You read that right, it is a servant of a frickin’ DEMON! What you see pictured above is an Arduino board with a wifi “shield.” What that means is this: An Arduino board is a hobbyist micro computer controller board that enables you to do all kinds of cool things, like make a wireless high voltage controller. Which is what I’m trying to do..
Ok, let’s step back a minute… A few months back I found a 60,000 volt boat-anchor-of-a-power-supply on eBay. Unfortunately, it did not come with a controller. I can’t adjust or monitor the voltage without a controller. The power supply, which is the size of a microwave oven but much heavier, has a connector in the back with a bunch of pins that are used for signals to control the voltage. Well, an Arduino can easily be modified to apply the proper signals to these pins. But I also want a bit of safety, I don’t want any physical contact between an adjusting knob and the power supply, just in case there is a problem… Like LIGHTNING arcing across the room!
So it turns out you can buy a wireless board, called a “shield” in the Arduino hobbyiest nomenclature, that allows the Arduino to receive and send data over a wifi network. Perfect! In theory. But NOT so much in practice…
It works, I’ll give a lot of credit for that. The problem is that the Arduino hardware and software are open source. This means someone makes something, a board design and software, and then throws it out to the public, open to modification. In theory someone picks it up from there and improves things incrementally until you have a great working product in the end. The BIG, BIG problem with this is that it relies on many people for input and there is no quality control. This technique works for popular projects like wikipedia, but is severely lacking for others. In this case, the most basic things, like readable documentation that could easily have been written by the original designers, is lacking. Big frustration, it took me probably 10 hours to get the thing to work as advertised…
Hey, I’m an Electrical Engineer/Computer Scientist and have done this stuff for decades. I imagine it’s quite a challenge for those who are new to it, but of course that challenge can be part of the fun!
Posted in Nuclear Fusion Reactor by Mark with 2 comments.