Archive for the ‘Technical’ Category
Sorting out some boxes the other day I came across an LED keyring torch given to me by friend Michael. Whilst this was an awesome torch, after a while the button became unusable so it has fallen out of use. So I had the idea to use the LED as a headlight for our Raspberry Pi based robot!
Here are the steps:
1. Dismantle LED torch. I was surprised how little there was in this one. Just two 3V batteries stacked on top of one another and the LED mounted in such a way as the switch makes it contact the batteries. No other circuitry or wiring.
2. Cut up protective plastic that often covers a UK mains socket when you get a new appliance. These make great LED bulb holders!
3. Solder the LED to some hookup wire and connect to an output on your controller. I’m using one of the OC outputs on the Raspirobot board. NB: You may need to put a protective resistor in depending on the LED you use.
4. Test. Setting the output to 1 (high) turns the LED on and to 0 turns it off.
5. Turn off the house lights and take your Robot exploring in the dark!
Thanks again for the awesome torch Michael – made a great torch and now make a great robot headlight.
After a year off due to non cycling life getting in the way – Team A just made a return to the Afan Valley in South Wales and as usual we had a fair share of fun and drama.
Arriving Friday night and heading straight to the pub regulars Andy, Mark S and myself welcomed Mark F and Tom to the team, sharing stories of breakdowns, accidents and broken riders from previous trips.
We predicted Andy having his usual accident on the first climb and Mark S having his usual mechanical breakdown – supported by Mark’s admission that he’d had his rear suspension ‘temporarily fixed’ by a shop with them predicting it would last ‘a day of riding if he is lucky’!
We also decided on doing the full W2 route on the Saturday. This route is made up by combining the Wall and Whites Level into one big ride (the combination being graded a black route)…
So I decided it was time to get myself a Raspberry Pi. I have a few ideas for projects I want to do with it but to start I thought my 7 year old step son would both enjoy and learn from helping me build a robot. (ok I just really wanted to make a robot – I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to make a robot!)
I was searching for something in my Skype history today and caught myself laughing at the bizarre mixture of banalities, repetitiveness, dreadful spelling and total screw ups. So here are a few choice excerpts – this is probably only going to interest you if you work remotely or are a programming nerd, preferably both. But if you are – this might ring a few bells…
I’m currently working on a web project where the primary language is Mongolian and it’s thrown up a few interesting technical oddities. The Mongolian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but it’s not the same as (for instance) the Russian Cyrillic alphabet – oh no, there are a few extra characters.
In order to try out a complete Grails development/deployment process I’ve developed a simple Timesheet application.
For several months now I’ve been using a helmet camera to record first person video footage of all my cycling endeavors! After quite a bit of research I bought a Tachyon XC micro camera – having looked into rivals such as the Oregon Scientific models and the Go Pro. The main reasons I picked it over the competition were battery life, ability to take up to 32MB cards and (based on reviews) good value for money in terms of video and sound quality.
I recently upgraded the hard disk in my MacBook Pro to a 500GB drive. Apart from all that extra space, another advantage of the occasion was that I got to test my backup restore process. After all – a backup is no use if you can’t reliably restore from it!
So on the whole – it was pretty successful. With the new drive installed I booted from my Snow Leopard disk and in Disk Utilities opted to restore from a Time Machine backup. I connected my backup drive and the restore took around an hour and a half (note: this was a fairly new backup drive with only a few weeks of backups on it).
I then rebooted and my Mac restarted just as if nothing had happened except now I had 310GB of free space…. well… almost! I had a few niggles – here they were:
Spotlight forgot my common searches – this was expected – I’d heard that Time Machine doesn’t back this up. Fair enough.
I needed to copy my Parallels Windows XP image from a separate backup – I have Time Machine ignore this file as it’s a 65GB single file that would really slow backups down. Thankfully – I’d remembered to make a separate backup of this file before installing the new disk.
(most seriously) – Finder started crashing every 5 minutes! I discovered this when I tried to copy my Parallels Windows XP image from it’s separate backup but it kept timing out – then I noticed that all my Finder windows flickered every now and then.. and then I looked in Console and found it was crashing every 5 minutes with severe looking memory register faults. I tried booting in Safe mode (yes the Mac has this too – hold down shift just after the startup tone) and it fixed the problem – so this pointed towards something in my users startup items or contextual menus. Eventually I tracked this down to Zumo drive (an online backup facility that I’ve been using as an offsite backup for my most important files). I’ve actually switched to DropBox now anyway because the iPhone App is better, but I imagine the Zumo drive problem could be fixed by reinstalling it – for now I’ve just disabled it. (will update this if I get round to reinstating it)
iTunes (and after syncing my iPhone, that as well!) forgot my iTunes account and I had to reauthorize my computer.
So there we go! If you are short on disk space and have thought about upgrading it – go for it! Don’t let a stupid thing like disk space hold back your computing…
Part of the August bank holiday at home was spent messing around with a puppet theater made out of a large cardboard box. It was a family thing – everyone had to make up some kind of puppet show. Well here are my attempts – related to my current project at work – Zingzam! Note that these aren’t in any way meant to be serious – they are just a bit of a laugh playing around with the fun medium of home made puppets and video… What did you do with YOUR bank holiday??
Bob meets Zingzam…
Zingzam vs. Open Source:
Zingzam vs. Ning:
I’ve spent the morning setting up my blog so I can post by email from my phone. This will of course open up all sorts of blogging possibilities!
Here is my setup:
Nokia 6500 Slide on Three sending emails via a gmail account connecting over imap.
Mails are sent to a dedicated mailbox.
I’m using the WordPress plugin Postie to pick up the mails from that account and post them to my blog.
I tried the built in WordPress support but it didn’t seem to strip out the mime encoding stuff sent by my mobile. Postie worked straight away.
I have the Cronless Postie plugin set to trigger Postie every hour. However this timing seems way off – I can see the WP-Cron job active via the plugin WP-Cron-Dashboard but it doesn’t actually execute for quite a while later. So in addition I have set up a free web monitoring service to poll the Postie fetch url, which it does every 20 minutes. So perhaps some improvement could be made here, but it’s working well enough for now.
I did have a problem where Postie wasn’t picking up my categories and was always posting to ‘Uncategorized’. However this was fixed with the fix described here.