Archive for the 'Hardware' Category

The ESR electronics Tricorder: Update

In case anyone is wondering, the ESR project isn’t dead, I’m just waiting for some small OLED displays to show up. I ordered these a while back (in December), and they have yet to arrive. The plan is to use some of the empty space on the front panel next to the display already slated to go there. Here’s what it looks like:

oled_disp_crop

It has a 128 x 32 display space with an I2C interface. You can find this OLED display on eBay, and they go for around $4 each.

It was originally slated to arrive by the 3rd of January, and the tracking info says it’s supposed to show up today, so we’ll see.

 

1000 mW Laser Engraver

A while back I bought an Neje DK-8-KZ 1W laser engraver. It was on sale, and I was curious about it. At only 1W (1000 mW) I knew I wasn’t going to be cutting anything except paper with it, but I was looking for another way to create engraved labeling on plastic enclosures. Well, it can do that, with some limitations, and it works pretty well on wood, but my biggest aggravation has been just getting it to actually put the engraving where I want it to go, and also deal with the automatic scaling it employs.

Continue reading ‘1000 mW Laser Engraver’

C.H.I.P: The VGA test setup

Here are some images of the CHIP test setup I cobbled together. It’s not pretty, but that’s not important for right now. It works, and it demonstrates one way to assemble things and get a working single-board Linux system up and running. Continue reading ‘C.H.I.P: The VGA test setup’

Chinese CNC Tools

Maybe I’m spoiled, or just out of sync with things, but when I worked with professional CNC equipment (I worked on the control systems and servo amplifiers for big things like vertical mills, jig bores and huge lathes) the software was usually custom made for a particular machine type. If not, then it was some type of high-reliability real-time operating system or maybe a real-time OS for a minicomputer, like a PDP-11 or the IBM Series I machines.

But at the price some of the Chinese CNC tools are going for these days it would be nuts to expect them to come with custom control software. Instead, a lot of them come with Windows-based software, and some of that is of dubious heritage. As someone who likes to open the hood on things the poke around inside, Windows is a problem for me. I prefer to use Linux instead, but when the shiny new CNC tool that just arrived only comes with Windows software, then it’s time to start looking for alternative software. Continue reading ‘Chinese CNC Tools’

More CHIP computer notes

After getting the VGA “DIP” add-on PCB installed and running I’ve been playing around with the CHIP a bit more. Between the day job and a couple of books in progress I don’t have a whole lot of spare time, but I did find out a few interesting things. Continue reading ‘More CHIP computer notes’

Fun with Bluetooth and Android

About a month ago I went on vacation with my family, part of which involved a large cruise ship. I also had a new Samsung Galaxy phone, and I was curious to see what it could do. I had been avoiding getting a “smart phone” for a long time, but lack of 4G and generally crappy reception almost everywhere finally pushed me into it. Now I have something that has both WiFi and Bluetooth, in addition to being a phone. Lots of possibilities there. Continue reading ‘Fun with Bluetooth and Android’

The C.H.I.P. has arrived

A while back I discovered the C.H.I.P. single-board computer from the Next Thing, Co.. After checking out their web site and doing a bit of research I pre-ordered four of the $9 units. When they arrived about 2 months ago I eagerly picked a box at random and pulled out the small PCB inside. Continue reading ‘The C.H.I.P. has arrived’


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Little Buddy

An awesome little friend

Jordi the Sheltie passed away in 2008 at the ripe old age of 14. He was the most awesome dog I've ever known.