What innovative things are you working on, or wish you could work on?

We all have to start somewhere. Like math - you have to start with addition and subtraction, before you can do integrals, Fourier Series, etc.

So what are you learning about? Or what’s on your project list that is begging for free time?


  1. Shimmering Christmas tree. A flat-pack “Christmas card” for cousin’s kids, and if they survive it, my Cub Scout Pack. An ATtiny85 with its 6 I/O pins drives 12 channels of LEDs and goes into energy saving mode if the room is quiet. Uses polarized and color-coded connectors so that anyone 7+ years or older can assemble into a mesmerizing tree, without reading any instructions. BOM at $10/unit (I could shave it but then the µC would not be as easily repurposed for future projects I might send then.) Runs on 3 AA batteries, or USB. I would like to learn modern circuit board design and use SMT components.
  2. Ever-glow signs. UV LEDs refresh glow paint, so I can light up a sign at night for months on a single charge. Would like to learn low-power modes on the ATtiny85, how to protect equipment from weather and UV damage, and maybe make something that looks nice too. Cheap as nails.
  3. A bathroom fan switch for a relative. Change its programming by modifying its Micropython code from a web page. While I know there are similar devices on the market that might be re-flashed, they do not include 2kV separation, MOVs, and other things that I feel are necessary safety items. Would like to laugh at how ridiculously over-featured it is for a fan switch, but rest easy it would never cause a house fire.

Completed or Nearly Completed

  1. Alarm integration for DSC alarms to send SMS notifications via Twilio.
  2. A mini NAS. 20TB (30TB raw, ZRAID2) which draws 32 watts (including the Low Volt UPS which lasts several hours). 4.5" x 5" x 10", imperceptibly quiet. LV UPS is 2.5" x 4.5" x 6".
  3. Low Volt UPSes. Although Dan Julio Designs really did all the work. His board is functional, reliable, efficient, silent, and beautiful too. I plan to add a small board with a power MOSFET for low voltage cutoff on the 12V output, so my relatives don’t have to connect an SLA charger because the battery drained below the detection point.
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Since ordering the TextBlade, I built a new programming language :rofl: … and now I’m currently building a new database engine in that language. After that, I am going to start building the adaptive (profile-driven optimizing) runtime compiler for the language.

Working on a design for an RV solar system. Think Powerwall, but on wheels. Needs to be able to handle air conditioner loads as well, which is a significant challenge in a compact and lightweight system.

A billion little projects at home. Still finishing my Plex setup. Gotta redo some home theater stuff (mostly Harmony issues). Gotta finish configuring my AV recording studio for some work videos. Mainly I need to build sound baffling that can easily be removed when I’m not using the space for AV work. I’m planning to make a few new custom headphone cables. And rebuild/repair some related stuff. And I’ll get my music collection organized on Plex as well.

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Wow, you are doing so much more than me, it’s embarrassing! I only have one project - a perpetual motion machine. I think I’m getting close, but then I’ll have nothing left to do!

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It will take all of perpetuity to validate this!


When you finish it, please send me one.

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@cameron That is an impressive list! And congratulations on creating a new programming language.

Well, for me, I’m starting small. Agile here. Big project --> lots of smaller tasks --> completion and motivation.

#2 (Ever-glow signs) is finished and works great! Maybe there is current leakage with one of the MOSFETs so I may have to replace a pull-down resistor.
[Update: software workaround: periodically drive the gate low. For 3x AA NiMH IKEA LADDA 2450mAh batteries, individual cell voltage is dropping only 1.2mV per day. The sign glows all night!]

#3 (bathroom fan switch) is almost complete. Hardware is great, but waiting for relative to have time to install. The decorative button has not arrived, so depending on how they feel, they may use a substitute button for now. Software is basic, but meets the requirements.

I am very impressed with the ESP8266. ~US$1 gets you a microcontroller with WiFi, and MicroPython works on it, and you can just upload a text file. There’s even a REPL that operates over the Web. Incredible. Since Arduino IDE cannot run on iOS, this makes a big difference.

Now I will have to focus more on #1 (Shimmering Christmas tree). This one, I think, will be very hard. It is constrained by: simplicity, cost, minimal BOM, and only 6 I/O pins but many, many channels of LEDs and at higher current than the native pins on the ESP8266 will allow. In other words: fun!

I think it is the constraints that make things interesting.

I haven’t yet messed with the little microcontrollers … I have friends that do all sorts of crazy stuff with them, but I have run out of time :rofl: