Wi-Fi Sensor For Rapid Prototyping

There might seem like a wide gulf between the rapid prototyping of a project and learning a completely new electronics platform, but with the right set of tools, these two tasks can go hand-in-hand. That was at least the goal with this particular build, which seeks to use a no-soldering method of assembling electronics projects and keeping code to a minimum, while still maintaining a platform that is useful for a wide variety of projects.

As a demonstration, this specific project is a simple Wi-Fi connected temperature monitoring station. Based around an ESP32 and using a DS18B20 digital temperature sensor, the components all attach to a back plate installed in a waterproof enclosure and are wired together with screw-type terminal breakout boards to avoid the need for soldering. The software suite is similarly easy to set up, revolving around the use of Tasmota and ESPHome, which means no direct programming — although there will need to be some configuration of these tools.

With the included small display, this build makes a very capable, simple, and quick temperature monitor. But this isn’t so much a build about monitoring temperature but about building and prototyping quickly without the need for specialized tools and programming. There is something to be said for having access to a suite of rapid prototyping tools for projects as well, though.

A No-Solder, Scrap-Bin Geiger Counter For $15

Scenario: your little three-hour boat tour runs into a storm, and you’re shipwrecked on a tropic island paradise. You’re pretty sure your new home was once a nuclear test site, but you have no way to check. Only your scrap bin, camera bag, and hot glue gun survived the wreck. Can you put together a Geiger-Müller counter from scrap and save the day?

Probably not, unless your scrap bin is unusually well stocked and contains a surplus Russian SI-3BG miniature Geiger tube, the heart of [GH]’s desert island build. These tubes need around 400 volts across them for incident beta particles or gamma rays to start the ionization avalanche that lets it produce an output pulse. [GH]’s build uses the flash power supply of a disposable 35mm camera to generate the high voltage needed, but you could try using a CCFL inverter, say. The output of the tube tickles the base of a small signal transistor and makes a click in an earbud for every pulse detected.

You’ll no doubt notice the gallons of hot glue, alligator clips, and electrical tape used in the build, apparently in lieu of soldering. While we doubt the long-term robustness of this technique, far be it from us to cast stones – [GH] shows us what you can accomplish even when you find yourself without the most basic of tools.

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