Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Zaethira Progress.

I've been doing a lot lately. Often, when I've had a choice between posting something, and working on something, I've chosen the latter. I noticed recently that I missed the month of November entirely, my bad! To top it off, my last post was a bit of a crotchety vent about haters, and we all know haters are gonna hate.

I've been working a lot on my robot autonomous vehicle, Zaethera. I've also got a ton of other projects in various stages of planning, that I'm keeping mum about for now.

In my last post, I posted a color-coded high level view of the architecture. There's a lot more green now, I'll post an updated chart in my next post. I don't think I dropped any subsystem from the original, and much of the left-hand side is built assembled, and ~50% coded.

I'm beginning to enjoy this electronics hobby thing.
The parts in the Sparkfun box in the back are the rear/side
IR proximity sensors, and the compass module. Near the top,
on the red, black, and blue wires is the IR remote control receiver.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rant time, a very special episode of Bytecruft.

It's rant time..

I know it's so usual for us nerd/engineering types to get cranky online about something, so this may come as a shock....

I came across a post today on Hack a Day today about a guy who got the .Net Micro Framework running on a STM32F4 Discovery Board, something I have done, and briefly mentioned here.

Original link.

Mr [Singular Engineer] did a fantastic write up by the way, I wish that had existed when I was trying to get up and running, it sounds like his experience was slightly smoother than mine.

Anyways, as I read the comments section on the Hack a day article, I felt compelled against better judgement, to reply to some of the general criticisms against the .Net Micro framework. As my reply grew in the volume of prose, I thought, maybe it would be better presented on my blog. So here ya go:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Robot update.

I haven't posted in a while. The lulls usually happen when I'm busy. I've failed you, my adoring fans, and for that I blame... um squirrels..

I have been happily jamming away for the past couple months on my robot, Zaethira. (Which is a concatenation of my kids' and wife's names, and happens to sound geek awesome, the geekiness of the whole is greater than the geek sum of the parts).

Anyway, I could have written a 20 page blog post about how things are coming along, but I think a diagram does a much better job. I made the below because I needed to get a handle on where I needed to focus and what I planned to do. This diagram made me realize how flipping complex this project is.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Introducing Zaethira - One word: Robots

So I've finally gotten around to one of my dream projects. I'm making a robot.

I'm relinquishment a little bit on my must-do-everything-myself approach I've taken to many of my projects, and I'm using some kits and some pre-fabricated circuit boards. After my experience on my Bench Power Supply, I wanted to boost my odds of getting results and focus on the fun stuff. I really think for this project, despite being something very physical, the software is going to be the most fun part, I am a software guy at heart, after all.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Shortest post ever.

I'm not sure why I have not tried to build a robot sooner. Already the most fun I've ever had on an electronics project, and it's still very early in development.

That is all.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rudimentary benchmarks for the Parallax Propeller.

I'm in the early stages of a big new, ambitious project, that I've wanted to do for a long time. I've got some Propeller chips from Parallax that I've had sitting around for quite a while, so I thought I'd try to incorporate the 'Prop' as one of the many microcontrollers this project will have.

The Propeller is quite a unique processor, I'd even so far as to say it's design is exotic. What it lacks in specialized hardware found in most other MCU's it makes up for with having 8, that's eight, cores. You want I2C, you just dedicate a core to doing it in software. One of the few exceptions is something not found on many other MCU, it's has dedicated video generation circuitry.

A custom language, "Spin" has historically been the primary high level language used on the chip. Parallax has designed into the ROM a byte-code interpreter. You can also use assembly, especially for performance-critical code. C/C++ had for years been an experimental language on the chip, but that has changed in the past year or so. There is a full fledged GCC port for it. I decided I'd give it a try.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seeeduino Stalker Waterproof Solar kit review PART 2

In my last post, I covered the Seeeduino Stalker board itself, I wanted to get into some of the other aspects of the kit.

