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Clever4Hire creates novel, cost-effective solutions using off-shore resources, innovative approaches and materials.  Low-cost microcontrollers open a world of possibilities.  Some of our projects are shown below.

We are always happy to discuss projects and ideas.  One-off projects are usually feasible and we have the resources for larger scale projects as well.  Send an email to get the conversation started.

FAA Projects

WakeTurbulenceTimers.com
Wake Turbulence Timers for Flight Safety

Working with Clark Eastman in the FAA's Western Mountain Region, replacement wake turbulence timers were developed to replacing the aging existing timers in service since the mid-70s.  Aircraft are separated by time on takeoff to reduce the chances of harmful effects of an aircraft being tossed about by the wake vortex of a leading aircraft.  Use of electronic timers allow Air Traffic Controllers to focus on important details instead of watching sand fall through an egg timer or a sweep-second hand going around a clock.

WTT4 and WTT5 Wake Turbulence Timers are in use at a number of airports in the Western Mountain Region including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Boeing Field in Seattle and Paine Field in Everett, Washington.


Tattletale 1- V2: TACR/DME Modulation Controller Module 3A2A11 Fault Monitor

TACAN aids to navigation are remotely located from airports, sometimes in difficult to reach locations.  A number of monitored parameters can cause a TACAN to fail including over-temperature conditions, loss of airflow, the transmitter being off frequency, etc., but only the fact that the unit has had alarms and been shut down is reported remotely.  The individual fault conditions are not reported remotely nor stored for review onsite.  When a technician arrives at the unit, which may be hours later, it's anybody's guess what caused the shutdown.

The Tattletale was developed to aid in troubleshooting TACANs.  The Tattletale is a data logger of the alarm signals, designed to catch event the shortest events that can lead to failure so that the technician can review this information to determine where the faults lay.  The fault sequence may be played back on the Tattletale's LEDs or may be downloaded into a computer for detailed analysis.  Version 2 added a RTC (real time clock) so events are timestamped and temperature monitoring so that trends may be observed before failures occur.

The Tattletale included a high accuracy voltage detection circuit - It is believed TACANs are sensitive to very small sags in supply voltage.

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FAA Support Hardware
The test connection on the TACR/DME and a lot of other FAA instrumentation use a 28x2 0.156" edge card connector.  Probing thee test points is made simpler with a breakout board, which makes connecting to a desired point quick and easy.  The original version of the breakout board uses push terminal blocks for connecting a test probe.  The improved version is designed for hook-type clip leads.

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Improved Design

FAA Incursion Alert

Airports work every hard to keep maintenance, service vehicles and other obstacles from intruding on active runways and taxiways.  Aids to help Air Traffic Controller situational awareness of service vehicles and other obstructions go by various names including RID (Runway Incursion Device) and RIPD (Runway Incursion Prevention Device) but the goal is the same - to aid the controller in permitting service vehicles into restricted areas and remembering they are present before clearing an aircraft into the space.

Clever4Hire was worked with the Western Mountain Region to develop some building blocks of an improved incursion prevent device.  Clever4Hire has designed a system around these building blocks to provide a superior system to anything now in use.  Our system was under serious consideration but a problem developed - the system was too cheap and the FAA wasn't able to come up with a program manager for a low-budget program.  

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Prototype Radio Interface/Isolation Broad - Keying signals from up to 64 radios can be assigned to any of 4 controller stations with the prototype interface board. Prototype Display Console - Incursion status is shown for four zones.  The numeric display shows the number of different incursions (e.g., mowing crew, crew changing lamps, crew working on antennas) to be certain that zone is cleared before showing it safe.

