Author Topic: Arduino for beginners  (Read 1270 times)

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Bruce S

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Arduino for beginners
« on: September 23, 2017, 12:47:44 PM »
I'm starting this post so that people like OperaHouse and DamonHD can assist people like me who can fix darn near anything, but are keyboard afflicted when it comes to coding.

It's not that it's hard, but there seems to be so many different ways to do things.
Here's a link to one of the websites I now go to when I get overwhelmed with all the different possibilities. I know it's dated but it help me.
https://makezine.com/2014/01/06/skill-builder-arduino-101/

This is the original site for all things Arduino
https://www.arduino.cc/

At one time I thought I had doing these solidly in my mindset,,,, but then while trying to get a handle on bigger projects I got lost.

I am time limited for now so if someone wants to post links to some of OperaHouse's stuff and other who've posted their code that  would be awesome.

Cheers
Bruce S
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JW

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2017, 01:28:46 PM »
Here's a thread on another forum I started today about Arduino.

https://steamautomobile.com:8443/ForuM/read.php?1,26164

Worth checking out.

 

SparWeb

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2017, 07:21:31 PM »
Thanks Bruce.
I'm in the middle of a complicated Arduino project myself (500 lines of code so far).

I'm frequently jumping to the Arduino reference page: https://www.arduino.cc/en/Reference/HomePage

Surprisingly, it is not a comprehensive list of all commands that are supported by any vanilla Arduino.
I've discovered many other commands that run on the Uno and Mega.  They help simplify coding and make clunky code run better.
My latest discovery is this command:  dtostrf() which cleans up the format of numbers to display neatly on LCD's or serial output.

I visit these often:
https://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?board=4.0
http://www.electro-tech-online.com/forums/arduino/

I also have a (secret) crush on Lada Ada:
http://ladyada.net/make/index.html
 :D
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024

OperaHouse

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2017, 11:33:31 AM »
One secret is to create a boilerplate program with the general things you need.  If you don't program all the time you will have a heck of a time remembering what things go where in the standard setup of a program. I hate doing this overhead stuff and like getting straight to the actual program logic.

I'm not sure this is a secret, but it is always your fault.  Just accept that and don't get frustrated.  Come back to it the next day.  I still see things that stump me.  The other day I changed just a couple lines of code and got the strangest result. Did a Serialprintln ( " B ");. What printed out was 5482 and no B.  I have a habit of hitting some wrong keys sometimes and I believe non printable characters are entered.  I can comment out the line and retype the same thing.  That will work.  If you are used to quickly scanning reading material, you will have a lot of problems proof reading your code.

SparWeb

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2017, 06:45:04 PM »
Something I wrote recently about programming in another thread, that also belongs here:

Quote
...Another thing I did was to write pseudocode before trying to write the code itself (my teachers from long ago would be so proud).
This helped a lot to figure out the program flow - even I was surprised.
Writing pseudocode kept me from bogging down in the syntax of commands, and explained in plain language what I wanted the program to do.
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024

Bruce S

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 11:17:57 AM »
I am slowly getting back to doing just these little flow-chart plannings that makes life so much easier.

Operahouse. Yep !! It always "your" fault.  :o.
What's worse , At work I write How-to-do and procedures that are so detailed I get told even a FF can do them.

So know I've gone back to taking my 30mins of lunch time to writing those back out.

Once the pre-plan (flow chart)  is complete, I'll "REM" them down to fit in the available memory.
One of the items my drafting teacher taught was "P7" "P Poor Planning Promotes P Poor Performance" 

Cheers
Bruce S
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OperaHouse

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2017, 01:11:24 PM »
I just attack the problem and start writing code.  Any preconceived ideas will likely be wrong anyway. I just get a little section to work and then just start adding to it.  Just get something to work and it will encourage you.  It is testing by increment and the more times you test each feature, the more likely a problem will show up. Testing a really big program and trying to diagnose an issue can be formidable.  Sending out variable data to a serial screen makes life easier.

DamonHD

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2017, 01:30:26 PM »
Totally agreed: except for big projects, eg $10k or 10+ plus people, doing it a bit at a time is the way to go.  It's how how I do most of my personal projects, and some of the professional ones.

