# Older blog entries for shimniok (starting at number 102)

Bubble Display, Propeller

 HP 4-Digit Bubble Display (7-Segment LED)
I used a Sparkfun coupon to buy a couple of vintage, 4-digit, 7-segment, HP LED bubble displays. The kind you'd find in really old calculators. Their guide is most helpful.

I used one of my spare eeZee Propellers to play around with the display and create driver code. I haven't played in Spin in awhile, so it was a good refresher. Here's what I did...

## Hookup

Since you want no more than 5mA running through these LEDs, I calculated that a 1K resistor would be about right. At 3.3V, with 1.6V forward drop, that's about 2mA, max.

Propeller pins P16 - P19 are connected to Cathode 4 through 1, respectively. Pins P20 - P26 are connected to Anode A through G, respectively. The decimal point is hooked up to P27.

## Driving 7-Segment Displays

So, how do you drive one of these displays? To turn on an LED segment its anode must be high, and cathode low. These HP bubble displays are common-anode, meaning there's a unique cathode for each display digit, but each anode is shared across all the display digits.

You could simply drive the display one digit at a time, setting all the required anodes high and the corresponding cathode low.

The problem is, each digit requires a different number of LED segments. Compare 1, which requires 2 LED segments, with 8 which requires 6 segments. If you used a resistor per cathode, 1 would look brightest and 8 would appear dimmest.

A common cathode display is intended to be controlled with the cathodes. Use 4 resistors, one for each cathode, power each of the common anodes sequentially, and use the cathodes to individually turn segments on or off for each display digit position.

## Software

BubbleDisplay.spin

The display driver runs on a cog and displays digits stored in hub memory. The main cog simply counts from 0 to 9999 over and over again, extracting the 1's, 10's, 100's and 1000's place and storing the numbers for display, as follows, where b1, b2, b3, b4 are each of the digits.

```    `PUB Start | i                b1 := b2 := b3 := b4 := 10 ' initial digit (>9 means off)`
```
```    `  cognew(display, @stack)    ' start display driver cog`
```
```    `  repeat      `
```
```    `    repeat i from 0 to 9999                   b4 := i // 10            ' ones      b3 := (i/10) // 10       ' tens      b2 := (i/100) // 10      ' hundreds      b1 := (i/1000) // 10     ' thousands      waitcnt(clkfreq/10+cnt)  ' count at ~10Hz`
```

I may refactor the program to use BCD; storing digits in each of the 4 bytes of a Propeller's 32-bit long int, but the code is more readable using one variable per digit.

### Driver Details

As for the driver, a segment array, seg, stores the outa cathode pin bits required to turn on each segment (a through g) at each display digit position (1 through 4).

The main loop calls setdigit(digit, value) which sets the cathode bit in the seg array, for the specified display digit and the specified numeric value. For example, displaying "2" in position 3 requires the cathode for position 3 to be low (on) for segments a, b, d, e, g, and high (off) for segments c and f.

``  repeat    setdigit(1, b1)      ' set 1's value    setdigit(2, b2)      ' set 10's value    setdigit(3, b3)      ' set 100's value    setdigit(4, b4)      ' set 1000's value    bit := AN_A          ' start with anode a    repeat s from A to G ' loop thru segments      outa := seg[s]|bit ' turn on cathodes, anode      bit <<= 1    ' next anode bit      waitcnt(clkfreq/delay+cnt)``

Then, the main loop iterates over the array, seg[A..G], sets the cathode pins, simply with outa := seg[s] and raises the corresponding segment anode pin for each array element by ORing outa with bit, which is the bit corresponding to the current anode pin. How does the array get set with the right cathode?

The setdigit(digit, value) function converts the display digit into the appropriate cathode bit to activate (set low) or deactivate (set high).
``  case digit    1: unset := CA_1    2: unset := CA_2    3: unset := CA_3    4: unset := CA_4    other: unset := 0`  set := !unset & (CA_1|CA_2|CA_3|CA_4)`
It then uses the numeric value (0..9) in another case statement to select which segments should be on (seg[?] &= set) or off (seg[?] |= unset).

``  case value    0: seg[A] &= set       seg[B] &= set       seg[C] &= set       seg[D] &= set       seg[E] &= set       seg[F] &= set       seg[G] |= unset``
``...``

And that's it. You can find the source code here: BubbleDisplay.spin

## So, It's Been Awhile...

You would have heard from me sooner, but alas, there has not been much time for tinkering or blogging lately.

My paucity of spare time can be blamed on work, filling Tindie orders, and gearing up for the crowd funding campaign for OpenMV Cam.

Syndicated 2014-12-03 15:00:00 (Updated 2014-12-03 15:00:01) from Michael Shimniok

26 Nov 2014 (updated 30 Nov 2014 at 23:12 UTC) »

Holiday Deals for Nerds Like Us

Lots of sales going on again this season at our favorite geek retailers:

Tindie Cyber Monday : Big sales from many vendors this Cyber Monday.

• 15% any one item in the Bot Thoughts Store, coupon code DA54D6C, good through Friday
• \$2 off Digispark - Lowest Price Ever! Digispark! The micro-sized, Arduino enabled, usb development board - cheap enough to leave in any project! Coupon 9D4B1F3
• 30% off PiScreen is a 3.5" TFT (480x320) with touchscreen control for the Raspberry Pi. Never need a monitor again! Coupon 02971ED
• 20% off much of the Arachnid Labs' Store - including the successful Kickstarter, Re:Load Pro. Coupon 21A2FD3
• 15% off all products in the Geppetto Electronics store! Coupon 92C9FC5
• And lots more on sale; full list here
Pololu Black Friday 2014 : Starts Wednesday with doorbuster deals.

Pololu Robotics and Electronics is having its biggest Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale yet, offering huge discounts on over 600 products, along with 11% to 15% off orders over \$100!  Save big on robots, programmable controllers (including A-Stars, Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, and mbeds), sensors, motor drivers, power supplies, LEDs, actuators, wheels, breadboards, wires, and more.  The first doorbuster deals go live Wednesday, November 26, and the sale runs through Cyber Monday (December 1).  For details, visit http://www.pololu.com/blackfriday2014

E-Z Robot Black Friday
: 20% off all robot kits + free shipping!

Science Fiction inspired robots that don't require programming (unless you want too)! In 1977, the world invited the Apple II Personal Computer into the home. 2014, ezrobot has launched Revolution, a robot for everyone! Whether you choose the Revolution clip'n'play robots or developer kit, ezrobot is making robotics, well... easy!

HobbyPartz Black Friday Sale: 15% off select items including Gens Ace batteries.

Coupon code BFSALE15, ends Nov 30, 11:59PM. Sale on LiPo batteries, RC gear, video cams, and more.

Schmartboard Black Friday : 25% off the entire store! Limited time.

"Look for an e-mail on Friday. The special will be very limited in time, very unlimited in its breadth, and significance. Schmartboard thanks you for a good year."

RoboSavvy Black Friday : 50 products with savings up to 67%

FriedCircuits Black Friday : 25% off USB Tester 2.0 and Sharp Distance Sensors. All other products are 15% OFF. Sale beings Thursday 11/27 and ends Monday 12/1, midnight PST.

Adafruit Black Friday : 15% off plus free stuff.
Welcome to the Black Friday sale – 15% off plus all the free items & shipping as you shop! Use code: BLACKFRIDAY on check out. We thought about doing flash sales or complicated codes but that’s a lot of frustrating hoop jumping for everyone, so we came up with what we think is an amazing deal that is straight forward, no stress and valuable – a 15% off discount anything in stock and lots of great free things automatically depending on how much you order.

We are currently offering a FREE Adafruit Perma-Proto Half-sized Breadboard PCB for orders over \$100, a FREE Trinket 5V for orders over \$150, FREE UPS ground (Continental USA) for orders \$200 or more, a FREE Pro Trinket 5V for orders over \$250

Sparkfun Cyber Monday 2014 : 20% off Actobotics, hourly flash sales 7am - 7pm

On Cyber Monday (12/1), everything in our Actobotics category is 20% off. That means everything from Actobotics Kits to DC Motors is marked down. If you’re looking to start exploring the world of robotics, or stock up for your next build, this is a killer chance to do so. Next on 12/1/2014, we are offering hourly flash sales from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, with 30-50% off on some of our most popular products. These items have been hand-selected by our employees and are some of our favorite designs! Details: Sparkfun Cyber Monday 2014

2014 Parallax Holiday Sale : Their holiday sale includes microcontrollers, robots, and more.

BASIC Stamp Sale started Nov 10. Free USPS Priority shipping and 10% off the entire store. Robot kit sale (ELEV-8 Quadcopter, Arlo Robotic Platform System), Best Sellers Sale, and other mystery deals! Also, a free WS2812B module with every order.

GHI Electronics: Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale on FEZ MCU boards and more!

The sale will start this Friday, November 28th and will end Monday, December 1st (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada). Lots of great boards on sale including discontinued models.

Trossen Robotics Black Friday : Interbotx & RobotGeek 20% Off, 10% off everything else in the store!

Black Friday / Cyber Monday is here at Trossen Robotics! Interbotix & RobotGeek brand kits and parts are 20% off, everything else in the store is 10% off! Use coupon code "Friday14" to redeem your discount at checkout! Offer good from 12/28/2014 - 12/1/2014 *Offer excludes HR-OS1 and HR-OS5 Humanoid Platforms.

HobbyKing Cyber Week Sale: LiPos, servos, motors, planes, and more.

Running all week, we will be dropping prices and offering amazing deals on literally hundreds of the most popular items in the HobbyKing catalog. Models, lipos, tools, chargers, we'll be offering amazing discounts from all product categories, so you're almost guaranteed to pick up an amazing deal. If you don't see something you are interested, check back in an hour because our offers will be added and changed constantly. This isn't a week where you want to be away from an internet connection.

Electronics Goldmine : has a few door busters and some discounts worth looking at.

Drone Life : has a list of drone sales, too

Syndicated 2014-11-26 00:00:00 (Updated 2014-11-30 22:31:14) from Michael Shimniok

Holiday Sales: Parallax

It's that time of year again. Our favorite hobby electronics stores are doing their annual sales.

2014 Parallax Holiday Sale Schedule
Our season of promotions has begun! Here is a sneak peek of upcoming sales on www.parallax.com. These deals will be available for online orders only.
• BASIC Stamp Module Sale - Begins 11/10/14
• Free USPS Priority Shipping and 10% Off Entire Store
• Robot Kit Sale (including ELEV-8 Quadcopter, and Arlo Robotic Platform System)
• Best Sellers Sale
• and other mystery deals!
Also, they're offering a free WS2812B module with every order.

Syndicated 2014-11-05 19:00:00 (Updated 2014-11-05 19:00:01) from Michael Shimniok

14 Oct 2014 (updated 6 Nov 2014 at 05:14 UTC) »

pcDuino V1: getting started

pcDuino is a single board computer based on the Allwinner A10 ARM Cortex A8 processor. It's powerful, running 1GHz and featuring 1G of memory.

Installing an OS on the pcDuino is  different than with a Raspberry Pi. It uses onboard flash for storage, 2G for the V1, and it uses a kernel flashed onto the board, as well.

So, here's how to get started with a pcDuino V1, using a Linux workstation...

I used a Pololu USB AVR Programmer but you could use an FTDI breakout or similar.

## Power Supply

Avoid pain and anguish: use a good power supply.

With a random, crappy 800mA wall wart, I experienced unreliable booting, hangs with USB devices installed, and even system freezes trying to set the password to my account!

Using a better power supply solved these problems. After wasting an hour or more...

## Updating Kernel Image

I used the 6/20/2014 Kernel image found here: pcduino_a10_kernel_dd_20140620.img

(you might check for an updated version on the pcDuino download page)

### What Disk Device?

You need to find out what device your microSD card mounts as. find the device of the microSD. Before you insert the card, look at the disk devices on the system:

```    `\$ dfFilesystem     1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on/dev/sdb1      227924576  13868168 202646548   7% /udev             3530296         4   3530292   1% /devtmpfs             714416      1268    713148   1% /runnone                5120         4      5116   1% /run/locknone             3572060     66292   3505768   2% /run/shm/dev/sda4      267349012 234311888  19455152  93% /home/dev/sda1      185939524 106053344  70577568  61% /mnt\$`
```

Now, insert the card in your card reader and after it mounts, run df again:

```      `\$ dfFilesystem     1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on/dev/sdb1      227924576  13868168 202646548   7% /udev             3530296         4   3530292   1% /devtmpfs             714416      1268    713148   1% /runnone                5120         4      5116   1% /run/locknone             3572060     66292   3505768   2% /run/shm/dev/sda4      267349012 234311888  19455152  93% /home/dev/sda1      185939524 106053344  70577568  61% /mnt/dev/sdd1        1926848     28768   1898080   2% /media/4BAB-4D27\$`
```

You can see that /dev/sdd1, in my case, is the disk partition that was just mounted. It's partition #1 on disk /dev/sdd. In your case, it may be a different device path.

You're interested in writing the kernel image to the disk, not the partition. So remove the partition number to get the disk device path. (For example: if /dev/sdx1 is the partition, /dev/sdx is the disk). In my case, that's /dev/sdd

### Writing the Image

You'll use dd to write the image to your disk.

NOTE: Make absolutely certain you are using the disk corresponding to your microSD card.

If you use the wrong device, you could lose data, or overwrite your OS. That's bad.

However, it's easy to avoid making that mistake. Just be careful and pay attention.

Use df to make absolutely certain you have the correct device. Then double-check your command line before you hit return.

When you run dd, you'll specify the input file, the image, with if=filename and you'll specify the output device, your microSD card device (not partition), with of=device-path. And you'll specify a 4M block size with bs=4M. (Did you doublecheck the device?)

``sudo dd if=pcduino_a10_kernel_dd_20140620.img bs=4M of=/dev/sdx``

``25+0 records in25+0 records out104857600 bytes (105 MB) copied, 40.7738 s, 2.6 MB/s``

It takes a few minutes. Once it's done:

• Remove power from your pcDuino,
• unmount your microSD from the Linux workstation,
• insert the microSD card into the pcDuino's slot, and
• power up the pcDuino.

In my case, I saw the TX light blink green, very slowly, while the kernel was updating. If nothing blinks, something is wrong.

When the blinking stops, it's done updating.

Unplug your pcDuino from power. Remove the microSD card.

Now you can install the operating system.

### Installing Ubuntu

Next it's time to install Ubuntu operating system. This is where that USB flash drive comes in.

(you might check for an updated version on the pcDuino download page)

### Prepare USB Drive

Extract files out of the 7z file you downloaded, which will create an ubuntu folder. The two files inside that folder are update.sh and pcduino_ubuntu_20131126.img (20131126 is the date; there may be a different date on whatever file you grabbed)or whatever the date is on the filename).

Move those files onto the root folder of your USB drive. It doesn't matter if there are other files on your USB drive.

Unmount the flash drive and remove it from your machine.

### Serial Debug Monitor

While you wait for the download, let's connect your Serial USB adapter to the debug port on the pcDuino so we can see what is going on. when you install the operating system.

The debug port is a 3-pin header, next to the Menu button on the USB connector side.

 pcDuino debug port
Data going into the pcDuino is closest to the USB connector (FTDI: TXO). The middle is ground. The pin closest to the A10 is for data coming out of the pcDuino (FTDI: RXI). Connect your serial USB adapter so that TX coming from the pcDuino goes into the RX pin of your adapter and TX coming out of your adapter is going into RX on the pcDuino.

You previously removed power from your pcDuino and removed the microSD. We're about to power it up. Open your favorite terminal program (for example, minicom), connect to the USB serial adapter. Set the baud rate to 115,200, 8N1.

### Begin the Install

Plug in power to your pcDuino and you should see it outputting a long string of text. Eventually it indicates that it is searching for update.sh (remember that file?).

Insert the USB flash drive.

```  `        mount udisk succeed        update.sh found, updating rootfs from udisk, please wait...        writing pcduino_ubuntu_20131126.img to nand flash        it will take about 10 minutes to finish...update finished        update finished`
```

After some time, the update will complete. Remove the USB flash drive, and reset the board (or power cycle it).

You should see a long string of text fly by. At the end of it you'll see something like this:

```  `...`
```
```  `[    6.350000] Warning: this sunxi disp driver will see significant redesign.[    6.360000] Applications using /dev/disp directly will break.[    6.370000] For more information visit: http://linux-sunxi.org/Sunxi_disp_driver[    6.670000] kjournald starting.  Commit interval 5 seconds[    6.670000] EXT3-fs (nandd): using internal journal[    6.680000] EXT3-fs (nandd): mounted filesystem with ordered data mode[    7.070000] init: plymouth main process (68) terminated with status 127[    7.120000] init: ureadahead main process (70) terminated with status 5Welcome to Linaro 12.07 (GNU/Linux 3.4.29+ armv7l) * Documentation:  https://wiki.linaro.org/root@ubuntu:~# `
```

And that's it. You're done.

## Starting Over

If you need to start over for any reason, remove the USB drive, reinsert the microSD card, and press reset. Doing so will reinstall the kernel and allow you to install the OS again.

Syndicated 2014-10-14 14:00:00 (Updated 2014-11-06 04:28:48) from Michael Shimniok

ATtiny and WS2812B

Did you know it's easy to drive a WS2812B smart RGB LED with an ATtiny?

 eeZee RGB WS2812B breakout board on Tindie

There's a much lighter-weight library for driving these LEDs that's perfect on memory- and flash-limited ATtiny AVRs -- or really any AVR for that matter.

All you need is the light_ws2812 library. I'm using it with the ATtiny25 on my eeZee RGB test jig.

Adafruit gets all the attention, but this little library is small, easy to use, and works great; it deserves more press. Pass it on, k?

Syndicated 2014-10-07 12:00:00 (Updated 2014-10-07 12:00:02) from Michael Shimniok

NoCo Mini Maker Faire

Failures, faces and fun. This past weekend I attended the NoCo Mini Maker Faire as a maker.

We had a lot of curious, inquisitive people of all ages at the SHARC / Bot Thoughts booth, where they found Ted's Shapeoko, my Hero Jr which failed miserably (fodder for a future post), Sawyer's robots, and my newest robot (also blog fodder):

Assembled and programmed in under 2 hours to demonstrate the PIPduino and OpenMV Cam, it was fun to ask the kids (and adults) to figure out what the red robot was doing.

Outside we were demonstrating the self-driving, robot Jeep, though it was up on jack stands. Many great conversations ensued.

I only got to use my GPS rope demonstration only once, on two adults, instead of the dozens of kids I envisioned would be crowding and pushing around the Jeep to take a look... Um, yeah.

Sparky's Widgets was our indoor neighbor. It was good to talk to Ryan as I hadn't seen him in awhile.

It was good to see Samuel from CyberHedz Technologies with his awesome Dalek that was a show hit.

In all, a good show.

Syndicated 2014-10-06 18:00:00 (Updated 2014-10-06 18:00:03) from Michael 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

The goal for this jig is to measure 3.3V regulator output from the eeZee Power board. If it's 3.3V within the specified tolerance, that proves the regulator is populated correct, the USB connector is also populated, and all the corresponding traces are ok.

To build the jig, I installed pogo pins and test leads to an unpopulated eeZeePower board (to save time and money). When engaged with an eeZee Power, it enables the 3.3V regulator and connects the VCC and GND pins to the test leads.

I plug a Mini USB into the DUT (Device Under Test), connect my DMM (digital multimeter) to the test wires and measure output voltage.

Stacking another eeZeePower board would stabilize the pogo pins better. It's good enough as is.

 eeZeePower test jig

## AVR ISP Jig

This 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
In case the picture isn't clear, one end has the familiar 6-pin AVRISP header, the other, pogo pins.

## eeZee RGB Jig

I test every one of the eeZeeRGB WS2812B breakouts I sell to make sure the RGB modules are installed correctly and to ensure they work out of the box. I had been testing these with a breadboard Arduino but the pogo pins are unstable in a breadboard so I designed a test jig using an ATtiny85. I've discovered that some of these modules don't have reverse protection as advertised.

 eeZeeRGB WS2812B breakout board
OSHPark builds boards in sets of 3 so I designed a single board that can stack 2-high (or 3-high if necessary) to stabilize the pogo pins. The Tiny and USB connector (for power) only has to be populated on one of those three boards. The other two boards can simply stabilize the pins. They're mounted together with screws, nuts and standoffs.

