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Ice Tube Clock

Posted 2011.05.09 9.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology

I (heart) my Ice Tube Clock – another kit from Adafruit.

It was fun to build, and it’s just really fun to look at – high tech and old tech all together at once.

Feel like quitting

Posted 2011.01.29 16.22 in Pointless Blather

The past two months I’ve been obsessing on this electronics stuff. Thermostat. Kits. Soldering. Embedded devices.

It’s been “theraputic” – the point was to keep me busy, to keep my mind off of the depression and keep the dark thoughts away. Lately it’s been working less and less.

And the thing that’s coming up now is, I’m not sure if it’s even been fun. There’s the challenge, it’s satisfying to figure something out or make something work. But down to the nitty gritty of it – I don’t know if it’s been fun. If it’s been worth it.

I started doing a bit of cleaning and tidying today, and ended up gathering up all the electronic bits and pieces and stuff, and just putting it all in a big box. I still have lots of half-formed thoughts on things that I could make, but I don’t have the urge to actually make any of them.

The thermostat is finished, fully working. All I have to do is hook it up. It’s in the big box with the rest of the stuff. I even built a wireless outdoor temperature sensor last night, to radio the outside temp in so it could be displayed on the thermostat. That’s in the big box too.

I look at it all, and there’s no emotions. Was it fun? There sure were a heck of a lot of frustrations. Things not working, things that broke. And I don’t even want to think about how much money I spent on components, kits, parts, et cetera.

Was it supposed to be fun? At times it felt like homework – stuff I was doing because I had to. It was the assignment. Do that, or sit quietly in the dark and let my head fill up with images of death.

I guess I won’t put the big box away just yet — I’ll leave it out, and see if the urge strikes to open it and do more electronics stuff. Maybe install the thermostat. Or not. Whatever.

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.

Best Toy Ever

Posted 2010.11.24 23.50 in Hobbies, Uncategorized

So I was thinking about trying some electronics, to see if I could revive any interest or ability there. I got a couple kits, one easy and one hard, but some stuff was missing so I went down to the electronics supply place to get some parts. Big disappointment, most of their retail operation is now discount / surplus junk, with electronics being relegated to a tiny little cramped and mostly out-of-stock corner.

So as I was on my way out, having found almost nothing I was looking for, I saw they had some toy remote-control helicopters on final-sale discount. I figured, meh. It might be fun for a few minutes. I’m so bad with R/C cars that I’d never be able to get insurance, but maybe it’d be amusing to crash a helicopter into things for a while. And it was either that or my big bag of disappointment, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Well! Forget about the electronics kits – this little whirly-bird is supercool!

It’s super easy to fly! It only took me 3 or 4 big wipe-outs before I was able to do complete flights, like from take-off to landing. It flies with two counter-rotating main rotors, steers by varying the speed of one of the mains, and goes foreward / reverse by tilting the nose down or back, using a small rotor on the tail boom.

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Dingux – Keeping Me Out Of Trouble

Posted 2010.05.05 10.45 in Computers/Internet/Technology

So the first couple weeks with my Dingoo, I was messing with the native firmware, doing some hacks and coming up with a nice theme/skin for it, that sort of thing. I knew you could run Linux on there but I was sort of avoiding it, trying to just stick to the native firmware.

Then I started looking for a game, to take the place of Star Trek: Tactical Assault on the DS. Something that I could pick up and play for 5 or 10 minutes then leave, something that had challenging fly-around-and-shoot-stuff combat, but didn’t have a huge backstory or a long story-mode. (Yeah I know ST:TA has that, but I never play it, I just use Skirmish mode. I get a ship, the computer gets a ship, and we slug it out.)

So after a bunch of trial and error, it boiled down to an oldie-but-goodie: Star Control 2. Or rather, the modern opensource remake, Ur-Quan Masters. Yeah, long drawn-out story mode. Skip that: Super Melee mode. I get 14 ships. The computer gets 14 ships. We slug it out. Brilliant. The only catch? It’s not available for native firmware, only Dingux – that’s what they call Linux on the Dingoo.

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Long Weekend

Posted 2010.04.02 11.00 in Life On Drugs, Pointless Blather

Happy pagan fertility festival weekend!

As with every weekend, long or otherwise, I start out by making a list of things I need to accomplish. Long weekends are nice because that extra day really helps, it maens there’s more nap-time in between the chores.

This morning as I’m writing out my list, I find myself looking at it… Clean this, wash that, tidy this, clean that…

Chores. Just boring chores. I thought, I should add something fun to the list. You know, make sure I remember to do something fun this weekend. What fun thing would I like to do?

I sit here, thinking for a while. I can’t think of anything.

Ok, now I think, well just for the heck of it, what if I didn’t have any chores to do? What if I hired a maid or something, had someone else to take care of every last little ‘necessary’ thing. What if I could do absolutely anything at all this weekend? What would I do? What do I want to do?

I can’t think of anything. Big or small, I can’t think of anything I want to do for fun.

That must mean something. What, though?

What does it mean?

The Holga Has Landed

Posted 2009.09.19 17.43 in Hobbies, Photography

The Holga camera. Plastic body, plastic shutter, plastic lens, plastic button. Plastic fantastic. A camera so basic that it comes with a roll of electrical tape, incase you need to seal off light-leaks. So basic, it is categorized as a toy. Yet it was designed to take professional format 120 roll film. The same medium-format film that the pros are loading into their Hasselblads and Rolleis.

The plastic lens is known for soft / fuzzy focus. The shutter is not connected to the film advance, so you can take multiple exposures – intentionally or by mistake. Focusing is achieved through luck and guesswork. The shutter has just one speed. The aperture alleges to have two settings (sunny and cloudy) but I’ve taken it apart and find that there’s really just one setting. I’ve covered up the viewfinder so I won’t accidentally use it – it doesn’t seem to have any purpose really.

This is not a camera to do serious shooting with. This is not a camera you fiddle and tinker with to get every shot just perfect. This is a camera you snap away with, whatever catches your eye, try and remember to wind it, or don’t, or don’t let it bother you. Try and remember to focus, or not. Really, just try and remember to have fun.

Here’s some frames from my first roll – as usual, just shot around the house & backyard. At least two of the double-exposures were accidental, at least one was intentional, and I can’t remember any details more than that.

The photos were taken using a roll of B&W Lomography film, ISO 100. The Lomographic Society won’t say where the film comes from, who makes it, etc. so nobody knows what the correct processing chemistry is. I processed it in Kodak T-Max because that is what I use for everything. 🙂

I think I gave it 7 minutes but next time I’ll try 6 minutes.