Fun with Electronics and Code

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Great Kickstart Project that closes on the 15th of july

Check out this cool kickstart project. It will allow you to test your own Arduino experiment in space using a myriad of sensors.

Are you interested in building your own devices but don’t know were to start?

well here is a good place
Makers Shed has a kit and instruction to using the features of an embedded device. Everything you need to get started.

Also I am currently building a new Storage Server out of a Proliant N40L Microserver. I’ll have more on that with pictures soon.

New life for the GPRT

Well there is new life for the Grand Prix Race Timer that I build earlier this year. project. Over the last couple of weeks I have been talking with some friends and I came up with a new use for the Netduino controller. It is a quiz machine (think Jeopardy). Not sure yet if it will be a 4 or 8 person device but each participant will have a trigger and then when a question is asked the first person to trigger it will get to answer. I am hoping to use the controller with no hardware changes but just build a different device to plug into it and provide the triggers for the players. Then do an LED at each station that shows which one was clicked first. Next week I’ll be working out the hardware design and then getting the parts, then I’ll do the code changes over Christmas and New Years.

For the trigger I am going to do a short piece of PVC with end caps and then a trigger at the top. Then a LED that will sit on the table in front of them (2 actually, 1 pointing forward and 1 pointing backwards). All of this coming to a collector that would host the 2 Ethernet cables going back to the controller.

If you have any ideas about how to make this better please let me know.

MSDN Channel 9’s coding4fun blog picks up my track timer

Our HP Touchpad Arrived!

Week ago last Friday we received the HP Touchpad I ordered as part of the employee special in the US. I was going to post a Pic the second it got here but instead decided to wait and post my impressions after working with it for a while. Well after having it more than a week I can say this is one fun yet functional device. I remember looking at an original iPad a while back and not really liking it. Then looking at the androids and liking them but just could not justify the expense (~$300 for a decent one). When I heard the announcement on the HP Touchpad I looked into it but the cost (499$) is what a netbook or economy laptop cost. So when HP started these fire sale on the devices I tried to get one. However, I was working a big project that weekend and didn’t hear about it until long after they sold out.

Hoping that HP would have an employee sale, I started looking into the device more. I found out that the devs over at XDA developers were working on a Android port for the Touchpad and I then  I figured “hey if WebOS doesn’t turn out I can always flash it to Android like I did with my HTC tilt 2 last year”. Well the sale finally came. I was able to sag one and it only took ~36 hours to show up (Good job HP!!!).

For the last week I have been working on it with my wife and the kids, and of course discovering some of the games like Tanked (which allows up to 4 players on the device or I can play again someone on my Pre2!).  Bottom line I have to say I am happy with WebOS and wont be switching to Android. Now I will still load up the dual boot on an SD card to check it out but I don’t think I will be re flashing it. In addition, my wife is starting to like it, so most likely it will become her device.

The thing that converted me was not something you get standard on the device, it is called  Preware. It is a homebrew app store that has a ton of applications, themes, patches and tweaks for WebOS devices (which can brick your phone / touchpad if you’re not careful). With that I was able to patch the functionality on the browser (and other areas) so that it works a lot more like a desktop one (hold click to bring up a context menu and such). Also the browser experience on the WebOS is very fast and in many cases is better than my Vista Laptop or Linux Mint workstation running Firefox and Chrome. I have only found 1 website that would not work on it but it was an obscure one with lots of custom flash. One other thing they have is a patch for the Bluetooth driver that allows your WebOS device to pair with a Lego Mindstorm NXT. Not sure what I will do with that yet but it does sound promising.

Defiantly hoping HP will restart manufacturing and realize that the issues was price point and not feature set. In face the only thing that I have not been able to find was a decent mapping software. The integrated Google or Bing maps on WebOS devices lets you see maps and plan routes but don’t do turn by turn. Nav-It that is available from preware kind of works but is not stable and is hard to use. That is only thing I missed about my old HTC Tilt 2 with Windows Mobile (before I put Android on it) is Bing. That is one of the best mobile apps by far and in my opinion the only think Microsoft got right on pre-Windows Phone 7 devices.

More updates to follow.

.NET Micro Framework game console you can built!

Well a couple of the community leaders over at the Netduino forums has turned out an embedded project that is a full-blown PIX-6T4 console (think paddles and asteroids).  You can check it out here:  They have videos of its operations and full build instructions.

Moonlight (Silverlight for unix) running on android

Here is another example of a great port for Silverlight. This shows moonlight (the unix version of Silverlight) running on an Android tablet and phone. Given that they switched all of us at work to the Palm Pre 2 and HP Veer, this has me wondering what it would take to port Moonlight  over to HP WebOS.

Track Timer – Additional Build Details and Source code

Well it has been busy the last few months, but I finally freed up enough time to add the design documents for the Grand Prix Timer to the build page on my Blog and add the source code to a new Codeplex project. With these items you should be able to build your own after doing a little homework.

Note: All the design documents I have created are now uploaded. However if you have any questions please let me know and I will add details where needed.

New project

Work has been quite busy since moving to a new team in march but with summer in full swing I have been look at what to do for my next project. Well my kids have been interested in electronics along with some others from our home schooling group. Also I have received a lot of questions about how the electronic eyes work in the Grand Prix Finish line worked. So with that I am going to start doing a series on simple set of circuits that will demonstrate basic electronic principles and work up to Integrated Circuits.If you have any in particular you would like to see me do please drop me a line.

Great new netduino project – a gieger counter that tweets

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