MacroFab Engineering Podcast #165
Stephen gets an upgrade in his electronics lab with a new multimeter, A Fluke 87V! We break down Stephen’s old meter vs the new Fluke.
This week, Riley Hall of Fictiv joins the podcast to discuss how Fictiv connects engineers and designers to job and machining shops.
The US Mint Denver produces 30 million coins a day. Denes, the tooling department manager, discusses with us how production at this scale functions.
Dillon was one of the Winners of the MacroFab Design Contest: Blink an LED
KiCon 2019 is a user conference for the popular open source CAD program KiCad. Happening April 26th and 27th 2019 in Chicago IL, this is the first and largest gathering of hardware developers using KiCad. Talks at the conference will span hardware design, revision control, scripting, manufacturing considerations, proper library management and getting started developing the underlying tools. All announced talks have been listed on the conference site.
Visit our Public Slack Channel and join the conversation in between episodes!
Parker is an Electrical Engineer with backgrounds in Embedded System Design and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. The following year he designed and produced an Atari 2600 video mod to allow the Atari to display a crisp, RF fuzz free picture on newer TVs. Over a thousand Atari video mods where produced by Parker from 2006 to 2011 and the mod is still made by other enthusiasts in the Atari community.
In 2006, Parker enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin as a Petroleum Engineer. After realizing electronics was his passion he switched majors in 2007 to Electrical and Computer Engineering. Following his previous background in making the Atari 2600 video mod, Parker decided to take more board layout classes and circuit design classes. Other areas of study include robotics, microcontroller theory and design, FPGA development with VHDL and Verilog, and image and signal processing with DSPs. In 2010, Parker won a Ti sponsored Launchpad programming and design contest that was held by the IEEE CS chapter at the University. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 2012.
In the Summer of 2012, Parker was hired on as an Electrical Engineer at Dynamic Perception to design and prototype new electronic products. Here, Parker learned about full product development cycles and honed his board layout skills. Seeing the difficulties in managing operations and FCC/CE compliance testing, Parker thought there had to be a better way for small electronic companies to get their product out in customer's hands.
Parker also runs the blog, longhornengineer.com, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components.
Stephen Kraig began his electronics career by building musical oriented circuits in 2003. Stephen is an avid guitar player and, in his down time, manufactures audio electronics including guitar amplifiers, pedals, and pro audio gear. Stephen graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!
Welcome to the macro fab engineering podcast. I'm your guest Dylan Nichols.
And we are your hosts Parker Dolman
and Steven Gregg.
This is episode 165.
Dylan Nichols is an electrical engineer specializing in embedded systems. He spends his free time designing circuits, writing code and building physical objects by 3d printing, woodworking and metalworking. He also enjoys trying out new processors and surfaces to build up his engineering knowledge base.
So Dylan, you also won one of the categories for the Mac five design contest? Can you talk about a little more about your your project?
Yeah. So this project came about because in 2017, there was this event called make vembur, where the objective was to make something every day of the month. So one of my projects was making an LED flash from a 555 timer. And I want to do it a little different. And I tried to do it from a coin cell battery. And it turns out, there's just not enough juice to really use a five by five and flashed LED. But I posted on Twitter, and some people said, you know, there's a 7555 timer, which is, I guess, a lower power version. And someone mentioned a chip called an LM 3909. And I haven't heard of this before, it's an integrated circuit specifically made to flash an LED. So it's like, you know why you use the five by five, whenever this thing exists. It, it's made, so you could power from 1.5 to five volts and automatically boost it or whatever, to the LED voltage. So I was researching this, and there's a couple of websites that really go in depth on this on this chip. And looking at the data sheet, there's actually a schematic of how the chip works. And you know, looking at, I see, it's just transistors and resistors. So I decided to make a PCB with all the parts from the datasheet schematic. And turns out it worked. And, you know, my LED flash from a queen cell battery, so it seemed like that would be a good thing to enter into the blinking contest.
So what makes the LM I guess what makes the LM 3909? Like special then in terms of like, compared to a 555 timer, or something else that would blink an LED?
It seems like it's meant to output just the the right, you know, two volts or whatever for an LED, where a 555 timer, I think has an open collector output. Something like that. So yeah, it's purpose built for the LEDs voltage.
