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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Youtube Video Efforts & LED Mask

Lately I’ve focused more of my efforts on Youtube videos for the side projects that I build. While I enjoy the process of writing blog entries, I also found that I enjoy the visual draw and documentation capabilities that Youtube allows me for the generation process of my side projects. Through the provided analytics I’ve been able to see that the videos I make generate higher engagement, but the value of written posts in providing engagement for text and programming related questions and solutions is undeniable.

The latest video I’ve posted to my Youtube channel is about the making of an LED mask. I have thought about the project in the past and this October I decided to build one using a Particle Photon as the controller. Due to the spacing of the Neopixel LEDs on the strip (60 LEDs per meter) I decided to interlace the strips with an offset.

For those that don’t know, Particle was previously called Spark and I had used their first product, the Core, in the past before the Photon was released. The Photon is evolution of the Core. While much of the platform has stayed the same (both the good and the “could improv), it remains one of my favorite hardware development boards due to its size and capabilities. I’m looking forward to the upcoming release of the Electron that I backed on Kickstarter.

If you want the code for the LED mask, you can find it here.

Making an Electric Longboard

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Electric longboards have been taking off lately and gaining publicity through Kickstarter campaigns and tech sites like TechCrunch, Engadget, and Tested. The most popular commercial products come from Boosted, evolve, and Marbel. However the price for a consumer board is upwards of $1000!

Because of this price, there has also been a huge movement in DIY electric longboards and the most common designs take a regular longboard and RC Car electronics to create a custom electric longboard with swappable components. This was the route that I was interested in going since I already had a regular longboard and couldn’t justify spending over $1000 on a longboard that I could build myself for less than $600.

The first step in building your own electric longboard is of course research. I found a lot of great material on forums, instructables, custom sites and blogs, but the best resource was a forum dedicated to electric vehicles which had a specific section for electric skateboards and scooters known as Endless-Sphere. From here I was able to gain insight and chat with a bunch of similarly minded DIYers who had built or were building their own electric longboards. The most common designs were a single motor setup, dual rear setup, and dual diagonal setup.

What are the differences?

Single Motor

The cheapest option to build, it’s main use is for traveling on flat ground and it is lighter due to the one motor setup. It doesn’t have as great hill riding capabilities and could burn out with too many or too long of an incline ride.

Dual Rear

This costs more than the single motor setup, and creates a size restraint on the motors since you can’t use two 63mm motors with a traditional truck. However, it allows you to ride faster, tackle more hills with less stress on the motors, and have a back-up motor in case one fails.

Dual Diagonal

Some people prefer this build over the Dual Rear because it spreads out the motorized wheels in order to give better coverage over uneven ground. The cost and performance should be relatively the same as a dual rear, but you are able to use two bigger motors for this build since you don’t have the size constraint of mounting two motors on one truck.

What do you need to build your own electric longboard?

Longboard Components

  • $20 and up – Longboard deck (there are plenty of options here, whatever floats your boat)
  • $60 – Longboard wheels (preferrably with some sort of hub that you can interface a motor pulley with, common choices are ABEC 11 Flywheels and Orangatang Kegels)
  • $50 -Longboard trucks (your choice, but I prefer the Caliber trucks since they come with decent bushings and are great stable)

Mechanical Components

  • $50 to 100 – Motor mount (Can be bought for a couple types of trucks, or made yourself and welded onto your mount or clamped)
  • $10 – Motor pulley (Can be bought for 9mm or 15mm wide belt with varying teeth. Recommended teeth are 12T, 14T, and 15T)
  • $10 – Wheel pulley (This will depend on your wheel. You can make one yourself using a CNC machine and aluminum, or you can buy one for certain types of wheels. Recommended 36T)
  • $10 – HTD5 belt (after you figure out the spacing and mounting, you’ll want to measure and buy this to fit perfectly)

Electrical Components

  • $70 – Motors (The general rule of thumb is to use a Brushless DC Outrunner motor with over 1000W and below 300 KV)
  • $110 – ESC (Electronic speed controller which determines how fast the motor should spin. Check out the VESC that is being developed specifically for electric longboards)
  • $60 – Batteries (LiPo batteries are the most common, and these are commonly used)
  • $35 – Controller (Some people used a generic RC car controller, but I went the Wiiceiver route and a Wireless Wii Nunchuck)

Total: $565 with quality parts!