Jim (JR)

Member Since: November 24, 2012

Country: United States

  • Tutorial - Building the HUB-ee Buggy | about 7 months ago

    This is actually pretty darn slick!

    I have had some ideas about interfacing an Arduino with a 3-axis gyro board and needed an application to use as a “proof of concept” of my design thoughts. This sounds like just want the Dr. ordered! If I do this right, I should be able to take the gyro board, add (ahem!) “just a wee bit of code” and make it self-stabilizing without needing the standoffs, sort of like a miniature Segway. Of course, if anyone wants to beat me to it - and post code & video - go right ahead! Seriously, it would be very interesting to see the different ways a project like this could be implemented.

    Thanks for a VERY interesting product idea!

    Jim (JR)

  • Tutorial - Color LCD Shield Quickstart Guide | about a year ago

    I’ve run into an interesting situation here.

    I recently purchased a color LCD shield and attempted to use it with the various sample sketches.

    The LCD was covered with a plastic coversheet with a red tab, which wold indicate the “Epson” driver.

    I am using a Rev 3 Arduino UNO (Genuine Arduino), and the 1.0 series libraries.

    The odd behavior I noted is as follows:

    1. If run as an Epson device, any attempt to display any kind of image at all results in a display showing what appears to be random, multi-colored snow.

    2. If I change the script to the “Phillips” device, the display shows a valid image instead of snow - however the colors are inverted as if it’s really an Epson device.

    Has anyone else noticed this? Are there any known solutions?

    Thanks!

    Jim (JR)

  • Tutorial - The FCC and Open Source Hardware | about a year ago

    Ben,

    I’m glad we’re finally seeing eye-to-eye on at least something ( :grin: )

    As far as government and millstones and all that [feces] is concerned, that’s the way governments work. It’s been that way all the way back to before Noah and the Ark. I am equally sure that there were Phoenician and Sumerian traders who complained about their own government millstones too.

    It’s like complaining that water’s wet. It’s not going to change any time soon, so why bitch? That is, unless you feel better after ruffling your neck-feathers, squawking, and flapping your wings for a while in an indignant rage.

    Me, I see it in one of two ways:

    • I can moan and groan about how things aren’t the way I’d like them to be. or
    • I can work with what I have, do what I have to do to get where I want to go, and deal with things as they come along.

    Case in point: I have family in Russia. We go there periodically to spoil our grandchildren rotten. And, believe it or not, it is an actual, literal fact that it is illegal to bring a computer or other complex electronic device into Russia without a permit/license Does that mean I leave my laptop at home? Nope. I carry mine with me. So does everyone else. Do they really care? No. However this is one of those stupid laws they can use to bust you if they really want your [donkey] and need an excuse. Just like it is here in the States.

    So, like I said before, the real advice I can give to everyone is to just chill. Deal with it. Have fun and enjoy the ride.

    What say ye?

    Jim (JR)

  • Tutorial - The FCC and Open Source Hardware | about a year ago

    Oh, another thing…

    Saying that “The FCC kills off innovation” is like saying you get the clap from someone sneezing.

    What stifles innovation is the desire to avoid risk. Everything you do has risk. My wife is a Real Estate Agent, and that carries an incredible amount of risk. So much so that her agency, Coldwell Banker, has a separate legal department set up just to help defend the RE Agent from the frivolous and baseless lawsuits that invariably come along.

    I run a computer consulting company, and I run the risk of getting sued out of my socks, despite my best efforts to the contrary.

    The mom-and-pop luncheonette on the corner runs a grave risk every time they set out a plate in front of a customer.

    It’s not the FCC, or their like, that stifles innovation. What stifles innovation is the same thing that stifled it all the way back to the Dawn of Man: the lack of balls. The guy who says “Oooh! There’s a risk - so I’ll just say ” ‘naff this! “ - stifles innovation, his own. He doesn’t want to take risks or try to work with what he has to make it what he wants to have. He wants it for free.

    Likewise, talking about the bazillion dollar fines that the FCC can impose is similarly reactionary and pointless. Let’s say that the FCC DID decide my little boards should have been tested. Are they going to fine a small one-man-shop back in the ‘90’s several bazillion dollars for a few pc boards? No way! Not only no way, but no effin’ way! They’d tell me to stop what I’m doing - and perhaps even offer some advice on how to do it better.

    I worked in a very tightly regulated avionics manufacturing company for just about forever. Having the FAA and the Department of Defense breathing down your neck isn’t fun. But you learn how to play the game - you show them what they want to see. You don’t act carelessly, you don’t get stupid. You don’t prance around like an [donkey’s back-side]. And if something goes wrong, you listen attentively to what they have to say instead of flippin' ‘em the bird. You do all that and things work themselves out.

    Yes, innovation carries risk. Independent thinking carries risk. That’s the nature of the beast. Sometimes you gotta have a Brass Set of Bowling Balls to even think of trying some of this stuff, but as my wife says, “If you don’t take risks, you’ll never drink champagne.”

    And that’s just the way it is.

    Jim (JR)

  • Tutorial - The FCC and Open Source Hardware | about a year ago

    Radio innovation did not decline in the US, however manufacturing moved overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor.

    In other cases, the business model eventually became irrelevant. Heathkit died off in the 70’s because they didn’t keep up with the times. Popular Electronics Magazine - one of my childhood favorites - also died out because interest in that kind of kit-bashing died out too.

    Now, with the resurgence of companies like Arduino, and magazines like Nuts and Volts, or Servo, we can see a regrowth of the electronic hobbyist and a love of the kind of kit-bashing folks like I did when we were children and teens.

