Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cat Planter

Just click the link - it is a definite smile :-)  Link

Arduino Ethernet and Pachube: remote sensors & web-control

Pachube: Someone has a great idea here.  Set up a website mashup of a lot of peoples remote sensor data. Can even control your arduino from their website, kewl.  They have a section with code dedicated to the Arduino.  It's in beta, and I have in an application.  Soon you too can see how cold it is down in my shop.

I'll have to hook up that sample temperature/humidity sensor I got a long time ago.

Embarassingly Easy Arduino ProtoShield

Stacking Arduino Shields

Hit me like a giant duh - stack in the CENTER to get out of the way of the shield connectors and stuff.

his look a little longer that the ones I got from Adafruit

you can get them from Adafruit for $2 a set or from Digikey for around 6$ if you are ordering from there and want to save a little postage...


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BitBang Arduino Boot Burner

This looks very promising. A way to burn a bootloader (or any code I guess) into a blank mega168chip. using the BitBang mode of the USB chip and a slightly modified version of the AVR jtag program. I just HAVE to try this. [link]

Monday, December 8, 2008

Arduino Wiznet Webserver code

Yes Virginia, you can have a webserver in 14K of memory (that's K as in thousand not gig or meg)

I couldn't find any example code for making a web server with the Arduino 12 IDE - so I knuckled down and struggled through writing my own, and learned a LOT in the meantime. This example displays all the analog pin's values, and lets you set the Digital output pins on or off.  Its HTML web code so it is necessarily messy.  There are comments, such that they are, to try and shed some light on the process.

The Wiznet can deal with more than one connection,  so I had to make sure that any new page got what the current digital pins values. But had to sacrifice the ability to turn all the pins off.

HTML is a bite, and to truly do something that would be useful it would need a telnet connection so we could get some dedicated two way communication - and or a little AJAX code in the browser page to update things in real time.... That is for another day. 

If you change the code - make it more useful - do me a favor and drop me a line letting me know. I'll practice now heaping praise - ohhh awwww - fantastic!!!!

Hope its helps someone....
the code is here

Sunday, December 7, 2008

'duino ethernet - Thanks Limor!!!!

Got one of Lady Ada's Ethernet shield - Got the Wiznet module @ Saelig Company melted a little solder and downloaded some code from

Had to uninstall the 328 and put the 168 back in the Diecimila so I could use the new inbuilt Ethernet library in Arduino12. Pasted in a sample and had telnet echoing back at me ...

Later in a forum post at found some library code here that is supposed to work in Arduino 09 and 10 - more later - film at 11

Don't expect to come up for air until I have a web link to the little beast online and talking back to you...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Getting back the Sent to desktop as a shortcut

I am obsessive about cleaning up stuff on a computer - the one in the shop lost it's send to desiktop as a shortcut link missing and I found this: here
geekgirl.tip: Missing Send To…Desktop as Shortcut
If you can't find the Send To...Desktop as Shortcut option on your Send To menu or if you accidentally delete its shortcut from the SendTo folder, here's how to get it back:
  1. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the SendTo folder.
  2. Right-click in an empty space in the SendTo folder and select New, Text Document from the pop-up menu.
  3. Name the newly created text document:
    Desktop as Shortcut.DESKLINK
    and press Enter.
  4. You'll be warned that changing the file's extension may render the file unusable. Click Yes to change it anyway.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Electronics hobby – the wonder of it all

I started down this path a very long time ago and on the way – 

  • Watching lights blink and buzzers buzz with a battery and a couple of wires was endlessly fascinating ...
  • The wonder of the first crystal radio.
  • The new Popular Electronics showing up each month ...
  • Off to college studying for an EE
  • Building a square root generator with discreet components (transistors for the uninitiated) 
  • Learning how to properly bias a pentode
  • Never having to study much for the first 3 quarters – most of it (except the math) I had sitting in a junk box at home – well that isn't exactly true – I didn't have any 100 horsepower motors in the basement...
  • A newly minted engineer– differential and integral calculus – transient waveform analysis dancing in my head. The telephone company bringing me down to earth rather rudely – just miles and miles of wire strung on poles. With the odd repeater or load box .... terminally boring.
  • Photography At home – building a home densitometer - trying to keep logarithmic circuits stable and calibrated in a cold and damp basement – the fun was endless..
  • The first DIY digital clock
  • Making the densitometer digital....
  • The smell of exploding 150,000mfd capacitors, hot acid, overheated insulation, ozone from 150,000 30,000 volts...
  • Headaches from watching the strobe light too much...
  • Numbers from the past .159 ,12BA6, 2n3055, 741, 723, 555 (now there was a part)...
  • Marriage/children keeping me upstairs too much – the solder oxidizing and the iron rusting over time, that is until they personal computer was published as a kit. building two and a half of them – ahhhhh 8k of memory and toggle switches on a front panel... 
  • Mourning the passing of Southwest Technical Products...
  • The Radio Shack Model 1 and the Apple 2e – Opening the box full of Model 1... 
  • Lots of pixels bouncing around on the screen and endless hours with the adventure series (on tape mind you)...
  • Modems and Running a BBS - 

