Customer "Success" Stories

Punching Bag, Jeopardy, Intruder and Coal Mine

Smart Punching Bag (Not an Oxymoron)

I have been a fitness enthusiast all of my adult life, primarily self-trained using a home gym. I have a variety of specific interests with the current concentration on combat sports, specifically Muay Thai. I have often found that even when I had good equipment there were other "tools" that I needed to get the best possible workout.

Whiz Kid's Boombox The heavy bag has been the foundation for stand up fight training since ancient times. Getting the most from this training requires not only the bag, but a trainer to maintain the pace, direct the training and provide feedback on the fighter's key offensive qualities:

• Reaction time
• Execution speed
• Strike accuracy
• Strike power
• Proper form

Many of the benefits of an actual trainer can be achieved using a "smart" version of a heavy or freestanding bag. This combines the bag with sensor technology and computer software to create a fight-training simulator. This combination can provide the user the ability to structure a bag-based training session in terms of rounds and rest periods of varying length. Some or all of the rounds can be directed by audio cues and the user's response to these directions can be checked and the appropriate audio feedback provided. To anyone familiar with boxing/kickboxing training, what this provides is a very familiar coach/trainer-based workout. You now have a trainer in the bag.

The Smart Bag's design and implementation package, including software, is free for non-commercial use. The included applications will work on any Windows® XP SP3 or later computer that supports .NET 3.5. This includes small screen net-books.

Terry H. Ess

Terry is a retired software engineer and a former amateur kickboxer in Muay Thai. He is currently working on a semi-autonomous robot that would turn a "Smart Bag" into something closer to a sparring partner. He does not fight anymore but still trains.

Education in Jeopardy (or the Other Way Around)?

Education in Jeopardy When teaching Algebra to 9th grade students, it's sometimes difficult to create a fun environment. As the chapter winds down and the kids are tired of seemingly endless pages of problems, I combine a Jeopardy game in PowerPoint with the Expandable Quiz Table, which I've ruggedized by putting it into a box. By using smaller boxes containing only a push-button, 9V neon light and connecting through standard phone connectors, I've got a "student proof" version that can be separated some distance, allowing students to team up.

All in all, without the Quiz Table, the Jeopardy game becomes very difficult and sometimes too contentious to conduct.

Thanks for carrying the kit. It's the best.

John Ceneviva

John teaches Algebra at Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School in Philadelphia.

Intruder in the Driveway

Intruder in the Driveway I needed to extend the range of a driveway alert system. The receiver module has a piezo sounder and two LEDs that flash when a moving object comes in the driveway. On our property, we have a spare garage and a casita. My workshop is in the casita. There is a Cat 5 cable between the spare garage and the casita.

The receiver module works fine in the spare garage, but not in the casita. I first tried tapping the audio from the piezo sounder to turn on an alarm in the casita. I really didn't like that approach as it would require extra circuitry in the casita. Then it struck me that an optocoupler in the receiver module connected in place of one of the alarm LEDs was the best way to go. It made my day when it all worked with the optoisolator.
Ned Stevens

Ned is a retired electronics officer from the U.S. Coast Guard. He first started working with electronics in junior high school and obtained his amateur radio license in high school. Ned continues to tinker in electronics in his workshop in Ivins, Utah.

Canary in a Coal Mine

I am an Instrumentation and Control (IC) technician for a coal mining company. At our mine site, we get a lot of vendors who come on-site to make deliveries. Anyone that comes on our site is required to meet MSHA (Mine Safety & Health Administration) regulations. For instance, vehicles must be equipped with a backup alarm. This created a problem for vendors that only came to a mining facility once or twice.

Instead of permanently installing a backup alarm in their vehicle, the Safety Department tasked me with designing a battery-powered backup alarm that could be magnet-mounted to the rear bumper of a vehicle and activated by the existing backup light of the vehicle using a photo cell. In order to do this, I also had to install a backup light to my project because the photocell is taped to the vehicle's backup light and this requires that the clear lens be completely covered.

Canary in a Coal Mine
Canary in a Coal Mine


Ruben Gonzales

Ruben lives in Hearne, Texas and works for Luminant as an IC technician at a surface lignite mine. He likes to play guitar and tinker with microprocessors.

If you have an electronics story you'd like to share, please send it to [email protected].