The hardware (continued)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bench Power Supply

I decided to mothball my power supply project. I may come back to it one day, I may not. I sort of had a rage-quit moment this week-end, when I blew one of the channel's regulator circuits. The thing is, I didn't do anything I didn't think it could handle. Now, the voltage output is always 2 volts higher than what I set it for, and the current-limiting seems to never kick in, it goes to 1 full amp (or at least that's the max I'm capable of measuring) when I short it. Meh. I thought it was more robust than it appeared to be, and I didn't want to spend more time to complete it, only to run into more issues. It needs some re-design.

The Bench Power Supply (Powerbug 6000), in its
open casket, the mothballs are in my head.... and my heart.

So as a wrap up, I'm just going to post some pictures I (and my wife, player with an in-law's camera) took of the project.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Seeeduino Stalker Waterproof Solar kit review

I had a little extra scratch recently, so I decided to geek out on some new toys without  a specific purpose in mind. One of the nuggets I picked up was the Seeeduino Stalker waterproof solar kit. From Seeed Studios in Shenzhen, China.

At the time of writing the kits go for $59.50 US, which, as you'll see in minute, is a pretty good deal, for what you get. I live in North Carolina, and the free shipping via Hong Kong post/registered airmail took about two weeks, give or take a day or two. As an aside, it boggles my mind that I can get something shipped out of Shenzhen *for free*, (my package was several pounds too), and I order something that ships out of a neighboring state and get socked with a $10 shipping fee.

I'm going to take a stab at doing a proper review for the kit, maybe it will inspire me to figure out what to actually do with the thing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Slowly I turned...

It's been a slow summer. I'm still making progress on the bench power supply. It's in the "just get it done so I can move on" phase.

I've got the regulator part of the circuit finalized. I don't think it's perfect, but I think if I ever want to work on something else, I need to move ahead. Since the powersupply has three channels, I plan to have 3 discrete boards.

Here is one of the boards, pre-soldering:
One channel regulator board.
On the left side of the board, there are two PWM'ed input for the voltage and current settings, and two "Vsense" and "Isense" analog outputs that will run directly to ADC inputs on the Atmega 644. The top of the board will have inputs from the ATX power supply at 12 and 5 volts. A variable 0-9V output will come form the bottom-right side.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bench Power Supply - Progress Update

Here's a little video I shot of my power supply in action. I think it is very close to being workable. I have a bunch of placeholder parts, since I'm holding off on placing an order for final parts until I do more testing.

One thing I've been working on recently is the current-limit-mode indicator LED's. It's a little but harder of a problem than I thought it would be. My current limit comes from Q1 in the schematic. As the current flowing through R1 rises, it causes the voltage on the "+" input of the U2 op-amp to eventually exceed the ISET voltage. This drives U2's output high which in effect ties U4's output close to ground. My idea was to connect the "+" side of U4 to a spare input on my IO expander, and sample it's value in code. My initial thoughts were that a low value indicates that the circuit is in "current limit" mode. It turns out there are numerous reasons that this wont work. The face palm moment was realizing a low VSET value will also trigger the current limit logic regardless of the actual current! The other major problem was that I was using a digital input to estimate what is really an analog voltage.

Anyways here's the video:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bench Power Supply - Point of no return

Just  a quick(not really) update.

I've got a lot of the code side of things worked out. I had a lot of "fun" doing software debouncing for my rotary encoders. After hooking up a logic analyzer, I realized that using the I2C IO expander for the encoders was not going to work. The I2C chip I'm using, an MCP23018, has a couple interrupt lines, one of which I used to alert my ATmega that the expander needed attention. Since the expander is an I2C "slave", this is the only way it can initiate communication with the microcontroller. An interrupt handler in my code would set a flag and exit. When my "main update loop" got around to checking that flag it would then issue a series of I2C commands to query the expander for the encoder line change that triggered the original interrupt. All of this turned out to be way too slow to process encoder input. The main culprit was the fact that it depended on the main code loop getting around to checking that flag. From my logic captures, I could see that encoder edge transitions could happen sometimes 5ms apart. When there was a lot going on, such as heavy LCD updates, my main loop could sometimes take 20-30ms to complete one loop. Ouch.

