Electronics Setup

I’m proud to say that my order from SparkFun arrived today:

2013-07-27 02.09.19

I got tired pretty quickly of trying to get any work done on my already-crowded computer desk, so pulled the trigger on my plan to make some space in my office for a new workspace, and hire an exec to buy a desk from Ikea.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the shelves, but now that I see it coming together I’m glad that I got them.  Also, they’re mounted on brackets that are just connected to the desk, which made them very easy to set up.  Also, if you look closely, you can see that our dog immediately made herself at home under the new desk.

Pretty much everything in this photo other than the desk+lamps+laptop is from SparkFun.  My order from them consists of two main parts: their Inventor’s Kit, which is the unopened case on the left, and my attempt to figure out and buy all the individual components I thought I would need.  My goal is start from scratch and not open the kit, using it just as a last-resort backup so that hopefully I can give it away; so far I’ve been mostly able to do so.  There have been a couple of hiccups: I bought the wrong kind of wire (stranded, when you really want solid core for breadboarding), and I can’t use any of the “breakout boards” I bought since I made the conscious choice to not buy a soldering setup.  Luckily, I bought myself enough parts for three different projects I had in mind, so while the CP2103 breakout board is unusable without a soldering iron (trust me, I tried), you can see me playing with a simple RC edge detector on the breadboard.

Not being able to use the CP2103 was a bummer, though, since this is how I was planning on accessing+programming my AVR microcontrollers.  SparkFun helpfully sells pre-loaded ATmegas, which should help the bootstrapping process; once I got one of those working, I was planning on turning it into an AVR programmer for the other microcontrollers I bought.  So, tomorrow I’m going to run out to RadioShack and buy a cheapo soldering kit, since although I enjoy lighting up leds (and occasionally burning them out), the microcontrollers are the part I’ve been looking forward to.  For tonight, though, I’ll continue trying to learn more about MOSFETs to understand the behavior I’m seeing.

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