Fast forward to recent times...

Owning 7 or 8 functional computers – and scads of whale bones... Multiple monitors and flat screens, A home network that fills a full Visio page. All the software known to mankind loaded on terabytes of storage... Coding and Solving immense enterprise software issues daily...

What am I doing for wonder? I'm down  in the basement – melting solder, playing with 'Duinos, making LEDs blink and motors whir, and having the time of my life...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Stepper motors and my arduino has some simple unipolar stepper motor code.  I hooked up some steppers that I got on Ebay and voila it works! 

The motor is driven from a 9 volt supply through a 12v automobile dome light lamp as a load.  The motors were dirt cheap - and with the 9v drive they are rather hard to stall with your fingers.  Now i am only 1/3 the way to a CNC setup.

I have to play with full drive and half stepping a little - just because i can - to better understand the motors.

My goal is to build a cheap CNC like this.

Count to a million

Now that I have the Lady Ada's WAV shield - I thought it would be cute to have it count - problem was in English we have the little problem with 12 through 19 - I found this code on the web - and will be converting it to Arduinoish

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Arduino WAV Shield

Lady Ada has a new WAV Shield board that gives Ardy (my Arduino) a voice. My mind boggled when I saw this - a plethora of useful as well as pernicious projects came to mind.
A random wake up call alarm clock. Something that would say the weather from my weather station... To numerous to count. Ordered one and will have a code fest when it arrives. I betcha she sells out this one early ...
I wonder if you can write to the SD card with her software? That is something that could be KEWL...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Termie a C# serial terminal program & Arduion

Termie a port to C# from Termite is a simple serial terminal program that does almost all the things I need to get started doing some interesting things with the Arduino and the Weather Station. Logging, hex display, and clipboard are the standouts

Am going to set up a automated dump from one instance through com0com simulating the weather station and then going on from there...

Stay tuned film at 11:00

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

C# RS232 Weather stations and com0com

Not being able to leave well enough aalone, i had to try and build some software to talk to the Weather station.
First Things first - I know C# - so i had to track down some example code.
Installed com0com a virtual null modem cable driver.
It installs CNCA0 and CNCB0 ports - Turns out C# doesn't like ports named like that.
I ran the cocm0com setup and reamed the ports com15 and 16.

Ran two instances of the software and voila both instances talked to each other.
Now I have to go home and plug into the weather station and see what I can see.

Other code i found

Have to install the coc0com hub and try talking to the WS with a couple of programs... more info and code to follow.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Weather Station

I got a LaCrosse WS-2317 weather station from
Amazon. When I got it, it was $99 marked down from $279.95. Too cheap not to get.

I had been trying to accumulate parts / to build a DIY weather station using an
Arduino, along with some parts from Sparkfun. Like Weather Board with pressure temperature and humidity. But at over 200$ it wasn’t on top of my list of projects.

I was impressed with what I got with the WS-2317 – a huge box with the base unit, a Rain gauge and a anemometer. Both with long (~30’) wires, simple telephone type connectors that connected to a outdoor wireless sender and a indoor LCD base unit. I finally found that you could plug the inside into the outside unit with a supplied cord, and it would power it, allowing the batteries to act as a backup.

