The End Car & Kai's Fire Car

Pinewood Derby 2015 – Minecraft Enderman Car & Lego Kai’s Fire Car

This year my boys wanted to make cars which resembled their favorite games/toys. My oldest continued his theme from last year (check out our post on the Minecraft Creeper Car) and made an Enderman Car this year called The End Car. My second oldest made Kai’s Fire Car from Lego Ninjago. They both did a great job and I am very proud of them both. (The also both received 2nd place in their respective dens for speed.)

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Home Automation Series: Learning XBee (ZigBee) with Arduino

Backstory (Hey, it is my blog)

Big Hero 6 recently was released in theaters and I took my three boys to see it. Aside from being a superb (if somewhat dark at times) movie, both my eldest son and I both left thinking that we, like Hero, could build some robotics of our own! Well… he thinks robotic dragons and such… I am actually thinking more about home automation projects. Which leads me to this post.

For Christmas I deiced I wanted a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino as the basis for projects. (But what they are and why is a completely different post…) This post is to share my learnings as much as it is a way for me to document them so I can refer back if needed in the future.

In the technology department where I work, we are making some extensive use of ZigBee and I figured I would play with it at home to get some experience and with the low power needs seemed potentially perfect for my needs. XBee is Digi’s brand name for their ZigBee protocol products… Read me at this page about Is XBee ZigBee if you are interested.


This is a basic tutorial explaining my learnings about how to setup two XBee modules to talk to each other to enable Ardunio or other devices to transmit some data without cluttering your normal WIFI traffic.

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SuperHero Christmas Bulbs

Superhero Christmas Bulbs

When buying Christmas presents, I try to make sure they are personal vs generic… I hate gift cards, or just random things found on sale… I like to find things which really align to the person I am gifting’s desires, likes, etc…What better way to ensure a present is to someone’s liking than to make something specific for that person with your own hands. Then not only do they like the gift, but it has a much higher value as a family member/friend spent time making something for them. My sister is a huge Marvel and Super Heroes in general fan. So this past Christmas we made SuperHero Christmas Tree Bulbs for her!

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Pinewood Derby - Minecraft Creeper Car

Minecraft Creeper Car – Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Race Car

Cub Scouts have been building their own cars and competing in Pinewood Derby® events since 1953! This year my oldest son and I got to build our first Pinewood Derby car. The experience was a great time for he and I to spend time together going through the whole process of making his car: design, carve, paint, weigh, refine, and race the car! He had a blast, especially since his car won his age bracket (Bears) as well as won the cub scout choice award. He did not win overall best speed… but that is because we forgot a super important step!!! (Read more how to not miss this step before you race!)

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