Sunday, December 7, 2014

USB Tester Firmware and Java App Update

It's been awhile since there has been an update to the firmware or the Java app. I have been working on them on and off for a few months now and I am finally at point for a release. Both the firmware and the Java app have some significant and important changes. I hope this brings some useful changes and lays the groundwork for future updates. Now onto the details...

Arduino Yun booting and running OLED Adafruit Test Sketch - USB data not connected to PC

Java App:
  • Start of changelog 
  • Uses temp file instead of memory for better long term logging 
  • Able to resume unsaved session 
  • Remote control of USB Tester display 
  • Option to stop updating graph for long term logging 
  • Option to change graph refresh speed 
  • Option to set how long(in minutes) to keep history in graph or 0 for all
  • Display max and mins on voltage\current graphs 
  • Check github for new version 
  • Check firmware version and check github for new version
  • About dialog shows versions

USB Tester Firmware:

  • Start of changelog 
  • Switch to UG8Lib display library 
  • Clean up Energy and Peak\Mins screens 
  • Updated large font screens with bar graphs that auto scale 
  • Added firmware version with serial command

For the firmware you can download the working zip 2.1 which includes the new UG8Lib in the libraries folder. More information on how to update can be found here:

For the Java App, for Windows download the Windows folder which has the exe (launch4js wrapper) and the needed libraries. For Linux\OSX download the Jar and libraries.

Some future ideas:
  • Possible firmware updating from Java app (Have to figure out cross platform)
  • Online real-time usage map of the the Java app by country.
    • Not really needed but could be cool. It would be just by country and could be turned off in the app. 

Please submit any bugs or suggestions to Github so I can track them. 

USB Tester and the DigiSpark Pro

After supporting the DigiX on Kickstarter, I have become a fan of DigiStump. So what better way to support them than buy stuff? I supported their new Kickstarter this year for the DigiSpark Pro. I got the beta kit which they made at their office and it came with the extras along with being shipped sooner. I posted about the details earlier: I finally got around to doing some basic power testing with the USB Tester. I took this picture just before our vacation.

Running the basic blink sketch its using about 22mA. Which is less then an Arduino Uno.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Improving Cooling on Fury Miners

Over the summer, I began adding more miners. The weather had started to warm up about the same time so the Furys started to increase in temperature.  In our area most places do not have air conditioning, so we are up to the mercy of the weather. Most of the year it's a cooler climate off the central coast of California, but this year it has been much warmer. Even without the weather, the Furys ICs would get hot but not the casing, which is a giant heat sink anyway. That told me there is poor thermal transfer. I had to do something about it. Cooler ICs means less hardware errors which means more accepted shares.

Upon research I narrowed down to these two items:

  • Prolimatech PK-3 Nano Thermal Paste (comes with spatula) - Amazon
  • ArctiClean Thermal Paste Cleaner - Amazon
  • .6in Heatsinks - AliExpress (My first purchase from AliExpress)
    • Came with extra Raspberry Pi heatsink sets
Wait, err, make that three items - the cleaner was one of those things on Amazon "people also bought." The stuff works great but I ended up only using it on the first one so I could conserve paste.

Friday, October 31, 2014

On the Web: Circuit Construction Set

During my day job a call was mistakenly transferred to me. It was a teacher that needed help with a website not loading. Normally I only take calls related to the systems I manage and support. Turns out it was a Java applet that a science teacher was trying to us in the computer lab. Once he emailed me the link and I saw what it was, I got excited. It's a Java applet that you can learn basic circuits. Check it out below.

Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only)
Click to Run

Turns out downloading and updating Java fixed it. The joys of Java!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tessel Has Arrived!

Origianlly posted June 23, 2014...

