Ask Hackaday: What Was Your First Electronics Win?

Back in high school, I joined the stage crew — because of course I did. As student theater groups go, it was pretty active, and with two shows to produce each year, there was always a lot of work to do. I gravitated to the lighting crew, which was a natural fit for me. Besides the electrical part of the job, there was also a lot of monkeying around on scaffolding and rickety ladders to hang the lights, which was great fun for the young and immortal. Plus there was the lighting console to run during performances, a job I eventually took over for my last two years.

Unfortunately, the lighting system was a bit pathetic. The console was mounted in the stage right wings, rather than out in the front of the house where a sensible person would put it. And despite being only about ten years old, the dimmers were already starting to fail. The board had about 20 channels, but you could always count on one of the channels failing, sometimes during a show, requiring some heroics to repatch the lights into one of the dimmers we always left as a spare, just for the purpose.

Continue reading “Ask Hackaday: What Was Your First Electronics Win?”

Softly To Sleep, My Raspberry Pi

For all their capacity, shutting down a Raspberry Pi can be a bothersome routine depending on how you have it set up — historically and abrupt cut to the power risks corrupting the SD card. [madlab5] had to make a few changes to a Pi running in headless mode, requiring them to access it externally to shut it down to prevent any damage from pulling the plug. So, why not take the opportunity to whip up a soft shut-down switch?

This is a great beginner project to get one accustomed to working with a Pi. With this in mind, [madlab5] went through two revisions of this idea: the simple way, and the fun way. For the simple way just press the button and the Pi activates a script which shuts it down in thirty seconds. Job done. But, realizing there may be a few circumstances where they’d need more functionality, [madlab5] decided to take a second swing at this.

[madlab5]’s fun way involves a button with a built-in LED and a speaker to blare an announcement that the Pi will self destruct¬†shut down after a short time. Setting the switch up this way takes a little more doing, but you get to add a little more character to your Pi with a custom shutdown report, as well as the option to cancel an accidental button-press.

For any newbies out there, [madlab5] is kind enough to provide their code and diagrams in their blog post. If remotes are more your thing, we have also featured a similar beginner project to shut down your Pi.

[via /r/Raspberry_Pi_Projects]

Sage Advice For The New Ham

If you’re on the edge about getting your amateur radio license, just go do it and worry about the details later. But once you’ve done that, you’re going to need to know a little bit about the established culture and practices of the modern ham — the details.

Toward that end, [McSteve] has written up a (so far) two-part introductory series about ham radio. His first article is fairly general, and lays out many of the traditional applications of ham radio: chatting with other humans using the old-fashioned analog modes. You know, radio stuff.

The second article focuses more on using repeaters. Repeaters can be a confusing topic for new radio operators: there are two frequencies — one for transmitting and one for receiving — and funny control tones (CTCSS) etc. This article is particularly useful for the new ham, because you’re likely to have a relatively low powered radio that would gain the most from using a repeater, and because the technology and traditions of repeater usage are a bit arcane.

So if you’re thinking about getting your license, do it already. And then read through these two pages and you’re good to go. We can’t wait to see what [McSteve] writes up next.