Other Projects


Gas Agent

Clever4Hire assisted a gentleman in a South American country to create an automotive monitoring project.  The gentleman is highly competent but with little experience in electronics.  No feasible access to assemblers for SMT (Surface Mount Technology) assembly was available, so a unique approach was required at least for prototype and initial production.  A motherboard was created to marry together a collection of modules available on ebay.  The motherboard required a few through-hole components and modules were soldered to the board using through-hole headers which don't require specialized techniques or tools.  Unbelievably, the use of manufactured modules was cheaper than the cost of the components on the board and design time was minimal compared to a full-custom solution.

Gas Agent Boards -Version 1


Blokable is creating a paradigm shift to create affordable housing through unique partnerships and fabrication methods.  Clever4Hire was tasked with designing the hardware for building monitoring and access control.  The boards developed use Microchip's ARM® Cortex®-M0+ based flash microcontroller, the ATSAMD21G18, a WIZ5500 ethernet interface chip and PoE (Power over Ethernet) for easy installations.  The building access control board is shown below.  Clever4Hire oversaw the prototype builds of these boards at an offshore fabricator/assembler.  Clever4Hire is pleased to have played a small part in creating affordable housing.

The illustrations below show the printed circuit board layout on the left and the assembled circuit board on the right.  Sometimes it's surprising to see what looked so big on the computer screen look so small in real life!
 
Circuit Board Layout for Building Access Board
 
Assembled Building Access Board



Pioneer WiFi IR Remote Replacement for Pioneer iControl-AV5 App

Projects don't always have to be big to be important.  Pioneer AV receivers have a remote control app for smart phones that provide control of some functions including volume & mute and the selected input.  Instead of the remote control with more buttons and options than an Apollo guidance computer, the remote control app allows control of routinely used functions from your phone.  Or rather, did offer this convenient control until a recent upgrade of Android phones broke the app.  Pioneer has offered nothing but silence on any upgrades to iControl-AV5, leaving Android users hanging.

To solve this issue for myself, I created a WiFi - IR remote control.  The simple hardware device provides a local web page to smart phones, tablets and even PCs connected to your WiFi network to control the AV receiver using an IR blaster.  One large improvement over the Pioneer app is the ability to customize input channel names.  No longer must you remember that the Chromecast is connected to the GAME input and the FIRESTICK to the BR input.


 
Pioneer Remote - Multitude Buttons
 
 Pioneer WiFi IR Remote Circuit Board
 
Pioneer WiFi Remote Screen


Throw Away PIC - TAP-28 Boards

The ability to get a batch of printed circuit boards fabricated for the cost of a Quarter-Pounder is a relatively recent development.  Ten years ago, the secret to cheap circuit boards was to order large quantities - a hundred boards or more.  I designed a general purpose building block printed circuit board for Microchip 18F-series microcontrollers and had a large batch fabricated, which I offered to hobbyists at a good price.  These were well-received and were purchased by hobbyists around the globe.

Thee boards were designed to be flexible and to be the heart of larger systems.  Separate connectors were provided for the major interfaces of the microcontroller, making it simple to use modules of various types with these boards.

The situation has dramatically changed today.  For less than the price I charged for a single board, a batch of 10 boards can be fabricated offshore.  This link is provided as a reference for users of these boards.  These boards are no longer for sale; I will however provide the Gerber files so that others can have boards made as long as they are for personal use.


 
TAP-28 Rev A Printed Circuit Board
 
Fully Stuffed TAP-28 Boards shown Possible Configurations



Some Cool Stuff

Weston Electrical Instrument Corporation once was one of the leaders in test equipment and electronics technology.  Before cell phones and computers, pocket calculators, LEDs and transistors, the was Weston Electrical.  Huge meters in fine wooden boxes, the first voltage reference cell and lots of innovation.

I was fortunate enough to find a near-mint set of Weston Engineering Notes from 1946 - 1947 in an unmarked file folder at a garage sale, for which I paid a couple bucks.

For a look back at another age, take a look at these notes.  As you take a look at this collection, remember this is well before any CAD system existed.  All of the drawings and illustrations were created by skilled draftsmen working by hand.



Subpages (1): Weston Engineering Notes