Saturday, December 29, 2012

Misson Accomplished!

Today on December 29, 2012 at 8:44AM, we reached our fundraising goal! I can't thank our supporters enough. This will definitely help jump start Fried Circuits (our new shop) and enable us to prototype some projects we have designed. 

You can still place an order and once the fundraiser is over, I will order the PCBs which will take about two weeks from OSH Park.

Friday, December 28, 2012

USB Tester 2 Days Left!

It has been a great two weeks, not just because of the holidays, but our fundraiser is doing well. With only two days left, we are very close to reaching our goal. Currently we are at $552, with a goal of $600. If you haven't ordered, please come help us out. I look forward to starting the new year making and shipping the USB Testers as well as getting the OLED backpack into your hands.

USB Tester Front

USB Tester OLED 3D Model

Thank you so much for your support!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Disassembly of an 8 Pin Connector

For a new upcoming project I bought an 8-Pin Mini Din connector from Fry's Electronics and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to take it part. They really should sell it to you separated so that you don't have to disassemble it yourself, possibly damaging the connector. Now that I figured it out, I thought it would be a good idea to to share it since I couldn't find any other sites. Unfortunately, their site doesn't list it, so I couldn't find the part to link to.

The 8-din packaging with the other parts for the project

3D Model of USB Tester OLED Adapter

Before I head out for a holiday break, I wanted to post a teaser of the USB Tester OLED Adapter. I ordered a few PCBs for the first prototype. I was able to breakout all of the unused pins on the Atmega32u4. There are a few that have a via close to the pin instead of a normal header on the edge of the board. I used eagleUp to create the 3D model. You can find it here if you would like to try it: The model is only the PCB, I haven't had a chance to get the parts working yet.

Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

Bluetooth Roomba Part Two

Continued from Part One.

After the MOSFETs arrived! I attempted the rear MOSFET labeled U4 first. Instead of desoldering it, I just clipped the legs and heated up the other side. It come off without a hitch. Cleaned up the pads, added some flux and soldered the new part. Piece of cake, one more and I am done.

Back side MOSFET before removal

Monday, December 17, 2012

USB Tester Fundraiser

Today on 12/17/2012, Tindie launched a new fundraiser system to help new products get off the ground. The USB Tester is one of the first products to use this new system. Our goal is to reach 50 orders or $600. This will help further development of the USB Tester backpacks and will help jump start FriedCircuits.

The way it works is a shop sets a minimum order and you can prepay using the normal Tindie checkout. You are not charged unless the fundraiser meets the goal. Once the two weeks is over and the goal is met, you are charged and we are able to build and ship out the orders. This allows you to support a new product but not put money upfront until there is enough interest.

The orders that were submitted before the fundraiser started will be processed and shipped as soon as the PCB's come in.

You can find the fundraiser here:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our First Product: USB Tester

Today on 12/12/12, we launched our first product! Check out the product description below. If you would like to purchase one you can do so here:

We have launched a new name, FriedCircuits, which will be used for any products that we sell. I am working on a site for product information and documentation (will be shared when completed). 

USB Tester v1

USB Tester v1 Front

USB Tester v1 Front with Jumper

USB Tester v1 Rear

USB has become the core of many projects. In my experience I’ve found it to be troublesome to test USB voltage levels and current usage using a breadboard. They usually consist of holding wires attached to the DMM’s test leads, making it difficult to get solid readings. The USB Tester will make it much easier to monitor any USB project’s power source.

As part of the USB spec, you are limited to 500ma, so you want to monitor how close you are. Most people use USB hubs, both powered and unpowered, and with many devices connected, you can end up with less than 5V which can cause havoc on you projects. The USB Tester will make it a snap to monitor voltage levels and current usage without having to re-wire your breadboard. Just connect to your oscilloscope or DMM test leads, and you’re good to go! The USB Tester has both banana clip sized drills and standard 0.1” headers. When you are not testing current you can add a jumper for normal operation. The USB D+/D- pins are also broken out so you can monitor those on an oscilloscope, or for USB sniffing.

The USB Tester PCB size uses Dangerous prototypes Sick of Beige standard DP5031 so that a case can be used or at least a half of one as a base. The current batch is made in the U.S. using OSHPark’s PCB service. 

Here is a list of features:
Monitor voltage levels
Monitor current usage
Monitor data lines via an oscilloscope
Banana clip testing points
Jumper connection to bridge current connection when not testing/normal operation
Dangerous Prototype’s Sick of Beige standard PCB size 
Headers for future expansion via backpacks
Uses SparkFun's 0.1" locking header footprint

Assembled PCB with both USB A and mini headers
14 unsoldered 0.1” pin headers
1 jumper
Note: a USB mini cable is not included

This product listing is to get a feel of interest of the USB Tester. If it does well, I will develop the backpacks, starting with an OLED display and any other ideas that conspire. Some of the ideas I currently have, is the ability to do data logging, either via local storage or a desktop application over a second USB connection.

