Sony Arouje

a programmer's log

My Experience in E-Vaping

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I was a smoker for so many years. I tried so many ways to quit this habit, at one point I tried Nicotine gums but ended up chewing nicotine gums and smoking at same time. Recently I went to England for a business trip and one of my colleague there quit smoking and moved to E-Cigarette or E-Vaping. I thought, I should give a try but I wasn’t sure I can quit smoking. The hotel where I stayed, I met another guy with an E-Vaping device and when talking to him, he said he quit smoking a year ago with the help of this device. That night I decided, I should buy one and ordered one from Amazon. I didn’t spend much time in understanding the technical details of these devices in detail. So I ordered a beginner model named Thorvap, which cost me around 24 GBP, not a big deal, also bought some E-Liquids. After I came back to India, I started using this device, and for last two weeks I haven’t touched a cigarette.

I bought the below device

Image result for thorvap 30w

 

I didn’t regret buying this device. In my spare time I started researching more about E-Vaping and accessories attached to it. If this post inspire you to buy one then spend some time in understanding different types of systems available in the market before buying one.

What is an E-Vaping device

Any E-Vaping device produce vapor from a liquid by heating a coil. This liquid is a mix of Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerin, Some Flavor and some percentage of Nicotine. Once you moved out of Cigarette, you can reduce the percentage of Nicotine and later can use liquids with zero nicotine. Devices comes in several variations like 30, 60 or 120 watts, as per my understanding this will tell how heat the coil can produce and thus increase the vape production.

Parts in E-Vaping device

There are mainly three parts

  1. Mod
  2. Tank
  3. Atomizer

Mod: This part contains the battery and the temperature controlling system. It’s not very complicated to use it, it has an on/off button and buttons to increase or decrease the temperature.

Tank: This is the top part with the glass. Liquid get filled in this tank. Tanks come is different sizes like 3ml, 6ml etc.

Atomizer: This is a very crucial part to be decided before buying one. In simple terms, any atomizer contains a coil, cotton and a screw terminal screwed to the battery.

There are two major type of atomizers

  • RBA (Rebuildable Atomizers)
  • Non RBA

The coils and cotton will get deteriorate after some weeks, again it depends on how you vape and the sweet content of the liquid. There are so many factors that affects the life span of these coils and cotton.

In Non RBA’s, you have to buy these part and is a costly affair. I bought a pack of 5 for 11GBP. Some says, these can be reused by washing in hot water or vodaka, I haven’t tried this personally. As per my understanding vaping with Non RBAs add costs.

RBAs have rebuildable coils, that means we can unscrew it and change the coil and cotton. These coils can be easily made by ourselves. Should be careful to maintain the desired ohm of the coil, otherwise you might damage the mod. Check youtube and can see a lot of videos about how to do it, and learn more about how to maintain the ohm of the coil. RBAs are again divided into RDA and RTA.

RDA (Rebuildable Drip Atomizer), in this system there is no tank to hold the liquid. We need to wet the cotton with liquid, personally I don’t like it, as I might ended up carrying liquid where ever I go. In RTA (Rebuildable Tank Atomizer) system, the liquid can be filled in a tank. The tank capacity comes in different variations like 3ml, 6ml etc.

After learning more about the system, I decided to buy a second device. I think a second device is always useful, in case my existing one stop working. I ordered for SMOK XCube Mini and TFV8 Baby Tank and a separate RBA Atomizer.

What Next?

Buy an e-Vaping device and give it a try. Just like me, you might quit smoking. After two weeks, I can see a lot of difference in my body. Earlier I used to struggle to breath after running for a kilometer and now I feel more comfortable running a km. I think after some time I can reduce the nicotine in the liquid and later I can stop vapping all together.

Still research is going on whether e-Vaping is healthy but it’s much less harmful than normal cigarette.

Note: If you are residing in Karnataka, then selling of E-Cigarette and liquids are banned. I feel it’s a strange decision by the government. May be you can ship it to near by state and get it through some friends. There is a will there is a way.

Written by Sony Arouje

December 9, 2016 at 1:08 am

Posted in Misc

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Program ESP8266 with Arduino IDE

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Last couple of days I was trying to setup an ESP8266 module to program using Arduino environment. By Default ESP8266 bootloaded with AT Bootloader. Initially I connected ESP to Arduino and communicated using AT Mode via WiFiESP library.

