Friday, October 9, 2009

Green Energy Technologies

Well, I havent written in awhile, and thats mostly because Ive been so busy with school and work. Id like to say Ive progressed with my program to be able to post more tutorials about the various parts of my program, but unfortunately, I havent gotten anywhere since Mid-Summer.

The good news is that Ive been progressing nicely in my studies in Mechanical Engineering, and am starting to get a basis to start from as far as my research is concerned. Ive been working steadily on a literature search with my Research Assistant, and I think Im getting somewhere. Ive done an initial design for the turbine, and Im in the process of taking it from the white board, to graphing paper, then to Pro-E, where I'll actually get to see how this thing will come together.

My thesis is about the Tesla Turbine, but I havent formulated exactly what that thesis is, except that I want to build the first turbine which would be the prototype for my custom design to test basic factors, then build a test model to actually run some experiments, then if things go well, try to shrink everything down to a really small size, and see if that design is more efficient or less efficient than a larger model.

I'll try to post regularly if not about tutorials, then more about my graduate work, and green technologies and the like. Ive been a big supporter of green (and energy efficient) technologies, which is one reason why I chose the Tesla Turbine to do research on. This turbine has the capabilities to be run off of any fluid: steam, gas, hydrogen, water, etc. It can work in any direction, clockwise or counterclockwise, without any change in the hardware. And because its so small, it can practically fit anywhere. The possibilities are endless, thereby making it a very good candidate of discussion in the green energy technologies that most people talk about these days.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How to create a Splash Screen in VB.NET 2008

VB.NET 2008 provides functionality to display a splash screen on application startup. Most people choose to use the generic splash screen for their applications, but those tend to make my life miserable when I go to edit them to what I want them to look like, so instead I will show how to take a regular Windows Form and turn it into a splash screen. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to:
  • Add a Windows form.
  • Change the form properties to be visually similar to a splash screen.
  • Add text and tables to the form
  • Make the application display the splash screen on start up.
  • Customise the splash screen display time.

Add A Windows Form

You can add a new form by going to Project>Add Windows Form, then add a new blank form and name it as SplashScreen.vb. The advantage of the generic splash screen is that all the form properties are already set and the form comes with a background, but as Ive seen and worked with these generic forms, they tend to not be as flexible as they should be, and you cant manipulate them as easily as a blank form can be manipulated.

Changing the Form Properties

Locate the properties for the form you have now created. Scroll down the properties box until you find the option for ControlBox. This by default is set to True. You will need to change it to False. Once you set the ControlBox to False, the form no longer looks like a typical form.

Ive also set the MaximizeBox and MinimizeBox both to false just in case, to lock the form from being user manipulated. I like to Lock the form, so that I dont accidentally manipulate the size of it, I usually use the form dimensions in the form properties box to manipulate the dimensions of the form precisely. This is an option, so feel free to do what comforts you as you design the form.

Finally before you start adding things to the form, you need to add a background. It can be a generic image you have on your computer, or it can be a company logo made to fit the size of the form. Any thing will work, just so that your form can be seen.

Adding Form Items to Customize the Form

Now that you have a properly formatted blank splash screen form, you still need to add text and tables to be able to fill in your Application Name and Copyright information, etc. In the toolbox, locate the TableLayoutPanel component, and add it to the form. Drag the corners of the table to manipulate it depending on the size you want, and you can add columns and rows to it also. You can also add text to identify your program, or a progress bar to show the program as it is loading the rest of the application.

Make the Application Display the Splash Screen on Start Up

From the Solution Explorer open My Project Properties, select the Application tab and then from the Splash screen: drop down select the Splash Screen you have added to your project (by default SplashScreen1) At this point you can run your project and a splash screen will be displayed for a minimum of 2 seconds before your main project form is displayed.

Customise the Splash Screen Display Time

Find the Timer Control in the Toolbox, and click on the form to add a new timer. Now go to the code and add the following lines of code in your Form_Load Sub Function:

Timer1.Enabled = True
Timer1.Interval = 800 '0.8 seconds

This will enable your timer, assuming you kept the default name, and it will add a timer that will last 800 milliseconds, or approximately 8/10 of a second.

If you've done all the steps correct, you should have a working splash screen, that you made from scratch! If you have any trouble, or need any assistance with this, feel free to leave a comment, and I'll get back to you when I can.

Be sure to read more of my tutorials.