As you might know, I’ve been working on computers for awhile. And for the most part I never dump old systems unless they stop working. Did do some housecleaning over the summer, found a few systems that had died. Caused by rust and ‘melting’ foam. Over the weekend I dug out my old Atari 800XL and hooked it up. Worked pretty good, it does have sticking keys… What I found interesting was taking the machine apart, this thing was built like a tank, solid and heavy, not like modern computers..
Basically I can take keyboard apart and clean the leads.. Another weekends project.
Finding a TV to connect the computer was more difficult. I needs a old tuner. Lucky for me the flat screen in my office is older and has a turner..
Having worked in a Atari repair center, I had a demo cartridge and test cartridge.
For years I’ve been trying to find a 3d printer that works reliably and has good support. Started off with a Makerbot kit, which worked well, for awhile. Then Makerbot went crazy with the pricing and went private, so I lost heart in the company.
From there we switched to Solidoodle 3, Supported Solidoodle Press though a kickstarter, took almost two years to receive and NEVER got a good print out of the unit. The unit looked great though. Back and forth with tech support to the point that they wanted me to send back unit for repair. Which I never did, thank goodness. They were out of business weeks later.
A few weeks ago I received notice from Robo, that they were discounting remaining R1+ units, I jumped at it. So far the unit has printed everything I’ve requested, even prints that took 8 hours. A total first.
The units LEDs stopped working, so I contacted Robo, after a few trouble shooting emails, I have new Lights and a have received answers to all my issues quickly and without a lot of template replies. Fantastic printer at low cost.
FlightAware was easy to setup and great fun to use. Can track flights flying over your head leaving contrails spoiling your beautiful blue sky. Get the story about a plane and its current flight. Sharing your data with FlightAware gives you free access to their Enterprise plan, well worth it.
Basically you setup a Raspberry Pi, with a ADS receiver which monitors the airwaves for ADS data from flights within range. The area I live in is rather hilly, so at first I wasn’t happy with the units range so I added an external antenna which dramatically increased my systems range. All and all the system cost about $150. You leave it running, then can remotely monitor you PiAware unit over your network through a browser. Plus you can access your data directly from FlightAware’s site, well your data anyway.
Was able to monitor flights in real time.
You can overlay current weather. You can also spend more for better antennas and higher antenna mounting, which would improve your stations reception.
All and all, great fun, nice use of a Raspberry Pi.
UPDATE: After a year of operation the system stopped sending data. Tried a new USB Receiver, a new Pi, patch cable, nothing worked. Finally changed the power supply, which was on of the nice Raspberry Pi brand ones, with Power LED. That was it, fixed. Unit was getting power, but I guess it wasn’t getting enough. Odd same power supply worked for a year, then just stopped producing enough power. Oh well..
Our new world wide headquarters (ROFL), are almost complete. Basically a 14×14 foot office with storage room that doubles as a network room. We have power, AC, network, internet, TV and work areas. Everything a small development company needs. We have programs in development and electronic projects on the boards. Hopefully we’ll be posting more projects soon, though we might start with a few project updates:
Our Outdoor Sensor Array, will be connected to our solar panels and updated to our new offices needs.
After losing contact with one of our remote servers, we decided we needed a way to do a hard reboot. We call it ‘cycle the power’. Turn the power off, wait 30 seconds and then power the unit back on. We have had great luck with servers running months even years without issue. Unless they are overloaded or overheated.
Checking eBay for over the counter power controllers, we found the IP Power 9258. Got our first one for less than $70, but most cost between $80 to $120. After looking at programming options and being a MAC Shop we figured it was doable. In less the a week we completed IPPOWER.app. Very small, very simple controller for the IP Power.
First you’ll need the IP Power’s IP number. Using an old PC we first configured ours DHCP, using the included IPEdit. (Read their instructions, which aren’t very well translated to english). We then used LanScan to find the device by its Mac Address.
After you have the IP Power’s IP number, just startup IPPower app, it will ask for the IP Number, administration name and password. The defaults are admin, 12345678.
You can now control the IP Power using keys 1 – 4, clicking on button 1 – 4 or sending “/Applications/IPPower.app/Contents/MacOS/IPPower 4” (4 being the outlet to cycle the power on).
We have also setup iChat to support cycling the power. See the attached AppleScript. Configure iChat to execute the script on message received. The script will look for “outlet1” – “outlet4” as a message. And cycle the power with prompting.
Nice perk of my current job is that we are allowed to spend time creating time saving programs. Within reason!
After getting an unusual number of reports of broken keyboards we decided we needed a quick easy way to test keyboards. Using mostly Apple iMacs, that is what we wrote the program for. BUT it works pretty good on windows as well (numerical keypad has issues though, but useable).
Spent less than a day creating the DIY Keyboard Tester using LiveCode.
Being that they were ordered from China, I ordered a few items from WeMos. OLED Display Shield, Temperature Sensor, Relay and Button shields. All were cheap and using Arduino fairly easy to program just took awhile to get to USA (say a month to the day) [Not complaining, just stating, pay a little more get from USA seller MUCH faster].
We were able to create a web server, that reads and displays Temperature (T), control a relay over the web (R) and have it display its IP number (within our subnet). HOWEVER, you can’t read temperature and control relay, in the same ‘stack’. So more parts are on order to deal with that minor complication.
The biggest issue was getting the OLED display to work. Seems there was an issue with one of the libraries;
How many sensors can we plug into one Arduino and setup outdoors? This is how many I was able to cram into one Project Box.
The system uses a ESP8266 Wifi / Arduino Card with a screw terminal Shield. — I attempted to run it all with two 12 volt solar panels with a solar charger. Didn’t have enough juice, so ended up just plugging into outlet located outside.