The intention of my experiments is to add internet support in my Aeroponic controller. But AT mode deals with strings and thus increase the flash size, and when I added MQTT functionality with rest of Aeroponic sketch, I almost filled the flash size of Atmega328. So I decided to look for alternative options.

One of the beauty of ESP8266 is, it has it’s own flash memory. Also the integration with Arduino IDE. This way I can write Arduino sketch and embed it into ESP8266 instead of writing it to Atmega328.

Installing ESP8266 addon to Arduino IDE.

Sparkfun have a nice post about setting up the IDE. At the end of tutorial they choose ‘Sparkfun ESP8266 Thing’, instead I selected ‘Generic Esp8266 Module’, see the screen shot below.

 esp_arduino_ide

Hardware Connection

To write Arduino sketches to ESP we need a USB TTL module. Connect the module as below.

  • ESP8266-> USB TTL
  • GND-> GND
  • TX-> RX
  • RX-> TX
  • GPIO0-> GND

I powered the ESP module from an external source, ESPs are really power hungry, I am not sure whether the USB module can give the required current.

  • ESP8266-> External power
  • VCC-> 3.3v
  • CH_PD->3.3v

Make sure you have a  common GND, for ESP, External power and USB TTL. That means connect all GNDs together. If there is no common GND then expect the unexpected, IDE will keep throwing fatal exception.

Once the sketch is uploaded, connect GPIO0 to VCC, then switch off/on the ESP module. Now the ESP will start running the sketch.

Challenges

Keep getting wdt reset message as shown below. To test I added the blink demo with a serial write. This simple program works well until I add ‘ESP8266WiFi.h’, after this header file and uploading the sketch will start throwing the below in Serial monitor.

ets Jan 8 2013,rst cause:4, boot mode:(3,6)

wdt reset
load 0x4010f000, len 1384, room 16
tail 8
chksum 0x2d
csum 0x2d
v09f0c112
~ld

I tried a lot of options to resolve this issue. First I thought the module is not receiving enough current, so I powered it with 5v. This doesn’t make any difference.

In one of ESP forums some one suggest to erase flash using ESPTool, so I setup ESPTool and issued command like

python esptool.py p com6 erase_flash

This didn’t work out either. In another forum one person suggest to write blank.bin to 0x7E000, also mentioned that some times the reset can occur because of corrupted flash. This leads me to believe that corrupted flash causing the reset. So I decided to start all over again.

As an initial step I decided to boot with default AT bootloader. Here is a great post to follow.

While trying to bootload, esptool crashes always with ‘fatal exception’. I changed my USB Serial and tried again, this time all the bootloading steps works and configured the ESP back to AT mode. Then again I tried to burn the arduino sketch via Arduino IDE and it worked really well.

So I believe the wdt reset caused by, an issue with USB Serial module or corrupted flash. Now ESP8266 is working fine without any reset.

Written by Sony Arouje

November 7, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Posted in Arduino

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Aeroponic Controller V4

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After the successful completion of my Aeroponic Contoller V3. I started designing the next version of the PCB. This time I decided to package every thing in a single board. In V3, controller depends on external relay modules to on/off devices. In the new version Relays are inbuilt. One of the major change in the new version is, the system is controlled by a bare bone Arduino using Atmega328. The new board has all the features of V3 plus some new features.

The board has several debugging features which allow me to monitor the internal activity of the system via a serial monitor. The board also has the ability to communicate to an external Arduino via I2C, this feature is very essential in case of testing and bug fixing.

V4 Controller with inbuilt Relay modules

IMG_1642

 

IMG_1644

 

V3 Controller with external relay modules

The below system is currently operational at my home. As you can see the system uses 4 external relay modules.

IMG_1255 - Copy

Features of the Controller system

Controlling Water Pump: One of the crucial part of Hydroponic/Aeroponic system is the cycling of water in periodic intervals. A water pump is used to cycle the water. The controller should be able to switch on motor in a particular interval and keep it on for a configured time. Say run motor every 30 mins and keep it on for 3 mins. This settings can be configured from the mobile application.

