Airstream Lights

February 17th, 2012

On a recent camping trip some fellow campers waved to us as we went by.  “Hey, you know you got a tail light out?”  Us, “What, hmmm, it was working when we left from home”, them, shrugging “It happens.”

When we finally got our site picked out we had a look. Yup, tail light on, but boy, dim, I guess, if you can’t see it without getting down and peering in there and squinting then it aint really “ON”.

On our trip home we discussed the importance of tail lights etc.. lucky for us no one creamed into us during the conversation.  We decided we needed to fix the situation for good, possibly we could upgrade, to LEDs

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Airstream Lock

February 17th, 2012

Our door lock was looking pretty sad.  It had a big chunk broken off the corner and someone got in there and got all happy with a welder, welding on a stainless paddle with plain old steel or some such.  The vulcum seal around the edge  had dried out and there was a crack in the corner and I was afraid the corner might fall off on the highway somewhere.  It was time to take it off and have a look see.

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Rally Water Distribution

November 26th, 2011

We went to visit our friend down in South Georgia.  He has an older Airstream like ours parked in his yard.  I was checking it out and noticed this interesting modification on the back.  The people who owned it before he did were big into the rally circuit and must of done this, unless it was factory?  After some research I found it to be called a rally water distribution system, good for chaining hoses along from trailer to trailer so that everyone has water at the rally.

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Capacitive Liquid Level Sensor

June 30th, 2011

Capacitive sensors of all sorts have been an interest of mine. They become interesting when you start to discover the huge variety of applications they are used for. While doing research for the new Control Panel in our airstream, I came across a couple of varieties of what appear to be a capacitive liquid level sensor for tanks. The TechEdge moda sensors appear to be capacitive based if you download there moda sensor manual and have a look.

These sensors incorporate two sheet aluminum plates that when stuck in proximity to one another on the tank form a small capacitor between them. Filling the tank with water changes the dielectric and therefor the capacitance. I decided to conduct a little experiment to see if I could do something similar.

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Zsurf

June 27th, 2011

zSurf4  is a utility that allows you to import a bitmap and export a surface.

You can find a copy at http://mwt.net/~sjedging/ZSURF4.zip

There is spotty info out there about this program, but its rather nice if you can figure out how to use it.  The best tutorial I found is unfortunately not in English, however google translate helps with that.

The tutorial will give you a working knowledge Zsurf, at least enough to get started.  I would like to add a method to start with a photograph of an object like a gear and end in a 3D surface.  Note that the original is a pretty poor quality black and white image.

Zsurf likes very high contrast images.  The image below if processed as is produces a very rough, jagged surface, raising all the dark spots and lowering all the white.

Here is the starting image, its a clock escapement wheel, its a jpeg image, of an actual photograph of a real escapement wheel.

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Holding Tabs

June 27th, 2011

If possible I like to have some tabs, holding the piece that I am cutting out to the block that I am cutting from.  For a while I was searching for a CAM program that would add these tabs for me, like Visual Mill.  Now I realize, after watching some MadCam training videos that I can do this myself in my drawing software.  What follows is an outline of the steps for reference.

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Sure Electronics LED

June 27th, 2011

After spending a bunch of time playing around with high output surface mount leds from lumex, designing a board and running tests etc…  I stumbled on this interesting led module being sold on ebay by a seller named Sure Electronics.  I’ve gotten stuff from them before, usually turns out good, and this was all told 10.00 dollars or so shipped.  It looked like it came with a control board, and from looking at the photos, it appeared to be a bog standard, PIC micro, so…  What the heck, worth a play…

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Control Panel – Step 7

June 27th, 2011

Ok, now for the Arduino, yup, its got to happen.  I debated and debated, but I gave in to my own peer pressure.  I just had to put a microcontroller on our control panel, it only makes sense ;)

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Control Panel – Step 6

June 26th, 2011

So the current meter had me stumped.  At first I thought it may be the charger for the battery, but, nope.  Next I thought it had something to do with the fact I was running off upstream shunt side of ground.  Switching to a direct ground connection didn’t help either.  However, in the process of trouble shooting I figured out that if I ran the meter off an isolated supply, it worked perfectly.

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Control Panel – Step 5

June 25th, 2011

Finally Electronics. ;)  I ordered some nice big LCD panel meters from Circuit Specialist.  I felt a little foolish doing this as a whole harbor freight multi meter only costs 5$ 1/3 of the price of fancy snap in panel meter, but, the harbor freight meters rely on a 9V battery and are physically large and hard to mount.

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