The Latest Hobby Itch: Arduino

 
 
I know I shouldn’t do it, but I’ve got the itch.  I have become obsessed–no, that’s not right.  The word is too strong.  Okay, I’ve become intrigued by Arduino, though I am not sure why.  However, I can explain how it happened.
I was looking for a new project.  Actually first I was working on my decision making processes.  That is why I read a book that differentiated between gain and pain tasks, and how we put off gain tasks in favour ending pain tasks.  The book recommended scheduling time for gain tasks, and not worrying about how long they take, or whether they every get finished or not.  Sounded wonderful to me.  (If I can figure out how to do it, I will put a link to the book in my Amazon store at the side of the page)
So, despite having lots of these tasks, I decided I wanted something new.  Kind of a silly thing, but that is how my mind works.  That is how I started writing this (and three other) blogs.  If nothing else, my typing skills have gotten better.  I thought I would like to do some sort of science/technical project.
In days past, I would have gone to the Efton Science Store.  Alas, that has disappeared, and I had no idea where to look.  So, I consulted my fallback position.  I checked Amazon and searched for “project kits”.  That is where I found Arduino.  Just like a boy, I saw a kit full of interesting parts (all the bells and whistles), and thought, WOW!  I need that.  Though, in truth, I was not overly clear on what it was.
You’ve got to admit, this is cool.
After some YouTube videos, which are a tech nerd’s dream, I am still interested, though perhaps overwhelmed.  It is probably too complicated, but I am as fascinated and overconfident as I am nervous and confused.  I consider this a normal state when thinking about a new hobby.
So, I ask you.  Have you had any experience with Arduino?  Can you tell me anything about it?  I would really like your help.  Also, if you know anybody with experience, could you send them to this blog to help me before I spend all my money and end up with a desk full of electronic bits and pieces.  Please.
Advertisements

Yahoo vs YouTube

So I have heard that Yahoo is going to offer a competitor to YouTube.  I am kind of excited about this idea.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love YouTube.  Anyone who has read this blog knows that I watch a lot of JVloggers, and spend more time than I should watching old TV shows and clips online.  I even have some videos on YouTube.  I think I have about ten.  They haven’t gone viral (and I wouldn’t receive any money even if they did) and only one of then has had a really strong number of views–though I am not sure what the attraction is, and nobody has commented on it.

I guess I just want to be there, on the ground floor when it happens.  While it won’t be a new thing (like YouTube was), I would like to say I was there from the beginning.  I want to be one of the originals, even though the idea won’t be that original.

There are problems, however.  What kind of content should I put up?  I am not in Japan, so JVlogging is out.  I live in Canada, and while I love my country, I cannot see any blogging potential there.  I love my hobbies, but since I switch them around so much and am rather lax on completion, I am not sure there is anything there either.  I love to rant (check out my other blog site to see what I mean) but I have a face for radio–and who would want to see a static image of a wall or picture while I rant away?

I am excited and I want to participate, but I don’t know how.

On another note, I still don’t know what they are going to call this thing.  YouTube is a brilliant name.  Yahoo tube sounds derivative.  YahooTV doesn’t sound cool.  They already have Yahoo Screen–so I guess that’s not it.  I suppose, if I were to name it, I would call it OnYahoo.

Nanoblocks Big Ben: my thoughts and videos

 
 
Building a new Nanoblocks kit is usually pretty fun.  When you get to build one you had been waiting for, things are just that much better.  Maybe it’s anticipation.  Of course if the theme of the kit appeals to you, it is much better.

This kit wasn’t as challenging as the Space Shuttle kit, but it was quite fun to build.  There were some new design wrinkles from the people at Kawada, or whoever designed this one.  I liked the colour scheme and I liked the nice mix of water, road, building and even a bus–though the representation of the bus seems a little out of scale.

I spent quite a bit of time on this one, mostly because my fingers are not as agile as they should be and those round pieces always seem to give me trouble.  I was enjoying myself, so I didn’t really notice the time.  I had the radio on and my cat was keeping me company.  All in all it was a sunny fall morning and I relished it.

In addition to that, I took a lot of pictures of the build, showing people what it looks like step by step.  And before anyone says anything in the comments section–yes, I made a few mistakes along the way, and my application of the decals was a little poor.

Again, I found this kit quite enjoyable.  I paid more for this kit than I did for some of the other world landmarks series, but I blame that on the place I purchased it.  I probably could have held out longer, hoping for a sale…. but I am tired of missing out on something.  I was a little afraid that if I didn’t strike now, I would lose the chance.  I am still kicking myself over the Maersk Lego Train.

There were quite a few pieces leftover–more than usual.  I wonder if they have been getting a lot of flack from customers about not having enough parts?  I have never been short, but it stands to reason that it might have happened to someone.  I guess I will just file them in the parts box.  I have enough extra parts now to build something….I wonder what I should build.

 
I have included links to two of my YouTube videos here.  One is the step by step build (but it’s stage by stage rather than piece by piece) and the other is a 360 degree view of the finished product.   I hope you enjoy them.

 

Never A Bad Idea To Visit a Toy Store

I stopped by the toy store today…it must have been fate because I had had no intention of setting foot in the place.  Fortunately I did, because new Nanoblocks have arrived.  New Nanoblocks have arrived!

