Jun 07

Friday Post: Hardware

Hey All,

This week has been kinda awesome and frustrating at the same time.  We had an issue crop up at work that dealt with some legacy app, and it was a part of the system no one had ventured in for a long time.  Needless to say around 3pm today, after a whole week of digging around, we finally had a fix.  Feels good!

I sent the first draft of the first half of my book to the publisher for editing and reviews.  Feels real good!

My buddy Jacob received his Crazyflie nano quadcopter a few weeks ago and has been having a lot of fun with it.  His latest project has been to control it via a Raspberry Pi.  He has been flying it around the office and it’s a lot of fun to play with.  The thing is whisper quiet until you start turning and then it sounds like a humming bird looking for a kill is coming at you.  Again, its a lot of fun, especially with coworkers and nerf guns.

Another frustrating thing happened this week.  I needed to take screenshots of the Raspberry Pi in action playing some games, so I did some research, and it looks liked the best device is an EasyCap DC60.   This device takes input from an RCA jack and goes into your computer via USB, and appears like a webcam with the video.  It also has Mac drivers, which is a big plus.  Now I know there are a lot of fakes out there, and newer models which don’t support OS X, so I went on Amazon, looked for the proper model, and didn’t care that it was fulfilled by a third party.  It was sent via prime and said DC60.  What I got was a piece of counterfeit hardware.

Now, I buy a LOT of hardware from China.  Over the years I have been very lucky about counterfeits.  I tend to not order anything of enough importance to be counterfeited, or its generic enough that EVERYONE makes the same product.  This time I wasn’t so lucky.  I got an Easee Cap DC-60++ that used a utv007 chipset.  This chipset BARELY supports Windows much less OS X or Linux.  The software it came with was also pirated.  I decided I was going to try to get it to work first though, and see if it had any saving grace.

It took two hours but it finally displayed my video in a window.  I was so frustrated.  If you can get your hands on a genuine EasyCap DC60, its supposedly an awesome video capture device.  I’m still on the hunt for one.

 

Anyways, have a good weekend!

-Shea

May 24

Friday Post: More Neat Things!

Hey all,

Another long week over here.  I’m glad we have a 3 day weekend, because I could use it.  Going to sleep until Monday I think 🙂  Anyways, onto the fun stuff!

Book

So, I’ve been waiting ages to announce this.  I have been tapped by a publishing company to write a book about a computer that means a lot to me (hint hint).  That’s really all the details I can announce at this time, but I’m very excited and eager to work on this project.

BarCamp Orlando

Last week I talked about BarCamp Orlando.  It was a lot of fun.  There were a lot of great talks given by members of the Orlando tech community.  I met a lot of cool people, and networked with some fellow educators.  It was also nice to see a big turnout of my coworkers and friends from FamiLAB show their support of this conference.

I did a talk about gaming on the Raspberry Pi, and I have to say it went fairly well.  I have grown to really like public speaking, and I am very interested in doing more.  I did about 15 minutes of explanations and demos of the Raspberry Pi’s capabilities, and another 10 minutes of QA from the audience members.

330173_4699890302737_534318985_o

Thermal Imaged Pi

I received an email from Bux (from the forums) the other day.  He acquired a thermal scanner, so he used it to take a picture of the Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi - Thermal Image

Weston  Accelerated X

A very exciting development in the continuing optimization of the Raspberry Pi has been released.  A release of the Weston software that allows accelerated X windows to be displayed on the Raspberry Pi.  This should help with the sluggish feeling that is encountered when using the GUI.  I will be testing this out over the weekend.  The instructions to install it are available here: http://fooishbar.org/tell-me-about/wayland-on-raspberry-pi/ and below:

echo deb http://raspberrypi.collabora.com wheezy rpi >> /etc/apt/sources.list
apt-get update
apt-get install weston

Stickers

I think I have sent out all the stickers.  If anyone hasn’t received theirs, please contact me again!


Have a great weekend everyone!