You can't easily, if at all do I2C in an interrupt handler, you can not be sure of what state the I2C line is in when the interrupt fires. In the end, rather than figuring out a way to do I2C in an interrupt, or doing more flag checking (which would have been a hack, sometimes most of the CPU time is spent deep in the LCD bit bang code), the simpler solution was to move the encoders to the AVR itself. I had to give up UART functionality that I was planning, since I'm tight on allocated pins, but I was leaning toward doign that anyways.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bench Power Supply: Power Control

In this truly awful video, you can see my bench power supply at work.

For testing, I coded a function to cycle the voltage between 0-5.0V.  In reality, 0-100% duty cycle is the parameter the code changes. A "PWM'ed"  square wave(yellow trace) is fed to an RC filter, which is then buffered with an op-amp(the op amp output is the blue trace).

You can also see the LCD updating in realtime. The voltage reading is coming from the ADC on the ATmega 644. It's has a hard time keeping up with the displayed "SET" value, but there probably several factors, the biggest of which purely software related, I simply don't refresh the "widget" that displays the voltage reading any faster than 3Hz. 
(Ignore the Amperage settings/reading, they're not coded yet, the analog portions of that have me the most intimidated)

Anyways, crappy quality aside, this is a great demonstration of how PWM signals can be used to generate analog voltages from a digital MCU pin, and how "duty cycle" affects what comes out of a simple low-pass RC filter.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Just a short post:.

I think JSIL:

Is the bees knees.

It's a .Net bytecode (CIL, "common intermediate language") to JavaScript compiler.

Despite the fact that I don't blog about it often, .Net, its frameworks, libraries, tool, and the C# programming language are safely #1 at the top of tech things I love. My .Net Micro Framework project (still in progress, but on temporary hiatus), is my attempt to blend C# with my enthusiasm for embedded development.

Keep an eye on JSIL, I think it will go places. It's the way Silverlight should have been done.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Bench PSU: AVR JTag update #4 (I think I can stick a fork in it now)

I've slowly but surely made progress on my bench power supply. I think my JTAG issues are a thing of the past. I've done a couple things to ensure reliable communications, and I've now got the AVR Dragon running at 2 MHz with 0 errors so far. First, I put the 20pf capacitor on the JTAG clock line, at the breadboard side. I know I derided the lowly 20pf cap in the past as a pawn of the Capacitor Cartels, but I'm eating crow now.

The second thing I did was to create a JTAG "Bread Head", so named in and inspired from this post on Blondihacks: Bread Head. I'm not a great photographer, and macro shots seem to be even harder, but here it goes:

My Atmel 644 (and pin compatible DIP 40s) JTAG
Breadboard adapter. I could probably trim a little more
perfboard off the top.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bench PSU: AVR JTag update #3

In my last post, I reported that I got my AVR Dragon to work in a 5V circuit by creating what I called a "shielded JTAG cable":

I speculated that "cross talk" interference might have been causing my un-reliable JTAG when running my circuit at 5V. (It worked fine at 3.3V, but some components in my final circuit are 5V parts, I also noticed that many 20 Mhz AVRs are only rated to run at a full 20Mhz above about 4.5V)

I got my DSO Quad hobbyist class digital scope last week, and I was all set to write up a really scientific post documenting my construction and testing of a shielded AVR cable, then something strange happened. I switched to another 2x5 "unshielded" JTAG cable to reproduce my original problem. When I hooked up my DSO to the JTAG clock line, the programming functionality worked flawlessly at 5 Volts! Curse you, Heisenberg! (Yes, I know that this is not really the meaning of the Uncertainty Principle, but any time I run across a case where the act of measuring something alters the quantity I'm trying to measure, I think it it).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Windows Installers - Having it your way.

Despite being my blog about "software and electronics", I've been sparse on posts about what's historically been my bread and butter - the Windows Desktop platform, still the best thing to happen to computing since sliced bread ... and butter. It's just not as sexy as the exotic embedded stuff or the mobile platform du jour.

Aynways I've been meaning to compile and post a list of windows tools that I think rock. I'm always surprised when I find out someone whos been using windows for a long time doesn't knwo about some particular tool I've been using forever and think is essential, "what, you mean you've never heard of SciTE?".

7-zip is definitely a tool in that category. It can open just about anything considered an "archive" format, zip, gzip, tar, rar, iso, and one that I find handy when something's gone wrong: msi and cabs.

I recently got my atmel cpld JTAG programmer, and wanted to install the AtmelISP software. For some reason only known to my PC, the installer refused to complete, and performed a lat minute cancel/rollback at the end of the install.

While the fail dialog was up, I used Sysinterals procmon (another rockin tool, by the way) to find out the installer wrote some temp files that happened to be "msi" (Microsoft installer packages). I copied the msi files and opened with 7zip, which allowed me to extract the atmel isp software. This worked in this case becasue there were no critical scripts run by the installer other that to install ftdi drivers, which I already had installed.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bench PSU: AVR JTag update #2 (it's alive!)

I think I figured out the noise issue on my ATmega setup.

After I posted my ATDH1150 teardown yesterday, I got to thinking about the "JTAG-X" port on the device:

It's a 2x7 JTAG port that looks to be wired to the same lines as the 2x5 "JTAG-A", except that one of the two rows is almost, if not all, connected to GND. I'd seen this done other ribbon cable type connections, but I never really thought much about why this was done. The effect of it is to make every other wire in the ribbon a GND line. I'm probably butchering terminology here, but I think this is a form of shielding. It helps to reduce electromagnetic interference, or cross-talk(is that the right term?) between the signal lines.

My experiments so far with my AVR Dragon-breadboard setup lead me to strongly suspect that noise was the culprit, and contrary to my initial intuition, many types of noise can become more of  problem with higher voltages.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

ATDH1150USB mini tear down.

Last month I mentioned the ATDH1150USB Atmel CPLD JTAG programmer, and my efforts to home-brew my own programmer based on some ancient code I found on Atmel's website.

The escalating level of effort required to make my own programmer outweighed the $45 it cost to just buy the Atmel programmer. Slightly annoying, since I already own an Atmel branded JTAG device, the AVR Dragon.

There's scant information on the web about the 1150, unlike it's popular Altera cousin the "USB Blaster".

Here's the hardware that came in the box:

Box contents: mini USB cable, a loooong (I estimate 18") 2x5 JTAG ribbon cable,
and a 6" 'JTAG-X" 

The first thing I did was immediately void my warranty(does this thing even have one? I have no idea, I'm guessing that the folks at Atmel would be laid back if I ever ran into issues, this isn't a consumer device. )

Bench PSU: AVR JTag update

I did some more experimenting with my AVR Dragon JTAG woes today, despite not really having the time (I was supposed to file my taxes, but thanks to the District of Columbia, I get one more day. Why put off until tomorrow what you could easily do the day after tomorrow?

To summarize my last post:

ATmega 644 in a breadboard, JTAG functionality only seems to work reliably when powered at 3.3V vs 5V.

I was a little distraught that I had to spend time with dumb issues like this, and not on to cooler stuff. In building this power supply though, I'm sure that I'm going to face a lot of noise issues. I felt dumb.

Well, I'm an Engineer, and what do Engineers do when they feel dumb? They get empirical. Hypothesize, Measure, Test, Rinse, Repeat. Through process of elimination, I knew I could come up with a list of things that were not the cause of my problems. I made a list of random notes as I tried various things that might show a different behavior.

