Since Microchip has not yet released a breakout board for the SAMD51 or an Xplained Board, I decided to build my own as well as brush up on my QFN soldering skills.
Not too bad a job if I do say so myself!
Rocketry Altimeter Project
I wanted to build an altimeter for my own rocket, so I embarked on this project. The hardest part I think is the soldering of the BNO055 IC which is both expensive and incredibly difficult to solder, with all its pads hidden under the IC, so there is no visual way of inspecting the solder connection. The best I can do is to ensure that ther are no shorts between the pins that I have broken out. However, my first attempt has been rather successful.
This version is on a much larger board in order to ensure that any wiring issues are easy to fix and the components are easy to solder.
The Neopixel controller board is coming together quite nicely! I am implementing UART to control the animation and colors, as well as EEPROM to store the last saved state. For version 0.2, I removed the power button to the MCU because I realised that shutting power off to the MCU does nothing to the LED strip: it maintains it's last state. Finding a switch for a high current circuit is also not a very good idea because it would make my solution bulkier.
I replaced the power button with another button connected to the MCU so that I could change the color and the animation separately.
3D Printer Kit
After deliberating for quite a bit, I decided to buy a 3D printer for my home. Reading around online, I decided on the Anet A8 which seemed to be the most popular cheap printer kit that people are buying. Some factors in my consideration was the community support and age of the printer, because due to the nature of assembling it at home, I did not expect it to work outright, and having some reference was going to be pretty helpful in getting it to work. It doesn't hurt too that the printer has quite a large print bed.
Everything went smoothly during the assembly. It took awhile to screw everything in, but it wasn't a horrendously long time for me. After awhile you get into the swing of things and everything progresses much more smoothly.
I ran into a rebooting issue during the debugging steps where the printer would reset upon preheating the bed. I believe that this might be a power supply issue. Fortunately I contacted Gearbest and they offered me a partial refund which went to buying a new power supply.
It was surprisingly easy to gather up the materials, especially in Singapore where one doesn't expect to have access to specialist hobby materials. Singapore Railways stocks quite an amazing collection of hobby trains and miniature scenery. The owner, Thomas, runs it from an industrial building where he keeps his stocks. That place is massive and packed all the way to the ceiling! The prices were quite reasonable as well. For two bags of foilage, it was about $8. I was able to get the requisite acrylic paint and insulation foam at Art Friend, which even stocks Mod Podge, something that I definitely did not expect.
This is my first rock. Not too bad!
I wanted a rock with slightly more character to it. Who made the hole? More importantly, who, or what, split the seal?