Comment below with your thoughts or suggestions. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

100th Post: Giveaway Winner!

We are thrilled to announce the winner of the 100th post giveaway!

Congratulations to Michael Horne! We will be in contact with you. (Note, you have forty-eight hours to respond, or the prize will be forfeited.)

Check out the video below to see the setup of the random number generator using an Arduino. We decided to select three winners, in case we do not receive a response from the first person, etc.

I used a brand new, unopened Arduino Leonardo from my stash and used a graphic LCD screen that was on SBot2. I tried to use the included random function, but the results wouldn't work for the giveaway as randomization is difficult in general. So I came across this other library, which you can access here, TrueRandom. Here is a link to the code used for the random number generator and LCD output.

Thanks again to all who participated. We look forward to offering other giveaways!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Raspberry Pi 1/2 DOA

When the 512MB version of the Raspberry Pi was released, I couldn't resist not getting one. This would be perfect as a permanent attachment for the Motorola Lapdock and a Pillbow case. A few days later I received it in the mail and loaded Adafruit distro on a borrowed SD card from our digital camera. This is when things started to go awry.

After first boot I went through the setup, including region and all that stuff. That last thing I did was a rpi-update to update the firmware. After that it wouldn't boot, or so I thought. I tried multiple images and SD cards. So far, nothing. It looked like it would boot and then get to a point, lose video and Ethernet. After many hours and days of fighting with it I realized something. It was almost like it was booting but just loosing Ethernet and HDMI. So I tested my theory.

I whipped out my Sparkfun FTDI Basic 3.3v version and connected to the UART of the RPi. What do you know? It booted up and worked perfectly! So I came to the conclusion that the CPU is fine but all the attached devices are bad, like Ethernet, HDMI, and USB. From my tests even the composite video out didn't work, really odd problem. I was confused since it seemed to work initially. I did get it to boot a few times but it would never last.

512MB Raspberry Pi with Sparkfun FTDI Basic

But not all is lost. The wonderful people at Newark refunded the money without having to send the bad one back and after making a new order, made it priority, even though I had to wait over a month but the new one should be here tomorrow. As for the defective one I could use it over UART and just use it for the GPIOs. I ran it for a few days monitoring the CPU temp in a terminal session over UART and it was stable so it should be useful for something down the road, at least I hope. If anything it would be good to use for showing and explaining to people what a RPi is since they can touch it all they want, it's already defective right?

RIP: Arduino UNO 11/19/2012

It saddens me to write this post after the events of last night. This Arduino UNO was the beginning of it all. It started me on a journey that would change my life forever and has taught me many things over the years. From blinking LEDs to controlling a robot, to many late night projects. It has always been there for me, no matter the task at hand.  It gave its life in the line of duty for betterment of electronics and the protection of my USB port. Its sacrifice will not be in vein but help further development of many late night projects. It will be missed but never forgotten.

RIP 2009-Nov 19 2012
Have you had a similar loss?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

100th Post Giveaway! CLOSED

The 100th post has arrived! So to celebrate, we're having a giveaway! I wrote about it earlier, and I still cannot believe that it is finally here. I've wanted to extend my gratitude to those who follow my blog here, and to the electronics community, especially when it comes to Opensource.

Thanks to our friends over at DFRobot for sponsoring this giveaway! 
A little background about them: as an online shop, they specialize in robotics. They make and sell a variety of boards (offering PCB services), tools, components, kits, etc. If it's about robots, chances are, they've got it. They also plenty of other electronic items. If you've yet to hear about them, go check them out!

The prize: Dreamer Nano V4.0

Source: DFRobot, with editing by heartsy

Description from DFRobot:

The Dreamer Nano V4.0 is a surface mount breadboard embedded version of the ATMEGA 32U4 with integrated Micro USB. It has everything that Arduino Leonardo has (electrically).Physically, it is just missing power jack to save space.

Using the ATmega32U4 as its sole microcontroller allows it to be cheaper and simpler. Also, because the 32U4 is handling the USB directly, code libraries are available which allow the board to emulate a computer keyboard, mouse, and more using the USB-HID protocol!
The Dreamer Nano v4.0 is compatible with most Nano shield in the market. It's suitable for projects that require a compact size controller system.

  • Microcontroller:ATmega32u4
  • Operating Voltage:5V
  • Input Voltage (recommended):6.5-12v (VIN) / 5v (Micro USB)
  • Input Voltage (limits):6.5-12V
  • Digital I/O Pins:20
  • PWM Channels:7
  • Analog Input Channels:12
  • DC Current per I/O Pin:40 mA
  • DC Current for 3.3V Pin:50 mA
  • Flash Memory:32 KB (ATmega32u4) of which 4 KB used by bootloader
  • SRAM:2.5 KB (ATmega32u4)
  • EEPROM:1 KB (ATmega32u4)
  • Clock Speed:16 MHz
  • Compatible with most of Nano shield
  • Size: 45x20x20mm

We think this prize makes a great starter microcontroller that is breadboard-able, and Arduino Leonardo compatible.

How to enter the giveaway:
  • One comment, answering: How did you get started into (or what brings you to) electronics?
  • Winner will be picked with a random number generator using an Arduino.
  • The generator will be recorded in action & uploaded on the blog, in a new post.
  • Be sure to log in when you comment. Anonymous types will not be accepted.
Giveaway is now until Thursday, November 22, 2013 at 11:59 PM PST. Winning announcement will be held that same weekend.

Should you have any questions, please send me an e-mail instead of leaving a comment. Good luck!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wishlist: Raspberry Pi 512MB

With the recent release of the latest Raspberry Pi (512MB version), I thought it would be fitting to add it the Wishlist. This newest version was announced just this week and I was fortunate enough to snag one before they sold out.

If you've thought about diving into Linux and physical computing, this beauty would be the perfect gateway. Really, for me it's become greatly addictive. Also, it would be an awesome gift to get someone started.

The minimum requirements for it is a 4GB or greater SD card and a 5v power supply. A monitor or a TV with HDMI isn't necessary; you could run it headless. You can also get some really cool accessories like cases (like the Pibow below), WiFi cards, USB hubs, or some breakouts for the GPIO. Newark and Adafruit offer various accessories to help you along.

You can check out the specs from the Raspberry Pi foundation's website or take a look at what I've done with their previous version.

For now, enjoy some eye candy!

Raspberry Pi 512MB.

The Pibow Raspberry Pi case fits snugly! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wishlist: Wearable Electronics

Side-stepping from holiday gift and wish lists, I thought it would be fun to share some products off my personal wishlist.

So what exactly are wearable electronics? Some might refer to them as e-textiles, wearable tech, tech togs, or fashion electronics. Essentially, these are electronic components incorporated into clothing and accessories. You can make a simple baseball cap come alive with some LEDs or spruce up the back of that old denim vest with a mini light show. Design ideas are endless. And with so many projects and tutorials already out there, it's easy so get started! \breakdance

Bluetooth Roomba Part One

A few weeks ago my dad called to let me know he had found a Roomba Discovery with the SCI (serial port) for $15. The first one I received that he found didn't have the serial port so I gave it away. All that  was missing was the remote, so he got it for $10. What a deal! Unlike the first one, the battery was not recoverable at all. So the weekend before last while visiting the Raspberry Pi tour at HackerDojo, I stopped by Fry's Electronics to pick a new battery and a few components to add Bluetooth to the Roomba. Currently I am using Bluetooth since that is what I have on hand, later on I will probably convert it to Wifi or Xbee.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Upcoming: 100th Post Giveaway!

My first post was 12/07/2010, almost two years ago. It was a slow start, but things really picked up this year after the Maker Faire. Over the past two years I have gone from the basic Arduino starter kit to building Robots and programming weekly. I have learned more about electronics than I thought I ever would which has me wanting to completely change my major and my career. All because of the simple Arduino Kit I picked up at Fry's. Every new project has me pushing my limits and expanding my knowledge, keeping my brain hungry for more. Now the Raspberry Pi has me becoming more proficient with Linux and venturing into other languages like Python. Thanks to the idea of starting a blog early on, I have been able to document my progress while giving me an avenue to share my work and meet other makers. It has been the motivating factor to put myself out there in the maker community and be apart of the open source movement. As well as work on new projects to share. As this blog grows along with my knowledge and experience, I strive to evenutally do something like LadyAda at or Ian at make this a full time career.

To celebrate this milestone, I want to do a little giveaway. This post marks the 95th post. At post 100, I will post the official giveaway. It will probably be later this month as I already have a few posts in draft form. Plus, the Thursday Wishlist posts.

I plan to continue this blog as long as possible while hoping for growth and expansion  This year the number of daily visitors has grown and I hope that my readers enjoy it as much as I do. I do have one challenge for my readers and that is to provide feedback in the comments. I really look forward to comments. Especially to know if my readers are finding my projects interesting and or helpful. I also enjoy hearing about any related projects.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or subscribe via E-mail to be notified of the giveaway and the new project. I will post in small parts until I reveal the entire scope of the project. I also use Twitter to tweet cool things I find around the interwebs. Also don't forget I am on IRC on freenode in channel #MobileWill.

I want to thank the following companies: Arduino, Adafruit, Dangerous Prototypes, Sparkfun\BatchPCB, Pololu, DSS Circuits, DFRobot, Seeedstudio, and others who have enabled the hobbyist like myself to have access to hardware. Especially breakout boards which help have access to ICs what would be hard to use otherwise. Some of these companies also provide the best tutorials which really help us who don't have an EE background, yet. These companies have helped make the Open Source movement what it is today and inspired many to push their limits. I'd also like to thank my good friend and engineering whiz, Warren, for filling in the gaps. If you haven't started making, pick up a kit from one these companies and get started! That is all it takes to open a whole new world regardless of age or expertise.

Here are some kits to get you started:

The MintyBoost Kit from Adafruit

Thanks for taking the time to follow along with me here! I have a major project that will be posted soon and it's with this project that I plan to take this to the next level.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

ARM-Powered Arduino DUE

Far removed from the legions of 3D printers featured at this year’s Maker Faire in New York was a much smaller, but far more impressive announcement: The ARM-powered Arduino DUE is going to be released later this month.
Instead of the 8-bit AVR microcontrollers usually found in Arduinos, the DUE is powered by an ATSAM3X8E microcontroller, itself based on the ARM Cortex-M3 platform. There are a few very neat features in the DUE, namely a USB On The Go port to allow makers and tinkerers to connect keyboards, mice, smartphones (hey, someone should port IOIO firmware to this thing), and maybe even standard desktop inkjet or laser printers.
The board looks strikingly similar to the already common Arduino Mega. That’s no mistake; the DUE is compatible with existing shields, so connecting a RAMPS board for your 3D printer should be a snap.
Here’s a PDF the Arduino and Atmel guys were handing out at their booth. A few DUE boards have already made it into the hands of important people in the Arduino community, including 3D printer guru [Josef Prusa]. Sadly, the folks at Arduino didn’t think media personalities needed a DUE before its release, so you’ll have to wait until we get our hands on one later this month for a review.

Source: Hack A Day

Wishlist: Solar Charger & Battery Pack

Last Thursday, we showcased a tent designed to look like a circuit board. Incidentally, this week's wishlist item is sold at outdoor sport stores, for campers and hikers alike. But it doesn't have to be used just for camping. On the contrary, the Solar Charger & Battery Pack sold on SparkFun, can be hacked! It could be greatly utilized to power microcontrollers as an environmental logger, or as an on the go power source for projects, or even power a small robot. Really, there are so many possible uses.

Check out sparkfun's product showcase, where Robert disassembles the pack at 1:40.

Reasonably priced, this neat solar charger would make a great gift for campers and hackers, or both!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Raspberry Pi and Cosm

Over a month ago I decided to give a try instead of using my own MySQL database and graphing in Python. Since this was awhile ago I don't remember everything I did to get it working but I will post the code and libraries I am using that work.

Here is a simple library to making sending to Cosm easy.

Here is the full code I am using to log the PIR sensor to Cosm, after the jump.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Raspberry Pi and Motorola Lapdock

Last month I jumped on the fire sale clearance at Verizon for the Motorola Lapdock 100 (for the Razr). First thing I wanted to do is connect it up to the Raspberry Pi. To do this I had to order some cables and adapters. Here are the cables I ordered plus and the adapter to later use it with an Android stick.

HDMI To HDMI Female F/F   - For the Android stick or connecting to a regulator HDMI cable.

5FT 1.5m Micro HDMI to HDMI Cable - Convert Micro HDMI to full size.

Micro HDMI Type D Female to Micro HDMI Type D Female - Join the HDMI cable to the Lapdock.

USB 2.0 A Male to Micro USB 5 Pin B Male adapter cable - Donor for RPi USB data lines.

Micro USB B Male Female M/F Extension - To connect to Lapdock and to splice into for data lines.

Ti Stellaris LaunchPad

Last week two of these arrived at my doorstep. It's the newly launched Texas Instruments Stellaris LaunchPad.

I pre-ordered directly from Ti a few months ago.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Raspberry Pi Tour Photos

Here are a few photos from the RPi Tour. I was able to capture them while spending the afternoon at Hackerdojo in Mountain View. It was great getting to meet Rob, from the RPi foundation, as well as the other makers who attended.

Fun noodle-thing-a-bob art sculpture

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Raspberry Pi Tour at Hackerdojo

Quick post! @heartsy and I are at hackerdojo listening to Rob Bishop speak about the Raspberry Pi. It's great that they are sharing so much with the hacker community. We're able to bring along projects, so I've brought my RPi to show. Thought it would be neat to post from it!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Freescale Freedom-KL25Z has arrived

A few months ago I jumped on the pre-order impluse buy for the Freescale Freedom-KL25Z. Thankfully I had forgotten about it until I recieved shipment notification. It was nice that I didn't have to wait too long. Today it as arrived. Here are some close-up pictures - thought it would be nice to have some since there doesn't seem to be any up yet.

If you would like to get one, I ordered it from element14\

Here are the specifications as listed on Newark's website. I cannot wait to start playing with it!

FYI: If you order it now, I am pretty sure you don't get the headers. The orginal listing was a prototype board with headers and when they released the final version, it didn't have headers, so they included them with the pre-orders at no extra cost.

Wishlist: Circuit Board Tent

Check out this neat limited edition circuit board tent from FieldCandy. It would be awesomely ironic to use while camping!

The holidays are approaching, what's on your wishlist? Each Thursday, from now until January, we will be featuring list-worthy products to help you decide on gifts for your family/friends or for yourself! Of course, we're open to accepting gifts too... 

Stay posted for more ideas!

Driverless Cars in California

Google just chalked up one of the more important victories for driverless cars. California Governor Jerry Brown has signed bill SB1298 into law, formalizing the legal permissions and safety standards needed to let automated vehicles cruise on state-owned roads. While the bill lets anyone move forward with their plans, it's clear from the ceremony that local technology darling Google is the primary impetus for the measure: Brown visited Google's Mountain View headquarters to put ink to paper, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin oversaw the signing with his Google Glass eyewear on full display. If you're dying to see driverless vehicles become mainstays of the Golden State, the official act making that possible is already available to watch after the break.

Source: Engadget

Saturday, September 22, 2012

London Underground Circuit Map Radio

Circuit Map Radio of London Underground

A friend sent this to me a few weeks ago before it was popping up all over the web. I finally decided I might as well post it. It is pretty incredible and I wonder how many countless hours were put into it.

Source: Yuri Suzuki on DesignBoom

Scale of the Universe

I came across this site in my travels across the interwebs. It is pretty incredible when you put things in perspective of how small humans or even our planet or solar system. Even so as a whole we can still can have an impact on the universe. Check it out at source link below.

Source: Scale of the Universe

Raspberry Pi Factory pictures from South Wales

A very quick set of photos taken this morning at the Sony factory in Pencoed, Wales, where Raspberry Pis are being built at a rate of around 2500 a day. Pete, Eben, Mike from Farnell and I were visiting the factory to celebrate its 20th anniversary (and the 40th anniversary of Sony in Wales). This is a bit quick and dirty – these were taken with my phone. We’ll have some nicer photos and some video of the line, the automated processes and some pictures of the whole team to show you later on, but I know a lot of you were waiting to see these today: so here they are!

Source: Raspberry Pi

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Neil Armstrong, Expert Pilot

Most of us know Neil Armstrong as the first man to step foot on the moon. Rightly so, but lost in all this is the fact that Armstrong was also a truly awesome pilot.
During Armstrong and Dave Scott’s Gemini VIII mission, the spacecraft malfunctioned and set itself into a roll (starting around 19’00″ in the video above), with a rate approaching 60 RPM (1 revolution every second). At roll rates such as this the danger of humans blacking out becomes very real. Armstrong, as the Command Pilot, kept his cool and managed to stop the roll by activating the Reaction Control System, and then orienting the Gemini craft for a perfect emergency landing into the Pacific Ocean.
When I say perfect, I mean perfect. The craft came down exactly where it was supposed to be, and exactly whenit was supposed to be there. Between RCS activation and re-entry, Gemini 8 completed another whole orbit around the Earth with Armstrong at the controls. He then had to manually pilot the capsule into re-entry attitude at just the right moment in order to land in the right spot.
By his actions on Gemini 8, Neil Armstrong may have single-handedly saved the space program. The loss of two astronauts in orbit would have meant months- or perhaps years-long delays while investigations and design revisions were worked out. We may never have gone to the moon, and the course of manned spaceflight would have been changed forever.
Thank goodness for Neil Armstrong.

Source: Adafruit 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Labor Day Weekend: LED Audio Meter

Two weeks ago I received some MAX7219 samples from Maxim. So this past labor day weekend was the perfect opportunity to try one out. I started out by assembling another Atmega Lite from Gizmoz USA. I have three of them, of which this is the second to use. My friend bought me two and I bought another one while I was visiting Portland, OR last year. These are great, cheap and breadboard usable, or good to embed in a project like I have done with my Smart Outlet. Plus you can use the Arduino bootloader. So the first thing was to get one LED to light up, which I thought would be easy. Ha!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Adafruit Show and Tell: 09/01/2012

Adafruit's Show and Tell is a must if you're looking to get ideas on various projects. Ladyada hosts a Google+ Hangout each Saturday evening in which she invites makers to share their latest projects.

Today I was able to show my fume extractor. Check it out if you want to see it in action.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Renesas Future Electronics Daughterboard

After ordering the Renesas RX62N promotional development board I came across this daughterboard in the comments on Dangerous Prototypes. It can be found here, Future Electronics, for just a penny! The limit is four so I bought two. This way I can have two projects and easily swap them out. What those projects will be? I have no idea. I am hoping some of the IC's I need to test will have a matching footprint on this board. I could also jumper it to an Arduino and use this board as a breakout.

Future Electronics RX62N Daughterboard

DIY: Fume Extractor

Inspired by this post I decided to build a fume extractor. I hadn't even thought about it until I saw this on Hack a Day. I have wanted to do this for a while. I had some points to use, which I redeemed on a Samsung 830 SSD, so in the same order I threw in the carbon filters which was the only thing I needed to buy to build it.

Order: Amazon Goodies

I recently redeemed my points from various programs for Amazon gift cards so I could buy a Samsung 830 SSD. Since I was ordering from Amazon, there is a variety to choose from. I decided to pick up a few things I needed for my workbench.

Raspberr Pi: htop

In my other posts, I forgot to mention that I use htop instead of top for viewing processes.

If you want to install run:

$ sudo apt-get install htop

and to run:

$ htop

It works nicely, it's colored, and it's easy to use with the arrow keys.

IIS Logs Cleanup in Powershell

Back in June I was working on cleaning up the IIS log files at work but I wanted to archive them instead of deleting them, just in case. I came across this script in Powershell.

It works well but it needed the ability to archive a folder of folders instead of having to list each folder and the ability to backup previous months. So I updated it and I decided I would post it here in case it can help someone else.

Raspberry Pi SD Card Backup

Just wanted to post a quick note about backing up the Raspberry Pi. After your hard work of configuring it the way you want it, don't forget to back it up! It's also a good idea before making any big changes. I know it's a pain, but worth it in the end. I didn't do it for awhile just because I was too lazy to shutdown the Pi and remove the SD card. Since my workstation is Windows 7 Ultimate x64bit, I use win32diskimager, which works really well.

On a side note, I should see if there is a way to do an online backup. Then I can continue to be lazy ;).

My backup before switching to Debian Wheezy

Quicknote: Raspberry Pi > Python > Serial (Updated)

Here is a quick note on using USB serial with Python. I hooked up a Sparkfun explorer board with a Xbee series 1.
Sparkfun Xbee Explorer

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong dies at 82

"It's a story that we hoped we'd never have to report. Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on Earth's Moon, has died at the age of 82 after complications from heart surgery three weeks earlier. His greatest accomplishment very nearly speaks for itself -- along with help from fellow NASA astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, he changed the landscape of space exploration through a set of footprints. It's still important to stress his accomplishments both before and after the historic Apollo 11 flight, though. He was instrumental to the Gemini and X-series test programs in the years before Apollo, and followed his moonshot with roles in teaching aerospace engineering as well as investigating the Apollo 13 and Space Shuttle Challenger incidents. What more can we say? Although he only spent a very small portion of his life beyond Earth's atmosphere, he's still widely considered the greatest space hero in the US, if not the world, and inspired a whole generation of astronauts. We'll miss him."

Source: NBC
VIA: Engadget

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mobilewill on Adafruit Show and Tell

Adafruit's Show and Tell is a must if you're looking to get ideas on various projects. Ladyada hosts a Google+ Hangout each Saturday evening in which she invites makers to share their latest projects.

This last week, I was able to get on and join in. Check it out below! 

I showcased my Raspberry Pi Motion Logger which you can read about here

Have you watched any or shared projects of your own? I'd be interested to hear about it!

Raspberry Pi and Motion Graphing

This week was the week of Raspberry Pi goodness and lots of coding. Now that I had the PIR sensor working, I wanted to do something with that data over time. I decided to log the data to MySQL running on my web server instead of the Pi. The Pi is awesome but I didn't want the overhead of running MySQL  on it along with writing constantly to the SD Card. Here is how I did it, after the break.

Raspberry Pi and Wheezy

I finally decided to take the plunge and upgrade to Debian Wheezy. I have been putting it off because Squeeze works and it would involve re-configuring everything I have setup so far. At the same time, the longer I wait the more stuff there will be to setup. The great thing about re-installing: I get to do a clean install without the mistakes of figuring things out. It is also a refresher of how I got where I am now. Jump below for notes about the upgrade process.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Curiosity Rover has landed!

It once was one small step... now it's six big wheels. Here's a look at one of them on the soil of Mars #MSL -- Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity)

Raspberry and a PIR Sensor

Last month I bought a PIR as part of my Adafruit order for Raspberry Pi stuff. This weekend I decided to try and use it with the RPi. 
PIR Sensor (image from Adafruit)

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I was reading about the release of Chromium for the Raspberry Pi and read a comment about changing the memory split using rpi-update. I decided to see what it was all about.

Free courses at Coursera

I came across this the other day and thought this is a great opportunity for us hobbyist who didn't go to school for this stuff. My degree is in IT/IS so this would be great way to start studying other fields that I would like to switch too.

Here is some of their AI and robot courses:

Even Better Renesas Promotion Board: RX62N

My friend sent this to me yesterday.

If you watch the two videos you can see it is an awesome board. I can't wait to get mine tomorrow. Shipping is super fast with Renesas. I hope to do some cool things with it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Renesas Promotion Board for RL78/G13

Yesterday I received my free evaluation board Renesas is giving out to promote their Rl78/G13.

Head over to claim your own.

They ship super fast. I put in the order at 4:25pm and had it before noon the following day.

Now to put it to the test...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Raspberry Pi releases Debian Wheezy

It has arrived:
We are pleased to announce the release of our  first SD card image based on the Raspbian distribution. This is the result of an enormous amount of hard work by Alex and Dom over the past couple of months, and replaces the existing Debian squeeze image as our recommended install. Notably, it is the first official image to take full advantage of the Raspberry Pi’s floating point hardware for, amongst other things, much faster web browsing


Now to figure out if I can upgrade. Sounds like it would be worth the trouble to upgrade from scratch.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chat on IRC!

MobileWill is now on IRC! Come check out the channel here:


Chat about robots, home automation, and anything electronics/cool.

I should be available in the evenings if you want to chat with me. If there is enough interest, we can do evening topic chats.

Kinect Sensor and Voice Control

In my previous post I mentioned that I had set up Microsoft's SAPI to implement voice control of my lights. For the most part, it works well with the tweaks I did with the grammar file, except that you have to train your speech. For what I want to accomplish that will be a large issue. I want anyone to be able to walk into my house and use the system. It should be a hands free system that doesn't make turning the lights on more complicated with having to use something like your phone (but that too, can be an option). I have been playing with the idea of using RFID/NFC but it still would involve always having your phone around; also, not everyone has a NFC enabled phone. So hopefully speech recognition is the answer. I did some searching for a good microphone that was good for large areas like an array microphone or something. Many of the prices were out of my budget. Plus, I'd still have the training problem. Then I had a thought, I have an array microphone already in the living room: the Kinect!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Raspberry Pi and GPIO Permissions

It works! Okay, back up a little. Getting a PHP web interface to talk to hardware proved to be rather difficult. You need root access to control hardware but the web service runs with minimal permissions. So how does one bridge the gap without compromising the system? The answer, very carefully. I found a few workarounds but they involved either using MySQL or the gpio-admin library that works from commandline or shell scripts. In my case I wanted to stay with using C programs with the wiringPi library being called from PHP. C is much faster to control GPIO and PHP gives me a web front end. Here is how I did it.

Raspberry Pi, CommandIR and Beyond

Now that I have had some time to play with the CommandIR, progress has been made. Of the two initial issues I have one left. The first issue is that LIRCD doesn't auto start even though it is configured in the hardware.conf. While researching, I came to the conclusion that LIRC isn't reading the hardware.conf at all. I made a change to it, enabling the listen option to try an Android app but it didn't take effect. When I manually start LIRCD I have to include the options at the commandline. This is still a mystery but I am working with support on it. The odd thing is the init.d service script doesn't seem to do anything.

TV with IR Emitter

Xbox S with IR Emitter

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Raspberry Pi and CommandIR

While reading an article the other day I had an idea formulate in my head. I have a older USB CommandIR Mini that has 4 emitters and 1 receiver. This would make a great use of the Raspberry Pi, a network based IR gateway. Originally it was only for Linux, but now it is supported in WinLIRC which I haven't tired.

Newer version of mine

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

AT&T Samsung Galaxy S III Has Arrived!

The time has finally come. Yesterday at 2:58pm Pacific Standard Time, I received the call from Best Buy that my phone would be ready in an hour. I couldn't believe my ears, it was actually here! Good thing the call came closer to closing time because I wouldn't have been able to wait all day. All I had to do is head home, dump my data, and do a factory reset it with the stock ROM.

Monday, July 2, 2012

AT&T Samsung Galaxy S III in Store July 6th

News at last!

Keeping track of when and where the Samsung Galaxy S III will be available hasn't exactly been the easiest thing to do, but we now finally have one more confirmation for those who prefer to do their business at AT&T's stores. The carrier announced today that the phone will be available in-store on July 6th, where it'll of course set you back the same $200 on a two-year contract. That's also the day that you'll be able to order online with overnight shipping, if the whole pre-order thing isn't for you.
VIA: Engadget Mobile
SOURCE: AT&T Consumer Blog

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Accessories: No Phone

Just wanted to make a quick post about the status of acquiring a AT&T Samsung Galaxy S III in Pebble Blue. I have received the case from and a 32GB Micro SD card from MicroCenter, but I am still waiting to get the actual phone.

Smart Outlet: The Beginning

For a long time now I have been wanting to dabble in home automation but didn't have the avenue to design a system. After becoming familiar with microcontrollers over the last two years I have been mentally designing a system starting with a smart outlet. Recently, before the Maker Faire I was talking with a friend and having seen a few blog posts about some projects in the home automation field I decided to move forward. I now have sometime to work on this in between other projects, mainly waiting for some parts for my new Sbot 2 redesign. With some SparkFun gift card money I decided to pull the trigger and order some parts. I decided to build a 1 channel/plug smart outlet. This would be enough to develop a proof of concept and start to design a software framework. The parts arrived the weekend before the Maker Faire. Boy was I excited to get this project off the ground!

Sparkfun Beefcake relay

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Checking out the temperature of a Raspberry Pi

[Remy] has access to a very nice Fluke thermal camera, so when his Raspberry pi came in he pointed the thermal camera at the Raspi (Spanish, Google translation) to see how far this neat computer could be pushed before it overheated. There are three main sources of heat on the Raspberry Pi: the voltage regulator, the USB/Ethernet controller and the Broadcom SoC. At idle, these parts read 49.9° C, 48.7° C and 53° C, respectively; a little hot to the touch, but still well within the temperature ranges given in the datasheets for these components. The real test came via a stress test where the ARM CPU was at 100% utilization. The Broadcom SoC reached almost 65° C while the Ethernet controller and regulator managed to reach the mid-50s. Keeping in mind this test was performed at room temperature, we’d probably throw a heat sink on a Raspberry Pi if it’s going to be installed in an extreme environment such as a greenhouse or serving as a Floridian or Texan carputer.

VIA: Hack A Day
Source: Remy

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S III: Still waiting

June 5th 2012 I pre-ordered my Samsung Galaxy S III from Best Buy. Today June 21st, US launch date, still waiting. According to my local Best Buy I could get it tomorrow, only time will tell. In the mean time...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blinky POV SMT

A short time after posting about the Blinky GRID SMT build I received an email from They had seen my build post and really liked it, especially the videos and pictures! I had mentioned that I was looking at getting their Blinky POV SMT kit so to say thanks they offered to send me one. I was super excited! Here's my build.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Raspberry Pi is Running: Getting You There

Excited, I ripped open the package to find my Raspberry Pi. The packing looked like it had been run over but my Pi was still intact. Yay! First thing I realized I needed to find a power source and a SD card. After some digging I just ended up using an iPad power adapter with a cell phone micro USB cable. I was going to use my Galaxy S power adapter but I didn't want to run it close to the limit of 700ma. For some reason I thought I had plenty of SD cards around, but I guess not. Luckily Best Buy had a 32GB Sandisk Ultra class 10 available in store for $27. Perfect!

Raspberry Pi packaging, amazing it wasn't damaged

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Pi has Arrived

Just received a UPS email that my Raspberry Pi has been delivered! Unfortunately I am stuck at work at my desk. I can't wait to get home and taste my Pi.

I will be sure to post my unboxing excitement and where it takes me. I have no idea what I am going to do with it as this point, but it should be fun.

Comment below if you have ordered one and if you have received it.

Update: The Pi is awesome! I was able to get it up an running and ready to start playing. I will post about it in the next day or two.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Web Site Bugs Fixed

At last, the mysterious web site bugs have been fixed! Thursday night I got the urge to work on the robot website. It was more of me wanting to add my smart outlet to the site. I will post about the smart outlet soon. I had two bugs on the site, one of which I've had for a year.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Windows 8 Release Preview Released Early

Windows 8 Release Preview is available now.

"Until now, it seemed like Microsoft was gearing up to unveil the almost-final Windows 8 Release Preview in the first full week of June, just in time for what is sure to be the world's premier Ultrabook trade show. As it turned out, though, the folks in Redmond couldn't contain their jubilation any longer: the company is now rolling out the Release Preview several days ahead of schedule. The update, free to anyone who wants to try it, offers a few notable enhancements, including a trio of new apps, a "Flip ahead" browser gesture, Flash support and a couple of updated multi-monitor features. A few heavy hitters like Wikipedia and are also using the occasion to debut apps in the Windows Store. And the OS is now available in 13 languages. Mostly, though, this update brings performance and stability fixes, along with granular tweaks like being able to pin stocks to the Start screen. Certainly, a two-hour press conference was not necessary this time around."
Engadget: Read more

Monday, May 28, 2012

Blink Grid SMT

While browsing the Maker Shed at the Maker Faire, I came across the Blink Grid SMT and I instantly thought this is what I have been looking for. For awhile now I have looked for a kit to practice surface mount soldering. Until now I've tried to win a FreePCB coupon from but haven't won yet. Good thing someone misplaced it at the Maker Shed since I didn't see the bin with SMT kits.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Last month I decided to improve the streaming software for the video feeds from my robots. Thus far I have been using Active WebCam which I've had good success, minus a few things. So I set out to find something else.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Maker Faire 2012 Pictures

Here are some more pictures from the 2012 Maker Faire

12' Robotic Human Face from Face Foward

Maker Faire 2012 has Ended

Now that I am back at the ranch office, I can post the rest of the pictures and tell you about all the exciting things that took place at the 2012 Maker Faire.

There is so much to cover I don't know where to start. I should start out noting that this year both Jenn and I volunteered. We did this for a few reasons, one was cost as we have a wedding and some other things coming up. Secondly, we wanted to be more involved and so we figured this would be a great opportunity. She found the Maker Corps via an email and I had seen a blog post by DFRobot asking for help. So we both jumped at the opportunity.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Raspberry Pi @makerfaire

'Raspberry Pi Founder Offers Tips for Programming Super Computer'

Look at the size compared to the HDMI adapter.