Monday, October 19, 2009

Christmas Lights

I stopped by Big Lots and picked up some Christmas LED lights. The ones with the most potential is the battery operated strings - there are a dozen LEDs and a battery case - I don't plan on batteries - this summer i picked up cell phone charger at a yard sale that put out 5 vots @ 1amp for $.25 - an Arduino (clone) one of Adaftruit industries wave shield, a little project re-purposed for Christmas, and some power FET's - My cubby will look soooooo spiffy this Christmas. Stay Tuned - file (and pix) at 11

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kinda Scarry

I started getting phone calls @ work about my loan applications... Trouble is I hadn't made any!
Plus I NEVER use my voice number @ work for any online transactions (that i remember) - That is why I got Google Voice...

Then I hear about all the passwords that someone got from Hotmail, Comcast, Gmail... Seems that I was one of the" lucky" few and they have my information - and evidently tried to get some money.

Kinda scary when everyone sends you an email with you account credentials when you signup and /or change your password - if someone gets your main email password - they have all those too...

Changed my password to something that will never be on any rainbow lists.. and will keep changing it for a while .

Hope you faired better

Sunday, August 30, 2009

AVR ISP Programmer needed


I have a Arduino clone from Modern Devices that hadn't been used in a while, and when I tried to use it, it wouldn't sync up with the Software on the PC - Either I blew it away somehow or it lost its little programmable mind - so I was looking around for a way to re-flash its brain and try again (don't you wish that you could get your brain freshened up every once in a while?)

I was futzing around looking at things other people found interesting in Google reader, which took me to this forum message which linked me to This Project @ Google.code that let you program a AVR chip with an Arduino. I have an extra shield from Adafruit - so i thought I'd try it out.

Stay Tuned - film @ 11

Monday, July 20, 2009

Its beginning to sound a lot like christmas

Its half way though the year already and the Christmas lights project is just starting.

I got a couple of kits from through a group buy.

A couple of weeks ago the Lynx Express 16 channel showed up, and this week finally got the SSR4 kit(s).

I bought an old 4 channel scope (nessie) and then just this week got my first real Soldering iron a Weller WES51 - Amazon had the best price and I am a cheap.

I had gotten a couple of boards called a DMX dongle early in the year - but the 48$ price tag for the parts to populate the board has always stopped me, and with a bunch of Arduinos laying around i just thought that I could use one of those - they were microprocessors after all. The dongle just has a usb to RS232 module, a PIC chip and a very authoratative looking crystal oscillator module. I guess DMX has some pretty precise timing needs.

I did some googling and found these articles.
Ethernet DMX - that hooked an Ethernet shield and put out DMX.

Found a piece of code that appears almost everywhere - DMX Shield für Arduino.

On the Arduino Playground they have that looks promising.

I Just need the Arduino board to interface the USB to the 485 for dmx - There is pd software to drive the

Since I have an extra set of parts for a second SSR4 kit i will be stealing one of the 485 chips to drive the ssr4 and 16 channel LYNX for a while until i get enough parts together to make another order from mouser. has some a library on google code that does DMX with and Arduino

Wouldn't it be kewl to use Adafruit Wave shield and some extra code to sync some amimation code from the same SD card - and drive a smallish Christmas tree or display - Me thinks that this would overload things somewhat - but what the heck - i have all the parts, and lots of time to Investigate (waste) :-)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Google Maps in C#

I like to scrounge around at yard sales and pick up little bits of tech for pennies on a dollar. Given a large number of yard sales and the fact that i was not born around here and haven't a clue where XYZ street is - i have been playing around with Google maps.

You know the drill scan in the classifieds - cut and paste the address into a Google and and save the resultant map in my maps- print and take it along. The kewlest part is to send the location to the Garmin and then use it to find places.

The shortcoming of all this is the map itself - it is designed to be used online - i need a way to letter or number the markers on the map so i can see which marker goes with which address. i found this code - now i have to get the home computer online so i can use it from a Hot Spot - or find a "free" place on the web to host it. Any ideas?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sun rocks-n-rolls a datacenter in a box...

