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Back in Business!

Posted 2011.04.18 21.25 in Computers/Internet/Technology

The parts I needed arrived today, so it was just a matter of asembling a new ‘motherboard’ then wiring it into the thermostat enclosure.

The parts were mainly the circuit board and the ATMega328p chip, along with the sundry support electrics. To be honest, I’m using the SparkFun Serial LCD kit — for $25 it’s almost a complete self-contained mini-Arduino that piggybacks onto the back of a 16×2 LCD display. And it even includes the LCD!

If I knew how to use Eagle and if I had more time, I’d have made my own PCB design. I still might do that as I now have more LCD screens than boards to slap on the back of them. The SparkFun Serial LCD isn’t perfect, but it’s actually quite close.

So my DIY networked Thermostat is back up and running with a shiney new brain, my house is once again comfortable, I’m out of the stone age and back in the World of Tomorrow, and I’m a happy camper.

And just for kicks, I took the old dead board and tossed it in the dishwasher, ran a load on ‘heavy-duty pots-n-pans’ mode, and the darn thing is actually working again. Go figure! I won’t trust it in mission-critical use, but I can certainly use it for prototyping or making stuff that’s not, you know, directly wired into my friggin home.

Yep, once again all is right with the world.

Blinkin’ Flashin’ Bliss

Posted 2010.12.15 0.57 in Computers/Internet/Technology

It’s a problem I’ve confessed to before. I love blinkin’ lights. LEDs, blinkins, flashins, flickering their magic little messages… and just recently, I’ve come across a wild and wonderful blinkin’ flasher that’s just plain blissful blinkin heaven.

Not only does it enchant and calm with it’s blinkins, but it also performs fun mathematical calculations. See, it’s based on Conway’s Game of Life.

It’s a GoL kit – modular boards, each with a 4×4 grid of cells (represented by LEDs). The boards can be linked to build larger and larger grids. I’ve started with 6 boards, for a 12 x 8 grid. It’s very addictive though. I already want to get another 6 boards and go to a 16×12 grid.

Here’s a short animation – it’s not perfect, there’s missing evolutions so the animation doesn’t exactly portray the way the game runs. But it’s close enough: a bunch of (seemingly) random flashes of LED light.

Bliss.

Poor Harry Joy

Posted 2009.09.04 11.57 in Music/Movies/TV

Bliss1985There was a movie back in the 80’s or early 90’s, I believe it was called Bliss. It was an Australian movie, about a fellow who at one point was a busy workaholic kind of guy, but all that changed after he had a heart attack.

Surviving the heart attack, he spent time at home, recovering. There, he was able to really observe his family for the first time, and he became convinced that he may have actually died from the heart attack, and that he was now in hell. There was his unfaithful wife, his neo-nazi son, crack-whore daughter…

From there, things sort of went downhill for the unlucky protagonist. The film had its funny moments (I think it was supposed to be a comedy, actually) but mostly I would call it poignant.

However, Harry Joy did get to die happy in the end.

And we all learned some important things about honey.