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Friday, August 27, 2010

Let's Get Started, Shall We?

A few years ago, I realized that there were many things I've always wanted to do and learn, but never took the time.  Some of these things come from as far back as when I was a kid, but I never had the time or the opportunity to pursue them.

So...I took up Snowboarding.  Now, a 38 year old on a snowboard for the first time is a comical thing to see.  After a few years and a couple mishaps where I smashed my knee real good and almost knocked myself out even though I was wearing a helmet (thankfully), I decided that I scratched that itch enough and should move on.

So...I decided to build a robot.  Oh yeah, it was going to do everything and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I realized that I knew bupkis about anything to do with electronics and mechanical engineering.  I did know that I have some significant skills as a programmer, so I hoped that would help compensate for my other deficiencies.

In programming, things are on and off, true or false; values are known and don't deviate.  I came to find out that it is not the same in the real world of electronics and mechanics.  No amount of programming prowess was going to compensate for my electronics and mechanical newb-ness.  I was going to have to learn how to reign in an analog world into a digital format that I can work with.

So...I decided to learn electronics.  Digital electronics, at first, because it fits best into my digital view of the world.  I went through the whole breadboard , then toner transfer, etching, and building my own circuits.  I've learned a lot in this journey.

So...I decided to scrap the robot project.  Why?  Well, to be blunt, most robots I saw during my journey in electronics fell short of the expectations I would have for myself.  Some stood out, but it was clear that there was a significant amount of electronics, mechanics, and programming skill behind them that I felt I simply didn't have at this point.  What to do then?

Well, I figured I should hone my electronics skills by building a project of significant complexity in electronics.  Next I should hone my mechanics skills by building a project of significant complexity in mechanics.  For my first project, I decided that I should build an electronic scoreboard for my daughter's softball team.  The beauty of this project is that it involves almost no mechanics whatsoever.  That way my lack of experience with mechanics won't stall the project.

This is where I am today.  Building the scoreboard.  And this blog is my attempt at documenting my successes and my failures.  Along the way, I expect to be able to post valuable information for others to use, and hopefully I can also see some feedback from the community for improvements to my project.

I have many other interests and projects going on, so you may see much more than just the scoreboard on here.  Feel free to enjoy my other ramblings as well.

Thanks for reading!


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