Thursday, May 13, 2010


I realized that I'd noted the dates of most entries as being made in the month of April, which was of course incorrect since I only started the site in May of this year, so I went back and edited the incorrect entries.


PurchasedItemQtyDescriptionUnit CostExtended CostShippingHandlingTaxesTotalReceived
2010.05.06CSI3005X51Benchtop DC power supply unit$129.00$129.00$19.20$0.00$0.00$148.202010.05.10
2010.05.06MS82641Digital Multimater$0.000.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.002010.05.10
2010.05.12Helping Hands1Clip vise w/LED lites & magnifier$6.99$6.99$6.99$0.00$0.58$14.562010.05.18
2010.05.13MAKE: Electronics1Book, ISBN-13: 978-0596153748$23.09$23.09$0.00$0.00$0.00$23.092010.05.19
2010.05.13MAKE:(Arduino)1Book, ISBN-13: 978-0596155513$9.35$9.35$0.00$0.00$0.00$9.352010.05.19
2010.05.13Anti-static strap1Belkin anti-static wrist strap$7.79$7.79$0.00$0.00$0.00$7.792010.05.19
2010.05.14Weller WLC1001Weller 5-40w soldering station$39.99$39.99$0.00$0.00$0.00$39.99BO; ESD: 2010.05.26
2010.05.14ST7 soldering tip1WLC100 1/32" (0.79mm) conical$3.44$3.44$0.00$0.00$0.00$3.44ESD: 2010.05.26

BO: Back Order;
EDD: Estimated Delivery Date
ESD: Estimated Shipping Date

Not sure why I didn't shop the Belkin anti-static wrist strap before placing the order on, but I happened to have lucked out. The only place I found it for less afterwards was from Belkin themselves, at $5.99, but shipping would've been $7.99. I didn't see anything to indicate either reduced or waived shipping charges on orders above a certain price point, but if so then it's something to consider.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Odds and Ends

Trossen Robotics Update on What is this? I have *no* idea, but it looks like a pertinent and potentially informative site - if only I can figure out what language it's in! :} At a quick glance I thought it might be Hebrew or Arabic, and quickly realized that was well off the mark. After surfing the site for a few minutes and looking at some of the group pictures I'm guessing it's Polynesian? I don't really know, but as soon as I figure it out I'll post a follow-up, hopefully with a link for translations.
[Update, 2010.05.10.23:50] Not counting my first impression my second guess is that the site's language is Thai. I looked up the definition of "Polynesian" for clues as to why i guessed it; with seeing the reference to Hawaii I double checked a group image or two from the site and decided those pictured didn't look Hawaiian to me - another unexplained quirk of the mind as I've never been to Hawaii, so I'm pretty sure I don't know what "a Hawaiian" looks like. Yes, yes, I know that all has some dreadful connotations, but you don't know me from Adam so keep your own prejudices to yourself, thank you very much. I've found an online Thai to English translator, but I'm not convinced as yet and too tired tonight to continue the quest.
[Update, 2010.05.13.16:38] Using the free PROMPT-online translator I was able to confirm that the site is written in Thai - at least 95% of the text gets translated into English anyway although I have no idea of the accuracy. It'll be a lot to sift through, with having to translate bits and pieces at a time, but it looks interesting!

Embedded Systems

Software Design and Embedded System Tools (essentially an informative blog)


PyPose setup with the arbotiX controller
ArbotiX/Custom Application/Protocol/PyPose (or something like that)



arbotiX RoboController
Getting (arbotiX) Setup
arbotiX on
TRC Forum Thread on arbotiX|en&sl=it&tl=en&u=
hmmmmmmmmmm, very interesting (spreadsheet comparison - superficial)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Brainstorming for Project.Tank.01

Tank Design
.Superficial Design
.."Engine Bay"
.."Munitions Bay"
.."Crew Compartment"
...360 Degree Rotation Range
...Side-mounted Gun Pods
....+90/-30 Elevation Range

.Component Design
..Main Controller
..Locomotion control
...Infra Red

Python Programming

Beginner's Python v2.4 Tutorial @
Python v2.5 Tutorial @
Python v2.5.2 Tutoral @
Python v2.6.5 Tutorial @
Python v3 Tutorial @ SwaroopCH
Python v3.1 Tutorial

Python v3 Tutorial @ SwaroopCH

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Work Benches

Chronicle for and repository of my research into acquiring a "mechtonics" work bench.

I used my Second Life account ("Stobor Robonaught") to prototype a part of my desk and then today with some help from my buddy we cut some of the pieces out of a good clean "B/C" grade of birch-veneered plywood. While I was "in-world" I took two pictures of the prototyped section (the left side cabinet and draw-fronts) of the desk and I'll have them posted here as soon as my ImageShack account gets setup and I populate it with them. I'm using plywood because as far as I'm concerned it makes a far superior product structurally, when properly constructed, than particle board or MDF, but it's also considerably lighter when using products of the same dimensions - I will quite readily give a nod to MDF though in regards to providing a superior finishing surface to plywood when applying paint or other surface coatings where the wood grain doesn't need to or shouldn't show. In keeping the cabinetry light I'm going a bit further by using 1/2" plywood rather than the 3/4" thickness I would normally use to make it even lighter yet, although I am adding reinforcing strips of the same material to ensure structural integrity - it's a bit more work that way but, then again, it'll be a better product than one constructed using standard practices when it's done.

Just logged into ImageShack before posting this, uploaded the images and here they are as well:

Hand tools
Mounted magnifying lamp
Pencils, pens, post-it notes, etc
Power strip
Soldering Iron

Keyboard pullout shelf
Multi-function printer/scanner/etc draw
Miscellaneous storage draw
Paper files storage draw
Storage bins for small electrical/mechanical parts

I've decided to build my own work bench, although I'll combine it's functionality with that of a computer desk. Up above I've started a list of the my usage requirements as I see them currently. As I develop plans for it I'll share them here along with photos of it's construction once I begin that project.

Miscellaneous Equipment

Chronicle for and repository of my research into acquiring miscellaneous tools and equipment.

Clamps, small rubber band
Heli Blade Balancer
Panavise 324
Versa Tip Plus Tool Kit
Vise, angle, for drill press.
Vise, centering, for drill press.

Hand Tools

Chronicle for and repository of my research into acquiring a hand tools.

Being a handyman I already have many hand tools, such as various pliers, screw drivers and wire strippers. Question is if I have small enough screw drivers and if I want to have a second set of these items dedicated towards, and kept with, my mechtronics bench. At this point I will utilize the tools I already have of course, and as I decided to buy specific pieces I'll certainly keep those at the work bench and return the interim tool(s) to my handyman tool boxes.

Magnifying Lenses

I just purchased a "Jumbo Helping Hands with LED Lights" helping hands vise with magnifier from Harbor Freight Tools. I've been shopping online for a few hours now and I had decided to take advantage of's "free shipping" ...well, this item would've cost me $14.50 on Amazon but with $9.49 for shipping - even though I had an order that met the "free shipping" requirements (just over $180+shipping,etc.)! From Harbor Freight Tools it's $6.99 with $6.99 shipping and $0.58 in tax (which is mind boggling to me because I'm only about 30 miles away from a store outlet so it's nearly with the gas if not the time to just go and get it), but that's STILL nearly 40% less than Amazon! O.o Ok, sorry for venting but I just thought that was ridiculous.

X-Acto X-Tra Hands Dual Alligator Clamp vise
X-Acto X-Tra Hands with (2X) Magnifier

Power Supplies

On Monday (2010.04.10) I received my shipment from, but after unpacking the carton right away I've yet to open the individual packages for neither the power supply nor the DMM. Part of the issue is that I've got a pretty full plate with getting set up in preparations for my foray into robotics (along with my "pre-robotics-life" responsibilities), but the primary issue is that I don't have any components to test as yet! I'm in the process of designing, laying out and building my computer/mechtronics desk so that I'll have an organized work space as my current scheduling priority, but I'll be sourcing a few of the odds and ends on the equipment front over the next two days as well as possibly some of the initial electronics components for (hmmmmm, need to come up with a name for my "mech-tank"!), so I should have something to test and fiddle with in short order. With my next round of purchase hopefully being made by Friday evening, I'm planning to unpack both of my recent arrivals this weekend and see what I need to/can do to verify that they're functioning properly - not sure what I'll be able to accomplish without components, but I'll learn what I can and post and update!

Power Supply Depot

Mastech HY3005
"Make:"Blog:Toolbox CSI3005X5

I wasn't really sure what benchtop power supply ("PSU") to get, but from what I've gathered about servo's and circuits over the last couple of weeks I new I'd be dealing with up to around 18V and roughly 5A, so I pegged my minimums at 20V and 10A. When I didn't find anything at a price point friendly to my current equipment budget I reconsidered my needs with what I'd been finding and decided to go with something in the 20V and 5A range. After seeing the wide range in costs - and presumably capabilities - of PSUs I decided to go with something under $200, within the afore mentioned range and with a value of "<1mV RMS ripple." What does that mean? I have no idea, but it seems to be a significant indicator of the consistency/quality of the power being output, and one that I saw referenced frequently in a specifications listing of a PSU, so that's what I went with. Good or bad that's what I'll live with, and as I gain experience in using a PSU I'll record my observations. :}

