Member #134773

Member Since: May 19, 2010

Country: United States


I started playing with electronics in the mid-1960s, and with computers shortly after Neil Armstrong took “one small step”. I got a degree in CS in 1980, and started working then as an engineer.

  • Sure hope you’re not planning on dropping the “no header” versions of boards. IMHO, it’s a LOT easier to solder headers on than it is to desolder ones that are already on, even if you are fortunate enough to own a desoldering station!

  • Just yesterday I was poking around the Fritzing web page (after having downloaded onto a newer computer, when I was shocked by what some buffoon had put onto the “getting started” page, to wit:

    A simple Fritzing workflow consists of the following steps:

    1. Building a real circuit - it is very important that you first build a circuit in the real world and test it, before you rebuild it virtually in Fritzing.

    I’ve been working with electronics for more than 50 years, and the FIRST step is ALWAYS to create a schematic. Once in a while, I MIGHT just “do it in my head”, if what I need is a voltage divider or even just hang an I2C sensor onto an Arduino to “play” with it a bit.

  • As the kids say (as a compliment), “that’s really sick!” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

    As a Software Engineer with 35+ years of experience, I can also quickly spot that another way to “go further” with the project is to put the resistor limits and tones into arrays, then use a loop structure (e.g., a “while” statement) to figure out which area is being touched and what the corresponding tone is. This technique would make it easy to add a button to allow the user to “change key” mid-song. And a further “enhancement” might be to have a setup so the Arduino “learns” a song, then plays it back… lots of great potential here as a learning tool!

  • Another thought: You might save a few $ by using a Pi camera (since you already have a Raspberry Pi designed into the system) to read the bar codes. A quick Google search turned up this link (caveat: I haven’t tried this myself).

    On a related tangent, a few years ago there was, apparently, an “upgrade” to production bar code readers so that they could read 2D codes. (I’m not sure whether it’s possible to upgrade the older ones.) A company I worked for for awhile about 3-4 years ago used started using small stickers about ¼" on a side that had a 2D bar code. One of the arguments with a sales (uh) rep from a printing company was whether the technology existed to read them. Fortunately we had some examples, and my boss ran to the lab and grabbed our bar code reader, plugged it into the rep’s computer, and proceeded to demonstrate reading them. (The rep’s company ended up supplying us with consecutively numbered SN tags that could survive the reflow ovens and, as I recall, the deflux wash, though by then we’d gone to a no-wash system.)

  • Although I like the basic idea, most of the stuff in my pantry is of a nature that if the original container is opened, any unused contents must then be either refrigerated or frozen. And, indeed, many of the items that are multi-meal sort of things come refrigerated or frozen.

    I think, for instance, about the salad dressing which comes in a two-bottle pack from Costco. Once I finish the bottle that’s in the fridge, I get the next bottle out of the pantry (taking note if it’s the last bottle, I’ll get more on the next Costco run). Transferring the dressing to an empty peanut butter container would be a hassle, plus it loses the convenience of the “squeeze dispenser bottle” that the stuff comes in.

    Another problem is that folks like me get around empty peanut butter jar per decade – it’s not that I’m allergic to peanuts (I have a can of the things within easy reach of where I am at the moment), it’s just that I’m not that fond of peanut butter and have maybe gotten two so far this millennium. And the ones I’ve had did not have a foam lid liner.

    Methinks that rather than trying to include a material handling system, it might be better to have the user scan the bar code on the original container, then place the item on the scale. Alternatively, some items (e.g., canned soup) need to have unused contents transferred to a different container for storage, and there you either need a non-UPC barcode or maybe an RFID, preferably one that will survive a dishwasher. In any event, in most cases you’ll need to develop a list of tare weights for original containers as well as storage containers.

    One other item you can do: keep track of how long a given item has been “in the system”, and maybe tell the user when it needs to go down the electric disposal as opposed to “down the hatch” (thus improving the user’s health). Maybe you could provide the user with a list of items that are approaching their expiry date, thus reducing wasted foodstuffs. (It’s been estimated that 1/3 to ½ of all food is wasted.)

  • If you look at what Edison did, much of it was putting together technologies that already existed – in the case of the glass, for instance, that was around more than 2,000 years before Edison appeared on the scene. The “carbon filament” he finally used was basically a charred thread, which predates glass making by at least a millennium. The copper wires? That’s also thousands of years old. The batteries there’s some argument about – Volta is generally given the credit, though again, there’s evidence that some say shows batteries thousands of years before that.

    If Edison would have had to come up with any of these, we might well be in the dark tonight…

  • Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

  • The Pope, attending AVC incognito.

  • Gee… I can see the fear-mongering news reports now: “Concert bracelets hacked! What next?” leading to Congressional hearings on why the free bracelets don’t use encrypted communications…

    Good luck!

  • Glancing through the data sheet, I note that ABOV has provided “in circuit programming” hooks, and their programming software has a “READ” function that (apparently) reads the content of the processor. I might have missed it, but I didn’t notice any mention in the data sheet of any “protection bits”. (In my experience, Intel, Microchip, and other U.S. based micro designers always crow about their “protection bits” which are “write once” and, in theory, prevent the program from being read externally.)

    An interesting “next step” might be to use a continuity tester to see if the pins on J1 connect to the pins of IC4 for connection to the in-circuit programmer. (See p. 136 of the data sheet.)

    Another “interesting” experiment would be to carry a PixMob band (maybe with fresh batteries) to other events that have them and see if they respond. (I’m sort of guessing that the PixMob programmers might get “lazy”, or, more likely, the management of PixMob might get stingy with programmer time.) And, of course, if you wanted to get really nosy, you should be able to cobble up something that records the “raw” IR data for later analysis.

    One thing that really has my curiosity piqued is whether the IC3 pins are just for the 20 pin version of the processor. (A couple minutes with an ohm meter should be able to resolve that question – the datasheet says that the 4 extra pins on the 20 pin version are “hided”[SIC] on the 16 pin version, so it should be simple to just walk down the contacts with the probes.) BTW, my guess is that they did this in case they could get the 20 pin version but not the 16 pin version.

No public wish lists :(