Uncle Josh Gets a New Toy

Several years ago I wanted to try my hand at robotics. I picked up a multi meter, bread board, wires, buzzers, and a book on making robotics that was easy enough to understand but I failed miserably at understanding and manipulating an integrated circuit. Once again we have the robot-toy-bug in our house and the Raspberry Pi has been something we wanted to play with for a while but for various reasons we didn’t want to delve into it all.

Then something clicked. Instead of writing I’ve been playing with my ItsyBitsy M4 Express as part of my new CircuitPython Starter Kit from Adafruit.

There are lessons to be learned, and things to practice, and problems to solve. One of my big ones was attaching the board to the breadboard and making it stay down. Then I finally found an image that showed the rail of pins (not sure what they’re called still) with the black plastic bits in the middle holding the circuit board up away from the bread board. I suspect I was supposed to solder them together because I could not keep the ItsyBitsy sitting on those pins without holding it down.

One problem: The 6″ USB cable had a twist and was very stiff so the natural place for the ItsyBitsy was hanging mid-air on it’s side. Easy to watch the lights blink, hard to float a bread board.

Then I had problems with some of the button exercises. I double checked the wiring. I triple checked the wiring. I almost asked Stephanie to come downstairs and check my work. Then, while pushing the button with one thumb and holding the ItsyBitsy against the breadboard, the button click turned on the LED like it should.

Then it didn’t.

Then it did.

Then I figured out the ItsyBitsy resting on the spikes was not actually making contact with the spikes and air, even in small gaps, is one hell of an insulator.

So I’m still an idiot.

I don’t like not knowing the proper names for things and the small spiky things that look like a hardcore mustache comb are called headers.

I have plans for this stuff. Not just an automatic cat feeder (for when we have cats) but grandiose plans for a keyboardless keyboard and maybe the Mechamancer’s Staff I used in The Simple Life, which was published back in 2005 or 2006 or something.