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Journal Entries for June 2014
June 30, 2014 8:14 PM

Thousands of Words' Worth

As has become the norm, these pictures are not really in any particular order and may be chronologically out of place. This is a rabbit hopping.

This spring we saw quite an influx of ladybugs. At the park near our house, you could overturn just about any rock, stick or leaf and find a clump of ladybugs. I have no idea what it means, but the kids spent an afternoon collecting them, trying to corral them onto a jacket, and lamenting the fact that every one of their captives could fly.

A full solder spool next an empty one. My company's first big project saw me go through nearly three of such spools of solder.

Mark (left) and Jeremie (right) and I (behind camera) prepare to move the Pick and Place machine we purchased. Essentially a big robot, it picks up parts from part bins or feeders and places them onto circuit boards for you. As we get into more Printed Circuit Board manufacturing, such a machine will prove invaluable.

The first test of my very first PCB design - the VDAC-16KD. In automation, power for devices is often controlled by a relay, which itself requires a signal to tell it when to operate. This board allows up to 16 relays to be connected to Venturii, the automation system I've been creating over the past 8 years or so. At this stage, all that happened was that the power light turned on, but this proved the power supply circuitry in my design worked.

Further tests proved the microprocessor and communication chips worked, but we soon found a couple of bugs. Any keen observers out there will notice that the red status LED in the first picture has now mysteriously become a yellow LED. This is not photographic trickery, but simply the result of me replacing the red LED with a yellow one. With all the output LEDs being red, I thought Status should have a different color to help it stand out.

Mark and I spent an evening scratching our heads, trying to figure out a strange bug with my little circuit board. We figured out how to make it work in the end, but still had questions unanswered from our research.

Here is my creation all lit up. I've always loved LED indicators, so naturally this board had a good number of them included in it's design.

A few weeks ago I hauled a Rusty full of electronic stuff to the Protospace garage sale — hailed the geekiest garage sale in Calgary — and this little fellow was roaming around the patrons. Someone dropped a hot dog on the ground, but never got a chance to pick it up.

This year my Father—in‐law and I built some planters for our back deck, and we have filled them with a variety of edible and edifying plants, including a few strawberry plants. We plucked the first fruit off it several weeks later, cut it into four and our four children ate from our very own micro garden.

Of course, with the planters on the deck, they would normally rely exclusively on rainfall to irrigate them, but the amount of sun we are getting these days dries them out to dust between natural rainfalls. Therefore, I have installed (or rather, expanded) my drip irrigation system to provide them with the necessary water each day.

Soil moisture levels are monitored with a Vegetronix VH400 Soil Moisture Sensor. This device provides data about the level of water in the soil, which gets logged by Venturii, my automation system, and influences the amount of water they receive each day to optimize both water use and plant growth.

The results so far have been very promising!

Rusty's muffler has all but rusted out, and while Grandpa was looking at it my Little One decided she ought to take a look at it also.

I chuckle every time I look at this picture because it says so much about being a boy. With a hose, no less, and the temptation to use that hose. One can almost see the wheels turn in his mind as he contemplates the question, how much trouble will I get in if I spray daddy right now?

(The answer, it turns out, is not very much. )

When he was first born, my son found a fascination with pots and pans very early on. On his second birthday, we got him a set of his own toy pots and pans, which quickly became his favorite thing to play with. Now, at four, he loves to help in the kitchen. Too early to predict an interest in some sort of culinary pursuit?

There was a story behind this picture of the catepillar on the leaf, though I cannot remember exactly what it was now. He affixed himself to my jacket sleeve as I walked out to my truck one morning, and - noticing him there on my way to the airport, I placed him on the seat beside me and forgot all about him until the drive home, that afternoon. Imagine my surprise when, while driving, a small tickle was felt on the back of my hand. When I looked, there the little fellow was. I placed him on the dash this time so I would not lose him again, and let him go onto this leaf once I was back at home. It then occurred to me as I watched him wiggle that he had no idea how to comprehend what had happened to him that day, travelling over 100 kilometers at a speed catepillars could not even begin to comprehend, only to end up right back where he started — almost as if he never left. It was certainly an interesting, thought provoking moment.

The last day of school is always a happy one, though calling it a graduation is a bit of a stretch. Not wanting to delve into a rant on the topic, I'll suffice it to say that her school put on a great end of the year programme, and we were very proud of our middle child having completed the fourth grade.

I've been playing with some landscape lighting, to enhance both the curb appeal of our house and the security.

My cousin Rebecca got married, another happy occasion, and has since moved to Ontario to start the next chapter in her life. Of course, it is sad in that we will see her much less, but her husband is a worthy man and we welcome him into our family wholeheartedly.

Siezing the opportunity to get a picture of our family all dressed up at the wedding, we snapped this picture in a hurry. What you can't see is that moments later, it snowed. Still, it is more or less what we all look like now...

Many years ago I used to run a part time BBS, or Bulletin Board System. Similar in many ways to this web site I now host, albeit on much more primative technology. You can see my Commodore 128 (running in Commodore 64 mode), a couple of 1541 floppy disk drives, my MSD disk drive, an 8250 and 4040 dual floppy disk drives and several SFD-1001's. Most of this stuff I sold off on eBay a few years ago (for over $800, mind you...) but I found this picture at my parents' place a few weeks ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The twins had their first sleepover at their cousins' house, seen here toting their overnight luggage. They grow up so fast...

The twins celebrated their fourth birthday, though by hosting separate parties on different days for cousins and for immediate family, they started to think every day was their birthday. That took a little bit of clarification.

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