Finishing Touches: Installing Nest w/ Line Voltage

If you haven’t seen the information on how I set it up initially, check out the first post here: http://blog.anthonyngu.com/2016/12/12/bridging-the-gap-between-nest-and-line-voltage-thermostats/

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This is how it was left hanging for about a week before I bought an electrical box at a nearby Home Depot that would fit next to my original electrical box so I could begin mounting it. Steps for the finishing touches were as follows:

  1. Cut out a bigger hole in my drywall (making sure that it was still small enough to fit under the included mounting plate)
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  2. Mount the transformer/relay next to the original electrical box. (Something to keep in mind: Double check to see if your original electrical box is bigger than its opening. If it does, you will most likely not be able to place another box right next to it without have to do some patching of the drywall after)
  3. Paint over any small marks or discrepancies with the mounting so that it would look as good as new!

The bigger hole was still small enough for the face plate to cover (included with the Nest) and I was able to paint over the edges to make it look as good as new!

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Thought Analysis: Multiple Alexas

I recently obtained a second Amazon Echo for free and set it up in my bedroom. For reference, I’ve got the first Amazon Echo set up in my living room and it’s just close enough proximity to the second one that if I use the same trigger name ‘Alexa’ for both of them, they can sometimes both hear me and both respond.

The current solution offered by the Alexa App is that you can switch the trigger name of one of them to either ‘Echo’ or ‘Amazon’. Although this works, it sucks for the user because you have to remember which name to use for each Echo and when you are asking something off the top of your head, you tend to forget which trigger name to say.

So this got me thinking, what is the best method of remedying this situation?

  1. The simplest solution would be to just drop the second query whenever it matches (within a declared timespan).

However, possible problems with this are:

  • What if they come in at the exact same time (or near enough to the same time that the flag hasn’t been set from the first query)? Although this would be very rare, it would most likely just result in two responses, so nothing that isn’t already happening.
  • What if the one that comes in second got delayed by the hardware and it is actually closer to the user? This would result in the closer Alexa device not responding and the farther one responding (not a great result)
  1. Another possible solution is:

When the service that backs Alexa in the cloud receives two commands at near the same time from one account that have the same query, respond to the one that has the louder volume query and ignore the other.

The problem with this solution is that it produces a delay for every query since you have to wait for the possible “dual query” scenario. This might be able to be fixed by adding a “start query” signal to Alexa devices that sends a small packet to the Alexa service when a device is being given a query. This would allow the Alexa service to determine if multiple queries are incoming and whether to respond to the query immediately, or to wait for the second query for comparison.

  1. Establishing a mapping of Alexa devices where they are able to interact with each other and triangulate the user so that only the one closest to the user responds.

The problem with this is solution is that it would require more computational power on each Alexa device and would slow down the responses from being sent to the Alexa service at all. The computation would be done on the actual devices (or a central “master” one) and only after having figured out the “correct” device, would the response get sent to the Alexa service.

There are obviously more possible solutions and I would love to hear from others about fixes for the issue and any responses to my solutions above.

DJI Phantom 4 vs. 3DR Solo

TL;DR – The DJI Phantom 4 is the better drone by far. The only case in which you should buy the 3DR Solo is if you are able to get it during its $600 sales (Drone + Gimbal), already own a GoPro, and are willing to use the lesser product.

Pros of the Phantom 4

  • Lighter
  • Better Battery Life
  • Better video from their in-house camera
  • More sturdy for travel with the connected legs and rigid camera attachment
  • Charger comes as one instead of separate ones for the controller and the drone batteries
  • Longer range
  • Better design with the controller (Allows for extender to be dropped)
  • USB connection instead of WiFi for connecting the controller to your phone or tablet
  • Quick connect propellers
  • White – turns out it gets less hot on sunny days (who would have figured)
  • Can easily be flown without a GPS Lock (The 3DR Solo requires you to turn on Advanced flying and also set one of the dedicated “A” or “B” buttons up for “Manual Flight” which flies it without GPS)

Pros of the 3DR Solo

  • Can be made to go faster
  • More modular (possible future attachments & Easier to fix or replace components)
  • Really cool smart flying capabilities.