Placing the Anemometer is proving to be a problem it likes to be higher that the surrounding structures – like at least 10’ over anything around – with a two story house and a line of 40 feet trees next to the house – I’ll just have to suffer until I get the nerve to climb the roof and put up a 15’ tower to support it. If the wife will approve (which I doubt, I just ain’t a-gona ask :0)

The included software allowed the base unit to be plugged into a serial port and get the information from the base unit. This was the primary purpose of this exercise, after all. The software included is rather disappointing – looks to be a VB app and is rather limited. But it wrote a DAT file and allowed some what of logging of the data. I settled down with Java and DOTNET to develop something better. In my wandering around the net looking for someone else that walked this path before for some pointers I found
Open2300 – which was a nice interim solution – then I tripped over Weather Underground / Heavy Weather Uploader (WUHU) group on Yahoo and their WUHU application. It is somewhat astounding in that it will read directly from the WS-2317 and then send the data over to the Weather Underground, as well as AWEKAS and HamWeather.

The only problems I have had so far is that a spider decided to set up shop inside the rain gauge ceasing its functionality and until I evicted it.

I hooked up the webcam to
YAWCAM and uploaded a picture out the window to the Weather underground. A nice touch.

The computer that I was using for the Weather station was my Internet computer -= partly because it was the oldest and least used – and it was the only one that had a built in serial port. That meant that I had to leave it turned on all the time – and that meant that that there were three computers on in the loft and it can get quite toasty up there, and of course it was the noisiest. So I got a
cheap PCI serial card and stuck it in the HP and moved all the software over and set up shop there. The serial port installed as com18 and com19!!! – I guess that with all the USB serial cables I use with the Arduino I have instantiated a few ports. I though it was going to be a problem with WUHU but it found each and every one of the ports. Heavy Weather would not have it only knows about com1-4.

So now I can sit at work and see what's happening at home and what is going on around me in the weather world. Kinda neet - Huh?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cheap Local LEDs

A local (to me) group, Dorkbot DC, had a meeting this last weekend that I wish I had know about - They built a LED CUBE project. How come I always find out about this after the fact.

A simple 3x3 LED needs 27 LEDs - there are lots of sources for LEDs on eBay, but I needed a Local source - not in the orient - with the long shipping times. I looked at
Buy Leds Online. I found them listed as a distributor from one of the China Manufactures.

But the one that I actually bought from is FCB Electronics on eBay. 100 LEDs - 25 each red, green, blue and white, and they let me order 2 packs at once for $4.50 each. Shipping wasn't bad either ~$8.00

What did the trick was that they were in the USA and shipping times would be reasonable. Plus they had a Lot of other stuff that I wanted - like 20x4 Blue LCD for under 10$ and lots of other things - this will be a test order. Their spiel is that they are in the USA and shipping times are fast. We will see. If it pans out - I'll try getting some other stuff. In the mean time I will be swimming in LEDs - hopefully soon.

Wiznet $12 Ethernet module for Microcontrollers

Wiznet currently makes a $12 module that is designed to interface with micro controllers. This blog entry has a ton of information about it and the Arduino, like daughter board for its non standard connector and such...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Blinky Lights

My mother would be so proud - Thousands of dollars spent on College - 20 years experience enterprise level software development - and what do I have to show for it??????


How underwhelming - Then again some people collect trains...

Charliplexing or How to drive a lot of LEDs from a few microcontroller pins.

A nice instructable using a microcontroller with limited pins to drive more leds that pins.

How to drive a lot of LEDs from a few microcontroler pins

Plus there is on on how to do it with old LED Christmas tree lights.... Code after I have a chance to make it work.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cheap Custom PCB's

Looks like they batch up a bunch of files from Eagle cad and send you back board(s) for $2.50/sq inch + 10 shipping in around 10 days. Silk screened solder masked double sided boards...


Friday, January 11, 2008

Interactive Mud Hut: I have iPod Mojo

Interactive Mud Hut: I have iPod Mojo

Controlling a IPOD remote with a Arduino

Kill Comercials In Vista with Lifextender

The Wife has a TV card in her Vista computer - I have one too on my XP Machine - but I use SnapStream's Beyond TV to record my shows - one of BT's features that I really like, is the ability to highlight the commercials in the recordings. Now there is a free utility that will do it for vista called Lifextender To quote: Lifextender is a dead-simple commercial-removal application designed exclusively for Windows Vista Media Center users. There is ZERO configuration required, however, there are plenty of options if that's your thing.

Have to get that installed on her machine and see how it works.

