Thursday, May 29, 2008

30 miles

Wish me luck at the 2008 OC Go Tournament!! 5 rounds of go this weekend, it is going to be awesome!

(me at the Cotsen 2008)

Then in 2 weeks I will also be at the Santa Monica Coffee Cup, which is a 3 round tournament in a coffee shop. It should be fun as well unless I drink too much coffee and can't hold the stones anymore.

Don't know anything about go? Let me show you. If you don't want to click those links, it is a game from Asia; first from China, made popular by Japan to the "west" and now has a world wide base. If you like manga, take a look at Hikaru no go. It also has a few of the mangas turned into animations, if you have netflix you can get it here.

If you want to know, here is my KGS rank:

If you want to play me, I am deoryp on kgs. I am about a 9k on kgs, and I am about 12k or so in tournaments.

wtf does 12k mean? If you learn the rules of go, you are about a 30 kyu (k = kyu). Which means to play even the handy cap to play me even would be you get to play 18 times in a row before I play on a full sized board. To be fair, if I were to play someone who plays go for a living (professionals) they would let me play about 25-30 times before they play to be even.

Monday, May 26, 2008

27 miles

So my gluteus maximus has a huge cramp.

( I am going to let you think about that for a minute... )

I spent my Saturday using my new router table for the first time, but I had to use it bent over or on my knees; hence the butt cramp. I am working on making a semi-sweet, multifunctional shelf that I am going to use to keep all my lathe wood and tools. Ok, so the shelf's use is boring, but the work to make it is pretty fun. I am making a 4 shelf bookshelf, and the ends are lap-jointed which means I need to remove about .3" x 6" x 36*6" of wood riddled with knots. I am about 70% done...

yeah, I built the router table too.

Other things I have been up to... I set up my desktop as a ubuntu 8.04 desktop with ssh server enabled so if everything goes well I will be able to connect from anywhere. Also I might be able to do remote development on my arduino board.

I am still working on my 5 volt to 3.3 volt board. I had to add/draw the part that I am using myself for the library for eagle. I did a test print of the pads to see if I got it right but it was about 100 times too big, so I am wondering if I had mixed up inches with millimeters when i was making the drawing. More to come.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

22 miles

OK so I have been thinking about this concept of salaried employees working far too much and how this seems to be expected from the uppers. Either I am not getting paid enough to work into the wee hours or I don't really enjoy what I am doing.

So I would like to ask to anyone who does work crazy-go-nuts hours why exactly they do it. I can only assume that there are 3 possibilities:

1 - Their job kicks ass and they never want to be doing anything else.

My response: bastards. How did you get that job? Did it take awhile to find it?

2 - They have nothing better to do and they are getting pressure to work those long hours.

My response: suckers. (maybe that is my problem... )

3 - They are getting blackmailed. (OK... or they are payed too much and feel guilty.)

My response: figures.

So am I a lazy good-for-nothing if I only put in my 40 hours a week? When it comes time to go home, I can't wait to get home and make some dinner and maybe watch some tv, go on a run, work on the lathe, plan my project in eagle, or get schooled by my wife at gin rummy. It would take a lot to get me to give those things up.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

20 miles

Well it took a week to get back out on the track and forge through the heat and run my laps of doom. I am getting better though, I seem to be running a sub-9 minute mile now apposed to my 12 minute mile I started with a month ago! woot woot.

So at work my hard drive crashed last Monday... bad times. That combined with new friend making and end of school year celebrations I have done jack on my little project. But never fear! soon there will be something to show, maybe next weekend... Here is to then!

Chumby made it to CNBC! So any of you who don't understand wtf a chumby is, take a look here.

Here is a parrot:

Parrot taken from ianmichaelthomas

Sunday, May 11, 2008

17 miles

This weekend, I did acid.

Well ok, i just made/used some of that Copper Chloride in Aqueous Hydrochloric Acid Solution, and it was awesome.

It was just a test etch as seen in the picture (along with the Diecimila board), the cool part is that now my acid is primed for the big-time! Now I need to sit down and lay something out... One change I made was the pool acid the article calls for was 30% and I could only find 15%, and the mix was to be 2:1, so I made it 1:1 and it worked out fine... I will try to get my PCB design up soon, see you then!

14 miles

I went swimming yesterday! It was pretty fun, and I am going to count it as a mile of running.

Acid. Fun stuff right? I want to talk more about my upcoming plan of making a prototype board at home. (A prototype board is a circuit board that is the first version of your design and you know it may not work very well. Because of this fact, you can get away with making just one or two yourself by using acid to dissolve the copper off your board, or some people have fancy drilling/routing tables that they can remove copper by cutting it off.)

The Real Elliot wrote this cool writeup on how to make Copper Chloride in Aqueous Hydrochloric Acid Solution! (Exclamation point!) on I am going to try to do it, correct me if I am wrong but this kind of acid seems to be a little more house hold safe than Ferric Chloride, the common way to etch copper off a copper clad board. (Don't get me wrong, it still seems to be able to melt your face off like "Aliens" blood):

So my plan for today is to find a glass bottle that will be strong enough for the acid and some ruff handling (just in case), a glass pan for doing the etching, and get the three parts to the recipe. Then I am off to my laptop to get my design down in eagle so I can print it off and stick it to a piece of copper... So exciting! I also need to find a single sided copper clad board...

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.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

10 miles

Well, so I got sick this week. I started to get something last Friday and then it went away for the weekend, and then came back Tuesday but today I am better now. BUT I AM BACK! Woo hoo!!

So here is what I am up to:

- running (duh)
- programming Arduino Diecimila board
- looking ahead at chumby plans
- wood turning

News on the running front is that I have found that I can't really run like I did in high school... But I am slowly getting it back, a few more months...

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 environment 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...

So my plans for chumby are still in the works... But the super high level plan is:

Internet --> Chumby --> Arduino --> XBee --> Other Arduino boards.

With the end goal of a XBee mesh network of home sensors (house plant hydration, cat food feeder, open door detector, power outlet monitor, etc...).

I bought a wood lathe at the start of the year. I have been learning how to make different kinds of cuts with the tools, getting a little help from this wood turning turning club I found down here. I have not gotten around to it, but some time I will post some pictures of the little bowls I have made so far.

I am also making an inchworm pull-toy for my friend's baby. I am about half way done or maybe less, I hope to have it done in a few weeks. It is pretty sweet so far.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

7 miles

I got an OLED display and carrier board a couple weeks ago. I wanted to play with it and see how nice it looks. So I went to dig up my good old tekbot mega128.2 board but low and behold, I left it in Oregon.

So this week my brand new Arduino Diecimila board came. I debated whether I should design my own board, wait for my next trip to Oregon which would be in July, or buy the Diecimila board. I went with the Diecimila board, so the deal with these Diecimila boards is that Arduino is a open source api and IDE for ATmega family chips (ATmega8, 16, 168) and it seems they are working on supporting more (1280, 2560). The IDE does not really interest me, nor does the api. What made me buy it was their bootloader and USB to serial circuit, it emulates the isp programmers in the bootloader so you can program your board via USB (USB serial driver) which is convenient because my laptop does not have many ports other than USB. And an added bonus is that the chumby has 2 USB host ports which would allow me to connect the two!

I have done a lot of programming for these chips in college and at work. I think they are very fun and it makes me happy to see a larger user base being exposed to micro controllers with Arduino. After these new programmers get used to the board and the features of the chips, I bet they will look for a way to get at the hardware without the Arduino abstraction layer.

My wife has joined me in my runs, it has been really fun with her there with me running along and another source of motivation. She understands that I really want a chumby, but does not understand why... I will change her mind when I get it.