Being a full time everything (employee, father, husband…) doesn’t leave a lot of room for projects, but as always I try to find time where I can. I have two projects in the pipeline and I hope to be able to share the learning process as they progress. The first project is a new constant current dummy load. My current version of the current load is great, but it is very limited in functionality. The first major feature I would like is higher resolution. Right now I can adjust my current load down to about 1mA precision. However, I would like to get it down to 1uA. I’m not entirely sure how to accomplish that, but that is fun of engineering. Another big feature will be higher load capability. It would be helpful to be able to test power supplies up to 100 watts (at least 10mA resolution). Finally, I also want to add a data logger function that will save results to an SD card. The below picture is a quick test setup I did to see how much current I could easily pull. In this case I was getting around 7 amps while keeping a stable temperature.
The second project is less of a project and more about learning embedded systems. I started my adventures into hobby electronics a few years ago with the Arduino platform and now I think it is time to start learning how to go beyond Arduino. I have recently invested in a couple programming boards (Atmel ICE and STK500). This will allow me to explore the Atmel microcontroller directly. Arduino is a great platform and I will continue to use it, but I also want to learn what is going on under the hood. I have so far been successful at two things. The first was locking up a couple Atmel 328P chips because I changed the SPI fuse and the second was getting an LED to blink using an Attiny 45. I think this is going to be a lot of fun to learn and look forward to sharing it with everyone.
For those who are wondering about the fish tank controller. The needs for that project have changed and interest has started to wane. I would still like to explore this in the future, but as of right now it is in a holding pattern.
Last but not least I should mention school is picking back up in another week. I will be taking Physics II Electricity and Magnetism, and it is a doozy. For those following my progress at ASU, you will know that I have already failed this class before, so I will be doubling my efforts in the coming months. This will of course take even more time away from my hobby projects.