Arguably the fashionable term for bit-at-a-time development is "agile"!

Agile is good for big projects, too.

Rgds

Damon
« Last Edit: September 29, 2017, 01:16:29 AM by DamonHD »

george65

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2017, 04:10:19 PM »

I have seen here and other places many time where people talk about a project/ application and only provide the code for the arduino.
When asked for schematics I have been told I need to learn for myself so I can maintain or modify the setup.

I have looked and looked but I have yet to find anything that tells me how to work out the schematic/ components and layouts of a setup from the code alone.  On the arduino site they give you the schematic and the code which I have been able to make and modify a few different useful things now.
Without that info I'm fked. I figure there has to be a way to do it because I see so many times people only post the code and not the connections or components. there has to be a way to figure it out or putting up the code would be a waste of time. 

Can someone please tell me what I have to learn, how to figure out a project components and connections just from the code or link somewhere that one can learn how this is done?

frackers

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2017, 05:01:44 PM »
I don't use the Arduino IDE to write code (I'm old school)  but the first thing I do with a project is put in some comments that describe what connects to what. This is to help me as much as anyone else because you can guarantee  that after a few months I've forgotten what goes where...
Here is an example from my weather station which can use one of 1-wire chips, DHT-22 or BME280 to measure temperature and humidity depending on how its configured:

// Connections to Arduino                    DHT-22        BME280       1-wire
// pin  4 Ground
// pin  8 port PD5 (Arduino pin D5)          supply        supply       supply
// pin  9 port PD6 (Arduino pin D6)          data          gnd          data (defined in cfg/cfg_1wire.h)
// pin 24 port PC5 (Arduino pin ADC5/SCL)    n/c           scl          n/c
// pin 23 port PC4 (Arduino pin ADC4/SDA)    gnd           sda          gnd
// pin  7 port PD4 (Arduino pin D4) as rain tipper input
// pin 12 port PB1 (Arduino pin D9) as output for 433MHz transmitter
// pin 14 port PB3 (Arduino pin D11) as wind sensor input
// pin 15 port PB4 (Arduino pin D12) as DTR signal to wind sensor
// pin 16 port PB5 (Arduino pin D13) as onboard LED


// DHT22 connections
// Pin 1 - vcc
// Pin 2 - data
// Pin 3 - n/c
// Pin 4 - gnd

// BME280 connections
// Pin 1 - vcc
// Pin 2 - gnd
// Pin 3 - scl
// Pin 4 - sda


I agree that a lot of 'amateur' projects don't have anything like enough documentation or even comments in the code. For example which makes more sense (identical code is generated by the compiler in each case)
x++;
or
x++;           // increment x
or
rain++;           // increment the number of tips the rain sensor has generated

I rest my case....

Robin Down Under (Or Are You Up Over)

SparWeb

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2017, 01:09:29 PM »
My code tends to be written for a specific board, too.  In the header comments, I identify the board I'm working on. 
On some projects I change the Arduino board I'm using mid-project, so when I look back at previous revisions of the code, I can see in the header comments which board I was using at that time.

Which brings up another point:  REVISION CONTROL
I love revision control.  Everyone loves it, don't they??

When I write a sketch, the sketch file and folder name have the current date in them.
As I work on it, the next day, I SAVEAS a new sketch folder and it has THAT date on it.

If I test code that works, and then go on later developing it, I may change something that the old parts of the program needed and they stop working.
I can go back to code that works, if I screwed something up and can't fix it.

Last point: I add a little text file into every folder and make separate notes about the conditions of the testing, what worked, what failed, etc.
There are only 2 names I use for that text file:
THIS_CODE_WORKS.TXT
or
THIS_CODE_DOESNT_WORK.TXT
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024

DamonHD

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2017, 01:13:33 PM »
Version control: dates and comments good.

Even better, for extra credit and to impress the right people at parties, and for automatic off-site backups...  Use SourceForge or GitHub or similar.  You *don't* need to use all the fancy stuff.  You can just use the Web site editor if you want and paste your new code in there.  It'll automatically get versioned and dated and backed up, and you can look at old ones whenever you want...  All free if you don't mind people seeing your stuff.  And if you do want to share, then easy: share a link.

