Updates, updates, todo

Now that I got the last post off my chest, I will finally give some updates on what I have been doing.
I will touch on a bunch of stuff here, and give more detailed posts on some later, mostly so I can use this to assemble my thoughts. I will try and be as chronological as I can remember.
-Added a page on the controller used in the rain barrel. (CRAP!!! I just found out it is missing!!! Glitch in PPLOG.* Thank goodness for Google cache.)
-Started designing guitar effects pedals with another guy and going to start selling them. http://www.tonalinsanity.com
-Did a bunch of updates to my CNC machine. Updated LinuxCNC (formerly EMC2) and added a camera.
-Repaired an OMIS II digital comparer. Sorta cool.

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In Memory

I have been putting this off for way too long, and the longer I wait, the harder it gets.
A lot of things have happened since the last entry. At the top of the list are some family issues that I have had a hard time dealing with and just not wanted to write about, but need to, to move forward.
In September my sister passed away. Two weeks latter, my mother suddenly passed away as well.
My sister had been fighting cancer for several years and was passed the point of making another come back. While there is nothing good about any of this, we had all tried to prepared for the eventual out come.
My mother as very unexpected. She had Parkinson’s and other age related issues, but was still very active, not much could slow her down for long. She would take an occasional fall as I noted in an earlier post about my wedding, but most were relatively minor with some bad bruises. In fact just before my sisters funeral, she had taken a tumble and banged up her elbow pretty bad. Rather than waiting for someone else, she was trying to carry a play pen upstairs for us to use when we came home. She was then on blood thinners to prevent blood clots from the bruising. About a week and a half latter she got a bad nose bleed that would not stop, so she was taken to the hospital. They got it stopped and took her off the blood thinners while they kept her in the hospital for observation. All seemed fine when she suddenly passed away at night, officially from a heart attach, while still in the hospital. She had everything already planned, for when the day came, she wanted everything donated, then cremated, and simple memorial at the church, no flowers – but donations to cancer or Parkinson’s research, or the church. Apparently, they used everything they could for transplant, even skin. Of course this has to happen quickly, and with living 300 miles away I did not have a chance to see her one last time. When we went home, my other sisters were already dealing with the few necessary arrangements that were left, so I ended up throwing myself into going through decades of photos to put together something to display at the memorial service. Being the youngest of 4, there were a lot of old pictures I had never seen, that showed me my mother as young person I never knew. It was hard, but in ways it seemed like someone else, probably the only thing that kept me from going bat shit and curling up in the corner a blubbering mess. We all were a bit worried about my dad for a while, but he seems to be doing OK, in fact he and my brother-in-law have gotten much closer supporting each other.
I am so glad Mom got to know Zoe for at least a short while, and while she may not remember her Grandma, at least Zoe will have pictures with her to look back at one day and see the joy in her face.
Since then we made it though Christmas and all trying to keep moving forward. With spring coming things all start anew and since Mom loved her flowers and garden, I will be putting more effort into finishing the rain barrel system in her memory.

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Rain Barrel Controler Design

This is the (current) controller design.

It is very crude and has not been truly “engineered”, but I kept adding bits and trying values until it did what I wanted. Most of the values were chosen from what I had on hand and drove the design.
The circuit accomplishes 3 main functions.
First: Charge the battery with the solar cell.
Second: Turn on the pump at night, run to a set level of water, turn off and not run again until the next night.
Third: Use a moisture probe to prevent running if the ground is wet enough.
The solar cell is used as a light sensor as well as a power source.
Power from the solar cell is fed to a LM317 in a current source mode to supply approximately 125 mA to the 9.6V 1600mAH NiMH battery pack. This provides slightly less than a 10% charge rate based on 10 hours of full sun a day. According to most sources I found, this reasonable charge rate without over charging, since it is time limited by the amount of sun each day and not constant. R19 provides power to supply the electronics while the sun is out, and D10 when dark and running solely from battery.

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