For a surprising number of folks, my Digital Setting Circles project is their first introduction to electronics construction techniques–mainly, the art of soldering. If you’ve never seen it done correctly, soldering can be an intimidating prospect. Someone asked me the other day whether there were any YouTube videos of someone constructing my project (none that I know of). That got me thinking–there must be plenty of “how to solder” videos around. So I checked, and sure enough, YouTube has quite a few of them.
Being a techie kind of a guy, you’d think I’d be more abreast of the latest in computer hardware and gadgets. But up until a few months ago, I was pathetically unaware of the new class of computer hardware known as the netbook.
Netbooks first popped up on my radar screen when I stumbled upon an article describing how somebody was successfully running Mac OS X on theirs. That was (and still is) intriguing to me–OS X is supposed to be pretty slick, but I’ve always been put off by the Mac price tag. But I digress.
Eddie from Australia wrote me recently to tell me about his success using a serial-to-bluetooth adapter to connect his Digital Setting Circles board to his laptop (avoiding the serial cable which is an obvious tripping hazard, especially in the dark during an observing session). Eddie is using the SENA Parani-SD 200 serial-to-bluetooth adapter connected to the DSC board, and the SENA Parani UD100 USB-to-bluetooth adapter with his laptop.
A question from a builder of my Digital Setting Circles project caused me to notice a plastic enclosure that another builder had used to contain the circuit board for that project. Oscar’s web page gives a nice narrative on how he built my project, and this page shows a nice enclosure with a clear plastic top he used for the project. The box came from Jameco, and it appears to be part no. 141832. Make no mistake–you’ll have to cut holes in the sides for the serial connector, encoder connectors, and battery connector, but at least the box is about the right size and looks to be easy to work with. I’m sure there are other suitable enclosures out there, as well.
If you’ve used another enclosure and liked the results, leave a comment below and tell me about it.
A comment that I receive frequently about my Digital Setting Circles project concerns the fact that it uses a serial port rather than a USB port. I guess manufacturers don’t typically include serial ports on notebook computers or PDAs anymore. In my own defense, USB was just coming into common use when I designed this circuit about ten years ago, and USB is more complicated and expensive to implement.