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Member #403600

Member Since: January 29, 2013

Country: United States

  • Pilot: "Nice duds, Gandalf"

    Old Gentleman in Eccentric Costume: "Nice Flock of Seagulls 'do, Maverick"

  • Lego? Works well for lots of Raspberry Pi boards, though mine are in Pi tins.

  • Oh yeah, I was a Mk1 buy before it is possible to try early adopter and I had no end of issues with the wretched thing, starting with the bloody silly cables needed to hook it up. Took days to source them. Then, the development workbench was not working.

    I was instructed to change browsers even though I was using one of their "approved" ones - turned out it only really worked with Chrome (which tried to rape my contacts and mail lists upon first booting it up, but that is another story) and which did not fix the issue.

    Then I was instructed to upgrade the firmware, which broke the in-browser SSH gooden-proper but did fix the workbench. I finally got SSH working by connecting with putty and off we went on a new voyage of discovery.

    The cable that allowed me to use an old-fashioned flatscreen with DVI output was no good with the BBB. It has a conversation with the monitor and simply shuts down the video feed after.

    So a flatscreen with DVI was purchased (driving up the real cost yet again) and more cables had to be found because the connects aren't any sort of size kept in your average Best Buy or Staples.

    Not only that, the sockets are packed so close together you cannot use a simple adapter to make your old cables work without fear the sockets will be prised off the motherboard. A simple 1mm spacer would have fixed this issue but hey, we are talkin' BBB here and if you want easy you should be using a Raspberry Pi, you loser.

    And yeah, I saw all sorts of issues with the mouse and keyboard until I found the USB hub the damned BBB liked, at which point it started to behave itself. The secret? Trial and error. And a supply of alternate hubs. And an almost fanatical devotion to the task. And A nice red uniform.

  • Yeah, I can use the inverter supplied with the tubes but I'd rather a more safely designed unit were available.

    What I want to do is up the awesome in a Steampunk prop "raygun" I built that is essentially a (semi) portable set of case lights and a lumen disc in a fancy case (picture at http://colonelmoran.blogspot.com/2011/10/aetheric-neuralizer-in-action.html - the world's most incoherent build blog, so incomprehensible even I gave up on it eventually).

    I had the idea to make a sort of "light screw" effect from El Wire for the barrel that would idle at one speed and get much livelier when the trigger was pulled or the stopcocks twirled, fairly screaming "Don't get in front of me" to the onlookers. Much fun would ensue (Steampunk stuff should at least look like it works in my opinion).

    However, maddeningly, EL Wire is too dim to be worth the effort in this case, so I thought that maybe eight paired 4 inch green CC case lights could be induced to "rotate" about the barrel instead. Everyone knows Weird Science glows green.

    The only problem with the supplied inverters is that I am certain that they somehow put an AC signal on the DC supply line. I came to this conclusion after getting a painful belt from the negative terminal of the 12 volt lead-acid accumulator I drive everything with during a test of the Steampunk raygun electronics, and by experimenting with carefully placed diodes which removed the problem.

    Sparkfun would never sell me something that did that. Admittedly, one of the sequencers they did sell me puffed smoke for no good reason during a test but I fixed it with a bit of wire and some swear words and it's OK now. The other has given smokeless service whenever used, and has been declared "awesome" by several witnesses. If only the EL Wire were brighter.

  • Hey guys, I was wondering if it would be possible to use this unit to sequence 4 inch cold cathode lights, and if so, what sort of extra support electrickery I might need to provide. e.g. would your excellent 12 volt inverter be capable of driving said lights?

  • I had many problems as an early-early adopter of the BBB getting the darned thing to live LIVE LIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!

    Sorry. I had problems with the USB hub I was using on the Pi and had to swap in another I had on hand before the BBB would acknowledge it has USB connectivity.

    I also had to hack in using PUTTY because the browser-delivered SSH wouldn't connect properly. Once I had one session established and terminated via PUTTY, the browser version started working. But then the workbench wouldn't function correctly and I was advised by the community to download an update to the software, which borked the SSH and the workbench.

    I finally got the SSH working again and the workbench working for the first time by knowing the secret browser gotcha - the list of acceptable browsers was bollocks and the only one that would work properly was Chrome.

    Then I tried bringing up the BBB with a standard video/keyboard/mouse as a console rather than headless via USB. More trouble as the BBB won't play with the HDMI - VGA converter that works perfectly with the Pi. At work we have archaic equipment and I wanted to do a lot of this stuff in lunch breaks. Oh well.

    I have to say that given the number of expensive extras I had to buy just to get the BBB to fire up - mico SD card that was just so big and no bigger or it wouldn't boot, special cables for video hook-up because placement of sockets on board mean that adapters to re-size mini-connectors to the easier to find regular size cannot be used and so forth - coupled with the misinformation on the "help" pages and the unworky SSH (which I am certain is down to a config file problem) , I'd advise anyone not needing the promise of the awesome power of the BBB to use a different platform like a Pi, which is comparatively a doddle to get up and running.

  • I just thought I'd pop in and tell you guys that I did, eventually, effect repair and get the sequencer running. In the meantime I bought another which works perfectly in the default mode. I haven't put in the headers so it can be reprogrammed yet.

  • "Now this is crucial if you want to avoid serious injury: before you throw the third switch be sure to stand on a thick rubber mat to reduce the chance of shock in the event the internal capacitance of the monster causes violent flashback in the knife switch and throws you across the lab, otherwise you might end up with a useless left arm like me."

  • Automotive tool dealerships often carry a purpose-made "spade connector" crimping tool (often packaged with a bajillion different spade connectors to try it out on).

    But like Omnikrys says, the "crocodile jaw" wire stripper can be used to do the job quite nicely.

    The only difference between my crimper and my wire stripper is that the wire stripper works like a pair of pliers with the handles on the opposite side of the pivot to the jaws o' crimping, whereas the crimper has longer handles and the crimping jaw is on the handle side of the pivot, making for less precision but more brute force.


  • I was using the 12 volt inverter you guys sent me a couple of weeks ago, which I adapted to purpose by fitting a sequencer compatible jumper to the DC power input side. This has been verified as properly polarized by experiment outside of the sequencer board.

    Power was being derived from a 12v (alarm system/ups type) lead acid gel battery that has given good service driving other inverter-driven effects (I'm planning on incorporating sequenced EL Wire in an existing steampunk prop). I installed a temporary (but securely attached) jumper to sj1 for the test run, which ran for about two minutes with some odd artifacts before the Zap O' Disappointment was heard.

    Bridging between the center contact of the switch and the cross-connected input of the mic5219 lights power-up LED from USB-derived volts (haven't tried with 12v). Repair is proving challenging owing to proximity of a socket to the damaged area.

    As for the location: If you study the picture of the plan view of the component side of the board on this page (the middle pic), to the right there are three white sockets for input DC power, DC inverter supply out and inverter AC in jumpers. Directly above the uppermost socket (as viewed in the picture) you can see where the PCB track from the center pin of the USB/BATT switch dips down, around the rightmost switch terminal on its way to the mic5219. Where that track appears to touch the white socket is where the damage occurred, and the straight section ducking around the switch is pretty much severed and lifted from the board now.

    There was solder residue on these track ends when I cleaned the board and attempted to gently burnish the copper back into place - with a screwdriver made for replacing kneecaps on gnats - pending some sort of clever repair. (The track is far too badly dinged up though, and for a repair I may have to solder a jumper directly from the switch tab to one of the mic5219 inputs).

No public wish lists :(