I don't care what you say... I think this is cool and I want to build one of my own!
Sometime way back in the mists of time, somebody somewhere made a rather interesting electronic representation of the difference between men versus women. It's one of those things that keeps on bouncing its way around the Internet. Just this morning, in fact, it landed on my desktop once again as part of a mega-email of similar offerings:
(Click this image to view a larger, more detailed version)
Every time I see this I grin to myself and think: "That's really rather cool!" The point is that one of my friends is poised to open up a custom fabrication shop (including sheet metal work and full-up machining) literally 100 yards from my office, so I could get help building a real nice panel...
I don't care what you say... I think this is cool and I want to build one. Not exactly like this one, of course; it has to be my own beast, but it would follow the same general concept with lots of switches and dials and knobs and suchlike.
But where am I to go to get the switches and knobs and ... "stuff"? When I was a young lad living in Sheffield, England, there was a local electrical-electronics parts store called Bardwells (it used to be on a backstreet behind the Abbeydale Cinema – they're still in business, but now they're on the main Abbeydale Road). I remember it as a magical place with boxes of surplus rotary switches and all sorts of interesting "things" lying around.
Sad to relate, there isn't really anything like this in Huntsville, Alabama (at least, as far as I know). Now, I could go online to Digi-Key, and I may well do so as a last resort, but what I'd really like would be some old 1940s or 1950s looking switches and knobs and dials and meters and... (slow down my racing heart).
So, do you have any suggestions with regard to obtaining this hardware?
Actually, now I'm thinking about it, If you happen to be sitting looking at a box of stuff you've been hording for decades but that you know in your heart-of-hearts that you'll never use, and you're thinking to yourself: "This is JUST what Max is looking for," then get in touch with me and we'll see if we can come to some arrangement ... like you give it to me for free and I say "Thank you very much!" (grin).
But wait, there's more... the way the unit illustrated above appears, I'm assuming that the switches were hard-wired to the lights. I'd like mine to look a little "swanky" with flashing lights and changing patterns and ... you get the idea.
So I need some sort of cheap-and-cheerful microcontroller. I'm guessing that I'll want as many inputs and outputs as I can get (although I can add a few extra chips to multiplex and register things if I need to). I'd also like a few analog inputs and outputs (with associated analog-to-digital and digital-to analog capabilities). Plus the little scamp should have one or more counter-timers.
Also, I'd like to be able to create programs on my PC (using a high-level language like C or BASIC or Python.... I have no interest in learning yet another assembly language), download and test them on a development board (via USB), and then either use the development board to run my project directly, or maybe use it to program a separate microcontroller and install that on a custom board.
The problem is that I'm a bit out of touch with what's happening in this arena. I've really not paid much attention for the last couple of years. You know what it's like... things are moving so fast these days that if you turn your back for an instant you haven't got a clue what's going on.
So, which is the best way to go? How about the BASIC Stamp or Propeller stuff from Parallax? Or maybe I should try the PICAXE?
I'm too young for all of this. My brain hurts. What do you think? Any suggestions would be very gratefully received.
2009 New Year Resolution (Goal: Walk 1000 miles at ~3 miles a day)
[A=Actual, C=Current, P=Plan-to-Date, R=Remaining, T=Total]
|Days:|| T=365, C=9, R=356|
|Miles:|| T=1000, P=27.00, A=29.07, Δ=+2.07, R=970.93|
|Note:|| Cool Beans – another 5.12 miles yesterday evening!|
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up