Rgds

Damon

PS.  Wel maybe not SourceForge ... http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/09/27/faulty_data_center_takes_out_sourceforge/  I keep everything important on GitHub these days.  But anyhow.

OperaHouse

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2017, 01:36:18 PM »
I can't say that something will actually work unless it is fully built and tested.  That takes a lot of time.  As I build from what parts I have on hand, it is unlikely these exact parts will be available to others.  FETs are like a flavor of the month and new ones are coming out all the time and others are being discontinued.  I build a system to meet my needs which is often quite different from other vanilla systems.  I like sharing ideas, ideas should be free.  In what I've written before I break things down into basic function blocks like voltage dividers and FET drivers in hardware and basic functions in software.  The only way to learn is to get your feet wet. With some basic knowledge these can be adapted to your own needs.  Next year I will be offering a general function board to provide a more finished look.  I won't be producing it.  It will be supplied by a prior co worker to earn him some extra income.   So far I've bought thousands of parts so values may be a bit more standardized in future demonstrator projects.  All projects are simple enough that a $2 NANO project board on ebay can be used.

Bruce S

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2017, 01:46:04 PM »
I'm kinda with george65 on part of the flow and building.

I can easily assemble an analog device (GHURD controller) know the parts and what everything is for and what not.

BUT if I'm looking to say build a battery charger for non-standard voltages. LiFePO4 ( is 3.2 ; you push 4.2 like a Li-ion and there's going to be lots of magic smoke getting out  :P) .
So in looking at different ways of going about this, I see these very nice programs, I can follow along and understand, BUT then that's it.
Don't get me wrong I can usually reverse engineer stuff, and I don't like having stuff just done for me I cannot learn that way.

It would be nice to see the schematic so I can follow along with the logic of it. I can follow the logic of Operahouse's stuff and understand more complex codes.

As it so happens, I'm working on rebuilding a 36V 2Ah battery pack that will be rebuilt into a 13Vdc 4Ah battery pack to run a mil-spec grade router that needs 1.5A at 12.8Vdc to stay alive.

It would be nice to build up one of these so I can quickly see the SOC along with a fail-safe to shut it down if the batteries reach a set shut-off thresh hold.

I might be that I'll need to build out the stuff with analog parts, then reverse engineer it going the digital route. It could be I'm also trying to make this harder than it really is  8)
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Bruce S

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2017, 02:35:01 PM »
frackers;
Your stuff I can follow too. I like the comments that have simple concise explanations.
Thanks
Bruce S
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Bruce S

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2017, 02:44:34 PM »
SparWeb;
The post that you did for your datalogger are the kinds that true beginners really need to see.
It helps put the whole picture together.

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SparWeb

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2017, 10:32:39 PM »
Thanks Bruce,
You'll be happy to see some follow-up since I'm still working on it and have many changes too!
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024

george65

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2017, 06:55:31 AM »
  The only way to learn is to get your feet wet. With some basic knowledge these can be adapted to your own needs.

I have some basic knowledge and have adapted different applications to do different things and even figured out a line of code and change external board components to do what I want and they have worked well.
There are a few things I have seen you have written about and provided code for  which I would love to do myself and have looked for. The way you write code with no other explanation of connections or parts makes your effort in the code absolutely useless to me. If I had the schematic, I could look up the part substitutes and probably work around them. THAT would allow me to learn, having the code only teaches me Zero.
I'm not completely useless, but I do have limitations.
I think you are so far advanced and intimate with this, you have forgotten what it's like to be at this end of the scale. I know it can be difficult, I have the same thing myself when asked about my game BUT, if you want to help you have to get on the persons level or just tell the to ask someone else if it bores you or whatever.

Showing the code and nothing else is like emailing your wife when she tells you the car has broken down and telling her to Check the points are opening and closing in the Distributor, pull the cam belt cover back and make sure it hasn't snapped, check the plug leads are on and the thing has fuel pressure.
If she does not know where any of these things are or what they should do, she can be there forever and shes still not going to figure it out.
Show her a pic of the dizzy and the points in a book or tell her where they are located and what they look like and how to get at things and she will be able to work it out eventually. No use telling her what to check and when she says she doesn't know you tell her she'll have to learn by getting her feet wet and learning the basics. 