Last year in 2013, I backed one of the first projects on Dragon Innovation. It's similar to Kickstarter but geared more for hardware and without the restrictions. Basically it's a cross between an online shop and crowd sourcing mixed into one, since you can buy/support multiple of rewards. One of the launch campaigns was the Tessel. Tessel isn't just another microcontroller platform, it's platform that allows you to program it with Java but more specifically NodeJS! Pretty cool, ehh? There site has all the details But here are the specs from their site:

The Nitty:

  • Programmable via JavaScript
  • 14 different hardware modules for added capabilites
  • Compatible with 10,000's of Node.js packages on NPN
  • Deploy over USB or remotely by WiFi

The Gritty

  • 180mhz ARM Cortex-M3 LPC1830
  • 32mb SDRAM
  • 32mb Flash
  • TI CC3000 WiFi radio
  • 20-pin GPIO bank for general prototyping
  • Micro USB or battery power

The plug in modules are ready to use out of the box, no soldering headers required. All it takes is some JavaScript and loading the right node for the module you are using. Pretty simple to get up and running. I just received mine a few weeks ago and have tested each module. Here are a few pictures.

Tessel Front

Friday, July 4, 2014

DIY: Miner Rack

Over the last few weeks or so,  I decided to build a rack to hold my ASIC miners. This way they are nice, tidy and not all over my desk! Commonly, GPUs miners make a wooden open air case so I decided to design something similar. Total power usage from the wall is 377-379W. Not bad for 11MH/s. One thing to note is the Gridseeds don't get very hot so in turn their fans keep the Raspberry Pis cool which are zip tied above them.

  • 5x 4ft Strips of wood
  • Pack of finishing nails
  • Wood glue
  • Zip ties
  • Gray primer spray paint
  • Black gloss spray paint
  • Small nails (keep miners in place)

Mining Hardware:

A beautiful mess!

Monday, June 30, 2014

ZenMiner: RPI Temps

The first week of the Fury's (Zeus Blizzard) Scrypt miners from GAWMiners came with a free ZenController. It's basically a Raspberry Pi, case and a memory card that is setup ready to mine using ZenMiners cloud service. Simplifies the process of setting up mining without a computer.

Monday, June 23, 2014

DigiSpark Pro

Digistump is the company behind the Digispark and DigiX and now their latest Kickstarter the Digispark Pro! They are a family owned company based in Portland, Oregon. I backed the Digispark Pro with the Beta Edition as the reward. This has to be one of the fastest Kickstarters I have backed as it was funded May 11th, 2014 and I received the Beta Edition June 22nd, 2014. Here are some pictures of the Beta Edition.

Bottom center Digispark Pro

Sunday, June 22, 2014

DP Free PCB: Bus Pirate v3.8

A few times a week Dangerous Prototypes hosts a free PCB giveaway on various social networks. They also give away coupon codes to those who submit completed PCBs (from the giveaway) to use on another free PCB. It's really an awesome way to practice soldering. I was able to do this with the XT IDE Disk Controller. Some time ago (days, weeks, months?), I finally redeemed my coupon for a Bus Pirate v3.8 PCB. I already have an older version from Sparkfun but I thought this would be a fun project and a way to get a newer DP version with microUSB. Plus, it follows their SOB standard PCB sizes. Also, I haven't had any experience with a PIC.

Unlike my previous free PCB builds, I decided to get a stencil so to have the cleanest possible build. I was already ordering stencils for some other items, so it didn't really add much to the cost. I had a lot of parts already but the ones I didn't have I included in my last Digi-Key order. Here are the pictures of the build and the final outcome.

Bus pirate stencil

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Live Raspberry Pi Power Usage!

Since the release of the Raspberry Pi, I have had one on my desk powered up. It's my go to Pi that is always available on the network. It's mostly running Python stuff and eXtplorer. After all this time, I have always wondered what it really costs to keep a Pi powered up 24/7/365. Then one evening, it dawned on me, I have the USB Tester why not use that? Doh! One thing lead to another and I realized why not log the serial output to the Pi itself.

