Category: Uncategorized

WIP – ‘One Button’ Data Collection Device

So I had an idea to put together a dead simple data collection tool. Long story short, we recently had our first baby, and well the early days of having our beautiful daughter at home required a significant amount of data collection. Namely, the early on she was a sleepy lil’ goon. It was tough to get her awake enough to eat enough. So we had to monitor exactly how much she was eating in order to make sure she was hitting the benchmarks set by our midwife. We found an app and it works great, but frankly at 3am, opening the app and logging another feed was a pain…maybe I’m just lazy, but I forgot to log plenty of times and my partner and I were tasked with filling in gaps in the morning. What I really wanted was a dead simple way to record the number of ounces, and so this idea was born. 

The project is simple. A single 7 segment LED, a potentiometer to dial in the number, and a button to log it. Simply dial your number of ounces fed, hit the button. The data will be collected by an ESP8266 device (D1 Mini), and sent out to a database. A simple web page will collect the numbers, combine them, report out the daily total, frequency of collections. It’ll ensure we are feeding enough each day, and monitor how spread out the feeds are…and I’ll never have to fumble around with my phone at 3AM.

So here is the work in progress: We’ve got the code up and running to dial in and display a number. Next up, we’ll work on the database backend and frontend page to display the data…but that baby is screaming so that work will wait til tomorrow, or next weekend, whenever I can squeeze in a few hours.

Silly Video Here

X-Mas PCB Design

Its been a long time since I’ve laid out a PCB. Back in the day, I was an Eagle wizard, and loved the process of laying out PCBs and generally designing electronics…then things changed and I sort of stopped, finding more satisfaction in woodworking and home projects as of late. And than I re-discovered my Teenage Engineering PO-33. This is a single PCB sampler and sequencer that is simply put, a work of art. I was drawn into how clean and compelling the PCB design was. So I started revisiting PCB design. Things have changed since I last made a PCB. Eagle was acquired by Autodesk, and more importantly KiCAD came into the scene. So I dove in head first to design a simple holiday ornament.

The circuit is dead simple, nothing smart, just a battery and some LEDs. I put work into making it pretty. I used Inkscape and Svg2Shenzhen to lay out a novel edge cut shape, and silk screen, and sent it out to PCBWay for fabrication. 10 days later I had the PCBs in my hands.

A quick solder job, and I had light.

Certainly my interest in PCB design and electronics in general is completely rekindled. I’m excited to make some more designs, and keep making goofy but beautfiul circuits. I’ve got plans for sillly IoT devices for quickly recording data, goofy noise makers, and maybe even something reasonably useful one day.

See links below for design files.



Clear Workspace, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.


It might not look it, but this is wildly more organized than it once was.

This past week has filled me with energy and excitement. Not because of some awesome project being completed, or students being wildly engaged in our projects, or the prospect of two weeks off just a few short weeks away, but because my space is starting to feel organized.

I adopted a shop classroom that was built in the 60’s just last year. It is massive, well outfitted and perfectly functional. Its greatest fault however is that it is filled with junk. After nearly 60 years, junk accumulates…lots of junk. And the previous 2 teachers have made a dent in even more junk according to my colleagues. But it is still far too much junk.

On Wednesday I went out shopping while students were busy testing. I went to the big box store and picked up new shop vac filters, new big shop brooms, a giant bottle of concentrated all purpose cleaner, along with some replacement drill bits and other sundries. And then I started cleaning, and cleaning and cleaning. I got obsessed, and it was wonderful. Now, the shop is nearly usable.

Most excitingly, I have a crew of students who have signed up to help me with redesigning and re-configuring the woodshop for student use, and this little cleaning session has jump started that project so the students can focus on how they want the shop laid out. I want them to steer the ship on how to practically lay out the space and the tools so that it works for them and the work they want to do. I want to make sure ytools are usable by mt 3’11” 6th graders, and my 7’2″ 8th graders. I want everything in the shop to be visible and accessible. I want clean and organized lumber storage. I want a safe, and inspiring woodshop to encourage students to jump in and make something. But, at the end of the day, what the final product that meets those objectives is firmly in the hands of the students who will use it.


Outside of the classroom, the long neglected woodshop at the neighborhood makerspace, Splatspace got the same makeover treatment. With power in numbers, in a single day, the space went from absolute unusable disaster zone to a space that people are now excited to get into and use. Over the next few weeks and months, I’m going to be looking to improve this space for use by adults and creatives…including the possibility of a Maslow CNC.

At the end of the day, I think the mess and the clutter had been keeping my brain a bit messy and cluttered. Now, with two clean and ready to run workspaces, my head feels cleared up and excited, and more importantly inspired.

Cue the goofy wood turning projects, and silly gift projects for the lovely month of December.



The flury of a new school year.

Sometimes it seems like these days go by way to quickly. Seems like yesterday that another school year has started, and I haven’t written here in nearly a year. I think I’ve got to slow down sometimes, so that is what we’ll do today.

The School Year

This school year is cruising. The classroom is organized, the projects are working, and here in year two in the new school, I’m starting to get my footing. I’m looking forward to taking on bigger challenges now that I’m comfy and cozy in the space. I want to completely rehab our sad old woodshop, and I’ve already got a student team in place to take on that challenge.

I want to take on more real-world problems for our students to solve, and fixing issues like our decaying ‘outdoor classroom’, or continuing to rehab and modernize our old shop class into a modern fabrication lab are the tasks that keep me happy.



I’ve been spending a good amount of time in various woodshops these days. I took a woodturning course, and now a furniture woodworking course at a local community college. Now the challenge is getting a shop put together that I can use. Between the neighborhood makerspace, my garage and my classroom, I’ve got the tools for a great shop, but none of them are organized and ready to use. I’ve got to make the time and make it happen to have a shop that I would be proud to work in…or maybe end up with two shops I would be proud to work in.



Javascript & Django & Etc.

I’ve been working on building up a better skill set in full stack development so that I can prototype simple data collection tools for the classroom. I’ve got a bunch of Udemy classes to mill through, and no time to get through them.


Probably my biggest time sink is the new found homeowner lifestyle. Between replacing light fixtures, managing plumbing issues, raking leaves and tending to the yard, there is never a dull moment at home. But obviously I love it dearly. With plans for put together a new kitchen island, and possible add a second bathroom in the very near future.


After successfully brewing 3 batches for a friends wedding, I’ve put the homebrewing on pause so I can get the kind of distance from the hobby that will make me want to return to it again. I’ve made some modifications to my system in the mean time, aiming to start putting together 2.5gallon recipes to brew in doors as the winter begins to rear its nasty head.

In Conclusion

I don’t stop to recognize the amount of balls I have in the air very often. I’ve always known I’m the kind of person to absorb to many hobbies and too many things, and I’ll often find time to reset, pull those hobbies back and focus on what I really love. And I’ve really got to use this blog as an outlet to reflect and share.