Thursday, May 8, 2008

13 miles

My wife showed me an email that meg sent her:

Rachel what the hell does this mean?

So my plan for the Arduino board is to connect it to the OLED display and get that working well, maybe transfer images over USB. I got the programming envi
ronment working on my ubuntu system (I tried to get debian installed and working but after battling with X11 and then apt update, it bricked... so back to ubuntu) . So I rewrote the Makefile for Arduino to remove the Arduino part as a built in default. I don't really need the abstraction that Arduino gives, but I do really like the bootloader that lets you program over USB...


To which my wife replied:
Well, Meg, I'm glad you asked.

I counted eight words I did not know the definition for in the paragraph below, so I did a little research for both of us. What follows should help you to better comprehend my husband.

Arduino- the gland in which the neurotransmitter Arduinoline is located. Arduinoline is released into the brain during "fight-or-flight" situations, allowing the person to giggle nervously, forget critical parts of their carefully planned speech, and even pee a little.

OLED- Old Lazer Emitting Diodes. These are really bad.

Ubuntu- A close relative of the Antelope, the Ubuntu is an African Serengeti native, known for its distinct, S-shaped horns, and its ability to run up to 15 miles per hour. Pronounced U-boon-too

debian- a single member of the Latter Debbie cult in northern Idaho, which believes the consumption of artificial preservatives is Godly.

X11-its either a Terminator or a calculator, i couldn't tell for sure.

apt update- im really not sure

bricked- who talks like this?!!

bootloader- and olde tyme-y name for the shoe horn.

Meg, I hope this cleared up some of your questions. Please don't hesitate to email me further if you would like to know more about any of these terms.



Ok meg... let me explain what all of those things are one by one, don't fall asleep.

Arduino: The Arduino Diecimila is a board for hobby micro controller programmers that want to work on a home project but might not have the time or skills to build the physical board. It looks like this:
(photo taken from

OLED: This stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Really what I have is an OLED display, the cool thing about OLEDs is that they can be really thin, and even flexible!! I saw a company working on an OLED watch that is like a sticker that you just stick to your wrist and that is your watch! (it will unstick in a few days or something...)
An OLED Display is a bunch of LEDs in a grid just like your computer monitor, except the difference is your laptop display is an LCD (liquid crystal display), and it works by having a backlight shin through little cells that can change the amount of light they let through. So for a LCD, a black screen takes just as much power as a white screen because the backlight never turns off, it just gets snuffed out. The really cool thing about OLED displays is that they don't have a backlight because each pixel makes it's own light. So the amount of power it takes to make a black screen is near nothing, and for a white screen it is the max (but it is still less than a LCD backlight).
An OLED Display looks like this:
(image take from

Ubuntu: It is a version of linux, based on Debian. You can request a free DVD of the operating system from their website.

Debian: It is a version of linux that is pretty popular (hence why ubuntu borrowed it...) you can download the operating system for free at their website.

X11: In linux, it is basically everything that is graphical is handled by X11. If X11 and I got in a fight it woudl be like:
X11 : "all your base are belong to us"
Me : "yep."

apt update: Or "application update", it is the way you install and update things installed in debian and ubuntu. You can install almost anything you can think of auto-magically with apt-get.

bricked: OK my laptop was not bricked... Bricked means that you have done something so bad to your that there is no way to recover it and it is now as good as a brick --> it has been bricked.

bootloader: A bootloader is a small piece of software that is loaded by micro controllers (and even computers but it is called BIOS) that loads the thing you want to boot to. Like, your cell phone has a bootloader that boots to whatever OS it has... It is a better way of loaded things because you can do simple things like program a new program into the device (in the case of Arduino) so that next time when it resets, it will load the new program without the need for expensive and or hard to find specialized cables.

OK, new stuff: Should I try to etch my own PCB? I am really thinking about it... It will cost some money to get started but would save in the long run. Or should I look at medium cost proto-board shops?

For Meg, here is a etched PCB:
(photo taken from

I need to make a logic family bridge between the Arduino board and my OLED display before I can use it. The Arduino is all 5 volts, and the OLED is 3.3 volts; the OLED driver chip is also not 5 volt tolerant. So I got some of these cool level converter buffer chips and want to use them but they are really gd small smt parts and I need to either make a PCB or get some of those smt to dip converter boards... This is what keeps me up at night.


Mladen said...

Wow, gosh. What's the appropriate response when someone writes a technology manual just for you? I mean, I'm touched, but I was also bored-- I'm much more informed but I still have no idea what a PROTO BOARD is...I think all I can really offer is a brief explanation of science. Nevermind. Just read my blog.
See you in Slovenia.
meggypie (not mladen like it says)

Scott Nichols said...

are you saying it is sort of like staring at the sun meg?

Laurence said...

wow...bootloader? you mean there's a term even more olde tyme-y than shoe horn?

Robert said...

Rachel is a keeper. Prime bullshit slingers like that are hard to find. I find myself wondering if you put her up to that...
I'll keep reading to see whether you went with the etched board...