Seems everybody (Sun, Microsoft, Google)  is putting a lot of servers in a shipping container and just stack and plug in in Lego fashion to get a data center.  Cheaper than building an expensive building, I guess. Lets talk about commodity data centers....LOL

Sun took one of their containers to a earthquake testing facility and subjected it to the same shaking as the Northridge earthquake.  Having been dead center on top of the epicenter, I can attest that it was quite an experience - I wish my apartment fared as well...

Anyone have a spare container they want to get rid of??? Also about a 1000 motherboards???

I especially like the single voltage power supply and battery that Google uses...

RGB 7 segment display hack

Markus  hacked  a  7  segment display with some SMD RGB LEDs - the outcome is quite impressive.... <read more>

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

EBAY Warning!!! eBay killed my machine

I was surfing eBay with google chrome, and suddenly was presented with the red malware screen saying that if you continued you could harm you computer.  I dutifully aborted quite a few times. But there was a particularly tasty price on a pair of blue tooth headphones, so i said to myself, "Self what harm could there be?  I have the latest software both Norton and a mall ware checker", so I clicked.  Got a "Aw Snap" couldn't load the page and forgot about it.

Until I went to boot my machine this morning - it was complaining that there was no operating system and that it couldn't find NTLDR.  I freaked, yelled, screamed, pulled out my hair, and in general made a complete fool of myself.   I felt like I deserved it.  The computer had run perfectly for a year or more.  Thankfully i had a second computer sitting right next to the now dead one, and googled some suggestions. However non of them worked and I had to dig out the software recovery disks and restore the system loosing all the pictures, music, Arduino code, and other stuff I wont miss until I need them again.  Plus the fact that it took 5 hours to get the machine back to square one.

I know it was MalWare, because the MBR and boot software was missing, but all the partitions information, and the recovery partition was still there - just the system partition was "bad"

Oh well - stay away from eBay until they figure out how to mitigate this problem. It seems to not actually be eBay itself, but one of the third party software toolkit websites that help out eBay listings, pictures and stuff.  I feel real sorry for the people trying to make a few bucks.  Not all that sorry, but a little.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Favorite Software

===== note to self - put in links ==== in the mean time use google

Windows XP - for my main desktop - still my favorite
Ubuntu Desktop - in a bunch of vmware virtual machines
Vmware - lets me test lots of stuff
Drop Box - dead easy way to transfer stuff around among machines and vms
Search Everything - Lets me find things in a multi terabyte storage space
keypass - In my dropbox so i can keep track of logins
ccleaner - helps keep detritus from laying around -
notepad++ - general text and source editing
synergy - shares one keyboard and mouse across many machines
google chrome - almost my favorite web browser
Firefox / Thunderbird - favorite web and mail clients
portable apps - lots of little things that don't need to be installed - just the thing for a thumbdrive - or a new vm
Winamp - listen to music - shoutcast radio mostly
VideoLAN - Will play just about everything and what it can't I use Mediaplayer clasic
truecrypt - for all my portable drives - just in case they get lost
nomp - to get the stuff from newsgroups
quickpar- to make sure I got it from the newsgroups
winrar - to unpack stuff from the newsgroups
eraser - to get rid of stuff from the newsgroups

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Anti burn coffer warmer - crazy idea

I have this insane idea to make one of those coffee warmers turn off after a while. So your coffee won't evaporate and the warmer cook the sludge to glass on the bottom of your cup.

Not having a lot of room in the innards of the warmer - parts count becomes the limiting factor. Should be doable with a surface mount tiny2313 running on its internal clock, driving a sensitive gate triac, and a transformerless power supply. No opto-isolators will be necessary since the whole circuit will be hot, literally. Wonder what the temperature specs are on the AVR?

I found a nice APP note @ Microchip -Transformerless Power Supplies: Resistive and Capacitive with a couple of suitable power supply circuits. The capacitor circuit looked a little more inviting - if a little pricier - 10w resistors tend to be BIG.

So the first hurdle surmounted. Now all I have to do is get the Microcontroller circuit found - Any ideas?

DISCLAIMER! Not advised for the first timer, if you mess up working with this kind of circuit your coffee cup won't be the only thing cooked - you'll just be dead. And your Mom will complain about that horrible stink from little Johny's shop. So don't blame me.