Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence
Rating: B+

Two bad guys, lot’s of action, with  familiar and humorous interplay between Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, and Chekov, the latest Star Trek satisfies that longing for “comfort sci-fi.”
The plot leveraged a demented character from a past episode that we dimly recall, but happily the plot is self sufficient and not knowing the past is not a barrier to savoring the ride.  It was soothing to see Mr. Nimoy with a cameo appearance, although we did have an extended discussion with a family member on the way home about the relationship between the two Spocks.  The acting was true to the spirit of the established personalities, and we got the feeling they were having fun at the same time.

Your “sci-fi genius” credentials will be stroked as you easily anticipate the second half of the movie, but we never started watching the clock and we enjoyed the entire journey.  The audience laughed frequently, including during a “lover’s spat” between Spock, Uhura, and a “trying to stay out of it” Kirk.

Now, we’re not saying this is a ground breaking sci-fi movie.  In fact we ran into several of the “Movie Project Plotchés,” which we won’t list because of their potential spoiler effect.  You might give send us an email with the ones that you noticed.

But as far as our state of mind at the end, we reluctantly got up to leave with that feeling of “All Good things must come to an end.”

Our audience clapped as the credits started to roll, and I already have that sad feeling that we’ll have to wait a year or two before the next installment.  Wait… we can rent  all the Star Trek movies and have a Trek Fest.

Let’s do it, or perhaps even go see “Star Trek Into Darkness” again.


DIY Quiz Game Controller Project

I wasn’t really invited to the Summer Camp Counselor’s meeting since I wasn’t going to be a counselor, but we all knew each other and I went with Mrs. Project.  It turned out that the camp director mentioned that they wanted their own Quiz Game Controller rather than borrowing the one we made long ago.

I’ve been itching to do an Arduino project for a while anyway, so I figured it would be a fun Saturday project.  I should have known.  Start programming something and time goes into the “time evaporator” machine.  The project turned out pretty well, details are at as well as

I have to make at least one more, so there will be more time evaporated, however, here are some things I learned:

  • How have I done without a Dremel tool for so long?  I needed it for doing button modifications and I like this tool a LOT.  I picked up a battery powered unit and it is nice not being tethered to a power outlet.  So many great uses.  I never knew!
  • The Arduino really IS a pretty nifty device.  And the available options and accessories are exploding.  Regarding size, almost the exact same functionality goes from the Arduino Uno (3″ x 2.5″) to the Arduino Pro Mini at (0.7″ x 1.3″).  Wow.  I’m thinking of putting all the “control box” stuff inside a Staples “EASY” button for one of the next versions.
  • All projects take longer than you think they will.  I knew that.  But still this took a lot more time that I could have guessed.  You know what?  It was a blast!

I’m looking forward to doing a software update to implement a “Wheel of Fortune” mode in addition to the existing “Jeopardy” mode.  I offered family members an Arduino Starter Kit if they found the Easter Egg in the game code.  (NO, this is not a public offer!!)  The prize still isn’t claimed, but I’d be happy if a young person got interested in electronics by finding the Egg and getting the prize!

Buy a Dremel, program an Arduino, have fun, and enjoy life!


Quiz Game Lights Test Mode

DIY Quiz Game Controller





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Lights and Sounds Buzzers by Learning Resources, Out of the Box Review

I didn’t just go shopping for buttons, bigger buttons, “EASY” buttons, buttons to press, buttons to buzz and buttons that light up… for no reason.   And I didn’t put out the shopping searches because I have a “thing” for buttons.  It started last century when Mrs. Project needed a “first to respond” device for a summer camp.

I enthusiastically rose to the challenge and made a quick trip to the library to look up a “lock out,” or “first to respond” circuit.  Sure enough, Graf’s “Encyclopedia of Electronic Circuits, Vol 6.” came to the rescue with an ideal SCR (Silicone Controlled Rectifier) design that was perfect for the task. Radio Shack with project saving inventory, and several project boxes, buttons, lights, (not LEDs!) a power supply, and “ta daaa!”  The rugged device has worked well all  these years.

It happened that a new camp director wanted their ownlock out” device, and the notion that I’ve wanted to do an Arduino project just bubbled out of my brain, through my mouth, and out of my lips as I said, “no problem, we’ll make a new one.”

That’s how I came to start typing in “buttons” in the search engines.  I also found out my search terms were out of date, and better hits happened with “Jeopardy,” and “Quiz Game.” I found these buttons and really liked them for the new “Quiz Game Controller.”

We think you might like them also, or at least be curious about them.  Check out our written review and our video review to get a feeling for how they work.

May your projects go smoothly,


Lights and Sounds Buzzers by Learning Resources