Only I couldn’t figure out how to read them. It was no simple switch, so I suspected a hall effect sensor. From Flytec I got a schematic how to make the circuit. On the breadboard it worked immediately, but on the PCB, I got no readings. After a bit of measuring and thinking, I added two more resistors, to have the oscillating voltage pass the reference voltage.

Next, I started to calculate the wind direction from the two sensors for X and Y direction. Only then I realized that the windspeed alone is not enough. I would need a sign (+ or -) meaning if the wind blows from the front or back through the sensor. With only the speed I know only the angle but not which quadrant. And the quadrant is actually more important than the angle for me.

Ideas are welcome…

Arduino proto board

Handheld 2.4GHz Spectrum Analyzer

Finally I got my Spectrum Analyzer to work.

At first I was curious if I could use the display from an old Nokia cellphone I disassembled in conjunction with the Arduino. So I was looking for anything that could help me in doing so.

Then I stumbled across Miguel A. Vallejo’s Handheld 2.4GHz Spectrum Analyzer.

Putting it into a cellphone case would be too cool, but I don’t solder SMD, and I had an Arduino Nano lying around. So I ported the project to the Arduino platform. As the Arduino Nano operates at 5V and the display and the radio both at 3.3V, I had to use voltage dividers on the signal lines.

The CYWM6935 is kind of hard to get in Switzerland. Either you pay 3 or 4 times the regular price for the device or ridiculous shipping fees or both. I ended up ordering one from Farnell for CHF 48 including shipping.

The main problem I was chasing for a while resembled to the following: I made a voltage divider for the 3.3V to power the display and radio without considering the resistance of the circuits. So the driving voltage was too low for operation. Ha, out of training in designing electronics… In the end I’m using the 3.3V from the Arduino. I thought I read somewhere that it works only when powered from USB, but in my tests it works on battery as well.

Then I used the delay() function common in arduino instead of _delay_us() in Miguel’s code. Until I figured out the difference, It took about 30 seconds for a full sweep. Now it does about five sweeps a second.

Now, It works! I can see Bluetooth, Wifi and microwave oven radiation. The only drawback is that it doesnt always pick up very short transmissions like beakons.

Here is the source code for Arduino on github. Make sure to also look at the forks that improved my design.

It’s now also on the Arduino Playground.

Paragliding magazine cover

Lately I learned that I was on the front page of a japanese paraglider magazine:

My ex boss visited his parents in law in Japan and brought me an issue. I was puzzled to learn that Japanese magazines are read from back to front.

cover

order form