Using my existing Python code for logging motion to Cosm\Xiviely, in one night, I could easily set it up to log the RPi power usage to the cloud. Pretty freaking sweet, right!? (My wife popped into our home office to check if I was okay as I was using a lot of !!!.)

Below you'll see the embedded live graphs of the RPi running. Currently it is updated every 20 secs but this image is rendered only on page load.

Here is the link to the live data on xiviely


Just remember to enter your API and Feed ID. Also chmod +x Makes it easier to run.

Not sure why I didn't think of this sooner!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bay Area Maker Faire 2014

Join us at this year's Bay Area Maker Faire! This year, we have the opportunity to demo some of our products at the official Tindie booth! Look for us in the Maker Pro tent, one of the new outdoor tents. We will be giving away discount coupons!
We hope to see many of you there!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Adventure in Bitcoin: GridSeeds

Part  1

Potato chips. You can't just eat one, am I right? That's how mining has become for me. It's always just a little more mining power. Like reaching in and grabbing a couple of extra chips and before you know it, the entire bag is empty. But in the case of mining, there will always be something left in the bag. You can trade various coins, set up more rigs or upgrade your current hardware.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Adventures in Bitcoin

Part 2
Over the last few months, I decided to try my hand at mining Bitcoins\Cryptocurrency. Recently, I found the best way to get started is to mine what are called Altcoins. Bitcoins and a few others are based on SHA256 hashes which are easier to verify transactions and therefore there are ASIC or Application Specific Integrated Circuits that can mine very fast. Because of this, the network difficulty becomes very high and therefore takes more power for the same reward. Basically you get a reward for mining which is providing processing power to verify transactions. Once the network agrees that a transaction is valid, it then confirms the transaction. Altcoins are based on Scrypt mining which is more memory intensive, so using your GPU to mine is still profitable. Profitability meaning you receive enough to cover your cost of hardware, power usage and a little extra for the wallet. Covering your cost of hardware can take a few weeks to a few months depending on how much you invest and your hash rate. One thing to keep in mind is even if you are not receiving very much, you are also mining for future profits. The idea being that the few Bitcoins/Altcoins you acquire now, will be worth much more in the future. (Some people have become wealthy due to mining Bitcoins a year ago.)  In most cases I wouldn't have any expectations of getting rich or anything but it is a fun learning experience.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Arduino Yún - Power Usage

Last year during Black Friday weekend, I broke down and bought an Arduino Yún from Pololu. They had some great sales and I just couldn't pass it up. If you haven't heard of Pololu, go check them out right now. I'll wait till you get back. See? They have great electronics and tons of robot stuff. I love their power boards, boost\buck boards and ones that do it at the same time. Anything you need they have it.

Arduino Yún with USB Tester

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bitcoin Now Accepted!

We are happy to announce that FriedCircuits Shop now accepts Bitcoin! Products are still shown in USD but when you check out you have the option of selecting Bitcoin and it will show the total at the current exchanges rates. We are using as the payment processor so if you have a Coinbase account you pay directly that way. If not, you can scan the QR code to pay with your mobile app, of course you can just copy and paste the wallet address and the amount to pay to use with your desktop app. Once payment is sent, just click confirm. It's that easy!

We are all for supporting the Bitcoin community. We'd like to help it grow to become a more dominant currency for everyone, not just for us Tech savvy types.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Day in the Life of Digi-Key

We buy the bulk of our parts from Digi-Key for the products and projects we make at our home office. Prices are great and you can rest assure that you will not receive any counterfeit parts. When you order something online, I always wonder where its been and what it went through before landing into your excited hands. I recently came across this awesome slideshow from IEEE Spectrum that showcases what it's like at Digi-Key.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

USB Tester Backpack 2.0 Review

Thanks to aerodynes, for the great review of our new USB Tester and Backpack 2.0.

"This is a test and review of the new version of the FriedCircuits USB tester and backpack. If you read my previous articles on the backpack and its extensions, you already know that I am a big fan of this simple and very useful tool. ..."

Read the complete review here: