Thursday, February 09, 2012

gadgetry–any ideas?

Yes I’m still here.  No posts lately because I’m up to “other” stuff, amongst which I am attempting to fill in a gap in my knowledge.  (That reminds me of a Batman episode when Robin says “Gee Batman you must know everything” and Batman , with great gravitas, replies, “On the contrary Robin, there are several things I do not know”.)

Anyway, I decided that in the 21st century a chap ought to have a passing knowledge of electronics.  And I didn’t.  So I got some books and some bits and started reading and playing.  So far, my piece de resistance is this little ipod amplifier /speaker, built inside a cardboard tube from a bottle of single malt.  To my surprise is actually works.


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I could let you have one of these for free.  All you have to do is send me the cardboard tube with the bottle of single malt inside it Smile

My researches have led me to discover that building little devices that might be useful on a narrowboat might be fun and not be too hard and would also be very cheap.  Examples might be a water tank gauge, an intercom between the deck and inside the cabin for ordering more tea, security alarms etc.  Why don’t I leap into production mode then?  Well mainly because of the wiring problems.  Most gadgets would take a couple of hours to make and most of a day to install! Herbie has nice trunking for wires but dismantling it is a pain, especially if you don’t have a helper as the trunking is overhead and the sections are long and heavy.  Also, most of these gadgets run on very low voltage and low voltage doesn’t like long runs of thin wire.  You end up having to buy long lengths of expensive fat copper cable which in many cases would cost more than the gadget.

The water gauge tempts me, although I would have to drill holes in the well deck floor to get the wires into the tank.  I could install a little box inside the cratch which had a few LEDs which would light up in order according to the water level.  This could be powered by a some AA batteries and switched on and off when I wanted a reading, so no long wires or power lines.

Making circuits that respond to light or dark or temperature change or touch, or damp seems to be fairly do-able.  I just need a bit of inspiration.  Could you think up something that might be handy on a boat?  I might even try to make it.


ELFI said...

en passant ..votre blog est vie sur votre bateau et le reste..dommage que mon anglais laisse à désirer.. un petit salut de suisse..

Halfie said...

Neil, this is exactly what I am looking forward to doing. Here's one I did a while ago:

It's an LED dimmer - there's a link to the circuit diagram there - I did it just for fun, but with the thought that it could be applied to LED boat lighting ...

Halfie said...

Not really electronics, but have you connected up old computer fans to provide forced ventilation for the fridge's radiator?

Roger Smith said...

I would have offered a cardboard tube of sherry but unfortunately it went soggy and leaked away.

You could use a light sensor to switch on your tunnel light, and damp sensors could be handy warning devices for wardrobes.

Neil Corbett said...

Thanks John (Halfie) for the link. Some interesting ideas there. BTW I like your heat sink -simple but no doubt effective. I still cant figure out what all those IC chips are doing on your breadboard.

Neil Corbett said...

Merci beaucoups ELFI. Je regrette que mon Francais n'est pas guere meilleur que votre Anglais. Vous pouvez toujours profiter des photos!

Halfie said...

Neil, there was more than one crcuit on the breadboard - I think one was to regulate the power supply.