New Years Projects

Last year my new years resolution was to never make a resolution again, they seem a counter productive to me.  If there is something you want to change about yourself you shouldn’t wait a year to do it.  To quote a friend of mine “life’s short, crack on”!  That said a new year is a good excuse to set yourself new targets for the year.  That’s right, I’m a hypocrite, deal with it.

There are a few technologies that have had me curious since a child, initially in science fiction and now becoming more commonplace.  This year I intend to learn more about them and hopefully build a few projects based on them all the while documenting my findings here.  The Jukebox has been an ongoing project for a while and as my RGB LEDs have finally arrived I hope to complete the first incarnation of the lighting circuits soon.

That said, I’ll outline what projects I have planned for this year;

  1. Finish the Jukebox
    Outstanding work to be completed on the Jukebox includes designing and implementing the lighting circuits and the software required to control them.  Initially the plan is for the colour of the LEDs to be controlled by a Media Centre addin that will also allow for dimming the lights when video is playing and leave only the red sections alight when recording only.  Later on I hope to spice things up by adding circuitry to turn the lights into a stereo VU meter when radio or music is playing.  It’s a stretch goal but one worth aiming for!
  2. Build a Mobile Robot Base
    After seeing Back to the Future and Short Circuit as a child I’ve always had a mild obsession with robotics and automata, I started studying Cybernetics at Reading University however found the course lacking in practical elements so switched to Computer Science.  I figured I could pick up robotics as a hobby later on and use my programming knowledge to better effect as electronics has always come easy to me.  To that end I intend to build some form of mobile robotics platform, likely tracked as a homage to Johnny 5!
  3. UAV
    I own a T-Rex 450 though I haven’t flown it for quite some time and though I remember in theory how to fly it I’m well out of practice.  To that end I intend to teach the helicopter to fly itself!  There is a Arduino based autopilot (Ardupilot) which is intended for gliders and planes, helicopters are considerably more complex beasts to control so I’ll look into a more simple drone first off.  I’m not expecting to have this one finished this year or even ready for first flight, I’m planning on learning more about coupling GPS and accelerometers to the Arduino, maybe as a data logger for my bike, time will tell.
  4. Renewable Energy
    Solar and wind power have always had me intrigued and this year I intend to sate that curiosity.  I intend to build a gadget charging station using a combination of the two, this will give me experience in these technologies so that in the future I’ll be able to scale them up.  It will force me to learn more about the mechanics involved as well as the circuitry required to charge a battery from a combination of sources.  I figure being able to charge my phone, mp3 player and cameras would be a good start and from there, who knows, maybe my future workshop/brewery will be off grid!

These aren’t listed in any particular order though I expect the Jukebox will be the first to complete as it’s already in progress.  I’m not setting a deadline on other than for most of them to be works in progress, the Jukebox I intend to finish shortly, and I see these as learning experiences and a basis for future work rather than projects in their own right.  Instructables are to be expected along the road as I intend to share what I learn.

2010 will be a good year, I intend to make it so.

Keegan

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