So it's got a it's driver is designed for LEDs.
Yeah. Yeah, I guess this is this is a really old chip. So it's probably meant back before everyone had a microcontroller in their project. And could blink an LED there for you actually had to use some hardware for it.
Did the do you know if the ship had like, current drive where it would? Regardless of what led you put on there? It would adjust for that?
I'm not really sure.
Cool. I can see this thing being the LM 330 909. That is being using like those fake security cameras. Yeah. Which is blinking the red LED. Exactly. Yeah, that's a good use. I think. I think you can get LEDs now that have built in blinking functions built into the LED.
Yeah, but they don't blink the way you think they're not like second off. They're like, okay, they blink like you can get if you see like those cheapo like they simulate candle flames and things like if you go to a restaurant, and there's like a fake flame there a lot of times it's just an LED and a battery. It's just blinking away.
Yeah, this one you could change the the frequency with an external resistor and capacitor. So you could pick your own frequency if you want.
Yeah, and you want the pragmatic category of the macro fed Design Contest, which effectively was do something useful, right.
Yeah. Nothing more useful than blinking an LED I guess.
Well, I guess blinking it in a useful way.
So Dylan, we're bringing you on the podcast to talk about home automation. Not blinking LEDs by guest you can blink LEDs with home automation. So what about home automation? Do you like to do Dylan
Um, I just like making things simple for myself, you know, making, just like removing the friction from doing things, so I don't have to think about anything. You know. To me, I'd like to just walk in a room and the lights turn on automatically, you know, open the door, the lights turn on, you know, have the house thinking for itself. So that's, that's really what drives me to do it.
Well, what do you have? What do you have automated so far? What? What parts of your life have you integrated into automation,
most of my past projects have been lights and various rooms. So like, you know, go into the bedroom and the lights will turn on automatically open the closet door, the lights will turn on. I've done a certain project where the garden would get watered automatically. Basically, anything that helps you that you don't have to think about, that's really what I like about the home automation.
Awesome. So what what got you started in doing home automation?
Well, like I said, about the garden watering project that was really one of my first electronics projects. It was actually the first project that I used an Arduino. So this was back in 2012. So this circuit, I remember using an Arduino. But at that point, I was still in high school. And I think the arguments were so expensive, that I actually removed the Atmega chip and put it on my board because I didn't want to waste the whole, you know, $40 Arduino. That's great. Yeah. So this the circuit, it was it was basically a countdown timer. Where the Arduino you could turn it on, and it would turn on a solenoid valve and water the garden. So you could set like, for to water the plants for an hour, and after an hour would turn off. So you don't have to remember to go out and shut off your water. Or it would also, you could also turn on manually. And it would count up and say if you've been watering your plants for a couple hours, maybe you need to stop. But like I said this was this was back in 2012 with an Arduino. I think now, if you wanted to do something like this, the ESP 32, or the ESP 8266 would be great. Because you know Wi Fi, you could check the weather online and see if your plant seemed watered. So I think you know, there's been big improvements and a couple years on the circuitry front.
So on turning the lights on stuff how how does your house know to turn on your closet light? What kind of sensors are you implementing
a button. I like to keep it I like to keep it simple. I've done two different closets and I did them different ways. The first one was had a sliding door. So I used a reed switch and a magnet. So this sliding door had two separate doors that you could open either one. So I made it the each one had a reed switch and a magnet. So if you opened one of them, the light would turn on or you know you could open both and it would turn on but it also detect if you left the door open for too long, like 15 minutes or something and it would automatically turn the lights off. So that was one of them. The other one was just a like an automotive door switch. Since they're they're pretty robust that I attached to the closet doors whenever you close the door, the lights would turn off and open it and they turn on. I really like just keeping things simple.
Yeah, and we're using Arduino for that project. Also.
Let's see the sliding door one. I used an MSP 430 and the door switch one was a Arduino for that one.
Yeah, just going all over the place with processors, right? Yeah,
I like trying them out, you know, learning the quirks. And if I want to use it again, I kind of know where to look.
