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Pipboy 3000


My daughter wanted to cosplay as a character from Fallout 3 for Awesomecon 2018 in Washington D.C. We found Noe and Pedro Ruiz’s design on 1 and decided to build it. She decided do this cosplay a few days before the event so it was going to be a challenge to complete it in time but we did it.

I thought getting the electronics in time was going to be the biggest challenge but the biggest challenge was reducing the time for the 3D prints. We started on Sunday and did not finish until Wednesday afternoon. (We did not print continuously so the overall print time was less but not by much.) Noe and Pedro have some tips on reducing print time and they worked in combination with tweaking the infill and layer height.


My 3D printer is the XYZprinting daVinci 1.0. The printer is a few years old now and is not the best 3D printer by far but it does a fair job. The printer only supports ABS fulfillment and XYZprinting filament cartridges. I have yet to take time to change the head to support PLA or hack the firmware so I can use other filaments. This limits me to the colors of filament that I may use in the printer. We looked for a brown or green filament to use for the Pipboy but did not find any to my daughter’s liking. We decided to print it in white and spray paint it. We found some metallic paint which seemed to work well. Additionally, we printed the screen visor in black and the LED diffuser in natural.

As a side note, I started using Simplify3D Slicing Software with the printer and it has made a world of difference with the print quality and control of the printer. The prints come out much closer to the designed measurements than the XYZprinting software could accomplish. The software gives more options than the XYZprinting software which really came in handy for this project. Noe and Pedro recommend removing some of the supports for the armband and base-main pieces. The XYZprinting software is all or nothing regarding supports but the Simplify3D software allowed me to remove some supports while leaving others in place.


Noe and Pedro do a good job in the write-up but as with most build instructions, a few things are left out or are not clear. Here are a few notes that I made along the way but it is not a complete list as we were under a very restrict time constraint to get this project done. Unfortunately that means take notes and documenting issues was not a priority.

Additional Materials needed but not listed in the materials list in the overview.

  • Electronic Parts & Components
  • Tools & Supplies
    • (Optional) Hot Glue and Hot Glue Gun
    • Adhesive foam such as weatherstripping for doors and windows

Below are the connections to the 3.5″ LCD Shield that were used in our build.

PypBoy Function Pin Pin Function PypBoy
LED + 3V3 1 2 5V  
ENC A GPIO2 3 4 5V PB 1000C +
ENC B GPIO3 5 6 GND PB 1000C –
LED – GND 9 10 GPIO15  
ROT 2 GPIO17 11 12 GPIO18  
ROT 3 GPIO27 13 14 GND ROT –
ROT 4 GPIO22 15 16 GPIO23 ROT 5
  3V3 17 18 GPIO24  
  GPIO10 19 20 GND  
  GPIO9 21 22 GPIO25  
  GPIO11 23 24 GPIO8  
ENC – GND 25 26 GPIO7  


We made a few tweaks to the software but they were to change the map and display some different text on some screens and adding some missing code to change other displayed text. I plan to post those minor changes in a future post. The more major changes implemented were to get the pypboy program to launch on start and wire up the rotary encoder so we can safely shutdown the Raspberry Pi.

The shutdown code was modified from Inderpreet Singh’s code on Element14’s website2.


  1. Noe and Pedro’s writeup on
  2. Inderpreet Singh’s Shutdown Code on Element14’s site:


My Glowforge finally arrived this week. I pre-ordered it in October 2015 so it took a little over two years of waiting to finally get it.

I designed and printed the obligatory escutcheon for the print button. I chose to name my Glowforge Scotty in honor of James Doohan. His character was my inspiration for becoming an engineer in the first place so I felt it was fitting.

The escutcheon after being printed.

The escutcheon after removing the tape covering.

A few thoughts on the Glowforge interface.
The interface and workflow will take a bit of getting use to but I think it will be fine once I’m more familiar with it. At first I was getting frustrated as I created a PNG image to scale. When I imported it, I thought it was too small until I realized the scale is in inches not mm. Once I realized my error, I looked for an option to change it but could not find one. I attempted to find a way to scale it to the correct size but there is no option to type in the size or view the exact measurement. It is necessary to guess what size it is by looking at the ruler on the screen which is not very accurate. What I ended up doing was using the 1:1 scale printout and placing it in the Glowforge so I could attempt to scale it correctly. Once I did that, I could not figure out how to do cuts where I wanted them. I did some reading and found that an SVG is needed for cuts. I then used Inkscape to create an SVG from a modified image with only the cuts. This worked and I was able to scale it exactly. I then created another PNG file with just the engraving and uploaded both files. I still needed to scale the engraving but that was easy and not critical. Once everything looked good, I pressed the print button. The Glowforge performed the cuts but not the engraving. I then removed the cut image and clicked print again. This time the engraving was done. On my next print, I will need to see what I did wrong here so I do not make that mistake again.

Overall it was easy to use the Glowforge but I do have a few concerns. Firstly, a desktop application to prepare the print would afford a better setup experience. Secondly, it is not possible to print if your network connection is down for any reason or if Glowforge goes out of business. While it is nice to use a device this way, it does leave users vulnerable to the existence of the company and the health of the web servers.

The original PNG file I created.

A modified PNG for the cuts. This file could not be used for the cuts as PNG files may only be used for engraving. I needed to convert this file to SVG using Inkscape.

The modified PNG for the engraving.

Overall, I’m pleased with the Glowforge. I just hope that the company and the web-service run well for many years to come so I may continue to use the Glowforge.

BTW: The size of the escutcheon is 119.903 x 119.903 mm. I was not able to upload the SVG for the cuts so if you decide to use the PNG, you will need to convert it to SVG and resize it.

All Electronics LCD-101 (256×128 LCD) with Arduino

All Electronics has a rather large LCD display which will work great in a Jeopardy! like game that I am building. The display should be rather easy to use with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi but searching for Arduino or Raspberry Pi projects using the display turns up very few details. Fortunately the SED1330F datasheet is fairly well written. With some experimentation, it is possible to figure out how to get it to work. Especially helpful is table 32 in section 9.1.2. Some of the parameters need to be changed but it is a great example of how to get the display to work.

Here is a very short video of the LCD running from an Arduino UNO. The video starts with the display showing the result from the test2 function from the sample code below. I then upload the code again with the test2 function call commented out and the testDataSheetSection9 function call uncommented.



I plan to post more information as the project progresses. I do want to mention a few things that I found out in regards to the display.

  • You may wonder if the HG25504 is single or dual-panel display. It is a one panel display. This becomes obvious when you look at the ICs on the back of the display. The columns are driven by four HD66204FC Dot Matrix LCD column driver with 80-channels. If each column was used on these chips, they could drive 320 columns. This is 64 more columns than the display has but no where near 512 columns which would be required for a dual-panel configuration.
  • Included ICs and function
    • HD66204FC (Qty 4) Dot Matrix LCD column driver with 80-channels
    • HD66205FC (Qty 2) Dot Matrix LCD common driver with 80-channels
    • SED1330F (Qty 1) LCD Controller
    • HY6264A (Qty 1) Static RAM (8K bytes)
    • KA324D (Qty 1) Quad Operational Amplifier
  • Vo (LCD Contrast Voltage) – You really do need to apply at least -10V to Vo in respect to ground. There are some posts regarding this display stating that tying it to ground is enough but it is not. I had applied a negative voltage but was only seeing something when Vo was near ground potential. I was able to initialize the LCD but could not see anything displayed. I knew the screen was initialized because with Vo being close to ground potential, I saw one or more lines on the LCD when it was initially powered up. When I initialized the LCD, the line(s) were gone. I was getting frustrated as I could not display anything on the screen after initializing it. When I finally used a different power supply, I could see that I had been doing things right.
  • Power Requirements (You may have different results)
    • LCD Contrast (-10.5VDC @ 3.5mA)
    • LCD Logic (5VDC @ 10mA)
    • Arduino Uno (5VDC @ 10mA
  • The SED1330F supports 8080 and 6800 family processors. This matters as the LCD is wired for one or the other and the control lines change function based on the wiring of the LCD. Section 2.4.3 of the datasheet specifies that SEL1 and SEL2 determine the operation. Both SEL1 and SEL2 are connected to ground on the LCD therefore it is operating in 8080 mode.

Today’s Tricorder Project Update


Progress has been slow on revision 2 of the TOS Tricorder. I have been working on the software, particularly the plugins for the sensors. I am currently working on the I2C sensors. I have 2 of the 8 sensors coded but found an issue with detecting the I2C devices in the init method without getting the I2C bus into a stuck state. I finally figured out this issue this morning and updated the Raspberry Pi forum post were I found the original code that I used. If you are interested, you may check out the post at

Another quick note, I found the lambda function in Python. I may put this to some good use. I had to do something similar but found a way around it as I never stumbled on this gem. In many ways, I wish I stuck to C++ for this project but it is good to get to know yet another language.

GitLab Source:

CNC Machine

I have had a MyDIYCNC Machine sitting around for a few years now. I was having some problems with the controller boards so I set it aside and am just getting back to take another look at it. I found that one of the boards that was sent to me was indeed bad but MyDIYCNC no longer sells machines or parts. I then decided to go to Amazon and pick out a controller board to try. I picked the SainSmart CNC TB6560 3 Axis Stepper Motor Driver Controller Board & Cable. This board seems to work quite well. I have been having a bit of a time getting it to work properly in LinuxCNC but I have got it to home and move but it seems to be at 1/2 scale. I am still tweaking with the settings to see if I can get it to work 100%.

A few notes about wiring and hardware. The MyDIYCNC instructions refer to the motor which moves the Z axis carrier as the Y axis. It appears that it should really be the X axis and the table should be the Y axis. If it were the Y axis, the home position would be in the wrong corner of the machine. I played with the configuration a bit to see if I could get it to work as expected but I had no luck. Finally when I decided to try to swap the X and Y axes did home line up in the correct corner. I could have swapped A & B around on the Y motor and that may have reversed the direction of the motor but I did not want to go there. Swapping the axes made the most sense.

Here is a short video of a test of the CNC. The spindle has a ink cartage in it and is simply running the default LinuxCNC project. The drawing should be 5.3 inches wide but is only half that size.

Here are the settings for LinuxCNC.

Base Information

  • Machine Name: MyDIYCNC_inches
  • Axis configuration: XYZ
  • Reset Default machine units: Inch
  • Driver type: Other
  • Driver Timing Settings (The Stepper Drive Timing page on states that 150,000 ns should be used for all values however the current version of LinuxCNC has a max value of 100,000.)
    • Step Time: 100000
    • Step Space: 100000
    • Direction Hold: 100000
    • Direction Setup: 100000
  • Base Period Maximum Jitter: 9000

Parallel Port 1

  • Outputs (PC to Mill):
    • Pin 1: Amplifier Enable (Invert)
    • Pin 2: X Step
    • Pin 3: X Direction
    • Pin 4: Y Step
    • Pin 5: Y Direction
    • Pin 6: Z Step
    • Pin 7: Z Direction
    • Pin 8: Unused
    • Pin 9: Unused
    • Pin 14: Spindle ON (Invert)
    • Pin 16: Unused
    • Pin 17: Unused
  • Inputs (Mill to PC):
    • Pin 10: Both Limit + Home X (Invert)
    • Pin 11: Both Limit + Home Y (Invert)
    • Pin 12: Both Limit + Home Z (Invert)
    • Pin 13: ESTOP In
    • Pin 15: Unused
  • Parport Base Address: 0
  • Output pinout presets: Sherline (The value here is not important. It is actually used with the “Preset” button to load values.)


Selections here really do not matter. I have not figured out how to use these yet. I may look into it more in the future.