Monday, April 16, 2012

AVR JTAG programming oddities

I recently launched a new project, I'm working on a bench power supply. I've wanted to do the "old ATX PC PSU to bench power supply" thing for a while, and there was a recent series on the EEVBLOG whose design I'm taking a lot of inspiration from. (That David Jones is a freakin' genius). I want to have a little more "kapow" than his design, 0-9 V, 3 channels. I don't know if that's a folly on my part, but time will tell.

I finished up the "thinking a lot about it" phase, where I watch TV and daydream about what I want to do, and I moved into the prototype/experiment/pre-design phase.

I'm going to use an ATmega 644 as the main MCU to drive my logic. I'm wavering between that and the ATmega 328, but I just think the 328 probably doesn't have enough pins.

I've thrown together a few lines of code for doing the LCD display logic, using a "HD4478x" library for AVR's I found on the internet(I'll wait until my project is farther along before giving credit, since I might swap it out or roll my own in the end).

I went to test on a breadboard tonight and I discovered something very perplexing that I've not run into before...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wifi Links.

I haven't made any progress on the Wifi project lately. I've been on a pseudo-vacation for the past week.

In case you've landed here from Google with an interest in the MRF24WB0MA Wifi board from Microchip, I've got  few interesting projects I've run across you may find interesting.

"Jeff", trying(unsuccessfully?) to get the board working with an Arduino:

"Manis B", got a webserver running on an Arduino with the board:
(Also, really nice, pragmatic setup with connecting the pads, made me realize my mount was overkill - but fun)

"Blondihacks", did extensive experimentation with the board with an Atmega 168:
(Also, a fantastically done write-up, even though she deems it "a failed experiment")

And last but not least, one for my favorite blogs, Dangerous Prototypes, recently posted about a MCW1001A chip that is a companion to the MRF24WB0 boards that implements the TCP stack for you and communicates via UART:


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CPLDs, and the importance of knowing when to quit.

As an engineer, I can have a natural tendency to become obsessed with problem solving. Every problem I come across is a personal test, "If this problem is solvable, I will be victorious, I will conquer it". I think the hard thing can be recognizing when the solution isn't worth the effort. The ability to spot this before others is what can make a great manager, that's not what this post is about, however.

Let me tell you a little story about CPLD's:

Now if you ask my wife, she'll tell you I'm the cheapest, stingiest man alive, if you ask my mother, well she'd probably agree, but if you asked me, I'd tell you I just take pride in being resourceful. I've always had a hard time paying someone to do something I could easily do myself.

Friday, March 23, 2012


As a technophile, I think we're living in some pretty exciting times. (Wait, does "technophile" mean I like glow-sticks and pacifiers, or gadgets and software?). I think we've only hit the tip of the iceberg so to speak, in human progress, I often wonder what life will be like 500 years from now. Will this blog be archived on a microscopic chip containing all web content of the 21st century? Will a server in a city in a Martian colony house such a chip? Who knows? I probably wont, unless the secret to immortality is unlocked in the next 50 years or so (not necessarily so far fetched, either, wow!)

Anyways, there are some pretty big hurdles to overcome before we achieve total technological enlightenment as a species, and I think currently, there is no bigger obstacle than power and energy. The predominant technology in use for alkaline batteries has not changed significantly in over fifty years. What other area of technology has progressed that slowly? Oh wait I know, the other predominant portable energy-store, petroleum based fuels. Gasoline is pretty much the same thing folks were using 100 years ago. Why has nothing better come along? Well, the old technologies have a lot of benefits that have proven difficult to exceed in all aspects: simple, cheap, safe(relatively speaking), and dense. It's hard to beat the energy density per dollar of a AA battery or especially a gallon of gas. The problem is that they are not good enough, and will only hold us back. I don't have the answer. If I did, I'd probably not be putting it on a blog, but programming atmegas sipping mojitos on a Martian colony financed with the trillions I made cashing in on my solution (maybe I'd even break down and buy a Windows Phone, I do want one).