Yeah, that's really valuable. Just at least having your hand like in a handful of different processes and just knowing the quirks of them. That's really really useful. So for the for the read switches. Was that something that you sourced? Like, did you go to Mauser for that or is that something had lying around? Because the lot of times those reads switches are used in like home security and things for like your your windows and stuff that talk back to the mothership?
Yeah, I think that's probably where I got the idea from. I remember getting those like stick on ones that you stick them on the door and like an alarm buzzes or something and I think that's where I got the idea. Then I ended up sourcing them. Yeah, I guess the issue with them is that they're made of glass, usually. And if you shut the door too hard, you could break it, which I experienced for myself.
So the, so I'm gonna I'm gonna guess these these whites are offline that they're not online. They're not like the latest craze in home automation, which is IoT, everything.
Yeah, yeah, I try to stay away from IoT as much as I can. Most of the things don't need it. Like, I don't think my lights need it or not. I've, you know, I like the idea of like, the voice assistants, and being able to say, hey, you know, turn my light on. That's nice, you know, to turn a light on from another room. But some things, it's just easier if you have a trigger, opening a door, and that turns the light on. You don't need the internet for that.
So something that comes to mind now is okay, so for your for your closet door project. are you storing the brains of this? Like in the J box that has the light? Like it does? Is it getting powers from the mains? Like, how are you handling all of that?
Yeah, so the two different projects had two different methods. The first one Yeah, I powered it from mains and it was it controlled the light, like a mains powered light bulb. The second one I use, like, stick on LED lights that I rewired for, I forget maybe five volts or something. I think the whole thing worked off five volts Arduinos, five bolts. So that one was just a, you know, an AC to DC adapter and kind of all hanging in my closet.
That's great. Yeah, cuz I could see, I could see there being like, it could be really useful to rewire a J box or the J box that has the light fixture in it such that you could also have a board that has your your trip circuit in it. Because because were you switching the lights on with a relay when you were switching mains.
Yep. Yeah, that one was. And that one that one was a must be 430. Like I said, and that project has been running for years and years now. That's probably five or more years, and it's still going up there. So
So was it really stripped down, so basically just an input, and then the relay output? And all the magic happens in the MSP?
Yeah, but of course, I had to overcomplicate the reeds, which is also had an LED on them. So you would know if the door was open. So you know, if your lights went out and the door was open, you'd still see the light on the door and know that it's open. So you could close it.
Okay, so to the Reese reads, which is you were you had the actual switching signal, but you also sent power it down to the switch.
Yeah, yeah, I actually used a telephone cable for this, because it had the jacks on the end. And it was four pins, which was just enough for an input and output power and ground.
Ah, because that because yeah, I was about just about to ask about wiring, if you had like twisted four wires together? Or did you go through the wall? Like actually like punch into the drywall? Or did you kind of just go against the wall?
Yeah, I drilled a hole. Yeah, the lights above this closet, it was our attic. So it was relatively easy to get into. So Dylan,
what's next for your home automation projects? And where do you want to take this?
Yeah, so I just got a new house. And so far, I've used different products to automate it. But I haven't built much myself. One of the first things I wanted to do is make a environmental monitoring system for the whole house to have temperature and humidity sensors and all the rooms, I was thinking about doing this with the new Particle Mesh devices. So they use the low power thread network. So I should be able to create like a whole house mesh network and send around the temperature and humidity data.
We, one of the software developers at macro fab and I discussed a project that was similar to that where we were talking about having a bunch of temperature nodes that were basically just stickable little temperature sensors that you could make a mesh throughout your entire house. You could monitor your house for some extended period of time and see where your hot and cold spots are. And things that I always love that idea for gathering information and then modifying your house in order to make it more energy efficient.
Yeah, that's exactly my idea. This house that we got a little bit older, and definitely we're just walking through it. You could tell some rooms are warmer and some are colder, so it'd be nice to get some data and see what is actually happening.
Do like a temperature like 3d plot of your house?
Yeah, that'd be great.
Are you sure those cold sparks bots aren't just the ghosts.
Yeah, you might be right. It's The basement is really cold, there must be a gravesite down here or something.
So so how about consolidating all of the the information that you're going for, you know, in the future? Do you? Do you want to kind of have like the mothership, that everything talks to where you can access all your information from that?
Yeah, like I said, I kind of like to keep it simple. Like, you know, I don't, I don't connect my lights for a reason. I think having one big system might be useful, but you need to make sure that not like one one failure point will bring the whole system.
So your whole house turns into a house, if it goes down, you can actually, you know, that we didn't ask this, but for so for your, your, your closet lights or or any of the other projects? Or do you still have the ability to turn them on if your system went out?
Um, so the closet lights No. Those they were automation only. And those two, I think were robust enough that I never had the need to. I built another project where I had a lot of iterations on this project, lights in my bedroom, where each of the individual lights had a switch, and they'd go to an Arduino, and then the switch and the Arduino would communicate to an RF relay and turn those on and off. And eventually, that system got super complicated, where I added some Bluetooth sensors and had Wi Fi to the lights. And, you know, having a huge system like that just has so many problems. So having a mothership to do the whole house. I don't trust the complexity of it.
It's really interesting, mainly because the kind of people that you would normally interact with and talk with are like, Yeah, let's do the mothership. Yeah, let's add all this crazy, wacko stuff. It's really refreshing to hear someone who's like, no, let's bring it down to reality. Like, let's be realistic about this.
Yeah, you need to have a high wife approval factor for this kind of thing.
Oh, yeah. It's gonna last a long time and not customer cost much money.
Yep. Yeah, um, that that system, it had an issue where sometimes the Bluetooth would send bad data. And it would cause the lights to go into like a rave mode where they just flash on and off. And it's the worst if it happens in the middle of the night, and there's no way to turn it off.
Yeah, that's, that's a good way to lose wife points.
Did you just tell say it was a it's a feature? Yeah. You don't want once? It wants us the party? Yeah. Dance party all night long.
No, that's what that's where you wake up, and you just look at it. And you go, what did you do?
She has the Magic Touch and breaks nearly all of my projects. So that would be an easy call.
Oh, yeah. What I can't remember the saying is like, if you make it, they'll break it. And that's not in reference to the wife. That's more like, no matter how much you test your product, somebody will break it like it will happen. Yeah, absolutely. It's,
it's a normal QA tester job.
Yep. Yep. She's the best at that.
Very cool. So yeah, we were. So in terms of security on these things, you know, you kind of have it locked down in a way because you're doing everything as local nodes. Because I was curious before, if you were really, you know, getting into the IoT kind of thing, or the Wi Fi connected kind of game, because we've certainly talked to a handful of people. In fact, we, we've had a couple of podcasts about, like IOT or Wi Fi, garage doors that just cease to work, or, you know, a handful of other things. And building insecurity seems to be in a lot of ways a secondary thought, but in general, your house is as secure as you and your wife, right. Like you guys are the ones who can mess it
up. Yeah, exactly. Um, yeah, I've done some projects that are internet controlled. I think it's really you have to pick a company that you trust and not try and do it yourself. Because really, you have to assume that a company of many people's gotta be more knowledgeable about that than you are as yourself most of the time, most of the time. You hope so.
You hope so?
Yep. We just go out of business and you're high and dry. They can't
open up your garage door. So I'm imagining, basically like the Mission Impossible movie now, like how people hack Dylan's house is, is Tom Cruise comes through the AC vents and like, wires down, and like sorts unlocking the Arduino hacking the Arduino directly.
Yeah, I guess. Yeah, if you just inject a high enough voltage into my house, it might be okay. Might be able to just blow everything.
I can, I can see I can see Tom Cruise suspended from the ceiling with the Arduino IDE open.
How much different would the first Mission Impossible movie be with the fact that everything's internet connected now? Like you wouldn't have that whole scene? No, there'd be a lot more typing? Well, I think they would just go there. Just go into the lobby and put in like the guest password for the Wi Fi and immediately get in?
Well, yeah. I think we talked about it on the first Star Wars Episode with with Josh, he, I think he brought up the whole point where it's like Star Wars would be entirely different. If email existed, right? Like, they'll like everything about Star Wars is entirely different if they could just communicate.
So Dylan, you use a lot of different platforms to do your projects. Is there one that you're like, I'm one, I like this platform a lot?
Yeah, probably my favorite one is particle. Like I said, I want to use their their mesh devices. But I've also had a lot of fun using their Wi Fi boards. I think their company is just great. They do all the hard parts for you, you know, updating your board over the Wi Fi, they handle the cloud side. There are hardware is good and pretty cheap. You could use the Arduino language for it. So I think, you know, if you just want to write the code for your device, particle is a great start there. I guess on the other hand, if you want to really do everything yourself, the ESP 32, or ESP 8266 Kind of has the other direction where you really have to do everything yourself. You still have the Arduino environment. So you could kind of write things there and pull in different libraries. But really, you're on your own as far as what to do locally, if you want to send things to the cloud. All along those lines.
You have to set up your own infrastructure in some way. Yeah. So what um, What project are you going to build next with, I guess, this particle device?
Yeah, so definitely planning on that environmental monitoring system. Really, I just need to pick out the right sensors for all the rooms. I don't know, I thought temperature and humidity are solved by now. But there's still all kinds of sensors coming out that you know, are more accurate or have less drift or all kinds of things.
I I've always wanted to put one in my vehicle for like carbon monoxide, because I tend to drive older vehicles that might have exhaust leaks.
Well, yeah, there's Yeah, I've been looking to there's a bunch of new sensors that do volatile organic compounds.
Okay, yeah. Vocs. Yeah,
I've been looking into that. And I thought it'd be fun to put one in the bathroom to see if it detects any gases. And you could automatically turn on the exhaust fan. If it does.
See, now that would be a perfect situation to actually have it connected. So we could tweet if it did detect anything.
Stay away from the bathroom. Right, right.
methane levels at 300 parts per million.
Actually, wait, Parker, didn't you design a tower? A light tower that did exactly that?
Oh, yeah. So yeah, a while back, we used a I can't remember what sensor it was. I think it was just a generic like, gas sensor. But yeah, we call it the fart tower at work. And I was never able to install it because of, I guess, like reasons
of political race.
Because that's the best, most politically correct way I could say it. But I always wanted to put one of those like, it was a tower that you would have for like an SMT machine. So it has a red, a yellow and a green light on it. Right? And so green would be everything's good. Groovy. And then yellow is when it basically you could detect when someone walked in there. So like, oh, there's someone in there. So if you're, you know, a little stall shy, you don't have to go in there. You can always wait but read was like, it's fumigated. Don't go in there. So Dylan, what kind of hardware didn't work out? Is there anything that you would never use again.
Um, so I've had certain projects where I've tried to reuse an old project for a new use. And it's things like that never worked out for me. Like, I feel like, if I'm starting a new project, I just need to work. Start from scratch. You know, sometimes, just starting from scratch is the best for a new project. I actually mentioned that I really liked the ESP 32. And I had a problem with the ones where their datasheet showed all the IO pins when I designed my circuit around this, and I finally get my PCB and it's not working. And I realized one of the IO pins is actually input only. So I guess they don't understand the IO means input output.
That's great. I want to how many? How many hardware engineers that has bitten too many? Yeah. And it was there's probably an irata to that somewhere, somewhere? Yeah,
you'll never find it, but it's out there.
It's out there somewhere,
you know, what really gets annoying is is now by me, I shouldn't say now, but I was actually just dealing with this the other day. STM chips have certain qualifications for each one of their pins. And some of their pins, I can't remember what they call them. It's like f slash T, or f slash AI or something like that. So some of their pins are five volt tolerant, even though the chip is still running on 3.3. Some are not. And so you end up like you know how you go, you go to a microcontroller datasheet and the first couple pages are is just information. And then there's sometimes like a package drawing. And then after that is like, eight pages of pin definitions, right? So in so the STM chips, now their pin definitions are like this giant chart that they just print out. Because it's like, well, this can be this. And it's this. And sometimes it's this and sometimes it's that and this one is 5.5 or five volt tolerant or whatnot. And so it just it ends up it's starting to get kind of crazy VSP C footprint number 22. Oh, my gosh, yeah.
What what gets me on those is, I run into this issue with FPGAs a lot is what I'm doing this the symbol, I like to put like, everything that pin can do needs to be in the symbol.
Sometimes, especially for FPGAs, it becomes like, a full width on a 1440 p monitor.
Yeah, yeah, that's right.
And you're like, Well, I guess I won't use 90% of these functions. So I'm not going to have them on there. Yeah, it makes it easier when I'm like, planning out, like, what pins need to go where it's, I don't have to go check the datasheet all the time. And, you know, oh, I need hardware, you know, you aren't which pins are that? I can just look at the symbol. Yeah, and like,
I think there's a good way of stripping that down. But still doing it like a hybrid of the way that you you're kind of talking about, like, if you know your project needs an A to D or something like that. You could call out all the pins that have a DS, you don't necessarily have to call out all their functions. It's just like, call out all those pins. And so you know, like, Okay, I could pick one of these. And that would be fun ones that currently mattered to your project. Right? Yeah. But then you'd have to have your project pretty well defined from the get go.
Yeah. And you're designing a footprint, just or a symbol just for that project.
Also, with FPGAs, and their gazillions of pins. I'm sure your symbols look just crowded beyond belief.
Oh, you break them up a little bit? A little bit. That's actually one thing is a lot of my FPGA or a lot of FPGA projects that I've looked at and build myself. You don't use a lot of IO use, like 1516 io, and use use a lot of internal logic. There's not a lot of FPGAs that are like an SOC. 24. Right. That's just got a crapload of logic in it.
Well, yeah, cuz it's not profitable for them to make that they want to give you a gazillion pins because the core is what counts, right?
Yeah, but all those IO pins make everything expensive.
I found out The certain packages BGA. Like small, the smaller the BGA package, the cheaper it is for some FPGAs it's been crazy.
Yeah, I wonder if that's, I wonder that suit the packaging methods or something like that? Yeah, it could be, you know,
I don't I don't know the ins and outs but but gut feeling would say, you know, the difference between 64 pins and 100 pins is probably fairly negligible when it comes to the way they manufacture it, you know, it's, it's likely, I'm just guessing here but a different jig that they throw in a machine that wire bonds or whatnot, you know, I mean, of course, you know, bigger package means more material, which means more costs. So, you could follow that logic, but in general like to the machine that actually does the wire bonding or the connection to the pads, it's probably all the same.
I suddenly I got one more, I got one question. So when you start doing your prototyping for your home automation stuff, what is your process? Do you start with a breadboard? Or do you jump straight to a PCB? Or is it somewhere in the middle? Do you plug a whole bunch of daughter boards together and jumper wires across and are you like Steven and kind of like, Manhattan style solder stuff together into ginormous like, look like tumbleweeds of circuits.
Most of the time, I jumped to PCB first a lot of the time. I, whenever I first started, I had to hand wire everything. And that just gets so confusing. Now, I'd rather do it on the PC and I could change things up. I'll breadboard certain things if there's like a new sensor or something that I'm not quite sure about. Maybe I'll just test that out. But really, I like just jumping to a PCB. I've had different projects where I've had a development board and a sensor and I made a PCB just to wire it up for me. So I didn't have to do that myself. PCBs are so cheap these days that it doesn't even make sense. handwired most of the time,
you know, and sort of on that just as a quick side note, I finished a PCB. On Saturday, I finished two of them. And one of them was 12 inches by three inches. And the other one was about five by four. I ordered them Saturday night. And this is Tuesday evening, they shipped this morning, and they'll be here later this week. And the shipping for these two boards, I got five of each, the shipping was almost the same cost as the boards themselves. It's crazy, because these exact same boards. I did a design similar to this when I was in high school, and I remember pricing these boards out and it would have been like $500 and a month. And that wasn't really that long ago that I was in high school. It's crazy how cheap it's gotten now and fast. The economies
of scale for the home gamer has like almost exponentially increased over like what the past eight years.
Yeah, yeah. And you don't have to sacrifice quality because it used to be like, Well, you could get it cheaper if you're fighting getting a board without solder mask. Oh, I've
done that before. Yeah, I did. I did that once. One time, you know, once you try to solder together, especially like SMD parts.
Oh, boy. Oh, yeah, no, no, no. It's like, I'm gonna save some money. Nope. Nope. You're just making a headache.
So many solder shorts.
So Dylan, what's on your bench right now?