There were probably 4 or 5 things that I wanted to buy, but will have to wait.  I managed to pick up two kits and I will build them this weekend.  My plan is to do YouTube videos of opening the box and showing the built up version.  I will put the links up here.  At the same time, I will also write a blog or two about them.

Obviously I am a looking forward to putting them together.

Writing a Successful Blog

 
I can’t really be sure what anyone’s motivation for writing a blog is.  I know what mine is…. or at least I have a reason which seems to resonate with me.  I want to be a writer, and this is practice.  When you think of the way the publishing world has gone digital, maybe this is more than practice.  Maybe this is writing.  There is no editor, so no way to judge whether I am being successful at this or not.

Before I became a blogger, I read quite a few blogs.  The seeming ease at which they created content bolstered me quite a bit.  Since becoming a blogger, I have read a lot more.  Some update their content regularly.  Others, seem to have lost steam and haven’t posted in a year…except those that posted self-chastising blogs about how they have to blog more.  I’ve read blogs that have fewer followers than I, and others that seem to have a legion of followers and readers.

How do you measure a successful blog.  Is it the number of followers?  I can’t be sure of that, since quite a few people told me that signing up to be a follower was a passé way of doing things.  Things in the digital age move quickly.  In a few years things like Instagram and Facebook might no longer be relevant.  Sacrilege?  Does anyone remember MySpace?

Do you measure success in the number of page views?  I must confess that I do.  When I see someone’s blog has ten times the number of page views that I’ve got, I get a little bit jealous.  I spend time on Facebook pestering my friends to check out my blog.  I comment on other blogs, hoping that some of their readership will get curious.

Do you measure success based on the number of comments people make?  This sounds reasonable, but doesn’t register with me.  Not only due to the dearth of comments, but also because of my perspective.  If people really wanted to comment, they could probably start their own blogs.

I keep writing, and I alternate between feelings of success and disenchantment.  I enjoy it, but I do hear that voice, occasionally, that wonders why I am doing this.  When I need to answer this voice, I just point out that if Hemmingway were alive today, he would probably have a blog and if Shakespeare were alive today, he would probably be making clips for YouTube.

To Blog or not to Blog…really too late to ask this question.

Lindberg’s 1949 Tudor Coupe 1/32 scale

 
Usually shopping at Dollarama means looking for scratch building supplies or looking for some container that I need to organize my hobby stuff.  Today I came across a model kit for sale.  The price was a reasonable three bucks.  Hard to complain about that.  Of course, I once got a 1/24 Scale Ford Fairlane for $2 from Walmart, but since they don’t have models anymore, that was probably an unannounced clearance sale.

I really don’t need any more models.  I’ve got a shelf  full of unbuilt kits, and dozens of other hobbies to pursue–not to mention umpteen household chores that have been the victim of procrastination.  I guess curiosity got the better of me, and by writing this, hopefully it won’t get the better of you.  You will be armed with knowledge before scouring the Dollarama.

 
So, what came in the box?  Watch the YouTube video if you want to see the unboxing.  It will give you a good idea of what is inside.  Basically, this is a bare bones kit if I have ever seen one. No chrome, no rubber tires, the body comes in three pieces (and those other pieces are the sides, not the hood and truck lid) no engine and no decals of any kind.  The wheels are all plastic and need to be glued together.

Is this a good kit?  Well, for three dollars, I wasn’t expecting a Tamiya masterpiece.  I am pretty satisfied with the contents of the box.  The mould lines look good, and I don’t see any sink holes or injection marks….so I really shouldn’t complain.  With some good painting, and putty to fill up the gaps, this will turn into an acceptable model.  I will post pictures when I can.  I’ve got some bare metal foil to make the bumpers and grill, and I certainly have enough paint.  Mostly, I am probably worried more about what colour to paint it.  Red looks good, but I have never painted a red model that I have been satsified with.

The Dollarama in my neighbourhood had 3 different models:  two convertibles and this one.  If anyone finds different ones, please post here.  If anyone has completed one, feel free to send some pictures.

A Win Win Situation

 
Getting some trains running has buoyed my spirits.  I got the chance to hear the clack clack of the engines running over the tracks, see the lights on the diesel blaze ahead of the train, and got to see some of my trains perform.  We will call that a win.

I also got the inspiration to shoot some pictures and some video.  The pictures I will include here, and the video….well, despite my belief that I would never do it, I uploaded the videos to YouTube.  A few people have stumbled across them, but I don’t expect that number to grow rapidly.

I think the motivation for putting things on YouTube was in fact a combination of several things.  The first is that I took some video, and wondered if it could be uploaded.  The second was that, despite my reservation, I want to emulate those Jvloggers (like Busan Kevin, Tokyo Cooney, discount sausage, and the late Rodger Swan) that I like so much and be on YouTube.  The third is that I was hoping to draw a few more people to my blog.

The last of these things seems a little selfish, but it is true.  Right now, about twenty people see each post (and sometimes fewer).  Though I don’t think it will ever reach thousands, I can dream.  I’d like to think I am entertaining people, and that I could find a larger audience.  Of course, I need to be realistic as well.

Regardless of the motivation, the end result is that I have some train pictures to include here, and four videos up on YouTube.  Again, we would call that a win-win situation.