Nutrient Feeder: In Aeroponic/Hydroponic the fertilizers (called as nutrients) are mixed into the water. In normal scenario we need to add it manually, the system uses two dosage pumps to add nutrients. We can add nutrients two way, either via the mobile app or by manually pressing a button. Through mobile app, we can specify how may ml of nutrients need to mixed to water.

Nutrient Mixer: Used a small wave maker to mix the nutrients while adding it.

Maintain Reservoir Water Level: One of the important thing to consider is, the water pump should not dry run, if it does then ready to buy a new one. In this version, used water level sensors to know the water level. The system used a solenoid valve, which is connected to a water source. When the water level goes down to a set level, system will activate the valve and start filling the reservoir. Once the water reaches a set level, system will switch off the valve.

pH Feeder: This is a new feature, it’s very similar to Nutrient feeder. Instead of adding nutrients this feeder adds pH modifier like Phosphoric acid or similar modifiers to correct the pH level of the water.

Real Time Clock: To deal with time critical logics.

WiFi Module: Allow the system to communicate with Internet, this allow me to control the system from any where in the world.

Communication with the Controller: I am reusing the Android application I wrote for V3. As of now the system talks via Bluetooth.

Written by Sony Arouje

October 6, 2016 at 2:33 am

Posted in Arduino

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Some experiments in Cyanotype Photographic printing

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Last week I got interested in Cyanotype photographic printing and started investigating about the chemistry and the whole process of doing it. It’s real fun and cheap way of printing photographs. In short Cyanotype printing involves sensitizing Paper/wood/cloth/glass with some chemicals and expose it to UV radiation/Sun light with a negative film covering the print area.

There are hundreds of tutorial talking about the whole process, here I merely repeating the process again. In Cyanotype process two major components are the sensitizing chemical and the paper. Let’s talk about the steps in Cyanotype.

Sensitizing Chemistry

I followed the old Cyanotype process. The two chemicals I need for that is

  • Ammonium Ferric Citrate
  • Potassium Ferricyanide

Most of the tutorials of Cyanotype process talks about Ammonium Ferric Citrate (Green), I couldn’t find Green version instead I used the brown one.

These two chemicals comes as powder, so need to mix it to create A and B solution.

  • Solution A: 100 ml water and 25g Ammonium Ferric Citrate mixed together.
  • Solution B: 100 ml water and 10g Potassium Ferricyanide mixed together.

Note: some sources says, use distilled water, I used the normal filter water for mixing.

Both A and B should be kept in separate containers. This can be reused to create working solution. To create the working solution, take equal parts from two (A and B) solutions and then mix well.

 

Sensitizing the paper
Paper type is very important in Cyanotype process, I used different types of paper for this process. I got really good result from very cheap drawing paper sells at normal stationary shops, which cost around 8₹ for a large sheet and can cut 6 or more A4 sheets. I also tried with A4 paper which cost around 12₹ each and got a very dirty yellow look, which I didn’t like. I suggest start with cheap drawing paper.

Next we need to sensitize the paper with the working solution we created from the A and B solution. I used a normal paint brush and paint the solution to the paper. Make sure to use a moderate dark room. Keep the paper to dry in a dark place, I used my bookshelf to dry it completely. You can also use a hair dryer and can be used immediately, I don’t have a hair dryer instead I used a hot air gun in very mild temperature. The paper will turn yellow once it dried.

 

Printing or Exposing

I experimented with A4 size paper. To print photos, we need to create a negative of A4 size. To create the big negative I used a black and white photo and invert it in an image editing app. Then adjust the contrast to get a desired look for the negative. This negative should print on a transparent sheet, I bought couple of OHP sheet and print the negative using my laser printer.

Next we need to expose the sensitized paper with UV rays. I used an A4 size plywood and transparent plexi glass to keep the paper and negative in position. Here is good video showing the whole process.

Sun light is the best resource for UV rays. But I live in an apartment and I don’t get enough sunlight in my balcony. So I used a light source created for my Aeroponic system. My Light source is an array of 3W red and blue LEDs, which I sourced from Aliexpress and assembled by me and my father. Also this artificial UV source helped me to experiment at night as well. Below is my UV light source, it’s not very fancy, a DIY system. Important part is, it’s shock proof🙂.

