Dovie S.

Hi, I am Dovie Shalev, from SAR high school and I will be a Sophomore next year. My main project is Automation with Alexa, which is based on a project done here. I wanted to do this project since I thought it would be cool to have a smart room that I can control.

Engineer
Dovie S.
Area of Interest
Computer and Electrical Engineering
School
SAR High School
Grade
Rising Sophmore

Final Milestone

My third and final milestone is getting Alexa to control a nerf blaster. This showed me how to use the photon with motors in a fun setting. The circuit is entirely confined inside of the blaster, allowing you to pick it up and move it around very easily. After Alexa sends its command to IFTTT and IFTTT sends its command to Particle, the photon then sends signals to an H-bridge to control the motors. Two of the motors in the blaster have flywheels attached to them. Flywheels are wheels that fit onto a motor that can grip things. They are then configured in a cage with enough space to fit a dart in but is still tight enough to allow both flywheels to grip the dart. When the flywheels are spinning due to the motors, they can fling any darts that are put into the cage. A third motor is placed inside the blaster to run a gear train leading to a conveyer belt that will feed darts into the flywheel cage so that the blaster will fire.
My biggest problem that I encountered while building this was getting the photon to control the motors. Originally I was going to use transistors to control the motors. These either allow or prevent current from running across them. The mode it is in is controlled by a microcontroller. However, the transistors kept on giving me problems, and after four days of trying to get them to work I decided to switch tactics. I decided to use an H-bridge as opposed to the transistors. This ended up working much better than the transistors.
I used my prior knowledge of C++ from previous milestones, but my knowledge of the language continues to grow the more I use it. For this milestone I had to learn how to use an H-bridge, which turned out to be easier than I imagined.
My time at Bluestamp has been an experience that I will not forget. It was filled with great successes and great fun. I met a lot of new people from many different backgrounds. I made friendships that will last my lifetime. I do not regret coming here one bit.
My time at Bluestamp was split into two different types of days. First were the days that I would come home feeling defeated. I would be struggling with a problem that whole day and the whole day before that. I felt that I was making no progress and my project would never be finished. But then there was the second type of day. The day that when I got home I was bubbling with joy and pride that I had solved a problem that I was working on for so long. I had stuck with the project and didn’t give up, and now it was paying off. In that respect, I believe that Bluestamp taught me a lot about how a real engineer works and how to persist and persevere through hard problems to eventually come to a solution.
In the future I will continue to work with electronics and coding. There is nothing more satisfying than plugging the battery in and seeing your project whirl to life, working as intended. I also enjoy working with cutting edge technology, like 3-D printing, to push the limits of what technology can do.

Second Milestone

My second milestone was creating a lockbox that will lock and unlock on command. This shows the particle at work in a practical setting and also working with servos. The system is fairly simple and entirely confined inside the box, except for a small hole drilled for power. Once you send the correct command to Alexa, it will send a signal to particle through IFTTT. This signal tells particle to run the function toggleBox with the string “close” or “open”. These strings will tell a servo to turn an L – bracket one way or the other. When the L – bracket is in the closed position it interlocks with another L – bracket drilled into the lid so that it cannot separate from the rest of the box. In the open position, the servo moves the L – bracket out of the interlock.  
I built this with my knowledge of C++ that I learned in my first milestone. I learned how to control servos with the photon in this milestone. My next milestone is creating a nerf gun that can be controlled by Alexa.

First Milestone

My first milestone was programming my particle photon to allow Alexa to toggle both an LED and a power-switch tail. This was the vital step to figure out how to get Alexa to control the photon, which is a programmable wi-fi enabled microcontroller. It all starts when you tell Alexa to “trigger particle to turn on the LED”. Alexa then sends this information to IFTTT, a website that connects various different programs across the internet. I can tell IFTTT to tell Alexa to listen for particular phrases. Then, once Alexa sends the signal, IFTTT then sends another signal to Particle to run the function “ledToggle” with the string “on”. Finally, in the photon, it will run that function, which will turn on the LED.
However, before I was able to do anything, I had to connect the photon to wi-fi, so that it can get these signals. This turned out to be my biggest problem. The wi-fi in Ramaz high school requires you to sign in on their website, which the photon is unable to do. Next, I tried using a hotspot to sign in, but the photon didn’t recognize it as a hotspot, so that didn’t work either. Eventually, I got it to connect to an android hotspot as opposed to my iPhone hotspot. But, later the hotspot stopped working and I was unable to reconnect to it. I did plenty of research to try to figure this issue out, but I was unable to find a solution. At some point I just started to fiddle with it, trying to get it to connect to my hotspot. As a last ditch effort, I restarted my phone to see if it would connect, and it did.
To build this project, I had to code in C++, which I didn’t know. But, I did know Javascript, which I found to be very similar. I did learn how to use a breadboard as well as IFTTT. For my next milestone, I plan on building a 3D printed lock box that is controlled by a photon and by extension, Alexa.

Starter Project

For my starter project I made Electric dice. It has seven LEDs on the front which will light up in a pattern to show a number one through six when you bang it on the table. Each of the LEDs has a resistor connected to it to prevent them from too much power. This all connects to a microcontroller that controls the whole process. It activates when a piezo has pressure applied to it, which activates an electric pulse. A battery tray on the bottom powers everything. The biggest problem that I had during the building of this project was when I didn’t fully solder a joint together on the microcontroller, so a short was happening. It took a while to spot the problem since it was such a slight mis-solder. I learned that even very slight problems in soldering could have huge effects on the project as a whole.  

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