Looking forward to 2018

I thought I should write a quick retrospective on 2017 and state my goals for 2018 in terms of my skills and hobbies. As someone who suffers with low confidence, imposter syndrome and low self esteem, I realised that giving myself the opportunity to achieve many small goals is much better overall than one major goal, the key is all the little achievements add up, even if they seem insignificant at the time.

I am generally quite pleased with the progress I made in 2017 in terms of my electrical and electronics tinkering. I’ve developed a moderate understanding of electrical and electronic fundamentals, as well as breadboarding several of my own simple circuits including a Joule Thief, a 3x3x3 LED cube, a plasma arc lighter/stun gun and numerous high voltage driver circuits. I’ve also had several ‘mini projects’, soldering together many inexpensive DIY kits from eBay which have really helped with my soldering skills. I highly recommend getting some cheap kits if you’re wanting to practice soldering. One of the kits I made was a ‘Slayer Exciter’ Tesla Coil, I’m wondering if I can scale up the design somehow and create my own, larger, more powerful version.

I did float around the ambitious idea of home-etching my own PCB for 2017, but I didn’t achieve this. While this is something I would still like to do, I am not prioritising it for 2018, instead I think I will set myself the goal of designing a PCB in a design suite such as Fritzing, EasyEDA, KiCad, Upverter or Altium and having the board professionaly fabricated with a dedicated PCB fabricator. I already have a good idea of the first board I want fabricated and have a somewhat finalised schematic and PCB design on EasyEDA, it remains to be seen if I can export this to be used on Aisler.net (a fabricator I’ve been researching) or if my PCB design meets the design requirements at all. The feeling I’m getting from diving into hobby electronics is just ‘DO IT’, make mistakes but learn from your mistakes.

In 2017, I also did quite a bit with Arduino and the ESP8266-based NodeMCU, in fact I have been thinking of designing my first ‘professional’ PCB based on my Arduino/WS8211 addressable RGB LED driver prototype, that would be really cool to have something I can say I’ve designed, soldered and programmed all by myself, even if it just controls a couple of RGB strips. So yes, 2018 I want to do a lot more stuff with Arduino and ESP8266, definitely more coding, as I have been neglecting the programming side for quite a while now.

So, for 2018 my two main goals are getting a PCB fabricated and creating (and winding) my very own Slayer Exciter (or PLL) Tesla Coil, I still also want to make a decent-sized LED cube, perhaps using surface mount LEDs.

General objectives for 2018:

  • Get a PCB designed and professionally fabricated, solder components, test, make enclosure?
  • Get some sort of oscilloscope (Hantek/USB type, maybe?)
  • Slayer Exciter Tesla coil - Wind own secondary!
  • Better understand Phase Locked Loops, get CD4046 chips, make test circuits
  • PLL Tesla Coil driver
  • 3x3x3 or 4x4x4 LED cube (shift register/ATMega controlled)
  • Continue work on chriselison.uk, clean up CSS compress images
  • Write more, programming tutorials, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc