Name: Michael Shimniok
Member since: 2007-12-23 16:33:37
Last Login: 2013-08-22 04:57:14
Author of Bot Thoughts blog, interested in robotics since '89. Since 2007, dove in full force, built Pokey the firefighter (failure = learning), and then Data Bus, 3rd place in 2012 AVC, my Rapsberry Pi tele-rover, a beam robot, and have tinkered with lots of other electronic thingies.
Recent blog entries by shimniok
Making Test Jigs
Here's some cheap test jigs I use to test boards I sell on Tindie. Selling a quality product is of personal importance to me. With these test jigs, I've uncovered several board fabrication problems, more than several assembly problems (hey I'm not perfect), and identified ways to improve yield rate.
eeZee Power Jig
|eeZeePower test jig|
AVR ISP JigThis isn't a test jig, but one I use to program Turntable Strobes, Lost Model Alarms, PIPduinos, and other AVR-based boards. You can buy a fancier version of this on Tindie from BBTech.
|AVRISP jig for programming AVRs|
eeZee RGB Jig
|eeZeeRGB WS2812B breakout board|
|Test Jig, side 1|
|Test Jig, side 2|
eeZee Prop Jig
|eeZeeProp test jig|
On the eeZeeProp I most often run into problems with connections on the Propeller MCU leads or the EEPROM. I've made some improvements in techniques that have reduced the frequency of these problems.
Free Speech Synthesis For Your Robot
|Newly painted Hero Jr.|
Then, implement speech synthesis. Vision: a robot "tour guide" for my Maker Faire exhibit.
While I adore the stock Votrax SC-01A speech synthesizer (it's the quintessential robot voice) I like the idea of a 20 year old robot with a modern voice even more.
Here's the fruits of my research so far...
FestivalI learned about the Festival speech synthesis system years ago. The now defunct Bot Thoughts podcast was hosted by the rab voice (UK). I thought it was the best of the stock voices, maybe because I'm not used to UK speech patterns and so the flaws aren't as jarring as those of the US voices.
The kal voice (US) is has a few digital-sounding artifacts in a few spots, and the intonation is noticeably wrong in several spots, too.
Other voices are available. The MBROLA US voices are decent. I also tried the enhanced CMU Arctic voices (download here). Here's rms.
Mary TTSMary TTS is the package I ran across. Mary TTS is particularly linux friendly and comparatively amazing, primarily because it does such a great job with prosody (intonation, stress, rhythm in speech). Unfortunately it requires a lot of resources. It won't run on a Raspberry Pi.
This is rms, again, clearly the same voice (easily downloaded with a native Mary TTS tool), but... well, see how you think it compares.
Admittedly there may be some tuning parameters in both packages that would improve the results. Out of the box, it seems pretty clear that Mary TTS does a much better job with pitch and timing.
Other CMU arctic voices are available for Mary TTS. I haven't picked out the right voice. I kind of like Poppy, the female British voice.
Free TTSI also came across Free TTS, also written in Java. Unfortunately, based on the samples I heard, the prosody is pretty poor compared to both Festival and Mary TTS.
Others?Any other tips on free speech synthesis packages out there?
Hero Jr Repaint
Back to Linux Mint... 13
Yesterday, Thunderbird and Chrome kept repeatedly crashing until I logged out and back in again.
The entire computer hung at another point; I couldn't log in remotely, move the mouse, do anything with the keyboard (numlock etc).
At another point, the kernel reported some kind of error/crash/panic/something--can't remember as I was juggling several things at once.
And a few weeks ago, video was going wonky after waking from sleep (I believe they've gotten this known issue fixed since then)...
I fully expect all of these issues to be resolved in the coming months. Meanwhile, I really need two things. First, a stable Linux environment. Second, a supported environment so I can install and update packages, like Festival speech synthesis.
So Mint 17 is gone, replaced with Mint 13 LTS (Long Term Support), based on Ubuntu 12.04; it will be supported until April 2017.
Mint 13 appears to be rock solid so far, zero issues. There are some under-the-covers differences; I couldn't change desktop settings until I nuked the newer config directories. Minor issue. I may be stuck with older versions of some packages, we'll see. And Nemo file explorer didn't come out until Mint 14, but that's ok.
In another month or so I'll give Mint 17 another go and if it's not behaving better I'll try to spend some time reporting bugs.
20% Off Labor Day Sale at Bot Thoughts
Get 20% off most items with coupon AF954E4 in the Bot Thoughts store. Thursday through Labor Day. ATtiny prototyping, Parallax Propeller breakout, microSD breakout, RoverMux, and eeZee Power breadboard power supplies.
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