VoCore Alpha gets LCD with Doom and NES Emulation

October 16th, 2014

NES Emu on VoCore

So I got the VoCore alpha a while back. It didn’t work. Turns out a design flaw meant a modification was required to get it running. I got two, and they were both b0rked.

The 0402 components required for the fix are what I class as “dust” and the two modules were quickly shelved for “future use”. Or not….

Roll forward some months and I manage to gain access to a stereo microscope and some tiny tools. I fix both VoCore and solder up some breakout boards for them.

What to do? Well, lots.

Firstly USB was configured with sound and HID as well as storage. I got a webcam and did streaming video, a USB sound card and played internet radio and fiddled with all the normal stuff openWRT gets to do.

Then I hooked up a small Nokia display (Thanks Sparkfun!) using SPI (software only, hardware SPI pins are not broken out on the VoCore alpha board). A quick port of an old NES Emulator later and I have this,

NES Emulator on YouTube (This is sped up as the emulator was slow when the video was filmed. I have since increased the speed to be almost playable)

After this success I moved onto the old favourite, Doom.

Doom on VoCoreDoom on VoCore (This video is realtime, but not playable as the fps is far too slow).

So current state is that the VoCore is a great little board that is quite capable. I have started to get hardware SPI working by hooking onto the flash SPI pins but am still having speed issues. The goal is to bring up the speed and then work on a framebuffer driver for the VoCore.

Any week now all the original Kickstarter backers will start to receive their VoCore boards and I think then the fun really starts :)

mtGox victim

February 25th, 2014

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So, I had about £600/$1000 in mtgox when it went down.

I had been trying to withdraw my money for months but they were just delaying and making excuses on approving my account to prevent just that. In the end I lost everything.

Anybody that feels sorry for me can donate here,

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Not much you can do except move on and curse the people that said to use MtGox because it was “safe”.

VFD Clock with NTP+SNMP+HTTP

December 4th, 2013

photo

So I built myself a clever clock.
One I never need to set, even during Daylight savings.
One that monitors the temperature and lets me remotely log it.

This is the clock to end all clocks. I will never need another one ;)

(Till I build a better one)

Full details here.

Fun with Skylanders

February 1st, 2013

SpyroOnPortal
Ok, so I finally caved in and bought some Skylanders stuff cheap on ebay. I got a second hand Portal and game for the 3DS (for my son, honest). Now, it didn’t come with figures but the save games had 2 figures cached so we can still play.
Looking for figures I found the start set figures were pretty much nowhere to be found, so to get them I bought a PC starter pack, with Portal and Game.
Now I don’t want to play it on the PC and will probably resell the PC game, but out of interest (before the PC one arrived) I bought just the Wii game with no portal and no figures, just a disk.
The 3DS portal with USB cable WORKS with the Wii version! I have yet to try the PC portal on the Wii but as that has USB it should work too, plus it holds more figures.

So, it looks like for compatibility the 3DS portal is best, working with the PC, the Wii and the 3DS (maybe xbox/ps3 too?). However it only holds one figure because it’s smaller.

Turns out the system used is a standard ISO RFID so lots of RFID cards trigger the portal, obviously they don’t read as figures but its funny to see your oyster card trigger the Portal of power as if you put a figure there.

So, My figures arrive and I play. For no reason one of them corrupts.
I have NO idea how to fix this in the Wii version I am playing, but luckily I have the 3DS version and DO know how to fix it in that.
I place the figure in the portal and the 3DS offers to reset it, I do so and it “works”.
Sure enough, the Wii recognises it too.
Worried by this I decide to backup all the figures right away, The first two backup no problem but the figure I “fixed” will not backup and gives errors.

Is it possible the Figure is damaged? The Wii/3DS still read it but the PC won’t back it up. Very strange.

PS2Pad TX

July 11th, 2012


I built a quad-copter (That’s for another post!) and bought a cheap chinese 6 channel TX.

It sucks (The TX that is).

I built my own TX from scratch using a 2.4ghz plugin RF module designed for converting 35mghz transmitters into 2.4ghz versions.

The base of the TX is a PS2 pad, the vibration motors were removed and the control chip desoldered. An AVR was installed in one of the “arms” of the pad where the motor was removed from.

The two sticks were connected directly to ADC0-ADC3 on the AVR.
It turns out the pad had “analogue” buttons and these were not good enough to trigger the digital inputs on the AVR. The solution was to fit 4 small micro-buttons behind the shoulder triggers to provide a good action. The top buttons were ignored.
These 4 buttons trigger the “aux” channels, sending a value around 1500 when off and 2000 when pressed. This allows me to trigger options on my quad.

To power the whole thing a small 500mah 3.7 lipo was fitted inside the radio TX module and a 3v to 5v step up adaptor fitted inside the pad. A lipo charger with mini-USB connector was fitted near the old cable outlet.
The LiPo charger outputs 100ma, so 5 hours to fully charge the battery, while the step up converter is capable of 500ma max, so 1 hours maximum run time.
I have yet to do a test to see how long it works in actual usage, but I expect more like 2 hours+ in normal use.

The code to generate the ppm signal is from an open source project called Funkenschlag by a friend from IRC.

Pic Power Meter finally LIVE!

July 22nd, 2011

Power Monitor

Power Monitor



So, after google killed the Google PowerMeter api I got the incentive to finish my own project using it. Odd huh.
I wrote loads of code to hook into the google API ages ago, but never got the hardware setup. Now After Google announce the death of the API I finally cracked the last part of my hardware issues and have live power monitoring of my electricity meter.

The key difference to most here is that its NOT a clamp type sensor. It counts rotations of the meter disc itself. It is therefor accurate and matches exactly what I will be charged for.

There are three parts,
1> Pic (UBW board) with IR reflectance sensor
2> Moxa Serial to Ethernet convertor
3> Database server

The Pic board counts rotations of the disc in 1 minute increments. Every ten minutes it connects to the server over serial (to ethernet UDP) and uploads all ten readings
The server saves these into a mysql database.
I wrote some PHP code to generate graphs of various data, this is proving to be the hardest part. Getting the data to look good.

Power Use

Power Use


Please excuse the awfull graph but I shrank it to make it fit nicely in the blog post, in the full version you get it nicely labelled and some extra info like average KW/h and total KW/h for the time period selected.
The biggest problem is the jaggedy graph, this is a side effect of the fact I count rotations per minute. Rather than time each rotation. Because the average rpm is low I only get about 1 rotation each 30 seconds. So its very easy to get a reading of 1 followed by 2 by 1 by 2 etc as that second rotation moves slightly back and forth over the 60 second boundry.
I am looking at ways to smooth this out without distorting the data too much.

I used the PIC UBW board because the USB port allowed me to compile code and program the pic in <30 seconds without unplugging anything. The serial to ethernet converter remained connected to the serial port so my development cycle was quite fast for the PIC code.
I did some simple software debounce of the IR sensor (just in case) but it doesn’t seem to be needed.
The end result is completely non-invasive to the meter (yes, in the pic you can also see my OWL clip on sensor, this is not part of the new system and only runs a small LCD by my PC).
The next step is to find a sensor that will trigger from the gas meter and allow me to monitor that too. They are close together so the hope is I can use another input on the same PIC and upload both sets of readings at the same time.

This graph has allowed me to identify individual appliances by time and watch their power use, with a little more detailed study I will eventualy work out the power profile for each device and possibly predict when each one is turned on and off purely from the graph data! I can spot my fridge, my oven and washing machine already.

Modchips, the battle was won, the war is lost.

September 1st, 2010


Sony recently went the way of Nintendo in trying to ban “modchips” from sale. With a degree of success from both companies coming from the fact that the modchip had little “legal” use, despite arguments about homebrew and backups.

PSGroove was just released. Its source code for the new PS3 Hack. Out in the open. But what does it run on? Won’t the “modchip” get banned?

No.

It runs on an existing development platform that has been selling thousands without any use for ‘hacking’ as Sony see it.

Sold at many large companies such as Digi-key and RS this device has VERY clear legitimate use and has a huge market before the PSGroove code was released.

How can Sony ban this item? That would be about as likely as getting cricket bats banned because somebody found you could hit people with them. It’s just not going to happen.
This finally brings to a head my point about modchips from the start, they are just simple microprocessors on a PCB. Most of the older ones were on generic PCBs and had to be hand soldered. If sold with NO code installed, how can it break any law or get banned?

Its like trying to ban wires because they can be used to make bombs.

I can’t wait to see what happens when Sony tell Atmel and Microchip to stop making components, or tell Digi-key and RS to stop selling components. It just won’t happen. It Can’t happen. If it does, the world is beyond saving.

The device in question is the Atmel
USB Key. How exactly do they plan to fight this?

Stereo Photography (3D)

August 30th, 2010


I have been heavily interested in 3D, be it watching or creating. Taking two photos and joining them together for 3D is ok, but you can’t photograph anything moving or take video that way.
My solution was to create this complex arrangement of mirrors. The final image is split into two, with the left and right images being shown top to top.
Using this I can take video, such as thsi
3D Test
The process is complex as I have to convert my video from the cameras native format back to mpeg2 for use in Stereo Movie Maker then save it out as a calibrated left/right video.

Web/Astro Cam update

August 30th, 2010

Moon
Ok, so summer is over here in England (argh) and I got some dark, the Eye Cam is taken down while I do some actual astro Photography.
I got lucky and had a clear night during full moon and took this. I hope to get some more images soon, but I live in a city so there is quite a lot of light polution as well as cloud.

My London Eye Webcam!

July 16th, 2010


and Now, with updated camera!

London Eye Webcam

While setting up for Astro Photography I decided to point at something a little closed, that didnt move or get obscured by cloud.
I will try to upgrade ths system, but its pretty good now. You can see people walking around in the pods!

Take a look on the Link for a live view.