Automatic Christmas Train

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Now that finals are over, I finally have some time to work on the projects I’ve been putting aside over the last few months. The first thing I checked off my list is something I’ve been promising my mother for a couple of weeks.

Christmas Train

We decided to put our Christmas tree outside on the front porch this year. My mom had the idea of setting up the train under the tree and having it automatically move around the track whenever someone came up to the front door. She setup the tree and the train, my task was to make it move.

Generating High Voltage

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Note: This project deals with high voltage and is inherently dangerous. I’ve built everything I describe on this page – and it works well for me – but I take no responsibility for your actions. If you decide you are interested in high voltage experiments PLEASE be careful and do so at your own risk.

This is part one of a two part article. On this page I am going to show you how to build a simple flyback transformer driver to generate very high voltages. I had to experiment a lot when I first tried this, so I hope to provide enough detail that anyone reading this can successfully generate a high voltage arc on their first try.

Howto: Etch your own circuit board

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For those of you still using breadboards or toiling over protoboards, circuit etching is the next step in your at-home fabrication. Etching circuit boards allows you to spend more time designing a project and less time assembling it. Etching boards cuts back on the amount of wired clutter on a board, provides easy reproduction, and allows you to work with surface mount components. Furthermore, learning to etch boards at home will save you time and money over professional fabrication.

Having etched a few circuit boards now, I feel I have the experience to pass on some of my knowledge. I was nervous the first time I etched a board so my goal to provide enough information for anyone reading this guide to create their own circuit boards- without having to second guess themselves throughout the process. This is an all-encompassing guide that describes the materials, prep-work, and final etching.