First test of drum kit…

This is round the wrong way, but here is the first test of the finished drum kit: I’m making this completely open source, right down to the drum sounds ( which are already open source, released by someone else on the ‘net a few years back. ) This was my first design using PVC tubing and I am delighted with the results – it’s such a simple material to work with, and fairly cheap. Bookmark this page for further updates, or follow me on...

Going Postal

So here’s a little board I made a few summers ago in part to experiment with the Microchip WiFi module, in part to play with home made double sided boards. We have a PIC32 processor, micro sd media, wifi module, some buttons, a bicolour LED and a tiny buzzer. There is USB for file transfer and charging (this runs off a small 4.2v lipol battery.) Now there was (and still is) a good reason for building this as a small, rechargeable battery powered device . Well, perhaps just “a reason”. I wanted to be able to stick it in the post, mail it to a friend somewhere in the world, and have the thing record all the Wifi access points it finds along the way. Maybe not with him While the board is on its travels, should it find an open Wifi access point it could create a blog entry on my website, telling us where it had been.  It’s an electronic travel journalist.   That’s more like it Unfortunately I built the board, then got rather busy, and the thing languished in a draw for a few years. In the meantime I moved country, and buses started to operate open Wifi. So now there is a new avenue for data collection: stick it on a bus, let it run around town for a bit, then pick it up later. It would be like a chatty, electronic boomerang. So now I have another active project. This is the circuit diagram: I will post updates as the software develops, and we eventually get to field trials. At the moment I...

Dublin’s Secret Garden

A curious water shortage map leads to a surprising discovery Dublin Corporation’s announcement today of water shortages following pipe damage on James Street was accompanied by an odd map:   After the initial “are we affected or not…”, we were struck by the strange coverage. Why is there a big hole in the middle? Looking closely, there is a small patch of blue. Is that a reservoir, in the middle of the city? A few hundred yards from where I catch the bus? Pulling up Google maps reveals the truth – it’s Blessington Street Basin, or just ‘the basin’ to those who live nearby ( and were not surprised by its existence. ) A bit more googling confirms its role as a water reservoir for the north of Dublin, built in 1810. The surprise is that it is still there, and is a beautiful public park, just off the top of O’Connell St. You can live in a place for years and not know what’s there, even with the aid of satellite imaging. A video telling the story better than I can is here. Well worth a...

See us at Dublin Maker Fair

So my Open Source Drum Kit has been selected for inclusion in the Dublin Maker Fair – thanks people, I’m looking forward to bringing it down. Maybe someone will help sort out the echo issue I have that cause drum taps to be missed…. See you on the 26th July at Trinity College. For further details on the event look here:...

Powering the board up

There are two ways to power the board: by , well, powering it up, or by plugging in a PICKIT3 programmer/debugger unit, and powering the board through that. It’s surprisingly convenient to use just the PCIKIT3, especially when you are travelling. If you are powering by batteries, we find two AA cell batteries in a small two cell battery holder works best during development. The board will run happily from two Alkaline, NiCad or NMiH batteries. No external regulator is required; just connect the batteries directly to the appropriate board pins ( GROUND and 3v3, as shown on the PCB layout drawing.) Powering via the PICKIT3 is even simpler. Just plug in the PICKIT3 as normal: Note how the PICKIT3 appears “upside down”. It’s not a problem; the LEDs on the top of the PICKIT3 are not really interesting. Only five of the six header pins are used, starting at pin1 (marked by a triangle on the top of the PICKIT3.) Plug the PICKIT3 into the PC, and start the MPLAB-X application. Click on the “Hold in Reset” icon, as shown in the figure below. Once the text in the lower “Output” dialog indicates that the PICKIT3 has connected to your board (“Target Detect”,) click the button again, and the board will power up. Please note: If you continue to use the board with the bootloader application, you should add a resistor ( a value between 4K7 and 50K) between pin 18, PORTC7, and 3.3V. This ensures that the bootloader does not start when you are running your board without a serial cable connected. This resistor is only required...