STEM Projects

Table of Contents

    I’ve spent years managing projects in a professional capacity so, yes, this may appear a little formal but I assure you, I don’t have a Gantt chart lurking somewhere – it’s just messy folders with links to webpages, JPEGs and PDFs.

    The page lists the projects I am working on, the ones I’m about to start, the ones deferred and the ones completed.

    In Progress

    Retro Pi Phone

    Repurpose vintage GPO 706 phone as VoIP phone with Alexa; using Raspberry Pi. (Almost complete – awaiting USB soundcard). Some difficulties with consistency of rotary dialler pulse mapping (not debounce time, no).

    I suspect Google will consolidate their many communication platforms so I may hold off on the VoIP part for a while.

    Use 3D Printer

    Need to fire up the Rep Rap and test all is okay. Be good to fit CNC and laser.

    Ready to Start

    Build a Sundial

    The study of sundials is Gnomonics – good book from the 70s called “Sundials: Their Theory and Construction”

    Weather Station

    Build a weather station (wind, rain, temp, humidity, pressure, soil moisture/temp, air quality, UV) that sends updates to the web for logging. Lots of projects have been documented – no need to reinvent the wheel – reaspberry Pi foundation has documented one.

    Acquire HAM radio license.

    • Purchase Transceiver (Bought Baofeng UV-5R and some antennae)
    • Read Foundation Now
    • Join Club (I don’t think any local clubs are still active).
    • Sit Exam and get a call sign.

    Setup RTL-SDR Web Server

    I purchased an RTL-SDR USB dongle for £7 in 2014 when I found out it could be used to receive frequencies 25MHz to 1750MHz (extended to 13 – 1864 MHz with a minor hack). Great for picking up part of the shortwave spectrum. Have used it for interest on occasion but I want a more permanent availability and enable public users to use this device remotely over the Web (this would really be amateur radio operators). There’s two software contenders to control my software-defined radio (SDR) running on a (at least) RPi 3: OpenWebRX and WebSDR. Live examples of each can be found at

    • Buy RTL-SDR board

    Automated Equatorial Mount Telescope

    Will utilise Panasonic Toughbook and Vellemann K8055 USB board to motorise object-tracking telescope for deep sky astrophotography.

    Teletext Converter

    I had a 6 month recovery in hospital in 2000 after an accident and without Internet access, Teletext was my only source of live info (and some degree of interactivity). Ironically, I had a full-blown desktop PC just to provide me with Teletext via TV tuner. I am so nostalgic for Teletext; the music and its nuances. I want to build either a Raspberry Pi-HDMI-TV box or a web page to format current content on the fly into a Teletext format from some nostalgia.

    Patchwork Blanket

    I have been saving patches of material I cut out from old clothes etc. that were too shabby for charity shops. I have an old Singer sewing machine in pristine condition that I could use to make a patchwork quilt. Use an old sheet for the lining. Good to go.


    Archival and Storage

    Need a good system for storing 50TB of data. Needs to be reliable, low energy consumption and low cost per TB. The M-Disc format with some sort of NAS disc changer is looking promising. Anything else seems pointless for reliability – see the comparison table in this article.

    Smartwatch App Development

    I’ve already spent some time learning lua
    Either for use in home automation, with quadcopter.
    Defer until platform has stabilised.

    E-Ink Digital Photo Frame

    I have digital photo frames but the main problem is that they are effort to update via an SD card. I want photo frames that update automatically over the Web and utilise Google Photos. I use a couple of chromecasts at home that do this in ambient mode via the TV in the lounge and a monitor in the office. Despite the TV’s remarkably low power consumption, force of habit makes me turn it off after use and if I am in the office, I am likely using the monitor for something anyway: Net result, I never see the Chromecasts displaying photos.

    I don’t need more LED screens around the house though. I have this series of screens from largest to smallest – TV, desktop, laptop, tablet, phone and watch. It’s madness. I don’t like leaving screens on at night either. The best solution would be either a Chromecast (easy) or a raspberry pi (not as easy) connected to a colour e-ink display (like this one). It would be low power consumption and they can be left on as they don’t have a backlight. The difficulty is, that they currently have such a limited range of colours (seven!) and I suspect they will evolve and become a lot cheaper in a couple of years – deferred for now.

    TI-83 Plus App

    I got the TI-83 Plus calculator when I started my maths degree and it’s brilliant. I’d intended to make an app for it and although this is my go to calculator, even after a couple of decades I never did make an app. There’s lots of documentation for development and I must have a 3.5mm to USB lead knocking about somewhere. This really is not a priority.


    Pseudo Holographic Projector

    Make a dress – made for JP to wear on Burns Night, along with a matching bow tie for me.

    Make Scout blanket into a poncho and sew on my badges. Done (with Mum’s help!).

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