Electronics - A most productive day

So far electronics has been quite a frustrating "thing".

I've found a few quirks with some software that cost me hours, I've found an error in a catalogue that cost me hours, I had an intermittent fault in my motor due to me melting it as it was the first thing I soldered. That one cost me days. And a stack of me just doing thing incorrectly, and not being able to follow instructions.

The problem with these frustrations is the same problem beginners at anything have, and that the experts in that same thing don't every quite understand.

The beginner cant tell if the fault is in their knowledge, or in something external. Anyone with experience would have looked at my stereo jack, and said, "That catalogue is wrong!" I on the other hand presume it's me that's wrong (as I of course should), and struggle on trying to figure out whet I'm doing incorrectly.

The reality is most often than not it really is my fault. There have been a zillion times over the last few weeks where I left something out, or stuck it in the wrong way, and managed any number of other errors and omissions.

But today was different.

Today stuff seemed to make sense.

It could be because I spent and hour in the dentist chair breathing happy gas this morning, but I suspect that it's actually because I've been learning these last few weeks.

When people are learning how to type or tap out Morse code, their speed doesn't just gradually improve, it improves in big leaps, steps backwards, and stagnant times where nothing much happens.

Some of what's going on is called chunking by some. In the case of Morse code, the student taps out slow letters. They gradually get faster and faster, then suddenly they ratchet up a notch as they learn a word or two. You only need a few things that you can group together like the word "the" or "and" or even just "th" or "ing" and suddenly you double your speed. A while later and you chunk larger words or even phrases. The final step is when you start thinking in taps.

I find it a bit difficult to type what I'm speaking out loud, but I'm just starting to be able to do it now. In fact these last two sentences where done like that to prove to myself that I could at least do it a bit.

Eventually, if I keep blogging every day, I'll probably be able to type just by thinking it onto the page .


I think I may have just had a bit of a learning chunk with this electronics caper.

I decided to work on a new part of the feeder project. It's actually working as it is.

It's not built, but each bit works.

But if I want to change something within the software, say the number of feeds in a day or something, I have to plug it into a computer.

I'd like to make it so you don't have to do that. So you can adjust such values with a screwdriver.

A few hours ago I started to make such a thing, and with only one error that I found and solved within a few minutes, I managed to make a working version of ...

  • a button that shifts you from normal mode to adjust mode
  • a light that flashes out the number of feeds per day as you are adjusting it
  • a pot or potentiometer (volume knob or variable resistor) that adjusts that number of feeds per day
  • some code that divides the pot's min to max into 25 different values to allow you to set the number of feeds between 1 and 25
  • and pressing the button again takes you back to normal mode
Now, someone with some skills might have done this in a few minutes, but I only took 3 or 4 hours!

Actually I'm pretty pleased with myself.

120 Things in 20 years - Just a most productive day in electronics

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