Same as I could explain how to take portrait Photos and explain all the settings but if you don't know what the gear is, how to set it up and turn it on or where to put lights etc, again, it's useless to you.  Give someone all the details and then they can try adjusting things  and settings and learn what effect that has and modify your instructions to get the result they want.

Without the schematic for a code and knowing what the components are and how they are connected, the whole exercise is useless.
And from the answers I have got, or more precisely, have not got, it's clear to me that just putting up code is f'ing useless because there is no way to work it out unless you are highly experienced and knowledgeable and then I'm still not sure you can do it.  If there was a way, someone would have said so by now with the number of times and places I have asked the question.

Frackers system is much better and one can dissect that and work it out. But that is not what people tend to do.
The thing about learning yourself is BS I'm afraid when you don't give a person the tools to learn with. Code alone is meaningless.

Far as I can see, I'm going to be a lot better off with the premade Chinese boards.  People might rubbish them but they have worked for me and I can at least hook them up and make a practical controller that does some of the jobs I want. I can wire them together and get one to make the other do things it was not really intended to do but will anyway. It's a real shame because I know the arduinos can do what I want and I could do it IF I had all the info and I would learn from that.  You hold a babys hand when they learn to walk and then they learn from that and go from there.

Premade boards limit what I can and would like to do, but looks like that's the best I can hope for for some time anyway.


Bruce S

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2017, 07:17:09 AM »
George65
While I can understand your dilemma, I don't agree with just saying that just getting the code is rubbish. I agree it would be nice if there was/is a way to see the schematic or wiring diagram , but let's not loose sight of the fact that people like OperaHouse, SparWeb and DamonHD are posting code here for people to see different ways to use code.

This learning curve is just that. It's also the very reason why I started the other post about repurposing the LiFePO4 battery packs.
It's easy for me to re-build these into 13Vdc battery packs, reset my little morningstar solar controller to match and be done with it.
However using these as a launching pad to get to the nut-n-bolts of building a system along with learning code is in the long term better.

Let's not put targets on those willing to help.
Just a thought

Bruce S
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DamonHD

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2017, 11:50:24 AM »
George,

As it happens I did put up a link to a *complete* schematic for a known working design of ours, and I repeat my offer to create a stripped down piece of code to drive it or the equivalent on an UNO which our design is very close to.

I repeat that I think there is no shame in having a single thing controlled by each of several (UNO) boards, though if they need to be coordinated than you'll have to take that pain one way or another.

I always basically start with a single LED schematic and code and work up from there.

You may find useful one of the online Arduino simulators where you plug virtual components into a virtual breadboard and can compile and run code against it.

Rgds

Damon

OperaHouse

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2017, 01:16:23 PM »
Some the do
Some they don't
Some you just can't tell
Some they will
Some they won't
And some it's just as well

Sorry, but it is falling on deaf ears. I have not seen one post from you that indicates you have even turned a UNO on.  Yet you find time for very lengthy posts.  A program could be written in less time than those take.  I think I have given pretty complete explanations and the schematics do show how to connect everything on a topic by topic basis.   Start with the basic Arduino programs.  Get something to blink, read a pot and get some serial data out.

Mary B

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2017, 05:44:07 PM »
The Arduino programming manual has examples and schematics to learn from... free to download plus the program simulator will tell you if your code is going to do what you want it too...

https://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/HomePage

JW

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2017, 08:17:26 PM »
Quote from: george65
Without the schematic for a code and knowing what the components are and how they are connected, the whole exercise is useless.

http://www.fieldlines.com/index.php/topic,149357.msg1042474.html#msg1042474

Now what I was hoping for never, well whatever

george65

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2017, 01:36:43 AM »

Sorry, but it is falling on deaf ears.

Yes, I noticed.

Quote
I have not seen one post from you that indicates you have even turned a UNO on.
What do you want?  Make a post I modified a blink program?  That I worked out how to vary the pulse on a fuel injector I want to use for a burner control?  That I made a basic timer that has been watering my aeroponics system for 9 months? 
Not exactly riveting stuff.

