Something different, a gadget for the airplane. This is my incarnation of the Stratux open source ADS-B unit. It uses a Raspberry Pi3 along with a couple of high gain antennas, two radio receivers and a GPS unit to snatch weather and traffic data out of the air. For free! Can’t beat that. I think I spent a little over $100 on it, but I already had the Raspberry Pi3.

I also have an AHRS module plugged into it which should give me a basic Synthetic Vision system. Now I just have to figure out how to mount it ‘semi-permanent’ into the airplane. It has to be removable and used for ‘situational awareness only’ to be legal.

But one thing at a time. I’ve tried it with my two BLU phones and also my ASUS 7 inch tablet. So far so good. Works really well. Just plugged all the parts together, flashed the SD card with the free software and it comes up and runs. I’m trying out a couple of Android Apps that will work with it- they overlay the weather and traffic data on a current FAA sectional moving map plus let you do other cool stuff like plot out your file plan, get airport info and such. Neat.

Before

After

This was the biggest job I have ever done to an airplane. I did a bunch of plastic work on my last one (a Cessna 152) and even put in a new set of skylights once but this took the prize. Four days of 8hr work (that I am still paying for. ouch) but I think the results are well worth it.

I’ve been neglecting one of my main investments and interests, my airplane- 172ME.

So I spent some vacation time working on sprucing her up. Put in some new plastic trim and painted the headliners. New seats and wall panels are coming in June. I guess next pass will be an owner assisted 100hr with Dan the mechanic man. I need to take out everything to the bare metal on the inside and put it all back in new. And then do something about the paint on the outside. At least touch it up. Needs new seat belts too, and ADS-B. Always something 🙂

Ok, not engineering but eh. Here are my new Brahma Chickens. Ordered 18, they sent 21. All arrived fine and healthy. These will grow into rather large birds, the males can reach 12-14 lbs. I’m not sure why I like chickens but I do. This is the first time I’ve gotten all one breed of chicken. Last shot IS engineering I guess- my fortress Chicken Coop with automatic aluminum door, all solar powered.

saveway1

saveway2

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Finished off the grocery store. Well, almost. It’s hooked up to power out in Gilbert, but it sorely needs an interior with those big windows. Also the interior lighting is bulbs, way too yellow for my tastes so that will be replaced. The ‘neon’ sign came out ok but it was bitch to get together, lots of little fragments of EL wire.

railtruck2

railtruck1

I also got this little rail truck together. Made from an off the shelf kit and a little ‘robot’ transmission I got from pololu.com. Does ok, good speed but a bit noisy. The flanges on the wheels are not quite right, too square. It does well on straight runs but jumps off the track when going over a switch. Oh well, more engineering to get it tweaked right.

storeA

storeB

So here is the General Store/Grocery for Gilbert. This is from an older design I originally did in wood. Alas, the wooden one fell apart pretty quickly in the elements so I made this one from styrene sheet using the same patterns. More or less.

This is only the shell, I will need some detailed lighting and an interior with all that glass on the front, looks pretty ridiculous empty like that, eh? But I plan for this to be the centerpiece of Gilbert so it needs some work. A neon sign perhaps, lots of lights. A small parking area.

Here is a video of the router cutting out some of this:

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This is the base design for my new hand-held controller. Along with a new case and display, I’m going to refactor the software to provide a cleaner interface into the clients (locomotives). Right now my ‘phase A’ handheld knows a little too much about the clients, I want a more disconnected sort of protocol. Anyhow, I’ve gotten everything to fit but the graphic interface required some new hardware so that has not been tested (other than a basic smoke test). I’ll need to write the code for that and then port parts of the old handheld code into it. The keyboard, knob and Xbee interface should not have to change much, I just need a calibration step on the kbd and store that into eeprom. I’m going to have a usb interface into this so I can write a tool on the PC to setup the function keys and display.

protophoneB
protophoneA

Latest incarnation of the Phone Throttle Contraption. The phone communicates with the Xbee Controller via bluetooth, a custom app runs on the phone. This is based on previous experiments with an android tablet, you can read about that here- Android, Bluetooth and Xbee

I’m trying to emulate a generic sort of DCC throttle ‘feel’ with this. I have all of the base code written and tested, it’s just a matter of pulling all the parts together. Slowly I’m getting everything working.