Change is Good

When I start to get bored I start thinking about things and fiddling with things and you never know what I’m going to come up with. Once the weather got colder and I couldn’t get out in the gardens or on the bike I retreated to my little mad scientists laboratory down in the basement and started tinkering and thinking. This is not necessarily a good thing, but it keeps me out of MrsGF’s hair and keeps me from hanging around on street corners selling unlicensed cats. What emerged from this brainstorm was the Wowbagger 2000.

Sidenote: Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged was a minor character in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. His self appointed task was to insult every single person in the entire universe, in alphabetical order.

The Wowbagger 2000 is an insulting robot. It will, when fully developed, home in on a specific target, someone who deserves to be insulted, someone like, oh, Elon Musk, for example. I’m thinking of sending him the prototype when it’s finished. It will follow them around and at the most potentially embarrassing time, like when one is on the phone with one’s boss or mother in law or something, make snide, cutting remarks about the person’s physical appearance, mental capacity and/or family history. I figure the world needs something like this very badly. Unfortunately my Kickstarter campaign has resulted in a total investment of twelve cents and something that looks like a bit of fossilized chewing gum from the Milwaukee public transit system, so my budget for this project is severely limited.

I almost immediately ran into problems. Normally with a little project like this I’d reach for a Raspeberry Pi computer. These are very small, rather powerful Linux based computers that are extremely useful for little projects like this. I used to get a RaspPi for about $40. Not any more. When I went looking for one they were going for $250, and there was no way I was going to enrich the profiteering scalpers who trying to scam people. So I looked for a possible alternative and came up with the Arduino.

This is where the “change is good” thing comes in. Arduinos have been around for ages but they always seemed to be a bit limited in their abilities and inconvenient to work with. And they aren’t really computers.

Well, okay so technically they are computers, but I mean they aren’t designed to be used like you would use a desktop, laptop or even a RaspPi. Technically it is a microcontroller. It has lots and lots of addressable pins that can be used to control other things. to read data from sensors and things like that. They’re great for projects like robotics and remote sensing platforms like weather stations and things like that. Including a lot of stuff I used to use the RaspPi computers for.

And did I mention they were cheap? They are very, very cheap. I can pick up an Arduino Mega clone for around $15 and even the genuine Italian made ones aren’t all that much more. The cheapest RaspPi I can find is going for about $130. So, $130 compared to $15? Guess which one I bought.

Yeah, right. Well, bought more than one. I got about 8 of the things laying around now but never mind that.

I am now wishing I’d started tinkering with these things a long, long time ago. Yes, they can be awkward to work with. Yes, they are fairly limited when it comes to things like built in memory, speed and convenience. Yes, I need to write the code on a separate computer and download it. Yes, I have to write code in a variation of C++, a language which is, frankly, an abomination on the face of the Earth.

But my goodness they’re fun to play with.

Oh, and I should mention that because they are very popular, very cheap, and have been around for a very long time, there are a tone of add ons available for them that are very fun indeed. And cheap. Very cheap. I can pick up a full color, 3″ touch screen video display, with an SD card reader, for $15??? Seriously?

So I’ve been locked up in my lab (MrsGF lets me out for lunch) fiddling with these things and breadboarding things and puttering around and keeping the nice delivery companies in business shipping me resistors and capacitors and servomotors and stepper motors and even resorting to actually learning stuff.

And the result is…

Yes, the Wowbagger 2000 lives! With a full color touch screen for the display and user input. And it actually works????

Yeah, it works <evil grin>

Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer.

8 thoughts on “Change is Good”

    1. Skill? What skill? I’ve never let complete ignorance slow me down. I look at not knowing how to do something as a challenge to learn how to do it. Over the years I taught myself carpentry, furniture building, wood turning, electronics, plumbing, computer programming, cooking, amateur radio, photography, astronomy, etc. Don’t let not knowing stop you from doing something. Look at it as an opportunity to learn something new, make new friends sometimes as well.

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      1. Lol! You sound a lot like me. I’ve taken on boat refurbs, welding, fabricating, mechanic work in general, carpentry, plumbing, painting (though I was actually trained to paint,) astronomy, guitar, and stone artifacts. Other than painting I learned the rest pretty much from an ignorant cuss, to working my way to jack of all trades in these areas.

        Hell if I’d let ignorance slow me down I’d still be trying to ride a bicycle!

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  1. I love the idea of your insulting robot. Just make sure you get a patent on it before you send it to Elon Musk,

    I want to share an idea that I had a few years ago … an idea that the Patent lawyer rejected outright.. but an idea that I thought was valid and would have found a market.

    My idea was called “The Vaginal Cell Phone.”

    The idea behind it was that a guy would give it to his girlfriend and she would insert it into the appropriate anatomical location.

    Once functional and appropriately placed, the guy could then send messages to the device causing vibrations that would please the recipient in the most delicately delicious manner.

    It didn’t go over and never materialized but I think that I could have made another fortune with the thing.

    Like

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