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.

Electronics-Lab.com 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 181.fm - 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 DIYplanner.com - 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 http://www.officeworld.com/Worlds-Biggest-Selection/10887/07Q3/ 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)