Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CHOC Spring 2012 Visit

Today R2 made his quarterly visit to Childrens Hospital Orange County.

As usual, no pictures from the room-to-room stops with the many patients he visited, but there are plenty with the staff.

The kids always amaze me with their smiles and positive attitudes, they are real troopers!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Installed Receiver Battery Eliminator

More unanticipated work on droid #1.

For quite a while I've been wanting to eliminate the separate 4.8 volt battery that powers the receiver. I've had the separate battery and on/off switch since my droid was born, and it's a bit of a hassle to have to recharge that battery separately, and always flip two power switches (one for the receiver, the other for all the remaining electronics that run on 12 volts).

This past week I went to Radio Shack and picked up some LM7805 voltage regulators, which can take up to 37 volts and step the voltage down to 5 volts. This 3-pin regulator can handle 1 amp. It's just a matter of hooking the input pin to the 12 volt power supply in my droid, hooking the middle pin to ground, and hooking the 5-volt output to the receiver.

I swung by Mike Senna's house yesterday before his Game Stop gig, as he has filter capacitors that help filter out spikes in voltage that should be soldered to the voltage regulator. Mike added these two small components to the regulator.

A little fire sets the shrink tubing in place.

Today I had time to install everything. The first step was to make sure the regulator was doing its job. 12 volts in, 5 volts (well, 4.97 volts) out.

The regulator works by turning that excess voltage into heat. Thus, I cut a small piece of aluminum bar to use as a heat sink.

I drilled a hole for mounting the regulator, and the whole assembly into the droid.

Let's see... where to put it? Here's a spot on the vertical plank where there is a little room. We'll drill a pilot hole here.

And on it goes.

So far so good, one power switch now turns the whole droid on and off, and I no longer need the receiver battery. Having said that, I'm going to continue to provide the option to use the receiver battery (and backup AA batteries), just in case I need them for some unexpected reason.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Kinect Star Wars Charity Event

Before there was the event, there was the pre-event dinner with Chris Stephens from the Portland area, who was in town with his family on Spring Break. Chris, Mike Senna, Roy Powers and I got together for a bite to eat at Downtown Disney. It's always great to meet up with R2 Builders from out of the area who are in town.

On to the event. I wasn't planning on doing this one, but at the last minute R2 signed up for the Kinect Star Wars launch event at the local Microsoft Store at South Coast Plaza, in Costa Mesa, CA. The event benefitted Make-A-Wish, with a contribution for each character going toward the charity, and an extra donation was arranged on R2's behalf.

This was the object of attention.

Given that it was a worknight/weeknight, I wasn't able to do the preferred schedule of 10:00pm-1:00am. (And I wasn't particularly desiring that shift either.) Instead, I brought R2 out from 8:00pm until about 10:30pm. R2 met the excited staff at the store, and greeted customers.

At 9:00pm, the store temporarily closed, while it was rearranged to host the launch party. R2 interacted with the folks on the outside looking in, and later interacted with them outside the store while they were waiting. (Don't ask me why kids under 10 were out so late, I don't know...)

A professional photographer and a 3-member DJ crew were also on hand. In the meantime, somewhere between 50 and 100 people lined up outside, waiting for the launch party to start. At 10:00pm, the store reopened and the crowd came in to take pictures, play the game, and buy the product.

Since it takes a while to load R2 back into the Droidmobile and get him home, I had to leave around 10:30pm, but the party was still going strong when I left. It seemed like everyone was having a good time.

The full photoset is here.