IMG_1616

 

In normal sun light, we need to expose the paper for about 8-10mins, in my light source I need to expose for around 50mins. I experimented with different exposure time and came to 50mins as ideal.

Developing

Developing the paper is an easy process, just dip the exposed paper in water for 3 to 4 mins. My tap water is bit Alkaline, Cyanotype works well in Acidic water, so I put couple of drops of Phosphoric acid to water to make it acidic and wash for a minute then wash it in normal tap water for about 3 mins. The timing can only determined by trial and error, when you see the blue color is fading take the paper out and keep it for drying.

 

Some prints

1. Dirty yellow stained print, this caused by the paper type. This A4 sheet is around 12₹, but gives me a very bad output.

Cyanotype_stained

 

2. An over exposed print, highlight become mild blue. Under UV Light for around 2hrs

Cyanotype1

3. Reasonable good print, exposed for around 50mins.

Cyanotype2

 

All the above photos are scanned using a normal scanner not from a good photo scanner. Later I will post some photos from my photo scanner. The actual image looks a bit more bluish.

 

What next?

I need to spend some time experimenting the bleaching and tanning process. The whole process is real fun, need to experiment with different photos as well.

Written by Sony Arouje

September 16, 2016 at 9:45 pm

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First time experience with Analogue Photography

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I was shooting in DSLR and mobile phone for quiet a long time, I started with D40 and some years ago moved to D7100. Photography is my hobby and I am not a pro. One of my long time wish was to shoot in Film but I never got a chance to realize my dream. Thoughts that kept me away from buying an SLR was

  • Is it worth to spend money on some thing that is difficult to use
  • Cost of the film
  • Who will process the films and cost involved in processing and digitizing

A month ago, my CEO Simon Weeks visited India and he gave me a very surprising and one of my most valued gift, a Nikon FM3A along with couple of Black and White films. It’s one of the greatest Camera ever made, Ken Rockwell has a great post about this camera. With this Camera, my journey starts in Film photography. At first I didn’t knew how to load a film, Simon gave me a short introduction about loading the film and theoretically he take me through the processes of washing the film.

Capturing

As a DSLR user, I am habituated to check the LCD to see the preview of what I captured and adjust the exposure settings, if I am not satisfied. In film world I have no preview, so I should be very clear about the metering techniques and exposure. I have a good knowledge about Exposure but I refreshed my knowledge once again to make sure I will not do any mistake while capturing in film camera.

Photographing in FM3A is quiet a new experience. This camera will not autofocus, but the split screen focusing system is a great feature, which allows me to focus easier. Still I get some out of focus photos and learning my focusing skills. I really enjoy photographing with FM3A, it’s a very simple system, not many settings to fiddle with. Adjust the exposure and Aperture (if needed) and click shutter release, as simple as that.

Note: Shouldn’t try film SLR, if you are shooting in DSLR with Auto mode dialed in. It’s like sitting in a driverless car, in this case camera adjust Aperture and Exposure by itself, photographer only need to do is simply click the shutter release button. Instead in SLR world, you need to adjust the exposure yourself.

Processing

I went through a lot of articles and videos explaining the film processing. First thing to do film processing at home, is a developing tank, I checked most of the Indian ecom sites and they were pretty expensive or I didn’t like it much. From one of the facebook group I came to know about fotosingstore.in and ordered a Paterson Developing Tank

In my searches I come across film photographer named Prasanna Subbarayan,  in one of the post he talk about developing film using XRay developer. I contacted him via email and later I talked to him via phone. He gave me the chemistry of developing using XRay developer. I got some developer from my Dentist and developed the first film roll. The result was good. First of all I cant judge my developing skills yet, learning from mistakes.

For developing my second film roll I bought Sterling Universal Film developer from GG Wellings, Sterling developer cost 60 Rs, to create 1 litre stock solution. I used XRay fixer to fix 35mm film.

Ofcourse I need a dark room to load the film, as of now I used one of my room at night with all light switched off, to make complete light proof, I cover myself and film using a blanket. It’s too hot : ). My father is making a setup to load film, I will update the photo of it later.

