WiFi Arcade

Well hello there. It’s finally time for a post about something fun!

I’ll tell you why later, but for now here’s the what. I’m making an arcade style control panel that interfaces with (for now) proprietary games over WiFi. I’ve been prototyping, testing, designing, soldering, coding, debugging, et cetera-ing over the last month or two getting a working version up and running and now have an, although incomplete, successful board that communicates with a computer over the wireless network.

I started off prototyping on a breadboard and an arduino paired with an esp8266 board from ebay for like $3. Once I familiarized myself with the esp8266 and proved that the theory should work I started designing a pcb. I started over once or twice. It was also my first time giving KiCad a chance. I ended up liking KiCad especially since OshPark now lets you upload your design directly without having to export gerbers. I decided to go with 0603 sized passives to help keep board size and cost down.

With the decision of going with the less-than-fun-size-for-hand-soldering option  I opted to try hot air reflowing again. In the past I built a reflow oven out of a toaster oven but ended up burning out the relay or something… So now I bought a generic hot air station on ebay for around $30.


Once the boards, parts and stencil arrived I was ready to start building!


The paste went on quite nicely.


Here are the parts added to the board before reflowing.


Reflowing for the first time with a station went better than I could have expected really. The atmega328 was the only real issue with bridging, but nothing a little bit of solder wick couldn’t fix.

Ok, time to power this bad boy on for the first time… BBZZTT!  I blew a tantalum capacitor (the larger tan colored things in the top left corner in the picture above)… All four of them were on backwards, but only suffered one casualty. After I spun those around it was time for another go! …Or no go. I’ll save you from the troubleshooting. Turns out the 5v regulator’s footprint was wrong. I should have triple checked it before I order the board. Oh well, Nothing a little imagination cant fix. I found a through-hole regulator I had laying around bent the pins and soldered it to the pads of the old one and finally we have power and can begin programming this guy!


Within the next few days I’m going to start building a “cabinet” for everything. I’m getting super excited that everything is working, even though it’s a little Frankenstein at the moment.

so much

i really miss being 12 sometimes. but only for a moment. i took it back already. as we drove past my favorite neighborhood in town today i imagined myself pulling into the gated community. i didn’t have the dreams and desires that i do now when i was 12. life was easier then, but i didn’t have any goals and though sometimes i think i have too many goals, i’d rather have a million unreachable goals than none at all. i’m sitting here thinking about this. thinking i can reach the impossible. thinking about how i’m going to reach my goals. thinking about how i’m going to make my dreams come to life. thinking about how i’m going to live in a half million dollar house within 2 years. but realizing even at 6’3″ i’m too short. even my long arms can’t reach them. not without God. i love to tell myself i can do the impossible. i can’t. i’ve tried. i have to have God. i’m tired of trying to do stuff without his help. it happens often. i forget he’s the one who gives me all my ideas. all my projects. why would he give them to me and not help me follow through? i don’t think he would. i worry about how i’m going to pull something off. it seems impossible, and without asking for help from God i would rather just give up, or do something else. but what he’s given me is too great to bury and let rot. i’ll remember to ask and listen. i didn’t really know what i was going to write about. i’m glad we had this talk.

keep the receipt

It’s national girlfriend day. I can’t take you out tonight, but if you want to go out for ice cream or a movie you should.

Keep the receipt. I’ll pay you back.

getting the shot without getting shot

I don’t understand what the problem with people taking pictures is all about. Tonight I got kicked out of a location by security, and was told to delete all the photos I had just taken because it was private property. I left cooperatively, but I didn’t delete the pictures. I was actually really surprised they didn’t want to see me delete them. It kinda makes me feel like they really didn’t care and that they’re just doing their job. Whats funny is that I spotted a drone flying over the property, which was probably filming.

A few months back someone called the cops on me because they thought I was “pointing lasers at the highway.” How a camera looks like a laser is beyond me, but there are quite a few uninformed people out there so anything is possible.

As I’m starting to get more and more in to photography, I’m sure more stories will arise. At the end of the day, you just got to do what you got to do to get the shot.


starting over

Recently, my server’s hard drive died. On the 4th of July, actually.. So I lost basically everything and I’m starting over. I finally got around to getting this site back up. So if you’re actually reading this, hi. Maybe I’ll start posting stuff here again.