Add one to the list.

Summer classes take up a LOT of time…  Man, I finished the Solar Tracker for now, but I haven’t even had time to get to the garage and use the camera to make a video showing it working.  I will eventually, I promise.

While classes have my tied up, there is one thing I think I could easily manage and that’s learning a new programming language.  I’ve recently been looking into a programming language that I can use as an alternative to MATLAB and possibly LabVIEW.  What I found is scipy.

Scipy is a package add-on to Python, and can be used for simple or complex calculations.  I still need to dig into it more, but I’m seeing a lot of potential.

Concerning the things currently on the list, there’s a lot of stuff on there that requires more funding.  Until then, a lot of those will be put off for later.


Pretty soon I think I’m going to create a how-to guide for installing scipy and all of its dependencies.  I did this in Windows 7 by the way.


The terminology page is slowly growing!  Surprisingly, its a very tedious task.

Also, I’m still looking for a personal banner to put in the header.  If someone is skilled with image editing and would like to make one for the page, let me know.  You’re help is greatly appreciated.


Hello all,

As I hope you noticed, we are no longer on blogspot.  Through a few hours of research, I’ve come to the conclusion that wordpress would be better host for the list.  It is a bit more open ended and allows me to edit a few more things.  For example, I now have a twitter feed on the far right, along with a few more pages on the top.  The built in templates are a bit nicer as well.  I think the colors are a bit more soothing.

If you navigate through the pages, you’ll come across a “Terminology” page.  I gotten a few complaints about the technical terms used and a few people are having a hard time following along.  The terminology page should help explain a few things better.  Also you’ll find an “About Me” page.  I’ve been rather hesitant about giving out my personal information, but due to the lack of comments, I thought it would be better to open up a bit more.  The page explains some background about me along with why I started the blog.

I’d also like to mention that I am completely open to comments and questions.  In fact, I encourage them.  It lets me know that this is helping a few people other than myself.  So whenever you get a chance, leave a comment below.  Or if you want to be more private, feel free to email me.

See you soon!


For the few of you who read this,
I finished the solar tracker!  I’m busy at the moment, but I’ll eventually get a video showing you what it can do.  Until then, you’ll just have to wait.

Furthermore, I’m also planning on replacing my Arch partition with Xubuntu.  I’m also most likely going to reorganize my computer boot sequence as well.  I currently have my boot partition doing nothing but booting, which seems kinda silly.

On the hardware side, I just upgraded my RAM from the 2×1 Gb Crucial 1033 Mhz to a 2×2 Gb Corsair 1600 Mhz.  So far I’ve noticed a slight improvement in Windows (which is 64bit) and I haven’t tried it in Arch yet.

Also, if you haven’t already, check out This Week in Linux with Jordan Keyes.  He recently lost his adsense account due to some strange DDoS/Misuse  and showing all of his videos either through or through his website.  I highly suggest everyone watch his videos, he’s a wealth of knowledge!

How to Calibrate a Continuous Servo

A really quick video showing how to calibrate a continuous servo.

Solar Tracker Progress

Here’s a quick update showing my progress on the solar tracker.

I’m Back Again!

Well hello everyone!

It’s really been a long time since I’ve last updated.
For the past few weeks I’ve been busy working, while on the weekends helping build the Solar team’s new car Celeritas.

Finishing the car was a real time crunch. The race was in Houston, Texas on April 14-16 and believe me when I say it was close. We literally finished coding major components of the car on the trip down there. Luckily the 22 hour trip gave us a lot of time to focus.

We managed to get the code to a working condition once we got to the paddock area, but there was still plenty to do. We had a few major body adjustments to the car, and some minor brake spacing issues to work out. but in the end it all came together. We finished the race with 1st in our class. We also managed to get 2,200 MPG equivalent!

You might have noticed I said equivalent. Well in reality, our solar car runs off of electricity using an electric hub motor. So we have to manually monitor the amount of energy flowing from our batteries to our motor to calculate the energy consumption versus a gasoline powered car.

Thankfully, in the past year, due to the increase in electric vehicles on the market, the SAE determined that there are officially 33.7 kilowatt hours (kWh) worth of energy in one gallon of gasoline. You can run some numbers backwards and see that we consumed about 65 kWh of energy, and in the total run, we calculated our motor to be about 80% efficient. That’s impressive, considering internal combustion engines run at less than 50% efficiency.
You can read more at our website at
and you can also read plenty of great articles by googling Purdue Solar Racing.

Well it was a blast, but what am I doing now?

Its currently the summer for me, and I’m not taking a break anytime soon. I have classes through August, then its back to work again. Luckily though, I have a bit more free time in the near future, and I plan on bringing back some old projects and knocking a few off my list.

Earlier today I dusted off the Arduino board and started working on my solar tracker again.
I uploaded the code to the board and started debugging. First thing I noticed is a slight mistake in the code. because of the slight variations in the components, the two voltage readings from photoresistors will almost never be equal for an extended amount of time. I had to add a tolerance value into the selection statement in order to get the servo to sit still long enough to be useful. I can always show you the code. Let me know if you want to see it!

Next step is to package it all together. I started a rough CAD model of how I’m going to fit everything onto the servo. I decided I want to have the Arduino board spin with the solar cells. This will (I think) minimize the amount of wiring required to connect everything. Because most of the components will then be spinning, that also lessens the number of wires getting wrapped around the servo spindle.
That last statement might be irrelevant though. Either way I’m going to have wires getting wrapped up, and one wire could be as bad as 10.
Soon I’ll upload a video of the project so far. I may also make a video showing how to calibrate a continuous servo.
And on a side note, when I moved into my apartment in Lafayette, I was a bit cramped on space and I wasn’t able to pack the Bucket. The linux adventures are going to have to be put off until I make a second trip to get my stuff. I guess that leaves more time for the Arduino!
How ’bout you guys? Do you have any projects you’ve started recently? Any ideas? Or have you been doing anything interesting the past few months?