Wednesday, May 1, 2019

TRAVEL: Solar Around The World

Here I show some cool solar related stuff that we found on our travels


Tokyo - Solar powered road sign

Tokyo - Solar powered road cone

Tokyo - Solar powered traffic light

Tokyo - Solar powered street light

Tokyo - Solar powered info station

Tokyo - Solar powered trinket (kinda moves like a fish)

Nikko - Solar powered road light

Kyoto - Solar powered info station

Kyoto - Solar powered path lamp

Kyoto - Solar powered toilet something

Kyoto - Solar powered taxi station light

Kyoto - Solar powered path light

Mount Koya - Solar powered thermometer

Outside Mount Koya - Solar panels on a hill

Outside Mount Koya - Solar panels on a field

Onomichi - Solar powered road light (seen better days)

Onomichi - Solar powered bike path light

Onomichi - Solar panels on a field

Onomichi - Solar panels on roofs

Onomichi - Solar panels held with scaffolding

Onomichi - Solar powered road light

Onomichi - Solar powered traffic light

Hiroshima - Solar powered street lamp

Hong Kong

Solar powered mosquito zapper

Solar powered road light


 Central - Solar panels on roofs

Arad - Solar powered bus stop display

Arad - Solar panels on roof

Be'er Sheva - Solar powered bus stop display (and a bunch of ants digging up dirt...)

Be'er Sheva - Solar powered utility box

Jerusalem - Solar powered radio speaker

Tel Aviv - Solar powered something on a lifeguard building

 Tel Aviv - Solar powered bike light

Tel Aviv - Solar powered wireless phone charger


Kiev - Solar powered bench ;^)

Kiev - Solar powered rubbish bin

Kharkiv - Solar powered bike hire stand


Krakow - Solar powered hire bike

Krakow - Solar powered car park ticket machine


Venezia - Solar powered data gathering?

Venezia - Solar panel on a boat

Venezia - Solar powered art piece (lighting)

Florence - Solar powered road light

Florence - Solar powered hire bike (see basket)

Florence - Solar powered car park ticket machine

Saturday, March 16, 2019

UPDATE: Travel & Portable Lab

The cat is out of the bag, we are going on another big overseas trip ;^)

Since travel will take a large chunk of the journey (4-5days) I decided to take my latest project with me, as I can see myself getting a bit bored during the transit.

Inside the kit I have everything I need to power-up, program, & debug the modified nRF52832 dev board I made a while back. Also for reference here is a full list of what I'm taking:

  • ThinkPad X260 (an awesome portable laptop)
  • SEGGER J-Link clone (programmer)
  • Saleae Logic 16 clone (logic analyzer)
  • nRF52832 dev board (modified to take USB 5V and convert to 3V3 & 1V8)
  • nRF52832 spare breakout board
  • BME280 breakout boards
  • SGP30 breakout board
  • Logic level converter (should not need)
  • USB to Serial converter
  • USB power monitor
  • Various USB cables
  • Various cables & probes

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

UPDATE: Solar Powered Weather Station

To expand my microcontroller and programming knowledge I have decided to try and make a Solar Powered Weather Station. My goal is to record parameters like:
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Air pressure
  • Air quality (something to do with CO or CO2)
I then hope to send (wirelessly) the data to a base station and log/display it on a simple website.
To make things interesting I also aim to power the data gathering station from a large supercapacitor (~100F), and in keeping with my solar tradition the supercapacitor will be charged from a solar-cell. Just like with my last project I want this thing to last for a good 20-40years with minimal intervention, meaning I will also have to dive into the wonderful world of watchdogs as well as structure my code to handle glitches properly.

With all that said here is what I have so far:

MCU + Tx/Rx

After a bit of research I decided to go with the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832 as doing so will allow me to have an MCU + Tx/Rx capability all on the one chip. Also this chip supports Bluetooth 5 so is ideal for this low power & data rate application:
Lastly I will be using Segger Embedded Studio as the IDE and Segger J-Link as the programmer.


To cover temperature, humidity, & air pressure I will be using the trusty Bosch BME280.

For air quality I will use the Sensirion SGP30. This nifty IC can give out readings like:
  • Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC)
  • Equivalent CO2 (eCO2)
  • Ethanol
  • H2
I should point out that the SGP30 does not measure CO2 levels directly but instead monitors equivalent CO2 (eCO2), it does this by looking at changes in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) levels as these can be linked to a possible rise/fall in actual CO2. If you are after something that can measure true levels of CO2 then you will need to use an IR based sensor like the CO2meter K30.

Another thing to note about the SGP30 is that though it draws similar current as the popular AMS CCS811 (48.8mA vs 54mA) the SGP30 has a much quicker conditioning period (aka warm-up time before a reading should be taken, 15sec vs 20min). So in the long run it is more suitable for this low power application.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

UPDATE: Etsy Store Reopening

A quick update. Almost two years ago I opened up my Etsy store where I was selling a wedding ornament, also in those two years I have only made a single sale. Not long ago my wife suggested that I give this e-commerce thing another go and in the process I added 8 more ornaments, most to do with video games. Long story short it's going much better than expected, in the 2months the store has been "reopened" I have made an additional 15 sales and have shipped out 22 units (some bought more than one).

Another thing I found out is that keeping track of how the store is going has become a hobby in itself, as I have a multi-tabbed spreadsheet where I record things like: sales, cost of materials/utilities/assembly/shipping, profit margins and so on...

Anyway here are some pictures of what I now sell: