Archive for April, 2011

Amp Meter that fits in an Auto Fuse Holder

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011


I saw  this in Harbor Freight and had to get one.

You just pull a fuse out of its holder, place it in the side of the shunt and pop in the meter to get a quick reading on the current draw.

I could have used this last year when I added a bunch of new circuits to a work truck. At least I can easily test it now.

Midi Sniffer

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

This is the Midi Sniffer. It’s a little bigger than an old fashioned pager

 a5.JPG         a4.JPG

It has  a  Midi In, Power and Clear switch. Really didn’t need anything else.

a1.jpg  Power up notice

a2.jpg  Data from moving a CC Slider

a3.jpg  Hitting the Play button

Pretty Cheap and simple with just over a dozen parts.

  1. 16X2 LCD Display
  2. Pic 16F73
  3. 4mhz Crystal
  4. 2 – 22pf Capacitors
  5. 220 ohm resisitor
  6. 3 – 1K resistors
  7. 5K Trimmer
  8. OPTO Coupler
  9. DIN Jack
  10. Power Jack
  11. Clear Switch
  12. Pactec Case

I didn’t bother to make a PCB for this since its a one off project for a specific need I had at that time. Ill draw up a schematic and I already posted the Source and Hex files on my main site. I ended up removing the LCD routines and reused the code for the Midi Controller. That one will get a real PCB since I have plenty of uses for it.

P&T Surplus

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011


In case you looked at that P&T Surplus link and think thats all there is, well, no.

They have everything from key chains to a Jet Engine. They have a great robotic Arm Labeled “Igor”. I really want it but it must weigh about 2500 pounds. They had a nice servo motor driven XY table and even some Dragon Sculptures.

I’ve picked up circuit board cases, delrin scraps, rubber feet, suction cups, relays, magnehelics, vacuum gauges, electrical meters and all with single digit price tags.

Someone called it Canal Street from the 70’s but in Kingston NY

They were so right and I am grateful to them for turning me on to this place.

Light Dimmer Control using a Triac

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

I mentioned using the PWM output to control a LARGE load with a Triac and someone asked what other parts you need so here is the circuit needed.


I have an electrical box with 3 of these circuits inside. That way I can keep it separated from the low voltage PIC. With proper heat-sinking and part selection 1200W Halogen lights are not a problem. It is optically isolated from the PIC but remember if your using PWM you may generate a lot of noise with a long cable run to the control head.


I got a nice heat sink electrical box combo from P&T Surplus for $10. If you’re ever in Kingston NY its a must see shop. Old dead PC power supply cases also make nice enclosures and can usually be had for free from your neighborhood trash bins or techie.

Trenton Computer Festival (TCF) 2011

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

This year was a little different for TCF. The last couple of years I spoke about the EV project at school. Since that project has been mostly about getting a motor mount created  and not really computer related I decided to still speak this year but this time share the different uses for PIC micro-controllers I came up with over the last few decades….

I had so many topics I really had to cut it down to a few. I had some people really interested in using these things and I hope to hear from them. I have some videos from the actual talk and a couple of things I didn’t get to show.

I really wanted to do some Android apps but I didn’t have a chance. I did get to show 3 Iphone / Ipad apps. I have some stuff made with Titanium Developer but I was about to give up on Apple because of the store policies.

A new project idea was hatched at work last week that will make me revisit Apple again but I’m not as enthusiastic about them now that I have an Android tablet.

I think I’ll start with the one I didn’t get too. The Midi Sniffer…..

There are plenty of resources on my main site: