Posts Tagged 'Arduino'

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’


Fear of the Unknown

Humans are strange creatures. In general we like things to be nice and predictable; the same tomorrow as today, and the same as yesterday. I don’t have any hard data to reference, but I suspect that, overall, the human race is rather conservative. We don’t like new things that challenge our current beliefs and knowledge. This is ironic, considering that we now live in a time where change is about the only reliable constant, and new things are appearing at an astounding pace. Continue reading ‘Fear of the Unknown’

Small displays for microcontrollers

Over the years I have found that, at least for me, there are two major annoyances of working with microcontrollers: Packaging and a user interface. I’ve dealt with the packaging annoyance by resorting to techniques from the past involving wood (see my O’Reilly article here) or employing non-conventional packages (like an electrical junction box from Home Depot or a section of PVC or ABS pipe). When I finally get my CNC router/cutter up and running I will be able to easily make neat square holes in plastic and metal panels, but until then I’m fine with mounting my MSP430, or PIC, or Arduino, or whatever, on a wood base and just rolling with that. Or I can stuff it into a section of 3″ PVC and hang it in the olive tree so it can monitor the number of hummingbirds that visit the feeder each day and the level of the food in the feeder.

But that leaves the other source of sand in my swimsuit: The user interface. A serial interface, either via USB or RS-232, is fine for some things, but it’s not exactly what I would call user-friendly. Cryptic commands to remember (I use a cheatsheet), and sometimes equally cryptic responses to decipher. Sure, a serial interface can be implemented so that it looks like a pared-down terminal of some sort, but that represents a significant amount of code to handle the input/output, parsing, and response generation, and microntrollers don’t usually have a significant amount of memory. If I’m going to put that much effort into the code for the user interface then why not build something really nice? Like, for example, a color TFT display with a touchscreen? It’s actually not that hard to do.

Continue reading ‘Small displays for microcontrollers’

Fun with book titles

Well, it seems that there is a problem with my latest book. Turns out that someone in Europe decided to create an e-book and name it “Arduino In a Nutshell”. Well, OK, but that’s not cool, because O’Reilly has been using the “Nutshell” titles for many years. It even states in the front of the Nutshell books that the Nutshell theme is a registered trademark (but IANAL). I’m a bit irked by all this, as you may well imagine.

But rather than pick a fight and piss off the Arduino community, which neither I or O’Reilly really want to do, my book will get a new title. And the copyright registration will have to change, and the ISBN number will probably have to change, and so on.

The current front-runner in the title race is “Arduino: A Technical Reference”, with some form of clever subtitle to go along with it (subtitles are all the rage these days, it would seem). I originally wanted to call it “The Arduino Technical Reference” because after all, that is what it is. I write technical references and textbooks, I don’t do “99 Amazing Projects” books (complex projects are hard to do and document well in a short time frame, simple projects are easy–I suspect that’s why there are a lot of the amazing simple projects books). But technical authors don’t often get to name their own books when publishing through mass-market outlets, mainly due to marketing concerns and editorial whims.

If you have downloaded an early release version of the book, safeguard it. That is the last and only release that will have the original title. Congratulations, you now own a collector’s item.

I’m hoping it just all slides quietly under the bridge. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.


UPDATE 9 April 2016

My latest book is now officially called “Arduino: A Technical Reference” with some additional sub-title stuff (O’Reilly seems to really like sub-titles). It’s available now for pre-order on Amazon and of course from O’Reilly directly.

Useful Modules for Arduino (and other things)

While working on “Arduino In a Nutshell” (my latest book) I managed to accumulate a lot (and I mean, a lot) of shields, modules, and components. My shop is overflowing. I thought I’d share some of the more interesting and useful ones. Disclaimer: I don’t get any commissions from posting these, I just happen to like them.

Continue reading ‘Useful Modules for Arduino (and other things)’

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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.