Somehow this post developed into an offbeat segue into what I really wanted to mention in a short post...

In researching mobile power options and designs for future projects, (2012 is the year of the robot, I mean it this time!), I ran across this on Hack a Day. A clever device utilizing a boost converter to suck the last drops of juice from a pair of AA's. This is not unlike, in principle, the myriad "Joule thief" type circuits various people have built and documented on the Internet, but I'm particularly impressed with this guy for a) putting together such a well thought out design, and b) turning this idea into a product. Check out his his blog about it here.

The utility of the device is extremely well thought out, you can use it as a raw power source, but there are also placeholders on the pcb to turn it into an led flashlight, or a breadboard power supply. There's an on-off switch as well as a switch for selecting 5 or 3.3 volts from the regulator. There's also an led power-on indicator.

The fact that he turned his passion into a marketable product, however is probably the most inspirational thing to me. I'd love to turn my hobbies into something that is financially rewarding as well as soul fulfilling. I'm going to pick up a few of his converters with next my next hobby budget cycle.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Android ADT r17 released today.

[Updated, it's the ADTr17 that's was released]

Google released the final/stable version 17 of the ADT today. There are a number of fixes and improvements that almost make me feel that the fine folks at Google read my blog, or at least are inside my head, reading my thoughts - which is entirely plausible too.

Check out the full release notes here

Of special interest to me are:

  • Better, automated jar dependency support: link
  • "Added a feature that allows you to run some code only in debug mode. Builds now generate a class called BuildConfigcontaining a DEBUG constant that is automatically set according to your build type." While this does not address my grievances, it's a step in the right direction.
  • Hardware virtualization support for emulator images based on x86, link. I haven't tried it out yet, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this gives a much needed shot in the arm (see what I did there?) to emulator performance. *And yes, I know my pun didn't really make sense.
  • Support for hardware GPU on the emulator: link. This is a big one!   Maybe the openGL support is better on the emulator now too.
  • Fixes for Proguard, with the "Conversion to Dalvik format failed with error 1"issue fixed. I wasted an entire evening and then some on that once, though I eventually fixed it by splicing a newer version of proguard into my local ADK.

I have a new version of Sedition almost ready to go, with only minor tweaks needed (most of the time needed will be QA'ing my tweaks). I think I'll wait until I publish again before kicking the tires on this release.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

MRF24WB0MA Wifi board update.

(For various values of  'success' at least)

I finally have the board physically put together:

Not pretty, but I think it will work.

After drilling the pcb holes for the .1" headers, I am now certain that surface mounting was the way to go for the daughterboard. I never would have been able to get the accuracy needed with my uber cheapo drill press, it actually moves about 0.5mm when you apply too much vertical force to the press, so about half way through the job I realized that slow drilling was the key to better accuracy. Still, I don't think I could pull off drilling holes for 0.05" headers.

To do a surface mount solder, I "pre-soldered" the pads where the board would be sitting:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Perfectly etched Wifi host board

I did a second take at doing a toner transfer. This time it came out flawlessly. I did a few things differently. I dont know if any or all of these thing contributed, but I really could not have hoped for a better result.

Here's what I changed:

  • Used a part of a glossy magazine that was mostly white space. The first printing was on top of a color image in the magazine.
  • Once the magazine was lying on the copper, I covered it with a small piece of laser printer paper, instead of ironing directly
  • Maxed the iron setting, and waited a good 10 minutes before starting to iron.
  • Used constant motion of the iron, and made sure that all parts of the iron visited all parts of the copper, so that whatever "sweet spot" that was yeilding good transfer was hitting all parts of the copper.
  • Ironed until I did 300% of what I thought was necessary, basically ironed the crap out of it.
  • Let it soak in water for 2 hours before even attempting to remove the magazine paper from the copper.

