Monday, 29 February 2016

Monday Mystery - Guess What



Quite a surprise - only one correct identification for last week's mystery photo so congratulations and a virtual Midmarsh Gold Star for Adrian and thanks to all who had a go.

 A battery operated flickering LED candle lantern:
02      DSCN5872c

I have a feeling this weeks close view may be even more difficult but here goes.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer next Monday.
No prizes. Just for fun and maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Super Denoising Revisited (Mac OS X)

Years ago I took some 35mm colour shots of various events I visited. One I stumbled on by accident when I was visiting Boston. Among the goings on was a display of birds of prey. Quite some time later I took the original film to a shop where they digitised the photos on to a CD for me. Unfortunately the process was disappointing. The results were very grainy:


I thought I would see how well the Mac app Super Denoising could clean them up:

 Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 09.16.57

I had to use the strongest method but as far as I am concerned the result was spectacular.
Far better than I expected:


The harder the program works the more it will tend to lose some finer detail but for me it has converted an unpleasant photo to one which is worth looking at. Super Denoising can cost up to $12.99 but sometimes drops to 99c for a few days which is the price on the Mac App Store at the time of writing.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Incy Wincy Spider

Incy Wincy spider climbing up the spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain
And Incy Wincy spider climbed up the spout again

 2016-02-23-09.04.00 ZS2 PMax

 2016-02-23-11.11.55 ZS2 PMax

I doubt this little spider has been anywhere near a drain pipe as it was found indoors.
I think it is some form of Amaurobius. This one was only 10mm or so across.
These are stacked photos using Zerene Stacker on hand held shots.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

One Round Tuit Less

This must have been one of the shortest lived items on my Round Tuit pile as I managed to get the Arduino driven temperature display boxed a couple of days ago. For the rectangular hole in the plastic front I drilled small holes at the corners and used a Rotozip to cut the lines. Finally finished with a file.


Pity about the small nick in one corner. I would dearly love to have a laser engraver / cutter machine. The display matrix is behind two acetate sheets, one red, one green so only the illuminated LED dots show against a black background.:


One added extra was an LDR (light dependant resistor) which can be seen under the display. This monitors room light levels and is used to switch the LEDs to a brighter level in very bright lighting conditions. The unit is powered from a 5V wall wart. I'm very pleased with the readability of the large display from anywhere in the room.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

An Extended Visit

Recently there have been brief visits by a small flock of Long Tailed Tits but a couple of days ago a group of about five stayed in and around the garden for about three hours making occasional sorties to the bird feeders:







They were most interested in the various fat based treats so I've made sure there are plenty to choose from.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Monday Mystery - Guess What



Last week's mystery photo turned out to be more difficult than I expected. Congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to Adrian, Ragged Robin and Wilma who correctly identified the top view of a jar of instant coffee granules - my favourite Kenco Smooth.

DSCN5790    DSCN5791

This week the object is hidden behind a pattern.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.
No prizes, just for fun and maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

32x8 Temperature Display

Managed it. The 32x8 LED matrix can now display temperature to one decimal point.
Making the digits just 5 dots wide enables more to be shown on the four 8x8 LEDs:

Another project on the Round Tuit pile for boxing up.

After running the display for a while I made a small adjustment, moving the decimal point to the bottom and reducing the degree symbol a tad:


The LEDs look white on photographs but they are actually bright red.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Another Arduino Project

While I'm waiting for a couple of parts for the weather station I decided to have a play with a larger LED display. This one is made up with four units each with 8 LEDs across and 8 LEDs down so the whole matrix is 32 x 8. Total size 5 x 1.25 inches (128 x 31mm). Each LED is addressable so, with a bit of programming, it can show simple graphics, letters and numbers. My first attempt was an abject failure to show anything but the next day I found I had the two data connections reversed. Once put right it sprang into life. The shapes of letters and numbers have to be defined in the program. That took a while to investigate and remember from school days how to use arrays to store information and how to retrieve and display it. The letters came from a program on the internet but the numbers I had to design myself.

This is the display, driven by an Arduino Uno R3 and powered by a 5V battery:

So far just a test program to get everything working as I want. My aim is to add one more part to measure temperature so I end up with an electronic thermometer I can read from across the room.

As you can see, the Arduino driven turntable I made quite some while ago is still working.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Sunrise 17th February 2016

Sunrise 17th February 2016

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Home Brew Weather Station (Part 4)

The small OLED display arrived and after an hour or so getting it to work I hit another problem. The Arduino Uno didn't have enough memory space to store all the new library instructions. Fortunately I had a spare Arduino Mega which has oodles of memory space so transferred everything to that. The sketch (program for the Arduino) now consists of nearly 200 lines of instructions which compile to about 20K (20,000) bytes of code with nearly 2K of additional space needed for storing information.

This is the OLED display:


It consists of an array with 128 dots across by 64 dots down which can be made to glow like light emitting diodes. Unlike TFT screens it has no need for a back light so the background stays a deep black. Even though the display measures a fraction less than an inch it is very easy to read the lettering.

