Archive for the ‘News’ Category

I love watching Battlebots. As an engineer I really enjoy seeing the design and strategy of each bot. I was delighted to find a box from VEX at my front door recently. Luckily I opened it right away (I thought it might be parts for a FIRST team) and found a Minotaur set. Minotaur is one of my favorite bots in the show. This bot from Brazil and is a joy to watch. Its spinning drum eats through other bots. Follow me past the break to see what I thought of this building set.

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Today launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center roared to life for the first time in over half a decade as a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. Follow me after the break to learn why this launch means a lot to me an see some photos.

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Back in November, I got a Phantom 3 Standard drone. The stock drone is a lot of fun, but it could use a couple upgrades. The first upgrade wanted was to replace the stock phone mount with a tablet mount. The larger screen on the table makes it easier to track objects. I got some really cool photos of an RC DC-3 flying around my drone at the local flying field, but following the small plane was difficult on the tablet, likely impossible on my phone.

The original phone mount is not very durable and after using it a few times, the plastic broke as you can see in the photo. DJI did send a replacement that was metal, but it would still limit me to my cell phone.

I found a tutorial on Phantom Help that used the DJI Inspire 1’s tablet mount. I initially decided to just screw the tablet mount into the plastic. I used some glue to add support. The upgrade was well worth it and it functioned well when out at the field flying.

However, within a week the mount broke. The plastic shell was fine, but the metal support broke. You can see the damage in the photo below. To be fair, this was after shipping my drone to my parent’s house for the holidays. While I packed the controller well, it appears some of the packing air bags broke in transit. I am still not quite sure how the plastic shell escaped damage (especially since it looks like the metal was crushed ).

Once I was home, I decided to order the metal insert. The threaded insert would allow me to remove the mount for shipping. To accommodate the new insert, I had to make the hole larger. I screwed the insert into the plastic and attached the nut. To make sure it stays secure, I used some hot glue. I also used hot glue to hold down wires that I had to reroute after the install.

The picture of the final install is below. I highly recommend this upgrade to anyone that got a DJI Phantom 3 Standard for the holidays! I also picked up a hard shell case for the drone and the accessories. For return shipping to Florida, I did remove the tablet mount and used the case. Both the controller and drone returned in perfect condition. I can’t wait to start flying again!


My favorite building platform is LEGO. I have boxes of LEGO Technic. I frequently build robots and then take them apart. To make finding the right part easier, I sort most of my LEGO. The image above is a small stash of my sorted LEGO Technic parts.

There are three stages to my sorting scheme. First is what you see in the picture, little bins holding small quantities of parts. I typically use these bins to build a model as they are handy and portable.

Bins work well for small amounts of parts, but if your addicted to LEGO like I am, you probably have way more parts than you can fit in bins. Inside the cardboard box you see in the photo (and several others around my apartment) is a similar assortment of parts, but in bags. Each type of part gets its own bag and these bags hold the overflow of parts. For larger projects where I need a lot of one part, I will usually pull the bags and keep them handy. Some parts, like LEGO Technic pins, I keep in soda bottles. I find it is easier to fill up a 2 liter bottle with black friction pins and pour from that. Bags have a nasty habit of friction pins all over my work area.

My last level or sorting is something I affectionately call MUL or Miscellaneous Unsorted LEGO. MUL is typically a box (or now 3) of past projects or sets I have parted out to get sorted. A few times a year (and I am in the middle of one right now), I take all my MUL parts and sort them. Most of the time parts go directly to a bag as I like to keep my bins stocked.

While I sort parts by type, I do not sort by color. While I would love to have that much organization, it simply isn’t practical for me to spend the time parting things out that far. I also do not have that many parts on hand (although I’m sure my brother, parents, girlfriend, and apartment maintenance manager would disagree).

I enjoy keeping my LEGO parts sorted and organized. It lets me build without having to dig for a part. This is just one method of organization and I know many other AFOLs sort their bricks as well. It is software a work in progress as it has evolved over time. I am always open to new sorting ideas!

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One of the awesome projects at Maker Faire 2016 was creating a drone. Radio Shack had a free workshop using their DIY Drone Kits. Naturally I got a kit and quickly assembled it. However, my drone piloting skills are still developing and this quad has had more than a few rough landings. It wasn’t long before the original airframe needed to be replaced. A couple weeks of work later, I was successful and the replacement airframe can be found on Thingiverse! Follow me after the break and I’ll share all the details on my latest project! (more…)

Special Project Update

Posted: November 9, 2016 in News

You might have noticed I didn’t post last week. This will be the only post this week. I am working on a special project and it isn’t ready quite yet. I have had several iterations on this project, but it still needs another one or two to be 100% functional. It’s very exciting! In the mean time, I have a book review to share next week and the plan is to share my special project the following week! Stay tuned!

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If you have launched EV3-G recently, you probably discovered that there is a new update! LEGO has released version 1.2.2 to address the “VM Program Instruction Break” bug. Be sure to update your software to the latest version. The bug did not affect the firmware on your EV3, just the compiler in EV3-G.

The Seshan Brothers, over at EV3Lessons.com, have an excellent overview of the bug.

You can download the latest versions of the LEGO MINDSTORMS programming software here!


LEGO was all over World Maker Faire! Besides FIRST LEGO League, LEGO was a common sight. LEGO provides a flexible building platform and Makers love LEGO. While it might not ship in a final project, the iconic, modular bricks provides an unmatched ease of use for prototyping. This has been one of my favorite posts to write, showing off all the awesome creations of the community! Follow me after the break to check out more of the LEGO sights of World Maker Faire 2016!

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This past weekend was World Maker Faire 2016 in New York. Maker Faire is a celebration of creativity, technology, and invention. I was lucky to attend the event again this year, showing off some LEGO robots at the ILUGNY booth. While the booth was constantly busy, I was able to explore and see some truly amazing projects. Follow me after the break for more photos from this incredible event!

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Tonight at 7:30 PM EDT, I will be giving a presentation on Amateur Radio at the University of Florida. The event will be live streamed via the YouTube link above. If you are interested in making with electronics, getting your amateur radio license can open up a whole new world of opportunities. Come learn a little about the original makers and the various aspects of this exciting hobby!

UPDATE: I was asked to share some of the links in a clickable form. Check out the links below!

Remember you can use Amazon Smile to donate to the Gator Amateur Radio Club! Just search for “Alumni and Friends of Gator Amateur Radio”.