Price Breakdown

 

Just a little insight into my drone purchase history. I bought both drones. I owned a DJI Phantom 4 first and had an awesome experience with it, but found it to be a bit too pricey for me. Then I saw a deal on the 3DR Solo + gimbal for $600 and I figured I would return the DJI Phantom 4 and get that instead. After obtaining the 3DR Solo, I noticed immediately a couple areas where the DJI was better, but figured I could handle it. But as I continued to fly it, the cons started adding up a bit too much and so I returned it. I am planning on obtaining a DJI Phantom 4 again in the future.

My Electric Longboard Build – BOM

While I was creating my first build and began to put my first working prototype together, I figured I would document my parts, their prices, and explain why I chose them. I’ve split up the BOM into two parts, the electric longboard components and the board components which are usable on their own for a normal longboard. I decided to go with a single motor design for my first build (it seems fairly trivial to add a second motor in the future) and so far it’s been handling pretty well on hills. The only downside is that sometimes if I lean all the way to the left, the right back wheel comes off the ground slightly and I lose the driving traction. For more info about the trade-offs, check out my previous post.

The way a typical electric longboard works is, you (the rider) use the transmitter to speed up or slow down. The transmitter interacts with a receiver that is hooked up to the ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) which interprets the signal and turns it into a motor signal. The ESC needs to be hooked up to the battery for power since the ESC is what drives the motor. The motor then turns a gear which is hooked up to a belt that will then turn another gear that is attached to your wheel. This is how your longboard will gain movement.

ElectricLongboardDiagram

 

Electric Longboard Components
$70 – 5065 170kV sensored brushless DIYElectricSkateboard motor with 8mm wide and 35mm long shaft
5065 designates the size of the motor and is a common size for electric longboards although they typically have a smaller shaft. 170kV designates the torque the motor can produce (the smaller the number the higher the torque, but the lesser it’s top speed).
motor
$25 – Wiiceiver – (Not needed if you are using the VESC)
 A way to control the input to the ESC coming from the wii nunchuck
wiiceiver
 Has a better feel and is less bulky than a traditional RC controller.wii-controller
$110 + $20 – VESC
I found someone with experience making them and bought one but it needed to be custome made and shipped to me. The extra $20 is because I had to solder on wires and 2200uf 63V capacitor myself.
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I used this in the interim while I was waiting from my VESC to be made and shipped to me. With some configuration it turned out to work decently well. I was able to ride it on flat or a slight incline, but with less power and it would cut off if the motor started to draw too much power. 
mambamaxpro
They were a lot cheaper than the 6S1P 5000mah batteries and have decent power and capacity.
5S1PBatteries
DIYElectricSkateboard sells an aluminum part for the motor pulley and I figured that since it’s the part coming off the motor shaft and is only connected by two set screws, it makes sense to get this part made of aluminum to handle the stress.
FREE – 15mm width 36 tooth wheel pulley (3D-printed it myself)
Originally based off a 9mm pulley model, I had to add bigger holes for stronger screws and a couple other changes. I will link to the design I put together for this part once I’ve tested it and made it fit reliably.
OrangatangPulley
$10 – 8mm width 280mm length HTD5 belt
15mm width is better than the 8mm width belt due to it’s wider area and less likelihood of snapping, but an 8mm belt allows for some leeway in alignment.
$5 – 5x M5 x 70mm bolts + washers + nyloc nuts for the wheel mount
These come in a lot more usually than only 5, but it doesn’t hurt to have more just in case.
This works out well and is made of aluminum. This can be replaced with a cheaper non-adjustable mount, but I didn’t like the idea of welding on a mount to my longboard trucks and had not ability to do the welding.
MotorMount
Subtotal: $400

Board Components
I chose these due to the holes in the hub of the wheels that could hold screws in order to mount a gear through.
orangatang_kegel
Due to my choice of wheels, these had to be altered in order to fit them (I used a file to make a bit of room for the screws that hold the gear onto the wheel) If I were to do this again, I might try the Paris trucks since they are more symmetrical.
caliber2fifty
These are some of the better bearings and ride really smoothly.
bonesredsbearings
$100 – Board of your choice
Subtotal: $224

Total $510 with new wheels and trucks on an old longboard
Total $624 from scratch