-Shea

May 16

Raspberry Pi Camera Quick Look

Hey All,

I got my Raspberry Pi Camera board in the mail today!  It was very easy to install.  The hardest part was waiting for apt-get upgrade to complete.  After that was done, a new camera option is available in raspi-config, and some new applications are available to run.  The apps are raspivid and raspistill, which takes videos and photos respectively.

I haven’t spent a lot of time with the software, that’s for the weekend, but I did try taking some pictures via the command line.  This is going to be an awesome add on!

Photo May 16, 5 03 27 PM Photo May 16, 5 04 03 PM Photo May 16, 5 04 38 PM Photo May 16, 10 00 43 PM

i i.jpg1

 

-Shea

May 14

Cooling a Raspberry Pi with Liquid Nitrogen

Ok, this is seriously cool! (no pun intended)

The folks at linkxs.org decided to try running a Raspberry Pi under liquid nitrogen, and seeing how it performed.  Like a beast apparently!  It runs pretty stable at -100C.  The ethernet port is only rated to 0C, so the fact that it still worked and they could stay SSHed into the machine is awesome.

Great job guys!

http://linkxs.org/freezing-a-raspberry-pi-in-liquid-nitrogen/

-Shea

Apr 26

Friday Post: Mausberry Circuits Raspberry Pi Power Switch

Hey All,

First of all I am happy to say that I aced my course this semester.  Woo!  It’s weird having free time again.  Going to be really focusing on PiMAME.  Onto the cool stuff…

So, I got my Mausberry Circuits Raspberry Pi Power Switch in the mail this week.  I linked to the Kickstarter for this previously and I’m really happy it was funded.  The device is tiny, but feels well soldered and sturdy.  My only complaint is that the headers cables for the GPIO pins are on the top of the board, as opposed to the bottom, making it harder to put in a project box or in a DeskCade.

The device itself works flawlessly.  You install the script, connect the GPIO pins, and then hit the switch.  The script tells the Pi to power down, and after it’s completely halted, the power is cut.  It also includes a hard reset button in case the Pi is completely frozen / crashed.

maus1

It’s $22 with shipping, and you can order one at mausberrycircuits.com

Have an awesome weekend everyone.

-Shea

Apr 09

Broken glasses and a new use for Instamorph

Hey all,

While getting dressed this morning one of the stems on my glasses snapped in half.  You’d think I would have a spare set somewhere, but nope.  No spare.  I am really happy this didn’t happen while on my honeymoon!  I could not find any tape, and I wasn’t sure what to do, when it hit me!  Instamorph!

I was able to see well enough to throw a tupperware container full of water into the microwave for two minutes, dump in some Instamorph, and then mold it around the two parts of the stem.  This is actually working really well until I can get new frames tomorrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

-Shea

Feb 22

Friday Post: Baked Raspberry Pi

Full Disclosure: Seeed Studio sent me the Wireless Charging Module for free because I entered their reviewer contest.

Hey All,

So I said I had some cool hardware to show off today, and here it is: Seeed Studio’s Wireless Charging Module

photo (1)

This kit uses inductive charging to transfer power “wirelessly” from one coil to the other.  You put in 12v 1A on the transmitter end, and on the other end you get 5v 0.6A.

I initially had some trouble getting it setup.  I was trying connectors in every different position, every combination I could think of.  It took me a day to realize my power supply was set to 9v rather than 12v.  Once I upped the voltage, I could hold the coils an inch away from each other and still keep a charge.  I also tried putting things in between the coils to see how much interference it could take.  It had no problems with a coupon book, business cards, a small plastic mint case, though it did have issues being between a remote.

Now, me being me, I had to try this with the Raspberry Pi, and I knew I had to do something special.  My coworker Mike has been fiddling with bare metal assembly on the Pi, and has ported NyanCat to the system.  His github repo with the source assembly code and pre built binary is available here.

By connecting the receiver coil to the 5v and GND GPIO pins, I was able to wirelessly power the Pi.

I hope you enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

-Shea

—-

PiMAME 0.6 should be out this weekend 😀

Feb 21

3Doodler and Raspberry Pi On-Off Switch

Hey All,

You all know I’m a huge Kickstarter fan.  This week has proved to be an awesome time for projects (and a sad day for my wallet).  Two projects caught my eye, the first one is the 3Doodler.

The 3Doodler is a hot-glue-gun like device that uses a plastic extruder to create 3D shapes in air.  The plastic extruder is one that you would normally see in a 3D printer like the Makerbot, but has been adapted to be handheld.  Because the plastic cools rapidly, it can create sturdy shapes that can be drawn anywhere.

It already surpassed the million dollar mark, so I have high hopes for this project.  I backed it at the $75 October level, so I hope to get mine then and be able to do a review of it.  If you are into 3D Printing and artwork, you may want to consider backing this project!

Another Kickstarter I backed this week is a project for the Raspberry Pi.  It’s an on/off switch that talks to the Pi via GPIO and activates a safe software shutdown before cutting power.

I’ve talked to the creator, he’s a member of the Raspberry Pi forums, and is quite excited about this project.  It’s $22 for this batch of boards.  If you are looking for a power switch for your Pi, this may be it.

I have a cool piece of hardware to show tomorrow.  Looking forward to sharing it with you all!

-Shea

Feb 15

Friday Post: Pebble

Hey All,

I want to start this by saying I LOVE Kickstarter.  I have funded many projects, most have succeeded  some have been delayed, some are still in the will it succeed or will it fail phase.  I really like the Kickstarter model.  It’s not a store.  It’s a risk vs reward for the backers, and a way to make the creators dreams come true.  I plan on putting the DeskCade on Kickstarter very soon(tm).

Today I am going to talk about the Pebble Smartwatch.  I backed this many months ago, and it’s an ambitious project.  It was the first Kickstarter project to reach 10 million dollars.  I received my Pebble last Sunday, and I would like to write some initial thoughts on it.

TL;DR Cliffs Notes:  It’s got potential, with a firmware update it will be awesome, but it’s just not there yet.

My out of the box experience with the Pebble sucked.  I was using an iPhone 4S with iOS 5 because they said it was supported.  Well it isn’t 100% supported on iOS 5.  The app gets stuck trying to talk to the Pebble, and the firmware update that’s available hangs.  iOS 5 will send a notification when you get a call, but no notifications on texts or e-mail.

The next day I updated to iOS 6, and lo and behold, everything worked.  For about 2 hours.  When I sit down at my work desk, I usually take off my watch to code.  When I stepped away for a bit, nothing worked anymore.  I had to re sync the Bluetooth connection, turn off notifications and then re-enable them for it to work again.  And then I walked away again and it happened again.  It’s a frustrating issue that I know will be fixed in a firmware release.  It has too for this product to be successful.  I has to just work..

One other software gripe:  Please put a battery indicator and a charging indicator somewhere on the screen.

Onto the good:

The build quality is amazing!  Even though it’s only plastic, it feels solid and tough.  The screen is very easy to read.  The battery life so far has been great.  The charger has a very Apple Magsafe connector feel to it.  You place the charger on the side of the pebble and the magnets pull it into position.  As a watch, it’s great.

Conclusion:

This is going to be a great product.  I have no doubt.  Once they get the kinks out of it on the software side, I’m never going to take it off.  I’ve seen it work.  It has the potential to be a paradigm shift in wearable computers with it’s SDK.  I have high hopes for the creators.  I want to be able to back more of their ideas.

——————————-

On a side note, PiMAME 0.6 is in the works.  I’m hoping to release it next week.  Te latest edition of Raspbian came out last week.  I tried moving over to that, but it’s still slower than the older release of Raspbian I’m using.  It also seems to require a bigger SD card as it’s just hitting the 2GB limit.

I’m going to continue using the older Raspbian, I’m putting in a start-up menu so you can access frequently accessed items, and I’m working on making the image smaller so there aren’t as many issues with temperamental SD cards.

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Shea