Initially I was going to go with the Mastech HY3005, but while I was searching the web on PSUs last night I found the "Make:" blog article. In that article the author (article posted by Gareth Branwyn) referenced the CSI3005X5 unit, noting the "free gift" when purchased via the linked website. Well, guess what - yes, I need a DMM too! Not surprising, since I need everything to do with an electronics/mechtronics work station. So, with trying to put together a workstation and still have enough funds left over to assemble my first, basic, robotics project, I went with the freebie (regarding the freebie DMM please reference my "Meters" page)! And if you're wondering why I'm quoting "free gift" it's because I'm sure its cost is built into the margins in some manner, possibly along with a reduced cost to the distributor from the manufacturer. Whatever; it's soon to be part of my learning curve and life experiences, so we'll see where it goes and figure out what PSU I should have along the way. :)

Soldering Irons

Chronicle of and repository for my research in preparation of acquiring a soldering equipment and supplies.

"Review" via

$48.35: Weller WLC100 @

$39.99 (On Sale): Weller WLC100 @


This space reserved for "oscilloscopes."


Well, last night I did some research on a benchtop DC power supply ("PSU" - Power Supply Unit), and came across a deal where if you made a purchase of $50 or more net you received a "free gift" - one choice of which was an MS8264 multimeter ("DMM" - Digital MultiMeter; I see a glossary in my blog's future ^.^)! The MS8264 isn't the DMM I wanted, but since I was able to acquire it for no additional cost... I'll detail the the PSU's purchase along with acquiring the so called freebie on the "Power Supplies" page, but suffice it to say that both have been ordered. :)

Multi-Meter Reviews
Fluke 87-5
Mastech MS8209
Mastech MS8268

After doing a little web surfing I've narrowed my search down to three meters: The Fluke 87-5 for around $300, the Mastech MS8209 for around $70, and the Mastech MS8268 for about $50. Right off the bat after reading the reviews for the Fluke 87-5 that was the one that I wanted to buy, but ultimately I decided upon the Mastech MS8268.

From the reviews it seems the MS8209 is a better unit, but since I'm a complete novice with electronics and considering the MS8268's auto-ranging abilities and that it indicates what leads to use depending on the function selected, it was pretty much a done deal. I realize for an experienced user figuring out what leads to use is a no brainer, but with the poor reviews the MS8209's user manual received (I'm sure the MS8268's won't be much better, but we'll see), I felt it was wiser to be safe than sorry.

I anticipate using the MS8268 for awhile until I get the feel of using a multimeter and then, if budgeting permits, getting another one for comparison. I'll update this page once I've received my unit and have used it for a bit.

Off and running

This is the first endeavor I'm pursing within the realms of mechanics and/or electronics and while I have a huge amount to learn before I could comfortably call myself a roboticist, I believe this is a good starting point. I did start a course in electronics, a little less than 25 or so years ago, but I only attended a handful of classes and I really don't recall much of anything from it. So, basically, I'm starting from scratch.

I'm currently a handyman by trade and with this coming semester (Fall 2010), I'll be restarting my class work towards obtaining my "Advanced Programming Certificate" - with which I find a bit of amusement since I've never truly programmed before taking on these courses! On the flip side of that I consider myself to be fairly intelligent and somewhat creative. I can't draw a straight line with a ruler - and forget about a true circle! - but hardly a week or a month goes by that I don't think of a better way of doing something or coming up with an invention. True, many times I come to learn that "my invention" has been around for some time already or someone else brings it to market after I've conjured it in my own mind, but I know I have a spark of creativity somewhere inside of me, so it's time to let it out! Towards that end I'll be accumulating resources as I work to gain knowledge in pursuit of my robotics goals. Some of them will be hard-copy based but I'm sure many of them will be located on the web, and I'll share links, reviews and whatever other resources that I can that I think would be helpful.

At this point I don't have any set plans as to when I'll work on what, since as I stated this is a new endeavor and it's still in the formative stages, but my plans are to start compiling lists of project actions, components and resources for my first robotics project (which will be a tank-based unit), detailed under my blog's "Robotics.Projects.001.Tank" label. Please feel free to visit and, of course, leave any profanity-free constructive critiques and/or suggestions that you would care to. Thanks for visiting my blog and please accept my well wishes for all that you do!

The Start

Hi Everyone, welcome to my new blog! :)

I'm starting off with a new place to write down my thoughts, record my projects and whatever else I decide to commit to cyberspace. For sure I'll be setting up a log to detail my first robotics project, under the label "Robotics.Projects.001.Tank." For now that will be my main focus, but I may be adding additional non-robotics labels as time goes on. Although I'm starting this for my own reasons, being to help organize my thoughts and plan my actions even if I don't have my own computer handy, I hope those who may be considering similar projects or are encountering similar life experiences would benefit in some way from what I've put to page.

That's it for now, hope you enjoy my space!