12V to USB Charging Converter

After the USB charging converter for my headlight battery packs worked really well last weekend (I got two full charges from one battery pack), I decided to quickly implement a simple 12V to USB charging hack I had in mind for quite some time.

On one of the recent hikes between huts I realised that some of the huts in Norway have solar panel powered 12V power supply. I’ve had a spare car-cigarette-lighter to USB adapter for quite some time and decided to replace the plug with generic crocodile clamps which are more versatile. With these new contacts, I can now attach to any 12V source to recharge USB appliances. For a little protection, I secured the leads with hot glue and covered the circuit board with a bit of yellow shrink tube.

12V to USB Charging Adapter

Headlight-Battery Phone Charging Adapter

As I’m heading out for a three day snow-shoe hike with friends tomorrow, I quickly hacked an adapter which enables me to charge my phone from my headlight LiPo batteries. This way I don’t need an additional backup for my phone.

In one of my junk-boxes I found a 5.5mm plug which matches the batteries. For the phone end I simply cut some left-over micro-USB cable. I wired it all up with a 5V 500mA Step-Down Voltage Regulator from Pololu and insulated my beautiful soldering job with heaps of hot glue and a silicone cover from an LED strip 😀

DIY Headlight-Battery Phone Charger
DIY Headlight-Battery Phone Charger

A Bag full of Norwegian Cheese

During the Christmas market in Trondheim, I spontaneously bought a local mountain goat cheese which was especially tasty [Heidrun below]. So I started googling around and discovered a whole network of ecological cheese farms. Many of these apply setring [transhumance/Sennerei], a style of mountain farming which is also common in the Alps. During the summer months the animals, usually milk cows or goats, are moved to a smaller and simpler farm in the mountains. The grass there is rich in herbs and gives the milk and resulting cheese a distinct rich flavour.
Many of these local farms in Norway also offer visits, showing how their produce are made and often also double as bed-and-breakfasts. The network ‘Hanen‘ [the rooster] gives a good overview of the possibilities.

So today I went to the local farmers market, the Bondens marked i Trondheim, a great source for these tasty local cheeses:

  1. Heidrun fra Brubekken Gardsmeieri
  2. Grote Ost fra Hitra GĂĽrdsmat
  3. BlĂĽmann fra SkĂĽnaliseter GĂĽrdsysteri

GĂĽrdsmeieri Ost Ost Kart

Saturday on a Sunday @ Antikvariatet

The first thing you see when you enter Antikvariatet is a relatively normal cosy pub. Only when you pass through the hall, which looks like it just leads to the rest-rooms, you’ll discover the back-room which is a very curious blend of library, living-room, and bar. This is where last Sunday’s concert and open-mic night took place.
First Edvardsen & Sønn, a really talented and entertaining duo of father and son (or son an father 😉 ), were playing the Blues. Later, the stage was open to anyone interested. And there were plenty! As each of them only played two or three songs, there was a great variety in styles. For the last songs, the singer got a mix of rather surprised musicians on stage. Together they performed an amazing interpretation of the classic ‘I Shall be Released’ (video below).

Edvardsen & Sønn   Lørdag pü Søndag @ Antikvariatet
Lørdag pü Søndag @ Antikvariatet   Lørdag pü Søndag @ Antikvariatet
Lørdag pü Søndag @ Antikvariatet   Lørdag pü Søndag @ Antikvariatet

 

Drone King of the Hill

The recent Hak5 episode 1903 inspired me to build a King of the Hill version for quadcopters. Shannon and Darren talked about their acrylic drone-fighting cage, the last-man-standing matches they had, and their future plans including a version of king of the hill.

Since then, I’ve been working on my own implementation of the king of the hill idea based on an old ADJD-S311 Color Light Sensor Evaluation Board from Sparkfun which I still had lying around. Combined with an Pololu A-Star 32U4 Micro for the brains, a single button for input, and an LPD8806 based RGB-LED-strip from Adafruit for output, this made a pretty nice tinkering project.

Micro Quadcopter Micro Quadrcopter on Platform

The micro quadcopters are split into 2 to 4 teams and are marked with differently coloured stickers at the bottom (red, green, blue, yellow).
The light sensor in the centre of the platform is initially passive and set to maximum sensitivity. In combination with ambient light, the A-Star Micro can detect whether the sensor is covered or not. As soon as it detects that the sensor is covered, it is set to active mode. It then evaluates reflected light using a white LED and a lower sensitivity setting. Based on the measured rgb-colour, ‘the brains’ decide which team the drone on the platform belongs to.
After a team covered the sensor for 3 seconds to win a point, the platform needs to be cleared for 5 seconds before another winning point can be gained.

Drone King of the Hill Game   Drone King of the Hill Game (animated)

The game play is set-up using the single button. First the number of teams is shown using the LEDs in the vertical stand. Clicking the button iterates between 2, 3, or 4 teams with different colours. After a long-click, the number of winning points are selected. Again by clicking the button 1, 3, 5, or 7 winning points can be selected. The game starts after another long-click with the progress being displayed on the vertical bar. As only a single LED strip is used, additive colour mixing occurs between the teams. The game continues until one of the teams achieves the necessary number of points, upon which the winning team’s colour flashes along the bar in ‘knight rider’ fashion.

Some friends from FIX, the local maker space, and I ordered a whole bunch of Eachine H8 Mini drones. Now we’re looking forward to some awesome team matches the space 🙂

The CAD models can be found at Onshape, a really interesting web-based CAD solution done by veterans of Solidworks. (log-in and search for ‘Drone King of the Hill’, couldn’t find a public link … still beta 😉 )
The source code can be found on GitHub and relies on the awesome cross-platform code builder and library manager PlatformIO.

Healthier Soldering

To get rid of the soldering fumes, I re-purposed one of the fans I salvaged from an old office printer:
Soldering Fume Extractor Soldering Fume Extractor - Fan

The fan is hot-glued into a card-board tube which also allows easy positioning of the fume extractor. The flexible tube attached to the end is long enough to reach out of the next window, so no fume filtering is needed.

This makes soldering way more comfortable, and during winter I can fill the window gaps around the exhaust tube with pillows. Smoke-free soldering without freezing! 😀

Hiking on the other side of the fjord

What a tur 🙂

I took the ferry to the other side of the fjord in order to hike one of the hills we can see from our side. A friendly farmer let me park my car in his yard and told me about a little trail leading into that area.
Ferry Flakk - Rørvik Farm Parking
Everything afterwards was just barely visible animal trails (thanks animals, nice trails you trampled there 🙂 ). I even saw a couple of elk in the distance, though too far and quick for a photo! At some point I realised that I would not be able to reach the top I intended to (Munken) and decided to set up camp on another really nice hilltop (slightly north-west of Stegavikdammen). Although this spot was missing the panoramic view across the fjord, it had some funny and very audible sheep in the valley below.
Hiking the back-country Mountain Sheep
What an evening Real Turmat
After a nice warm meal of turmat, I went to bed with a glimpse of the city lights on the other side of the fjord and the stars above (the nights are dark enough again). As I had placed the tent behind a little hill, beautiful sunshine only woke me at about 8 in the morning. After a simple breakfast of bread, cheese, and liver patĂŠ, I headed back following a slightly different path.
City Lights Good Morning Sunshine
Refreshing Lake Ferr Rørvik - Flakk
The new backpack I tested on this trip prove really comfortable and practical. It allows you to open the whole front-side similar to a sports bag. This makes organising and accessing the equipment way easier!

The full set of photos can be found in my OwnCloud.