shooting after sunset
Sunday, September 1 2019
Lately I've been doing most of my electronic tinkering on weekends, specifically Sundays. There honestly isn't much to love about the actual process of soldering one thing to another, but once new capabilities are added and tested, all the effort seems so worthwhile. Today I was back working on the Disturbatron, adding two features: a means to programmatically power down the WiFi dongle (to save power when this makes sense) and a way to determine the charge in the lead-acid battery powering everything. The first feature was relatively easy in theory, since the Disturbatron already had an extra relay capable of doing this. All I needed to do was intercept the five volt power wire in the short USB cable connected to the WiFi dongle, send it through that relay, and then hook up the control for that relay to a Raspberry Pi GPIO pin (in this case, #23). For the other feature, I had to wire up a new board, a tiny ADS1115 I2C analog-to-digital converter and connect one of its analog pins to a voltage divider (it's a 3.6 volt device but would be measuring voltages as high as 14 volts). Unlike the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi has no built-in analog-to-digital conversion, at least not of the kind exposed to its GPIO pins. That second component actually proved easier to install than the first. With the first, I had to make my own USB-type-A to male USB Micro cable using scrap components and a perfectly-good USB cable (and then test it with smartphones to be sure they were wired correctly; it's hard to tell what you're seeing on most wiring diagrams of USB ports). Soldering such fiddly little pieces is kind of pain in the ass, since I don't really have a good set up for securing them in place while I do this (especially given the current chaos in the laboratory, which still has the bookshelf yanked out nearly to the central axis of the floor). But when I tested all these things, they seemed to work, suggesting I'll be able to button up my Disturbatron again soon and possibly deploy it. It would've been nice to have it operational this evening when some idiot started shooting after sunset down at the bus turnaround, continuing to do so until nearly dark.
By then, I'd moved my operation down to the dining room. I'd set up my work-issued laptop so I could do some last-minute data imports for something that had to be done by tomorrow morning. Normally I wouldn't have to work on the weekend or labor day, but it's crunch time in my line of work, the specifics of which I will reveal after I get fired or whatever changes my state of employment.
That wasn't much work, and once I had that done, I turned my attention to the maintenance of a happy household. Gretchen would be returning soon from work (a dinner date that would've involved me had been canceled Eva and Sandor) and I knew she would be hungry. So I sliced up a bunch of tomatoes, put them on a Vegan Harvest flatbread pizza. Then, for discretionary topping, I fried up some red onions, mushroons, and LightLife vegan bacon. This was all waiting for Gretchen when she and Neville returned from an especially high-grossing day at the bookstore.
We ate our pizza while watching more Shark Tank, followed by the rest of The Commitments. I have to say, The Commitments wasn't really my kind of movie; I don't much like soul music, and I found the stylized quality of the acting a bit retro (and not in a good way). But I sat through the whole thing anyway, even though I kept thinking of all the things I wasn't doing with my precious weekend time.
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