September 18, 2020

Design Log: blueAcro Power Bar and Sensor Updates

Some updates for products over at - mirroed from Reef2Reef I have basic power boards already designed up, and a few sample cases in house. The form-factor is nice, though slightly tall compared to your average power strip. Probably not a major issue, as its a fair bit less wide. I’ll report back when I have some first samples assembled. The power board has a number of provisions, including protection for the relay contacts with inductive loads, without using a plain MOV or other circuit which leaks power. Read more

November 17, 2018

PurpleAir Sensor Investigation and Teardown, Pt1

With the ongoing poor air quality all over Central California due to the Camp Fire, the interest of providing fine grained and reliable air pollution measurements peaked. One of the interesting providers of data is the website The data for PurpleAir is sourced from a series of sensors sold through the website

February 20, 2018

Parts Roundup: FemtoFET

Ever felt like your board level MOSFETs were too large? Texas Instruments now has an answer! Measuring in it as small as 0.7mm x 0.6mm, these FETs are small for board, but most importantly retain a sane PCB layout: the gate is actually at one end! No more squishing a layout where the gate has to trapeze through either of the high current paths, now you can more easily use two layer boards where all of the control signals to the FET are kept on the logical end of the device and nearer the MCU or other controller. Read more

March 31, 2017

Simple CO2 Solenoid Carbon Doser Project

Controlling pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) delivery into a Calcium reactor or into a planted tank with precision can be fraught with problems. The conventional mechanism is to use a needle valve after a pressure regulator - this design is very finicky to adjust for low flow rates and has a tendency to drift over time, meaning your carefully controlled delivery is now out of whack. In addition, if you use a pH controller driving an AC solenoid valve, the valve actuation can be quite audible. Read more

May 10, 2016

Spectrometer Pt 2 - Driving

First things first, we need to figure out how to drive and read the spectrometer. There are two key diagrams to consult - the suggested application and the timing diagram. The application diagram shows several key signals, some of which the meaning isn’t clear at first. After reading through the rest of datasheet, you can generally make out the following pins: Video - the spectrometer is like a 2d camera - it is an image sensor in a line after all. Read more

May 9, 2016

Spectrometer for LED lighting analysis

Hi! You may remember me from other threads like LEDBrick DIY puck and high density stars, plus drivers (now available on and the Apogee sensor PAR interface board. Many moons (months) ago, I dropped some money into a GroupGets buy for a pair of Hamamatsu Micro-spectrometers. They can resolve light intensity between 340-780nm in up to 15nm increments. They are not cheap ($180 on groupgets, qty1), but are a lot cheaper than other commercial pre-packaged light spectrum units that employ an actual spectrometer (and not a coarse approximation using an RGB light sensor). Read more

July 13, 2015

Design Log: LEDBrick - part 2

Nearly 6 months later, and after back-burnering the project multiple times, I’ve made some significant progress on the LEDBrick aquarium light. In the space between blog posts, I’ve: Received a round of metal-core PCBs for the LEDs. Designed an 8 channel driver board based on the L3414, a different sketch from the original planning Machined a single heat sink, and did test mounting of the emitter board. Populated one emitter board. Read more

January 31, 2015

Design Log: LEDBrick Aquarium LED Lighting

This design has been on my back-burner for quite awhile, but its time to write it up and continue pressing on. I really like reef aquariums. I currently have a (modest) 90 gallon system, which has livestock dating back to when I started keeping salt-water systems in college (circa 2004). How I managed to actually afford keeping a salt-water system in college is beyond me, but things have progressed nicely. Read more

January 28, 2015

Design Log: NixieView

As part of an effort to share more designs, I’ve decided to start writing a continuing series of blog articles on my hardware design efforts. This first article covers the NixieBoost of a NixieView. Read more

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