Monday February 8, 2016

Three Heron nests

Category: Independence — Ian C. @ 5:17 pm

We’ve watched nesting Great Blue Herons since we moved to Independence (for example 2014, 2015). The one nest in 2014 became two last year and now we have three – I imagine that the new nests are previous years young, returning to where they grew up.
The original nest and last years addition are both in the tree in the center of Lake Koval behind our home:

The higher one is easy to see, while the lower is buried in other growth – but if you compare these two closer views, you’ll spot where the lower Herons are:

Close views of the two nests (happened to have both parents in each nest when I took these pictures):

The third nest is in a tree over to the left and outside the above views (it’s actually the tree that was hit by lightning last year); it’s closer to easier to get pictures; the nest is halfway down the left of the right tree:

A close view of this nest too:

I wonder how many birds there will be next year?!

Friday February 5, 2016

The GP202

Category: Uncategorized — Ian C. @ 11:25 am

A couple weeks ago I finished the initial design of our new “GP202” electronic module, an upgrade of our “GP102” which was designed almost 15 years ago as an add-on to existing scissor vehicles to provide them with European mandated platform overload safety. That design uses a microprocessor that is basically obsolete now, and limited in it’s abilities – the redesign uses a new processor which is up to 10 times faster, has 4 times the storage, 25% more connections and costs less than half the amount!
Here is the finished PCB layout; it closely matches the original GP102 design, but includes more circuits since we had the extra processor connections:

(click for bigger image)

The microprocessor is the square shape at the top middle; you can see all the 64 pin connections around it, and red (top layer) and blue (bottom layer) signals running from it to everywhere else on the PCB.

Now today I’ve received the first built module, ready for me to test; here it is with power connected and an oscilloscope probe attached at the top:

(click for bigger image)

You might notice there’s already a couple corrections to the design (for example resistors mounted up in the air, bottom right) – what you can’t see even in the bigger image is a tiny “0402” resistor soldered between two pins of the processor, to make the oscillator work – I missed that part out but luckily the 0402 part, at 1mm x 0.5mm, is small enough to sit between the two pins – and CMS that builds PCBs for us is skilled enough to fit the part.

So now I get to write software and figure if there’s any other design errors; hopefully not!

Saturday January 9, 2016

Oakland Nature Preserve

Category: Florida — Ian C. @ 5:49 pm

Margaret found us a new local place to walk this afternoon, less than half an hours drive – Oakland Nature Preserve. Lots of interesting fact cards describing plant names, and a boardwalk to Lake Apopka with information about the destruction and subsequent recovery of this lake. Here’s some pictures:

The boardwalk is necessary; it’s very wet beneath!

First view of Lake Apopka:

Don’t know if this is a woodpecker, or man!

Return the same way …