Older blog entries for aplumb (starting at number 10)

25 Mar 2004 (updated 25 Mar 2004 at 15:51 UTC) »

Almost completely out of the blue, I received a PSoC Mini Development Kit earlier this week for Cypress' PSoC International Design Contest.

...the deadline for submissions is midnight, March 31, 2004!

I'm going to hide out in the basement over the weekend and see what I can come up with. Fortunatetly there are lots of related resources available online:

This is one cool family of chips! An interesting way to add reconfigurable, analog sensors and actuators to your 'bot.

[edited to add link to PSoCDevelopment site]

There is hope!

A colleague at work suggested having a look at Knoppix. It's a full Linux install on a bootable CD.

It works so well, in fact, that I'm typing this from just such a CD session running on the board in question. Full USB support and everything!


Been spending the day, on and off, trying to get a Linux distro installed on the X-board. Decided to focus on Debian (network install) and LFS (install to a bootable USB drive on another system).

I found this site which describes the process for adapting an existing system to USB-boot.

The challenge with the X-board is that the onboard 128MB is the primary IDE partition - /dev/hda - and you can install one other IDE device as the slave - /dev/hda. The bios supports booting from /dev/hda, /dev/hdb (HD or CDROM), USB (mass storage), or network. No second IDE channel for /dev/hdc and /dev/hdd devices. I have a regular IDE DVD-ROM drive and one of those external USB HD cases. I can boot off an HD in the USB case, but stock-Linux installs "forget" that they're running off USB; the DVD-ROM isn't recognized as being a bootable device, so it has to be in the /dev/hdb IDE device mode to be usable.

So now I'm going to try the LFS route onto a bootable USB IDE drive, then use that to build a more compact install into the onboard /dev/hda 128MB flash.

Now if I could just find a source for the 200-pin SODIMM connectors to built a 'bot around this board...

What if, one were to wire up the tracking motor controls on a Quickcam Orbit to drive a robot platform.?. In Windows mode, the automatic face tracking becomes automatic person tracking. :-) The Linux driver supports the pan/tilt capabilities, but I don't expect the pan/tilt is hardware-based, but that's reasonably easy to overcome in software.

Received the P.A.M. samples yesterday. Will start playing with them over the weekend.

These Polymeric Artificial Muscles by Environmental Robots are way too cool! They are actuators that double as sensors and/or vice versa.

This is proving a lot more complicated than expected... Matching up the ink with a compatible cartridge distribution mechanism is beyond the scope of my own expertise. I'm electrical, not a chemical engineer.

That said though, conductive ink pens exist, and older pen plotter printers exist. Should be much easier to adapt the pen to the printer. It won't be as high-res as a more modern ink-jet printer, but it should work. Proof of concept is all I'm aiming for at this point.

I think I found a manufacturer of ink-jet printable, conductive ink which may do the trick. It's a company called Parelec. They mention printing via ink-jet explicitly.

Sending off e-mail to see what they have to say...

Buying spree! Just ordered myself:

Also, I'm pulling together some leads to see what it would take to convert common desktop ink-jet printers into PCB design prototyping systems, using various forms of conductive inks and adhesives. What better way to spin off a quick prototype than print the trace directly onto paper or mylar, "glue" the SMT devices in place, add some TiNi actuators and just add power?

Who knows? I may yet create the world's first radio-controlled (or even semi-UAV) paper airplane!

Me ambitious? Nah. ;-)

Decisions! Do I take a soldering class in the hopes that it covers some surface-mount techniques, a welding class to broaden my skill-set, or a machine shop class to start milling my own hardware.?.

I'm actually leaning toward none-of-the-above and focusing on finding people with the skill-sets in Ottawa to play with ideas as a group...

The December issue of Circuit Cellar has an interesting article on MEMS Gyroscopes, not to be confused with the MEMS Accelerometers you can get free samples of directly from ADI.

These open up some interesting options for personal UAV design, namely measuring Yaw Motion. Pitch and Roll can be captured by accelerometer, relative to the gravity-down vector.

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