Digitizing

I used my DSLR to photograph the negative, then invert it via any processing application. But I didn’t get a good quality from it, to get good quality I need a macro lens. Then I tried with my iPhone camera and started getting satisfactory images. To capture the film, I created a small light box using an empty cardboard box. I felt like, I am getting a better result than anticipated, I decided to buy a dedicated Film Scanner. I got a good deal in Amazon.in for Canon 5600f and bought the scanner too. I did some scanning and I am getting pretty decent photographs.

How to reduce cost in Film photography

Every one knows film is the costliest part in film photography. In India, an ILFORD 100 cost around 800 INR. It’s pretty expensive. One way to reduce cost is to buy bulk 100ft films and use a day light film loader. This will reduce the cost to around 60INR per roll. My next item to buy is a Film loader and couple of reusable cassettes. Then I can be a full time Film photographer🙂

What I love about Film photography

When I edit my DSLR photos, mostly I convert my photos to Black and white, I tried to achieve a film feel with a bit of grains. Now with film, I got what I really wanted. Also the process of developing, and after 15 to 20mins of development process, the moment you see the washed negative, it’s all real fun. I really didn’t get that anticipation in Digital world, I know what I got from the Preview screen of my Digital camera.

Some of the photos I shot in FM3A

 

 

You can also see more photos of mine at lumiagraphs.com

Written by Sony Arouje

August 30, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Posted in Misc

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Logitech M570 Button click issue

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I am using a Logitech M570 for last two years. It’s a pretty good mouse and a bit expensive. Unfortunately Logitech uses some pretty cheap crappy switches for left and right buttons. After a year the mouse wont register button clicks properly, it’s a nightmare to use it. I did every thing I can but no changes. I live with that situation for some time and then decided to change the mouse, but couldn’t found any mouse that’s very similar to M570. Recently I did some searches and found one video that shows, how to rectify this issue by changing the switches. The video was very explanatory and guide me to open the mouse and successfully taken out the board.

Board

IMG_1422

I have to remove those switches outlined in Red, those are very cheap switches. Logitech taken us for a ride with these switches on an expensive mouse.

I have all the necessary tools to desolder these switches from the board and in some time I taken out those switches. I need to give a little pressure to remove this switch after desoldering.

IMG_1426

 

Omron D2F-01F

To replace the switch, I bought couple of Omron D2F-01F switches, these are very high quality switches made in Japan.

IMG_1425

After fixing the new switch, my mouse is good as new. Both left and right clicks works perfectly.

 

Is it worth the fix?

For me yes, buying a new mouse is a costly affair and I have all the necessary tools to replace these crappy stuffs. Even if I buy a new one, most probably Logitech will be using the same switches and I will be in trouble sooner or later.

 

Note: Try to get the Omron Switches from any dealer, do not buy from Amazon or any online sites. The cost of these switches are less than 80.00 INR, in Amazon these switches cost around 319.00 INR.

Written by Sony Arouje

August 10, 2016 at 11:14 am

Posted in Misc

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ISP Shield for Arduino Uno to program 3 different Atmega

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Couple of weeks ago I designed and etched a home made pcb to program my Atmega 40 pin family micro processors. After that I redesign the PCB layout, so that I could program all the necessary processors like Atmega 40 pin, Atmega 28 pin and Attiny 8 pin family processors in a single board. I named this board as Kevino after my son Kevin. I also wanted this board in Red because my son is crazy about Red but fab house said it’s difficult for low volumes, so went with standard Green solder mask.

I received the board yesterday and assembled all the components. Below is the final outcome.

Snapseed (6)

 

 

Features of the board

1. Program any one chip by selecting the respective chip via the red dip switch.

2. The chips can be Bootloaded and programmed via Arduino uno Or using a USBASP programmer.

3. Should be able to program and monitor serial communication using USB to TTL Adapter. I can plug the TTL adapter to the female pins in the board.

4. I can also test Blink program, an on board LED to test Blink and make sure the chip bootloaded successfully.

 

Let see how it looks when connected to Uno

Snapseed (7)

 

With this shield I can Bootload and program all the Atmega Processors I used for experimenting.

 

Happy hacking…

Written by Sony Arouje

July 3, 2016 at 1:16 pm

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