Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Online circuit schematic design and simulation

This is pretty cool, although I haven't actually had a chance to use it since most of my circuits don't involve much signal processing and are quite simple DC circuits. However, LushProjects has this circuit simulator that is completely online and free to use (unlike SPICE). The neat thing is that you should be able to embed your own circuit onto any web page using this tool and iframe.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hard puzzle with an easy solution

I've been keeping this tab open on my browser because I wanted to work out the solution myself. I finally figured it out (2 years later). Don't give in and look at the solution without giving it a good try. Hint, you can do it without any trigonometric functions and without Pythagoras' help.

This is known as Langley's Adventitious Angles. And a good visual solution can be seen here (warning Flash required).

Monday, December 11, 2017

Boolean Arithmetic

I had to explain Boolean arithmetic the other day to non-makers. These guys didn't have any real experience with electric logic circuits, but the pictures here seemed to help.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Prusa's ColorPrint tool

When 3D printing, there's usually a jump in cost and complexity for printers that can print multiple colors. As a workaround, you can pause the printer, switch the filament to a different color, print a few layers with that different color, then pause, switch filament, then resume printing. This can be a very tricky thing to do manually, so obviously, there is a tool to do it.  Here are some prints by a buddy of mine that utilized this tool for these prints. He prints a black surface with a cutout for the image, prints a few layers of a different color (glow in the dark in this case), then resumes printing in black. He didn't have to design the model with any major modifications, just the first few layers cut out so that the glow in the dark layer can shine through.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Rolling your on VPN can have various benefits. The biggest of which is that when you're on an unsecured network (i.e. any wifi network that you don't own yourself) your traffic is encrypted back to your home and then goes out to the internet. This means that you don't have to trust that the WiFi owner (think Starbucks or McDonald's) isn't snooping on your packets. It doesn't matter if they do snoop it because you're packets are encrypted and nobody can understand it unless they are you or your RaspberryPi at home.

Before you contest, yes, I know that any form of encryption can eventually be beaten. If you're that paranoid about someone decrypting your packets (which would take years by the way) you should be off the grid.

That said, I looked into setting up a VPN option for myself and eventually found PiVPN. This little one line installer sets everything up on your RPi so that it becomes a VPN endpoint. Use it to generate a certificate which you can load on your device (I've tested on iOS and Windows 10) into the freely available OpenVPN client.

I have since found, but not installed/tried a web GUI that should let me manage PiVPN through a browser. I hope to try this eventually after I have some free time. So, probably next year!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


I wanted to figure out the best way to put WordPress on a RaspberryPi. Turns out the best way is an image called PressPi. Load this up, lock down all the security, load CertBot so it's all running over https and you're good to go.

In case you're interested, here's a good set of instructions for installing Wordpress on Ubuntu 16.04. So many instructions! You might need phpMyAdmin as well.

Monday, December 4, 2017


I recently needed to overlay a bunch of links on top of an image. This is done one of two ways, CSS being the more modern way. Essentially, you create a div with a bunch of elements inside it, which elements are all positioned absolutely.

<div style="position:relative; height:786px; width:537px; background:url(myimage.png) 0 0 no-repeat;">
     <a style="position:absolute; top:393px; left:147px; width:87px; height:69px;" title="asdf" alt="asdf" href="asdf" target="_self"></a>

Instead of mapping out all the positions manually, there's a really neat tool that will let you do it right on top of your own image and then generate both the HTML map code as well as the more simple CSS code to render it on a webpage.

Friday, December 1, 2017

W3Schools and their incredible CSS Library

Anyone who has built a website in recent history knows the importance of good CSS. I myself have been compiling a master CSS sheet that I use on most of the web development projects I'm involved with. I realized that I was trying to accomplish the same set of outcomes over and over, so a standard library of CSS styles was a natural shortcut to a good end.

I know some have been critical of and their no nonsense way of explaining web development concepts, citing technical inaccuracies and nuances. I've found that those perceived inadequacies either can't be discerned by "normal" people or don't have a discernible impact on the end product. As such, I've been a fan for a couple years now. I've built their site into my Google searches so that I know I'll end up going to the answer that I'm sure they've provided straightaway.

I've used a few of their tools from the CSS section over the last few years, particularly pleased with their tooltip implementation. That's when I discovered that the CSS sheet that they use for their own site, which has all of the CSS needed to implement all of the cool, modern utilities is free to use. They even encourage it!

There are a couple things I like about it:

  1. All their examples use this single sheet. I don't have to understand a concept, then look up a different place to find out how to use the W3.CSS framework to implement it. 
  2. It uses pure CSS. I only include one CSS reference and I'm good to go. There's no need to import a jQuery/javascript library as well to make it all work.
  3. It treats responsiveness and mobile first as the highest priorities. This is what makes simple websites look like websites developed my multi-billion dollar corporations.
  4. Templates!
I used one of the templates here. It's one page. I don't host any javascript nor CSS files. Even the icons are used from frameworks referenced and explained by W3Schools.