Week 3: What do whales drink?
I finished assembling my DIY NeoPixel Monome grid – someone else called them “neomonome”, which I like. The solution that actually worked for soldering them together was to print a task-specific jig onto which I could screw the boards before soldering short wires between the edge pads. This worked perfectly: all the boards ended up soldered exactly lined up, and the whole thing lies perfectly flat.
Using the jig meant that I had to screw and unscrew two little M2.5 screws twice for each board (once for vertical and once for horizontal). That was probably the worst part of it all. The soldering was easy, though, because I’ve done so much lately.
It looks good now it’s all put together, and it’s really solid despite being made of five pieces, thanks to eight M3 screws on each side. Some of the surfaces could have been better, if I’d realised earlier that the platform height had slipped a bit, but I’m still satisfied with it:
There are a couple of small improvements to be made, so I’ll probably end up printing a slightly tweaked case at some point.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation have produced their own microcontroller board, the Raspberry Pi Pico. That’s a confusing name, I think: it doesn’t have much in common with other “Raspberry Pi” products.
Some people seem aggrieved that it doesn’t have wifi. Others complain that it’s not as cheap as an STM32 “blue pill”. However, at only £3.60 including VAT, it’s much cheaper than a Teensy, slightly cheaper than a Pro Micro clone off eBay, and less likely to have a dodgy counterfeit chip than a blue pill. The bootloader seems brick-proof, too.
But for me the most compelling thing about the Pico that distinguishes it from the above competitors is: it has screw holes! I’ve wasted so much time designing special brackets for boards that don’t.
I put together a passive ring modulator based on a common design floating around that uses a couple of audio transformers and four diodes. Unfortunately, especially since it’s the most basic thing I’ve made recently, it doesn’t actually modulate the input. I think I went wrong somewhere with my excessively complicated two-board stripboard layout trying to squeeze it into a 4HP Eurorack space. I’m going to get hold of a piece of matrix board and try again.
I suddenly realised yesterday that I didn’t know what whales drink. Luckily, we live in a time of easy access to information. I learned that they can indeed drink seawater, but they get most of their water from their food.
The weather has been pretty good this week – not warm, but there’s been plenty of sun and not too much rain, the kind of weather that can be accommodated with a duvet-like coat and a wooly hat. I’ve been out for a long walk almost every day, and it’s been good for me.
It snowed in London on Sunday morning. Not a lot, but enough that a few people had managed to make snow homunculi before it melted.
Things I’ve enjoyed this week: The new Bicep album and the short sci-fi videos from Dust (thanks David).