 I dremeled and etched the board this evening, and even let my kids watch from a distance.

Fresh etched board. It's not soldered yet.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Microchip Wifi update.

My wifi board project has moved kind of slow lately. When I last left off, before the holidays last year, I had ordered 1.27 mm headers needed to make my planned adapter board to a more reasonable 2.54 mm pitch. I've been working with the awesome KiCid to design the adapter. While KiCad is amazing in what it lets you do for free, the user interface is not the most intuitive (I common phenomenon it seems in software designed be hardware people). It turns out that I think I may forgo the 1.27 header and try to mount the Wifi daughter board surface mount. I have a low-end pcb drill press for drilling through-holes, but I have serious doubts that I would be able to drill with the precision needed.

Anyways, I took the plunge this evening and decided to attempt a toner-transfer to a copper-clad. The result is this:
Try again!
I find myself trying to remember some Edison quotes about failure and perseverance. When I was ironing the thing I was convinced it was going to come out perfectly. I thoroughly washed clad ahead of time, I found the glossiest magazine paper I could find, and I ironed it for so long that I thought I was going to scorch the paper. Yet you can clearly see in the top traces where the steam-holes in my iron where. 

I was doing this late night, my whole family was asleep, so I tip towed through the house, fruitlessly searching for my wife's nail-polish remover, to remove the toner. 

As far as my final plans for what I'm going to actually do with the board, I'm leaning toward trying to make my own device inspired by openPicus. It is a general purpose standalone Wifi/tcp/http enabled I/O board. My only problem is that the pic chips I have are not nearly powerful enough to run the openPicus firmware, and I'm having a hard time finding dip PIC24's with 256k of flash, so I may peruse the code and see if I can use a subset of it.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Back by unpopular demand.

My posts have trailed off lately. I aim to change that. I was approaching burnout late last year with all that I had going on in my life. I'm easing back into things, taking care not to over extend myself.

Burnout can take a surprisingly long time to fully recover from. It's not that I've not kept busy, I put out a new version of Sedition, and taken on a new job that requires a lot of learning new things (which I love).


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cloudifying Sedition

Recently, Sedition "" hit the various Android markets I publish to. It was supposed to be the version that finalized the feature set. Of course, I can leave it alone. I've recently started a new job, and for the first time, I work on web/server/'cloud' based technologies. It is interesting in that I absolutely love learning new things, but it's also tough in that I have so much to learn before I feel I can develop software with the speed and craft that I can with desktop and embedded software.

In the previous version of Sedition, I'd experimented with a high score library called "Score Ninja", a mostly painless way to add a high score system to your game. You go to the Score Ninja website register a game, and get a game id, then download a jar and link your game with that, with a few calls into the library to post or retrieve scores. Users are required to download a scoreninja app from the market which handles all of the communication.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Crufty New Year!

It's been quite a month for me on the personal side. I've switched jobs, hosted my family for Christmas, and spent the week before Christmas in California for training for my new job. I've never written much about my professional life on this blog, but I will say that I'm no longer in the video game industry, and I get to work mostly from home, and I'll get the chance to work in Scala, so it's a good thing!

I really wanted to make a new Sedition release before the end of the year, and I have been putting a lot of work into it in the last month, considering what little time I've had. I even spent a few hours on a layover in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport coding. (A paranoid part of me wondered if someone might look over my shoulder and see me writing code about bombs and explosions and get the wrong impression :) ).

One unexpected snag I ran into was that I decided it was time to update the ADK  and all the 3rd party libraries I was using before the next release. I ran into a few tough-to-figure-out problems. If I had skipped the ADK/3rd party lib updates, I probably would have been able to make a release by now.

Nothing to report on the electronics front, I'm focused on Sedition, and recovering from the verge of burnout from spreading myself too thin last year.