SIT - kill off robot callers

Lifehacker found a place that had a wav file of the SIT tone - that little tone that you hear before a recording tells you that a number is disconnected and no longer in use. Now all I have to do is to get it in my telephone answering machine (And Vonage) - should really spice it up some.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Electronics 101 hacking & Arduino

I started down the computer path by taking Electrical Engineering when computers took up rooms. I built my first 2.5 computers with a soldering iron and a lot of little parts.

So it is with fondness I see a lot of people getting down to the basics again - this time with itty bitty computers - Programmable Interface Controllers (PIC) chips. Or Micro controllers. The challenge is to get something useful done in 1k of memory - are you up to it? Some examples are at the bottom.

I ordered an Arduino from Modern Device Company and while I am waiting (breathlessly) I am amassing a lot of stuff to do with it when i get it. (shameless plug:Great Price - excellent service)

More as a list of things to do. Blog
Reprogrammable LED Learns and Plays Back Light Sequences
Bristlebot: A tiny directional vibrobot
Programmable LED
Arduino AVR In System Programmer (ISP) Program a AVR tiny13 from an Arduino
MCU project everyday

Monday, January 7, 2008

TcTemp and Microsoft Installer

I found after three unsuccessful install attempts of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, that you can not have your %temp% and %tmp% user environment variables pointed into the tempory encrypted container built with TrueCrypt TCTEMP.

Another thing you might want to do if you are going to install
Visual Studio 2008, install the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 first. Whenever The VS08 install fails it usually fails in the framework install.

Some Yutz in the Microsoft installer team is doing a ..\ or some other relative thing that is messed up and fails the install.

So as a workaround - I changed both the user Environment variables back to c:\windows\temp and added that directory to the one that is wiped by

Not Ideal - because sometimes Windows holds files open in the temp directory while it is live and CCleaner can't delete it, but it will get most of the others junque that gets stuffed in there. And the temp directory get quite full over time - I mean gigabytes if you are like me and install every software package known to mankind.

Just Though you would like to know what i did...

HTML and RichText Buster

Have you ever copied a text snippet out of Internet Explorer, and pasted it into an editor that understood rich-text, like Lotus Notes, Microsoft Word, or you favorite HTML Designer, and then had to remove all the formatting?? Or had Lotus Notes mangle the text?

Get a program called PURE TEXT from Steven Millers Web Page - It installs in your tray and when you want whats on the clipboard to be reduced to plain old text - you just click on its icon in the system tray, or a hot key combination that you define.

I don't know how I've lived without it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Playing FLV (Flash) videos locally with winamp

I was installing my favorite Music player, WinAmp, on the internet computer and was clicking around the options for the install, and found that it had FLV as one of the video types it could play.

Just yesterday I was looking at a blog and some programs that would Play FLV's, but didn't want to install yet another application. It completes the need for video on that computer. I NEVER use Microsoft media Player, because it will allow videos to phone home - a breach of security in my mind. I either use VLC , or for wmv videos Media Player Classic Neither of these will play an FLV file format. Usually I have to open the flv files with Internet Explorer - (using File -> Open). Now when I download a YouTube video as FLV - or create my own with Camtasia, I can directly open the video in Winamp.

More things I like about Winamp. The best is Shoutcast Radio - there are 100's of streams for every type of musical taste. At work I pop the headphones on - pick a stream that fits my mood, and zone out as I pound out the code - it allows me to block those loud hall meetings... try - their classic rock seems to be the best - or one of the techno streams from Digitally Imported. I like the vocal ones, they at least have a melody line to follow sometimes. Since I treat all this as elevator music, and it should not be intrusive.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

DIY Planner Pages

A friend wanted a source to print out the pages for a Daytimer. I couldn't find my Calendar creator CD so I went looking online for something he could use. I was astonished to find - and open source solution to print those expensive pages for the books.

They have a lot of prebuilt sets as PDFs and they even have an application for mac and PC that you can customize a bit. Check it out.

I am going to open up calc and figure out if it is better to buy the pages or print them. Calculating on the cost of going to my local staples and using their copiers.

Figuring 7 cents a page * 365 pages = $25.55
My printing cost /page for my inkjet runs about $.05 - about half that for the laser printer.

daytimer loose leaf pages I got Were they are selling a set for about $27. Seems they know how to match a price point....

Printing a booklet
- I remember a little program I used YEARS ago - it still exists - ClickBook
it prints a booklet, installs as a printer driver - says that it is vista compatible. - i bet if you combined the printing software above and this you might get something useful (and it would save LOTS of paper)