Axis X

  • Motor steps per revolution: 800 (Steppers included with MyDIYCNC are 50 steps per revolution. The TB6560 board has the switches set for 1/16 microstepping. 50 x 16 = 800)
  • Driver Microstepping: 2.0 (Someone posted that 2 meant that microsteping was being used. I had this set to 32 earlier.)
  • Pulley teeth (Motor:Leadscrew): 1.0:1.0 (All axes are direct drive so they are all 1:1.)
  • Leadscrew Pitch: 20.0
  • Maximum Velocity: 0.4
  • Maximum Acceleration: 30.0
  • Home location: 0.125 This took awhile to get. If using the limit switches as home switches as well, we need to back the machine off so that the limit switches are not active when at home position. I choose to back them off 1/8 inch on all axes.)
  • Table travel: 0.0 to 5.5
  • Home Switch Location: 0.0
  • Home Search velocity: -0.05
  • Home Latch direction: Same

Axis Y

  • Motor steps per revolution: 800
  • Driver Microstepping: 2.0
  • Pulley teeth (Motor:Leadscrew): 1.0:1.0
  • Leadscrew Pitch: 20.0
  • Maximum Velocity: 0.4
  • Maximum Acceleration: 30.0
  • Home location: 0.125
  • Table travel: 0.0 to 8.0
  • Home Switch Location: 0.0
  • Home Search velocity: -0.05
  • Home Latch direction: Same

Axis Z

  • Motor steps per revolution: 800
  • Driver Microstepping: 2.0
  • Pulley teeth (Motor:Leadscrew): 1.0:1.0
  • Leadscrew Pitch: 20.0
  • Maximum Velocity: 0.4
  • Maximum Acceleration: 30.0
  • Home location: -0.125
  • Table travel: -4.0 to 0.0
  • Home Switch Location: 0.0
  • Home Search velocity: 0.05
  • Home Latch direction: Same

Almost Done

Do you want to quit?

Screenshot added for completeness

I plan to continue to look into what is going on with the scaling and settle on the correct settings or at least settings which will work.

Test Video

I would like to add more videos to the blog. One of the problems that I have had is the time it takes to perform post processing on videos to add different sources and information. I found the Open Broadcaster Software application and started messing around with it and found that it is quite good, once you get use to how it works. Here is my first attempt at creating a video with the software.

BTW: Yes, I totally ripped off some ideas from Adafruit. I’m not too creative so I copied what I like. I will attempt to change it but it is tough as Limor and Phil have created a very nice format for the shows that Adafruit produces. I also like Ben Heck and Dave Jones (EEVBlog) videos as well but I seem to watch more of the videos Adafruit puts out.

Here is my first recording.

Portable PI – Power Supply and Power Switch

Finally nearing the end of completing the power supply and soft latching power switch. The components have changed slightly but the principle design is the same. The components include two li-ion batteries connected in parallel with protection circuit, soft latching switch, Adafruit Powerboost 1000 with charging circuit (Product #2465) , and a Teensy 3.1. Along with the hardware components, there are two software pieces with one residing on the Teensy and the other running in the background of the Raspberry Pi.

The design utilizes a soft latching power switch has three functions. It powers the device on from an off state, signals the Teensy that the user has pressed the power button to request a shutdown, and power off. One of the main requirements besides those mentioned above is that the soft latching power switch must not draw current or very little current when in the off state. This is necessary as we do not want the batteries to be drained when the device is in the off state.

These requirements were met with a modified version of the soft latching power circuit described in my earlier post. The circuit was modified for a couple of reasons. First of all, the circuit needed to be able to operate from 3 to 4.5 VDC rather than at 5 VDC. Another reason the circuit needed to be modified is that the output was floating when off so the enable signal to the powerboost circuit would cause the power to cycle back on after a few seconds.

There are two pieces of software working together which allows the Raspberry Pi to safely shutdown when the user presses the power button. The Teensy has software which monitors the power button to see if it is pressed and monitors the USB power from the Raspberry Pi. If the user presses the power button, the Teensy changes the state of a pin on the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi has a program running in the background which checks if the logic level on the pin has changed. If the logic level changes, the script will issue a shutdown command.

The next thing was to determine the best way to know when the shutdown was complete.

Soft Latching Power Switch

The Raspberry Pi ON/OFF Power Controller that I looked at from Mosaic Industries, Inc. does a good job at 5 VDC but I need the circuit to be able to switch LiPo batteries which have a voltage range of between 2.7 and 4.35 VDC between discharged and fully charged. I looked for dual MOSFET devices which could operate in this range and found the following.

Both of these devices function at these lower voltages however I have been having some oscillation issues with these. When the button is held down to turn off the load, which is a LED, the output is switched off but it turns back on after a few seconds. I have not been able to investigate why this is happening. I suspect that I miswired something but I need to take some time to check.

The International Rectifier device seems to behave a bit better so it may be the one I use but I will need to investigate what the issue is and resolve that before I can move on. I can’t wait to wrap this project up.

If you have an idea as to what my problem may be, please leave a comment to let me know.

UPDATE – 16 May 2015

I determined the reason for the odd behavior was that the N-Channel MOSFET’s gate was floating. I was able to fix this by using a pull-down resistor of 100KΩ. Looking at the schematic, I connected the resistor between Pin 7 and ground. This pulls the gate to ground through the 330KΩ and 1KΩ resistors.

Weekly update

Dealing with PC issues at the moment so this week has been a bit rough.

My inspiration for the Portable Raspberry Pi came from the Ben Heck Show on Ben’s creation of a Portable Pi. (Part 1 & Part 2) I liked Ben’s design but there were a few things that I wanted to change.

  1. I did not want to deal with having a batteries in series and not be able to easily charge them in the case without disconnecting them from the device. This requirement was due to Ben’s choice of LCD monitor so I am changing the LCD to an Adafruit PiTFT screen which uses SPI. This will be a bit trickier to use but should not be a problem.
  2. I wanted to use the powerful Teensy for more than just the gamepad so I modified the Teensy code to provide a custom gamepad which has only the buttons that I will have plus provides keyboard and raw HID devices. The reason for these additional devices are for power management and control.
  3. Power – I wanted to be able to charge the battery in the device and still be able to use the device while it was charging. To implement this requirement, I turned to Adafruit’s USB LiIon/LiPoly charger.
  4. Power On/Off – The Portable Pi will be used by my children so I wanted to have an easy way for them to shut it down as well as to automatically shut it down when the batteries are low. This is where the additional Keyboard and Raw HID device come in on the Teensy. The plan is to implement a soft latching power switch circuit which can turn on the power to the device when pressed from an off state. When it is on, the Teensy will be able to detect when it is pressed and start an orderly shutdown of the Raspberry Pi. If the button is held down longer, about 3 seconds, then the power will be switched off. This will allow it to function much like the power switch on a PC or laptop.
  5. Power monitoring – I would also like to be able to monitor the battery level and perform an automatic shutdown of the Raspberry Pi if the voltage is too low. This is where the Raw HID device comes in. I plan to use the Teensy to monitor the battery voltage and send periodic updates to the Pi to let it know the level. If the level reaches a min threshold then it will send keypresses through the keyboard device to tell the Pi to shutdown.

These are just a few of the high level requirements I have for the Portable Pi. So far, I have the Gamepad code completed and the hardware on a breadboard. I am currently working on the soft latching power switch. I have built a few circuits which work but only at 5 VDC. I need it to work at 3 VDC and higher so I need to order some parts as I do not have MOSFETs which will switch full on at that low of a voltage. I plan to implement a design found on Mosaic Documentation Web. I have built a similar circuit and found it to work well and meet the requirements that I have. I also looked at David Jones’s design on his EEVBlog but it did not meet all of the requirements that I have. It is a nice simple design so I am certain I will use it in the future on another project.

Updates and Future Plans for this Blog

Well, I have done a terrible job keeping this blog up to date so I will try once again to do a better job. I plan to update this blog at least once a week by adding an update even if I feel there is not much to report. The plan is to do a blog entry each Monday by 10 PM EST.

Some updates since my last blog post.

I have managed to be on Adafruit’s Show and Tell a few times. Adafruit’s Show and Tell is hosted by Google Plus Hangouts.

  • 18 Jan 2014: Pinewood Derby Car
  • 26 Nov 2014: Guggenhat with mods
  • 31 Dec 2014: LED Matrix Clock and Eiffel Tower Alarm Clock
  • 11 March 2015: Power Supply

I am currently working on a Portable Pi. It is a slightly different design than any of the others I have seen posted online. Most likely the next few posts will be regarding the build of the Portable Pi. Once that is completed, I plan to post a few of the builds mentioned in the Adafruit Show and Tell segments such as the power supply, Guggenhat mods, and LED Matrix Clock mod.