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Paul Bleisch

Too Much to Read

Many people complain that there are too many cable channels.  Too much choice.

I feel the same way lately but in terms of too many blog posts, podcasts, and books to read. I realized today as I removed my “in progress” stack of books from the bedside table. Somewhat admitting defeat that I couldn’t finish them without some focused effort, I moved them to my office.  They are neatly in a stack where it makes my office PC difficult to use – a taunt should I decide to sit down to browse Facebook or Twitter.  “Read me”

Currently in the queue or in progress…

And then there are the fiction books…

Need to get busy reading.

Continue reading “Too Much to Read”

All Work and No Play…

I’ve spent a good chunk of the last 18 months or so busy working on something for my J.O.B.  I’m hoping to get back to my long list of unfinished projects in my upcoming vacation time away from that job.  Looking at my bench, I see lots of started-but-not-finished projects and a few things I’ve purchased to play with but never got around to.

Let’s take a quick tour.

Continue reading “All Work and No Play…”

Moving hosts, broken links

I changed site hosts to wordpress.com which, on the whole, is great. One unfortunate side effect that I haven’t been able to fix is that some permalinks are permabroken now. If you can’t find something, let me know.

Make a Custom Membrane Keypad for Arduino

My son got one of these Leap Frog toys a few years ago as a gift.  He enjoys playing with it very much.  I am not sure how much counting and learning he is doing but it makes funny noises and sings to him so its a lot of fun.

Recently the unthinkable happened.  It died.  Not the batteries but something else.  I took the back off to look at what might be wrong (which was very easy for a toy).  Unfortunately, other than the speaker, a switch, battery compartment, and a ribbon cable to the front, there wasn’t much to investigate.  A couple of glop tops and nothing else.  I fiddled a bit more with it but everything “external” seemed fine.

Did I mention my son really loves this toy?

Continue reading “Make a Custom Membrane Keypad for Arduino”

“Lab” Upgrades

For the longest time my home electronics projects have been done on a 60″ x 30″ folding table in one of our spare bedrooms.  My growing collection of project boxes, spare parts, and equipment finally started to put stress on my furniture – particularly my table.

The old lab table.
The old bowing table in its “clean” state.

I spent embarrassingly too long fretting over whether to buy a desk or build it.  If I bought something, what should I get?  Do I need an “electronics” workbench?  If I build it, what should I build it out of?  I probably spent five months going back and forth – all the while piling more junk on my table.

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Ancient History

Found a link to one of the many “big huge awesome” projects that we started in ACM@UIUC back in the day. I’m pretty sure this page is the only thing that actually came out of this project. 🙂 I think (hope?) that I’ve gotten a little better at completing things (retro pc project and this blog not withstanding).

These big huge unfinished projects were not really failures. Many of the people who worked on projects like these at ACM@UIUC are now veterans of the startup scene or leaders behind the scenes at the hot tech shops around. I look back at these projects as ambitious and a great learning experience.

Update 1/25/2017: updated link to be via archive.org.

A Simple Remote-Controlled Arduino Tank

A little while ago my son was showing some interest in robotics. His birthday was coming up and we were having trouble deciding between a beginner robot kit focused more on construction or lots of bits and pieces.

The kit we looked at was the Elenco OWI ATR – All Terrain Robot:

The alternative was to build a robot based around Arduino. There are many robotics kits out there but I liked the idea of investing in Arduino as the basis for exploring robotics. I figured we would get the Arduino Uno, a few shields to control motors and sensors and whatnot, throw some wheels on it, and blammo, have a robot.

Continue reading “A Simple Remote-Controlled Arduino Tank”

From Breadboard to Protoboard

The time has come to clear some space on my breadboard so I can continue to build out the remainder of the system. I’ve collected a few prototype boards from Futurlec by tossing a few in each order over a few months. I bought a few different flavors of boards (PROTO777, PRBRDLG, and EXPBRD) to see which worked best for my random projects.

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Debugging stuck bits

I’ve been blocked on making progress on the retro pc project due to bad reads from the ROM. The seemingly simple snippet of boot code should light an led wired to to the i/o ports (any port).

section .text
resb 0x7F0
org 0x7F0

start:
mov al, 0x1

 

again:
out 0x10, al
jmp again

When assembled, this turns into the following x86 bits:

00007f0: b0 01 e6 10 eb fc

Unfortunately, when I tried to boot the bundle of wires on the breadboard, I got the following while looking at AD[0:7] on the 8088.

00007f0: b0 01 e2 10 ...

Continue reading “Debugging stuck bits”

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