Sounds like some sort of peculiar sex-thing, but is actually a most excellent project for making Arduino compatible devices out of raw components… with the entire cost of a unit coming to about $4.
In the the time (3 months) that it’s taken me to get this together though, the price of Arduino clones on Ali Express has dropped to about $5… so making your own doesn’t really justify labour costs… if you’re planning on banging out 100s of the things (and I kindof am)(I have projects man. LOTS of projects).
I think it’s worth reinventing wheels though – because then you understand wheels. There’s a tendency towards cargo-cult programming otherwise… and a really strange thing about computers, is history keeps repeating. The programs I saw running on the very first computer I saw (in 1979) (eg: tron-style snake-games) I saw running again, 20 years later on cellphones. Then flash. Then Arduinos. This style of putting projects together by looping bits of wire on breadboards etc, I first did, building a computer from scratch in 1983. There’s a special class of wheel that tends to self-reinvent every time a new wave of tech comes out, which lowers the memory-bar.
Self-Reinventing Wheels arise out of “worse is better”, disruptive techs.
Don’t believe me? Watch this space… there will (in the next n years) be a tron-game running on bio-chips. On nano-tech. On quantum-computers. It happens every time.
Back to Shrimping… the other thing of course is that it still feels a bit weird using an ardunio (which is a full-blown computer) to perform single tasks. I mean I learned to program on a machine with 1/2 as much memory as an arduino.
(System 80 – 16kb… I wrote a tron snake-game on it)
Using a whole arduino for one thing, and one thing only feels kindof wrong. It’s like buying a DVD player, and sealing its mouth shut so it can only ever play the single DVD inside. It seems inhumane somehow.
So shrimping it is. I think I might make a surface-mount variant… because most of the things I do tend to be a bit on the tiny side anyway.
I’m not sure if I should feel guilty about getting clones of Ali-Express rather than getting Arduinos from the proper Open-Source people or not. I got my first one (two in fact) from Arduino. Since then have acquired a digispark, and a couple of others from Kickstarter that have yet to arrive… but I do feel like I should be supporting The Source. The Mothership, as it were. Maybe I’ll buy other components from them from now on.
Still… the quick and the dead I guess… freedom from copy-monopoly introduces new biases, one of which is to compete you have to innovate faster. It’s not enough that Arduino managed to come up with a world-beating concept (or that they successfully repackaged, rebranded and brought to the world an existing concept)… they have to keep coming up with world-beating concepts. Personally I’d advise making a dirt-cheap, wifi baked-in variant.
There have been a couple of Kickstarter/Indiegogo attempts at this… but they haven’t really connected (too expensive?). I’ve been playing with an Electric Imp recently, but it seems to be reliant on “The Cloud”, and by that, I mean “THEIR Cloud”. I don’t want to go through someone else’s software service. I don’t really like the cloud to be honest – it’s a mainframe in the sky – and the purpose of mainframes is not “to help you organise your stuff”, it’s control.
Anyway. Back to soldering.
These are great:
They heat up in about 5 seconds, they don’t have a flappy great bit of wire getting in the way, and most importantly (if you’re a jittering, chattering, caffeinated wreck) you can hold them much closer to the hot bit than you can with normal soldering irons… less shake is transferred to the tip.
I’ve got two – the best ones are the ones (like the one pictured) where there’s a clear bit so you can see how much fuel you’ve got left.
Anyhoo… the shrimp above is going to be cleaned up a bit, connected to a humidity-meter/moisture-tester, connected to an electric imp, and used to monitor/water/humidify my Salvia plant… they like humidity. I have chilies as well. Have yet to try either. I expect I’ll probably try both at the same time.