A quick summary before I work on the year-end post.

Hardware hacking

  • More work on the tree tomography project, including much writeup on Hackaday.io:

    • Hammer of Science: a da Vinci hammer first done in cardboard and then wood.
    • Code for microsecond-level time-of-flight measurements.
    • Initial analysis & graphing.
    • A prototype board for the Pi Pico, with connections for the piezo sensors, that doesn’t suck.
  • Side note: I wanted to see what it was like to document things on Hackaday.io, so I added the project & was curious to see how I’d like it. While the site has a few little hiccups, it’s pretty good. What stood out to me, though, was how much I wrote there as opposed to here. I think there are a few reasons for that: the different audience (and, honestly, the chance for a nice dopamine attention hit); the novelty of writing on a different website; and the ease of adding images.

    That last point is pretty big: I’d never thought before about what a difference that makes. I work with Emacs, and as a text editor I love it – but the process I have for adding pictures is clumsy. This needs some thought; I know there are graphical markdown editors, but I’d hate the idea of giving up the sheer flexibility I have with Emacs.

  • Not exactly hardware hacking, but: I got a Keychron Q8 programmable mechanical keyboard, and OMFG I love it. The switches are Gateron G Pro Reds, so it’s fairly quiet. I’d never understood the appeal of mechanical keyboards before, but I get it now. But the programmable part is even bigger; I’m able to set this up with the keyboard shortcuts I’d always wanted.

  • Began working on replicating a project written up on Hackaday.com in 2016: a one-pixel camera. There was an episode of the Hackaday podcast where one of the hosts called for people to trawl through that site’s vast archive and look for fun projects; that seemed like a great idea, and in short order I tripped over the one-pixel camera. This was a great excuse to order a bunch of servos, so I did. Current status:

    • I was able to get an X-Y setup with two servos and an Arduino controlling them directly, and have it scan a field of view successfully.
      • I’m now working on duplicating that by controlling (and powering) them through a PCA9685 module.
    • I was able to set up a single photoresistor & get measurements from it.
    • I’ve got Python code to graph those measurements.

    So far, the results aren’t great, but I’m plugging away on it.


  • More observations for iNaturalist, of course.

  • I’ve taken a couple of freshwater samples from local streams to keep at home, so that I can examine the organisms in there a bit closer. I’ve found Eucyclops, copepods, pocopods, and pea clams. Terribly fun!

Climate emergency