I have taught myself 90% of what I know. happens when you live with your grandparents, your grandfather passes away when you are 12 and there's not much money to fix or do anything so as the man of the house, You either figure it out or cut the lawn with scissors, live in the dark or face other difficulties. Was earning my living full time for 3 years before I ever did a course. Taught myself everything I know out of any book I could get hold of.
Yes, I know there are people out there that want " Plans" to nail 2 bits of wood together but I am not one of them. I help myself as much as I can before I resort to asking for assistance.

Up to you if you want to help people, no one is in a position to demand it, you are entitled to do as much or as little as you like.
 I would like to  learn more off knowledgeable people like yourself but unfortunately I find there is a gap I'm having trouble jumping over with this.
Not to worry, I'll get around it one way or the other like I have everything else.  :0)

 
Quote
  A program could be written in less time than those take.

There's the deaf ears thing again.  It's not the programs I have difficulty with, its the components used and how to hook them up.

Quote
I think I have given pretty complete explanations and the schematics do show how to connect everything on a topic by topic basis. 

I looked things up you and others have written I would like to build when Frackers posted about how he does things to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I think If you do go back over things you will see that in fact there are many things you have given no schematic or component details on even when asked.

Like I said, that's up to you and entirely your decision.

« Last Edit: September 29, 2017, 02:16:12 AM by george65 »

george65

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2017, 02:21:05 AM »
The Arduino programming manual has examples and schematics to learn from... free to download plus the program simulator will tell you if your code is going to do what you want it too...

https://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/HomePage

Yep, I have spent time reading and learning from there and have been able to learn because they show you the connections, components and give you the code. You can build something similar to what you want to do then use it as the base and figure out how to get exactly the result you want from there.

My aeroponic watering timer started out as the blink program. Added in an SSR to control the pump. had a small voltage regulator running off a battery and a solar panel to power it all. Then worked out how to add a light sensor so the thing shut off at night. Now i'm working on how to add a temp sensor so the thing fires more often when it's hot and less often when it's cool so the plants are neither drowned nor dry.

Without the wiring diagrams and schematic's I personaly could not have put it together. I need to see the base before I can go further and work anything out.

I like that site because they give me all the info I need to do things. unfortunately there are more advanced things I'd like to and could build had I all the information and could modify from there.

ontfarmer

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #25 on: September 29, 2017, 07:55:23 AM »
I am very thank full for you guys taking the time and effort  sharing your knowledge on here  always learning from the postings.   With out it I would not of been able to have success my projects.

OperaHouse

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Re: Arduino for beginners
« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2017, 09:59:30 AM »
It is what it is.

This was a big experiment to introduce people to Arduino and the capabilities.

It was a gigantic failure. I am lucky that I don't have a dozen people saying I spent $3 and you owe me to get this to work.

I want to make a youtube video but can't figure out how to do it.  Translated, that means it didn't fall out of the sky and kick me in the ass.  I did buy a $2 digital video camera at a garage sale and I did make an 11 minute video just off the cuff to see what kind of production quality I would get.  It was surprisingly good compared to some things I've seen on youtube.  I haven't revisited creating a better video because I just don't care that much.  A friend says his 12 year old is really good at creating these videos with dazzling effects.  Think I'll let him show me how to do it.  I'll get some time to spend with him, make him feel important, and get a good video. Win win for everyone.  Chances are I could do it by myself if I really cared.  There are a lot of things I am not good at and I just accept that.

I've tried to make electronics seem not so scary.  I've intentionally shown components cut out of circuit boards and hot melt glued to a wood board.  I hoped that anyone looking would say, I can make something as good as that. Sure it got a lot of snickers.  Screw the ground plane people.  There are no gremlins in the closet.  I tried teaching and it is out of my system.  The stuff I build is frankly out of peoples comprehension.  While 15KW inverters are the big interest, I'm running almost 3KW into a car battery and running everything real time.

And no, you have never mentioned any specific problem you are having in making something work. I think the posts I've produced are pretty solid, but that series has ended.