Month: December 2012

Workshop Gets A New Bench

A fellow member of the Artisan’s Asylum was getting rid of an old workbench today. After some slight modifications (I took it apart so I could cut the depth down by a few inches, and removed the casters), I now have a new bench for the shop! I am really pretty pleased. The space a looking good, and now I have more room to start my next project (its a secret).

workshop new bench 1

New bench with a little storage underneath.



workshop new bench 2

Shot of my workspace


TinyRC: RC Receiver to Serial


Because why not. Actually, a few months ago as part of my long running project to build a 1/6th scale M1A2 Abrams paintball-shoorting tank, I was looking into how to make an Arduino read data from an RC aircraft receiver (namely the Spektrum AR6210). I came across this fantastic series of posts over at RCArduino. I tested it out with my Arduino Mega, and it worked great.

At the time, I was also working on an ESC  based of the Open Source Motor Controller using the HIP4081A H-bridge driver. The thing I don’t like about the OSMC is that it requires a separate board to convert RC/Serial/whatever into the commands to control the HIP4081. The goal of my ESC was to eliminate the need for the second board. This is where I came up with the idea of using an ATTiny micro to read RC signals from the AR6210 and drive the HIP4081A. The ATTiny was perfect because I was trying to keep the ESC as small as possible.

However, I eventually decided to table the idea of building an ESC (thermal management is tough), though I do have a working prototype (perhaps a topic for a future post). That said, I thought the little bit of code ATTiny code that reads the RC channels was pretty clever. Not to mention the OCD part of brain kicked that wants to create “modules”, “buckets” and “subsystems” for everything. After a little rework of the RC->HIP4081A code, I came up with a RC->Serial interface that should be usable by anyone looking to interface and RC receiver with any Arduino or other TTL serial thing-a-jig. The best part: you only need 1 pin on your Arduino. The also best part: it’s open source. Hooray!

About the TinyRC:

  • 1.1 inches x 1.1 inches (with 4 mount holes)
  • 5V
  • ATTiny84 Microcontroller (8Mhz)
  • 6 pin ISP programming header
  • Power Indicator LED
  • Can Power Receiver



I did a quick calculation for price on this. The board can be ordered from BatchPCB for about $2.50. The parts from DigiKey will run you about $3.45. So thats about $5.95 in material costs. The AVR programmer will cost you about $15. This its entirely optional though if you have an extra Arduino to use as an programmer. A cable to connect from the TinyRC to receiver would probably be another $5.

TLDR: The Eagle files, code, and instructions are up on GitHub.

Herp Derp

For a while now I’ve been wanting to recreate my long lost blog, Thankfully nobody poached this domain years after I let it expire. However in a somewhat ironic twist, I decided to pay for hosting using WPEngine rather then setup a VPS or something on Amazon EC2. Since my day job involves managing systems infrastructure, the last thing I really felt like doing was hacking together something myself. So far, I am really enjoying WPEngine. It’s straighforward, fast, and not too pricey.

Going forward, I intend this to be a place where I can share some of the projects I’m working on. As my hobby is collecting hobbies, it should make for a decent amount of content.

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