    If you think the FCC killed electronic innovation here in the US, I would suggest you take a second look at the computer you’re using to type these posts. Though that particular one was probably manufactured in Asia somewhere, 99% of the research and development - not to mention the manufacture of commercially feasible personal computers happened, and still happens, in Silicon Valley among other places here in the US.

    Do you like animated movies - especially ones like Monsters Inc. Cars, the various Dreamworks films, etc.? The primary development for the computers and software was done by various firms here in the U.S. LucasFilms, Industrial Light and Magic - which later became Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, and so on.

    Intel, a US based company, invented the first microprocessor, the 8008, here in the Unites States, long after the FCC was created. Likewise Texas Instruments, Motorola, Advanced Micro Devices, (AMD), Atari, Apple, - the list literally goes on and on.

    And with regard to the folks like Arduino, Sparkfun, etc., if you had actually read the posting they made, they are not illegal at all.

    • They create sub-assemblies, which do not require testing.

    • Their primary markets are the experimenter, hobbyist, and to educational facilities, all of which do not require testing.

    Of course, if you are going to use an Arduino board, (or more likely, use the schematic and develop your own design, it would be cheaper in the long run), and manufacture tens of thousands for someone - part of the contract price should be set up to account for both the R&D, as well as the testing that will have to be done.

    Even in my own case, the circuit I made was clearly a “sub-assembly” designed to be installed into a point-of-sale display by the company that was manufacturing them, so testing was not required anyway. However, despite that, I still did a certain amount of ad-hoc testing to verify that I was being a good “electromagnetic” citizen.

    Regarding dates and facts. Being off by a few years is one thing, being off by decades is something else entirely. Edison was still an active inventor into the 1920’s. Tesla had a laboratory in Rocky Point Long Island even later than that.

    As far as being a “poopy head”, I never said that. However, if the shoe fits… .

    What say ye?

    Jim (JR)

  • Tutorial - The FCC and Open Source Hardware | about a year ago

    Regarding the FCC, it’s regulations, and radio-frequency emissions:

    The real answer to a lot of these comments regarding the FCC and their multi-bazillion dollar fines is simple: Just use your head and don’t get stupid.

    An example that comes to mind is an product that I manufactured back in 1994 and sold several hundred copies to a company that manufactured advertising displays. It used a Phillips micro controller, a 1 of 16 driver, and a 12v “wall wart” power supply to drive an animated light show for a display.

    How did I deal with the FCC? Easy! I did everything I could to stay “under the radar” as it were.

    • I realized that the FCC doesn’t have the manpower or resources to chase down every walkie-talkie out there.

    • I went to Radio Shack and purchased an expensive, sensitive, broadband digital wave meter designed for ham radio operation. Knowing that my circuit worked using an 8 MHz clock and had long wires that might be effective transmitters, I tested each device I made with the wave meter.

    • I tested at 6" and 1 yard away. Emissions from my circuit were virtually undetectable unless I put the wave meter right next to the PCB. At 6" and 1 meter, there was no detectable difference in the detected radio field with it turned off or turned on.

    Confident that my little PCB would not even be close to attracting the FCC’s attention, I sold it and had a lot of fun in the process.

    My advice? Chill. Be smart about things. Do some basic testing so you know what the heck is going on. And above all, enjoy what you’re doing and don’t stress out over every little house-fly and spider you see.

    What say ye?

    Jim (JR)

  • Tutorial - The FCC and Open Source Hardware | about a year ago

    Ben,

    You said:

    Eli Lilly invented insulin production for diabetes some 30 years before the FDA exists. Tesla did all his invention prior to the FCC, as did Edison. The TV was invested 10 years prior to the FCC.

    Allow me to suggest you read up on your radio history. For your edification, here are a few actual verifiable facts - and the hyperlinks to cite them - about the early days of radio and television.

    • Though the Federal Communications Commission didn’t exist until it was created by Congress by the radio act of 1934, The Federal Radio Commission was created by Congress in 1926. Prior to that radio station licenses were granted by the United States Department of Commerce, dating back to times prior to the First World War. Ergo, there was government regulation of radio and the electromagnetic spectrum dating back to (at least) the early 1900’s.

    • Regarding the invention of the “TV”, (this is assuming that we’re defining “TV” as a system for transmitting actual, viewable images and sound, that exhibited smooth movement and recognizable images); this didn’t happen until 1936, though very crude mechanical systems for transmitting images existed back as far as 1907.

    • Mechanical “image rasterizers” - which is what they were called back then, not televisions, could not even send a half-baked image until 1924, and even then, the image was a stationary image of extremely poor quality, barely recognizable as something human.

    • You should also note that the first commercial voice grade RADIO (i.e. modulated wave voice), station (KDKA) started broadcasting on November 2nd, 1920.

    • Prior to that time, with the possible exception of some low powered hobbyists, all radio transmission of any serious power was done by spark-gap transmitters or Alexanderson high powered radio frequency alternators transmitting Morse code. The idea that “television”, in a useable, viewable form existed four years later is absolutely absurd.

    • It should also be noted that, though De'Forest invented the vacuum tube in 1907, real, workable, production grade vacuum tubes didn’t happen until World War I - 1915 to be exact - when General Electric in Schenectady N.Y. began production of the Pliotron vacuum tube. These tubes were hideously expensive, very low fidelity amplifying tubes, requiring expensive batteries for even the simplest radios.

    I would like to caution you to actually use your head for thinking, and take the time to verify your facts, lest people begin to suspect that you’re using a body-part considerably further south for all your brain-waves.

    What say ye?

    Jim (JR)

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