 Test Jig, side 1

 Test Jig, side 2

## eeZee Prop Jig

The eeZee Propeller breakout (eeZeeProp) is the most complicated board I sell with a 44-pin QFP MCU, onboard EEPROM, crystals, a half-dozen resistors and capacitors, dual programming headers. I test every output pin on the eeZeeProp as well as programming functionality before it goes up for sale with this quick and dirty jig.

 eeZeeProp test jig
The test jig above has two parts. The dual row of pogo pins, resistors, and LEDs is for testing pins. In the upper right is an FTDI programmer connector and pogo pins to engage the eeZeeProp FTDI pin pads.

I program each board with a SPIN program that sequentially turns on each of the pins 0-28. The ability to program the chip in the first place tests P29-32 and the EEPROM.

Next, I lay the Propellers down onto the pogo pin bed and ensure each of the LEDs lights up sequentially. I can then investigate any suspect pins.

You probably noticed that the pins aren't well-aligned. My previous jig had two protoboards to keep the pins aligned better, but I broke it. Some day I'll redo this jig so I don't have to spend quite as much time manually popping each pin into place on the DUT.

## Common Problems

You may wonder what kind of problems I uncover most when using these test jigs.

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.

While I very rarely found board fab problems on OSHpark boards (It's below 1% if memory serves, so reliability is very high), OSHpark is absolutely fantastic about fixing the occasional problem.

I've seen far more frequent fab problems on a batch of Chinese made boards I ordered. I haven't contacted the supplier yet. The fab problems are mostly under-etching resulting in shorts to the ground plane. I may experiment with a wider isolation between ground pour and pads/traces and see if that helps any.

I've occasionally populated pairs of 0603 resistors rotated by 90 degrees. In future designs I'll try to avoid confusion by spacing the resistors farther apart. I've installed a diode backwards once or twice.

Syndicated 2014-09-30 14:20:00 from Michael Shimniok

23 Sep 2014 (updated 6 Oct 2014 at 18:16 UTC) »

Free Speech Synthesis For Your Robot

 Newly painted Hero Jr.
I ran across a surprisingly good speech synthesis package. No, it's not Festival.

My Hero Jr had been painted blue, with holes drilled in the head, and other modifications. There's no better Hero Jr to modify and hack than this one. Possibly in time for the NoCo Mini-Maker Faire in Ft. Collins, Oct 4-5.

After painting it, the next step will be to add my recently purchased Raspberry Pi B+, or else the dusty PCduino in my closet, as a brain.

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...

## Festival

I 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.

rms_festvox.wav
rms_festvox.ogg

## Mary TTS

Mary 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 because it requires quite a bit of memory. I plan to test it on a pcDuino3 which I just bought.

This is rms, again, clearly the same voice (easily downloaded with a native Mary TTS tool), but... well, see how you think it compares.

rms_marytts.wav
rms_marytts.ogg

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 TTS

I 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?

Syndicated 2014-09-23 12:10:00 (Updated 2014-10-06 17:27:09) from Michael Shimniok

Hero Jr Repaint

Ruining things sucks. I kinda screwed up and my impatience got the better of me.

I didn't really care for the dark blue Hero Jr. I preferred the original computer beige and burnt sienna trim. So I "fixed" it... I fixed it real good...
I was going to be lazy and just paint over the blue with a nice heirloom white. But no, I decided to use Citristrip on one of the panels and of course I was too impatient to test it on an inconspicuous area. So the stripper works really well. I highly recommend it. But not for plastic. It'll eat plastic. So I found out.

Long story short, the stripped panel will become the back panel, as it's kind of hashed up from me scraping off gooey paint and plastic. I may try sanding it more. It's not too bad. You can't really tell unless you're really close up. You win some, you lose some.

I picked satin paint for a very good reason.

The plan is to do the trim in aubergine. I am very likely to give the robot a female voice. I think my little girl will like that better than a male voice.

Syndicated 2014-09-16 15:13:00 from Michael Shimniok

12 Sep 2014 (updated 16 Sep 2014 at 00:14 UTC) »

Back to Linux Mint... 13

I installed Linux Mint 17 and have switched back and forth between Mint 14 and 17 for awhile due to instability in 17. I'm using the same home directory I had on Mint 14 which might explain it.

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.

Syndicated 2014-09-12 14:31:00 (Updated 2014-09-16 00:07:18) from Michael Shimniok

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