The thin wavy line seems to have been a foreign body on the display as it cleaned off this morning. My only concern is the temperature the display reaches. I picked it up after it had been on for a few hours and nearly burnt my finger. An IR thermometer showed part of the back had reached 40C. It does have a working range from -30C to +80C so maybe that is normal.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Monday Mystery - Guess What



Congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star to TexWisGirl, Wilma, Ragged Robin and Adrian for identifying last week's cloud formation. Acutally called mammatus or mammatocumulus. They can occur when the rising moisture and ice crystals in the cloud become too heavy and start to descend making large bumps below the main cloud. These can be a mile across. It is usually  associated with thunder / storm clouds.



The formation can be very short lived so I was really pleased I popped outside at just the right moment to be able to record the phenomenon.

Back to a closer view of something for this week's mystery photo.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.
No prizes, just for fun and maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Clouds + Home Brew Weather Station (Part 3)

Interesting (to me anyway) mix of clouds spotted yesterday:



Today has been grey all day. As the wind is now coming from the East it has felt bitterly cold.

The home brew weather station is still evolving. I spotted a barometric pressure sensor suitable for use with the Arduino and other similar computers. After a hassle with the Arduino IDE not liking the library for it I had to update to the latest version of the IDE (used on the computer for writing the program / instructions / sketch). So far to check the sensor works I have it sending its readings back to the computer for display. As always I found out how to program it by searching the internet. What would I do without it?

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 15.24.15

The sensor is tiny, slightly smaller than my thumb nail and a steal at £2.56 (about $3.70). Next will be to add an OLED type display to show the pressure and it will also enable me to show the humidity readings. That's the theory anyway.

There was a strange glitch with the 7 segment displays. The top one kept going blank. Still not sure why. The driver chip can send the display to sleep to save power so that may have been happening at various intervals. It shouldn't as I send a command to wake it up at the start of the program. Then it is supposed to stay awake unless told to sleep. Anyway I added a further wake up instruction every time the display is updated. It's been running on a soak test for nine hours and so far it has displayed everything properly so that will have to do for a cure.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Home Brew Weather Station (Part 2)

I had a change of mind with the display. For me not only the immediate temperature is of interest but so are the maximum and minimum temperatures.

First thought. With a bit of extra coding and rearranging the display I came up with:


Top left, immediate temperature.  Top right immediate percentage relative humidity.
Bottom left, maximum temperature, Bottom right, rainfall in mm.


Switched so the bottom left shows minimum temperature.
I put the sensor in the top of a freezer to check it showed negative temperatures OK.

Further thought. Do away with the humidity reading:


Now I have:
Top left, immediate temperature, Top right, total rainfall in mm
Bottom left, maximum temperature. Bottom right, minimum temperature.


I am quite pleased with the final layout. The whole thing draws less than 80mA.
Once cased the unit will have buttons to reset max / min temperature and rainfall. On my old home brew rain gauge I reset the count at the beginning of each month and I would probably want to reset max / min temp daily.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Home Brew Weather Station (Part 1)

I've been working on my home brew weather station based around an Arduino Uno R3. It will measure and display outside temperature in Celsius, percentage relative humidity and rainfall in millimetres.

Temperature and humidity are detected with a DHT22 module:

Rainfall will be measured with a tipping bucket:

Inside the box is the tipping bucket so designed that water entering fills the high side of the bucket. That causes the seasaw to flip emptying that side and presenting the other side to collect more water:

The number of flips is detected with a magnet and a reed switch. This bucket had failed, as they often do after a lot of use. It would appear the reed switch, which consists of two short metal bars which bend and close the contact when a magnet is close, becomes weak and the contact is not made or the contacts become corroded somehow and again stop the contact being made.

This is the original reed switch in place with a replacement next to it:

Originally the reed switch was placed so it made contact briefly as the magnet passed it but that was no use for what I wanted so I offset the new one so it closes when the bucket is in one position and opens when the seasaw tips over:

Here you can see the positions of the reed switch and the magnet when closed:

and when open:

Finally the display which uses two 8 digit 7 segment LED displays:

Top left Temperature in Celsius, top right relative percentage humidity.
Bottom row rainfall in millimetres. The programming for the rainfall got a little complicated as the rain gauge apparently makes 3 tips for each mm of rainfall but I got there in the end.

Next job is to box the workings and wire it all up.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Monday Mystery - Guess What



OK. Last week's mystery photo brought out some interesting guesses. It could well have been the top of a thermos flask but in fact Adrian hit the nail on the head ... it was a close view of a light / lamp / bulb socket. Wilma also mentioned light socket but wondered where the contacts were. I kept them out of view! It is  heatproof ceramic socket for Edison screw bulbs. Anyway they both deserve my congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star.

DSCN5794    DSCN5795

I did have another close shot for this week but changed my mind at the last minute. As I was putting my soldering iron away in the shed I noticed a cloud formation I have seen many times in other peoples' photos but have never seen myself, until today. Your task, if you wish to take it, is  to identify the name of this formation of clouds (yes I do already know the answer - I hope).

Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.
No prizes except maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

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