Well, I haven't actually been doing many electronics projects lately. I've been doing a lot of a clean
Well, it's not clean. Doesn't have in progress projects. I've been working in the workshop doing like welding and metalworking kind of doing different things in my day job for a little
bit. Yeah, you have to decompress by working on something else.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I have periods where I'm super into electronics, or I'm into doing other things kind of just goes back and forth.
So what kind of welding process do you typically do?
Well, my, my methodology is always get the cheapest tool and see if you like it, and then you could buy something better. So I just have a really cheap stick welder. So it's, you know, good enough to heat up some metal and make it stick.
An industrial hot glue gun.
Yeah, exactly. And my welds look about the same as hot glue.
You can get you can get a stick welder for less than 100 bucks nowadays, which is crazy. I don't know the safety behind that. But, but yeah, it used to be a lot more than that for sure.
So what do you what do you build in Dillon with your stick welder?
The last thing I built was a welding table, bench to work out, you know, kind of starting backwards you weld the tools to help you weld. One of my other projects was I made a, a desk that kind of slides into the couch, so you could work on your computer while sitting in the couch.
Is that is that wife approved? Yep.
Actually, it made for her so
well done. Yeah. At the perfect height. Yeah.
Yep. Yep. The site design the the angle myself and the height. Yeah. Whenever you custom make things, you can make it exactly how you want it. Yeah, it's
kind of funny that you mentioned, you know, building the welding thing. I've recently purchased a TIG welder myself. And my wife asked me, she's like, well, so what are you making with it? Because I was I was messing around with the other day, I was like, a welding cart. And she's like, what's that? It's a cart to hold all the welding stuff. And it's circular. I love it. It's hard to explain this. It's like you don't get it. Don't worry about it.
Yeah, I probably spent more time building projects, so I can build other projects than I've actually spent building the projects that I want to make.
Yeah, I was thinking because one of your big things about home automation was the key bit simple. Yet, every project and your home automation system is completely different and different ecosystem.
Yeah, I guess, learning is kind of the goal there. Not so much the automation, but you know, it goes both ways. You have something whenever you're done.
Oh, yeah, that's totally understandable.
i Yeah. And you know, I think Hackaday has a really great article about keeping it simple and in vain with the same topic. It's, it's one of those things where it's like, when you start a project, ask yourself, Do I have all the things to accomplish this project right now? Like, am I capable of doing it with all of the tools that I have right now? Or will I have to build a tool in order to do this, or in order to accomplish the final goal? And always keep your mind on the final goal, you know, so much, because it's one of those things where it's like, Oh, I could build, I could weld a table in order to put a CNC on top of this table in order to cut a piece of metal that will help me well, you don't like like that kind of thing? Was it like
was like to bake a bigger pie. If you had to create the universe kind of thing. Oh, the Carl Sagan stuff. Yeah, yeah, right.
Yep, that's definitely my hobby. Start from scratch. Go crazy.
Great. Cool. Steven, do you have any more questions for Dylan?
No, I think I'm good.
I Dylan you want to sign us out? Oh, actually, Dylan, where can people follow you on social media or get in contact with you?
I'm mostly on Twitter. I post all my stuff there. My name there's Dylan 1337. So you can follow me on Twitter. Do you have a website? Yeah, my website is tinker.us. Cool. And do you want to sign us up? Yeah. That was a macro fab engineering podcast. I was your guest Elon Nichols.
And we were your hosts Park Dolman and Steven Craig. Later Everyone,
take it easy.
Thank you. Yes, you our listener for downloading our show. If you have a cool idea, project or topic. Let Stephen and I know Tweet us at Mac fab at Longhorn engineer or at analog EMG or emails at podcasts at Mack feb.com. Also, check out our Slack channel. If you're not subscribed to the podcast yet, click that subscribe button. That way you get the latest episode right when it releases and please review us wherever you listen as it helps the show stay visible and helps new listeners find us. And quick little announcement before we end the podcast. Keep con 2019 is coming up. It is a user conference for the popular open source CAD program key CAD happening April 26 and 27th 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. This is the first and largest gathering of hardware developers using KiCad. Talks at the conference will span hardware design, revision control, scripting, manufacturing considerations and proper library management and getting started developing the underlying tools used for KiCad. All announced talks have been listed on the conference site which is in the show notes so go check that out.