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Well, I received the parts I ordered from Hong Kong as well as some ELM327 chips and I’ve got some great ideas for my next few projects. Unfortunately they both involve using the Chameleon dev kits I have ordered and I’m still waiting for those :(.

One of the projects will be a new Emotiv based video game project that should be a lot of fun to build/test. If the initial prototype works as well as I expect it to I may end up adding an XPORT to the board and making it “interwebs” compatible.

The other project I have planned will make use of the other Chameleon interfaced with an ELM327 chip that will poll my truck’s MCU. [Yeah, I know, it’s not as cool as writing all the VPW code myself… but $19 for a pre-made multi-protocol solution makes sense to me] The plan is to use the NTSC output I generate with the car’s computer values (mph/kph, throttle%, mass air flow, etc.) from the Chameleon to a .4″ 640*480 VGA display mounted in a pair of sunglasses to make a little portable HUD. I’m assuming I’ll be able to adjust the opacity so that it doesn’t become obstructive to the driver’s view… but we’ll see how it goes. Worst case scenario I’ll have a portable DVD player that can overlay onto a pair of sunglasses for the plane rides to HOPE and Defcon this summer 😀 [Which probably wouldn’t be bad considering the manufacturer claims these displays are like watching a 60″ TV from 10′ away]



Chameleon Invasion

So I’ve been on quite the shopping rampage lately ordering some parts, several books and I just now ordered a few new dev. kits that I can’t wait to play with! As I was reading my new issue of Circuit Cellar I saw an article about a development board that contains an Atmel AVR 328P *AND* a Parallax Propeller. I’ve been wanting to play with the propeller for quite some time now, but just never got around to ordering one. The board is from Nurve Networks and it is called the Chameleon.

I should also note that it also comes with a PIC in place of the AVR, but the fact that the AVR comes pre-loaded with the Arduino bootloader and that there are already Arduino libraries for the platform looks really interesting! I have ordered two boards and I think I’m going to try an experiment to create the same project on both boards, one using the Arduino bootloader/IDE/libraries and one without to post a comparison of the time required to complete each.

Some of the board’s features include:

  • 2 Processors for a total of 9 processing cores
  • 1MB Flash, 64K EEPROM
  • NTSC/PAL video output as well as VGA interface
  • Audio out
  • PS2 port for interfacing with keyboard/mouse

Take into account that the entire package is currently going for less than $60 and it looks even more impressive. As always, I’ll post on any projects/experiences once I get them in 😀


Well, I’ve gotten my spectrophotometer working. In all honesty I took a couple of lazy days and hadn’t looked at it, but once I got it open it only took me a few mins to notice a broken wire. Soldered it, close it and bingo 😀 Sadly I didn’t have the forethought to ask for a cuvette or any spare standards when I got the unit, so I have no way to properly calibrate it, but I’m going to keep my eyes open for any that I can pick up on the cheap… not that I really have much use for a spectrophotometer anyway… 🙂

I have also been inspired by Ripspinner for my next project and have decided to revisit the Emotiv EPOC headset. FWIW Rip has also begun to create a TF2 mod for the EPOC headset. I haven’t had time to check it out yet, but I’m curious and plan to do so in the next little bit. Anyways, I have ordered some parts from Hong Kong, which will probably take a while to get here, but once they do the rest of it shouldn’t take me long to assemble. Stay tuned, I promise it’ll be shocking 😀


Done is the Engine of More

I have been getting questions asking me why my prototypes are often quickly thrown together and why I don’t put more effort into prettying them up. I believe Bre Pettis and Kio Stark were bang-on when they wrote “The Cult of Done Manifesto.

It reads as follows:

“1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
3. There is no editing stage.
4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.
5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.
8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
11. Destruction is a variant of done.
12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
13. Done is the engine of more.”


My Spectrophotometer

For my next project I have decided to take a look at a broken spectrophotometer to see if I can get it working properly. At this point I’m not even exactly sure what’s wrong with it, but I’m going to start taking it apart and will post on my progress. I would also like to take a moment to thank Dr. Rolfe and Fiona of Mohawk College and Dr. Singh of McMaster University for kindly letting me have a bunch of stuff they were going to throw in the trash, including this unit :D.


I have finally gotten around to re-writing some of my old code and re-recording a proper demo of controlling physical objects using thoughts by interfacing an EEG headset with an Arduino. While this technology is interesting and exciting, before anyone sees this as an endorsement for this particular EEG headset, I strongly recommend reading my full review of the device below. Those of you who have no interest in purchasing such a device can simply enjoy the show :D.

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As an update to my previous post, my IR setup is tested and working just fine. The library from Ken Shirriff’s blog worked great. I had to do some tweaking to get the Panasonic protocol working which took a bit of time because I had to go through all of the code to debug and find the problems, but it certainly paid off in the end. Range is currently limited (~10ft.) but I’m going to be adding a transistor to my final design so that I can boost output to the IR LED. Next step is to hook it up to my EEG so that I can turn my TV on/off by thought alone. Stay tuned, I should have a video of it ready any day now 😀


I have been having some timing issues with my Panasonic IR protocol library that I’ve been working on, so I decided to put the project on hold while I awaited the delivery of my new USBEE logic analyzer. When I initially ordered the device I must have had a brain-fart because I neglected to change UPS from the default shipper. When it arrived yesterday I was blown away to find that on top of the $20 delivery charge they wanted $59 for duties on a $130 item. That’s right… $79 to ship a $130 item that fits into a small envelope. I’ll admit that my jaw almost hit the ground, but I’ll guarantee that it wasn’t 1/2 as funny as the driver’s face when I told him I wasn’t paying it and that I refused delivery. I have known for a very long time that UPS charges insane brokerage rates for cross-border items and am usually very careful not to order anything shipped by them. I was fully expecting to pay ~$30 or so over and above the $20 in shipping, but this was just too much.

The upshot of all of this is that I saved over $130 because instead of re-ordering I decided to do more searching for arduino IR libraries and, thankfully, found one on Ken Shirriff’s blog here. The Panasonic protocol isn’t included in the library, but luckily a user posted code for it in the comments below. I have yet to actually test this out, but I’m hopeful that it will go well. In the meantime I’ve decided to wait until the Client Software for the Open Bench Logic Sniffer has some protocol decoders completed to order one of those (sorry USBEE).

I hope to post an update on my progress (hopefully I will have a fully working unit :D) shortly.


Quite some time ago I ordered a bunch of Wireless Rabbit development kits from Rabbit Semiconductor. These controllers support 802.11 b/g wireless, and I also purchased some RCM5700 modules, which is basically the Ethernet version of the same processor. The dev. kits cost approximately $140 and come with the processor, development interface board for programming and power as well as a prototyping board with all of the required headers, standoffs, cables, software/drivers, etc. Once you own one dev. kit, you can simply purchase individual processors for ~$69 each and swap them out on the programming board. They can be connected using a mini PCI-Express connector broken out to a 50 pin header for access to all ports/pins.

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In the last few days I’ve been doing some reading and playing around with exploits. This is a subject that has interested me for quite some time and although I’ve had a pretty good idea of how the attacks work, I’ve never actually bothered to sit down and read/learn much about it.

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