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64 Pixels of RGB Fun!

Posted 2011.06.03 8.40 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Taking some time off from my MCP project while waiting for some more components to arrive, last night I put together a Meggy Jr. from Evil Mad Scientist Labs.

The Meggy Jr. is an open-source handheld video game platform. The ‘screen’ is an 8×8 matrix of RGB LEDs. Despite such a ‘low-rez screen’ there’s actually quite a few games out there that are very playable.

It comes with “Attack of the Cherry Tomatoes” pre-programmed on the uC and over a dozen more examples are included in the free development libraries, which work with the Arduino IDE.


Over-Engineering FTW!

Posted 2011.05.01 12.57 in Computers/Internet/Technology

So a while back I was talking about building a Game of Life display – blinking flashing lights is what it’s all about. For those who aren’t familiar, Conway’s Game of Life is sort of a zero-player game. It’s a mathematical progression that simulates a sort of simple life evolution.

Using the kits from Adafruit, I started back in December with a small array, 12 x 8 cells (96 LEDs). Over the next few months I added to it and grew it till now it’s 20 x 16 cells (320 LEDs!) This is a good size, I think. I mean, you can always go bigger. You can never have too many LEDs. But still, one ought to draw a line at some point.

Next step was making it pretty. So I have it framed with a wood frame and protected with a sheet of dark green acrylic. Sort of like a framed piece of artwork on the wall. Including the frame it’s about 21″ wide and 17″ high.

Now that it looked good, I wanted an elegant, electronic, complicated way of turning it on and off. You know, better than flipping a switch like some sort of cave-man.

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Posted 2011.01.22 21.16 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Pointless Blather

It’s slow, and I hope I’m not jinxing myself by saying it, but I think there’s some progress.

The ethernet port seems to be working(*). The temperature variances are annoying but I think I’ve found ways to live with it. Last night I added all the buttons and switches. All that remains now is to build the circuit board that will house the power regulator and the interface to the HVAC lines.

I had been worried about how it will all look – especially with the Chronodot RTC/temp sensor being not only external, but standing off about an inch. I was worried also about mounting buttons and switches. Would I do a good job? Would they look ok? Would it look like a 3rd grade science fair reject?

In a moment of zen, I found a peaceful answer to all these concerns. My thermostat is going to look a little bit like mad science. People are going to be wary when they see it. People are going to be afraid to touch it. And that is the way it is meant to be.

The grey wire coming out the bottom is the ethernet cable. The blue board & black cable on the left side is temporary, it is the USB/serial connection that I’m using for debugging, and temporarily providing power to run the thermostat. Down below to the right of the ethernet port, is where I’ll be building the power & HVAC interface circuitry.

* There is one ongoing sporadic problem with the ethernet port. Sometimes after a power loss, it hangs on initialization. I suspect I know what the problem is, and how to remedy it. For now, it just means occasionally having to hit a reset button after power-up.

I’ll include some pics of the guts in my next update post.

Mad Hair Day

Posted 2009.12.01 9.40 in Pointless Blather

Other people have bad hair days. I do too, frequently. Sometimes though, it’s worse than that. Some days, my hair is just completely mad.

I mean insane – when it’s really troubled, my hair will shout obscenities at strangers. It mumbles to itself on busy street corners.

Some people stare, others just furtively glance then look away, not wanting to participate in the unruly embarassment. Parents whisper to their children, “Look away. It’s unwell. Don’t stare.”

I attribute all this to a handful of separate issues – each one, on its own, wouldn’t be too bad. But together, they are greater than the sum of their parts, and my hair really has the deck stacked against it.

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