Friday, September 18, 2009

Arduino + Processing - Serial Communication

It's surprisingly easy to get Arduino talking to Processing via Serial Communication. You can send sensor readings to Processing and make things happen there or send data from Processing to Arduino.

A good start is the Virtual Color Mixer project. Very simple and quick. Just remember after loading the sketch to the Arduino to shut down the software on your computer before running the Processing sketch otherwise the Arduino holds on to the port and won't let go!

Next step is I want to get a couple of sensors on the Arduino to represent the x,y cords. of a mouse. I'm going to start here: Lucky Larry's Arduino + Processing

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Arduino Wave Shield

I recently built and have been playing around with a Adafruit Wave Shield for the Arduino. Basically you are building your own iPod type device although it plays low quality wave files and not MP3s but it's an iPod that can respond to sensors and provide outputs.

Couple of handy links:

Interface class for the Arduino Wave Shield

Free sound samples

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mistake of the Week

I was building a Wave Shield for Arduino (available from Adafruit ) and of course nothing worked the first time.

I checked all the solder joints, went online looking for software problems, checked the sound files, formatting of the SD card etc. I looked at the serial output of the program and everything there checked out. Finally I starred at my board and the picture of a completed board on the website and DUH! I saw the problem. I had put one of the capacitors in a spot where an LED was suppose to go! I was so busy trying to make sure I had the polarization right that I wasn't paying attention to the component description.

In any project a zillion things could go wrong. Best advice is to take your time and double check everything.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Amazing Yard Sale Find!

Lego Mars Rover - found at a yard sale for $5. What an incredible find! My son was focused on building this all day!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Spelling Fun with IPod Touch

We've been having fun with our new Ipod Touch. Its an amazingly simple to use device. This has to be the future of computing. Maybe Microsoft will get a clue and realize that the Iphone type of operating system is what people would like to see computers do. That is start up instantly, provide quick and easy to applications.

The Ipod Touch has all the capabilities that probably 80% of the computer users out there use. If it had a bigger screen, a real keyboard and Quicken it would be perfect for most household computing tasks.

I wait for the day when one of these things is mounted in every room of the house in the place of wall switches. Networked music, light controls, security, access to information from where ever you are etc.

Anyway, one unexpected plus for our household has been access to some neat educational apps. We've been playing with some spelling games and math games to give our fifth grader a little boast in those areas. Its certainly more fun than the worksheets that have been coming home as homework.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to Fix a Dead IPod Touch 2G - The Secret

Can I tell you how much I hate technology?

An upcoming trip to Europe pushed us over the edge to buy a Ipod Touch 2G. We figured it would help out with entertain us, give us the opportunity to perhaps get email on the run and use some cool apps like maps and travel guides as we tour London and Paris.

Well, yesterday was a very exciting mail delivery day when the new Ipod Touch arrived from Amazon. Right out of the box I marveled at how easily it came alive and synced up with my Itunes software and a few games and apps I had downloaded. I was praising Apple for its advanced usability compared to my very much hated underpowered Vista laptop which is the only computer in the household that works with Itunes. My old reliable desktop computer running XP never can load Itunes because it won't install Quicktime. But anyway back to the story.

So everything was peachy keen that is until I was tempted to upgrade my Itunes software for $9.95. At first I was a bit outraged at the idea of upgrading for money but I went for it anyway.

Then my brand Ipod Touch 2G simply dies. Blank screen. No reaction to any button pressing, wouldn't even be recognized as a USB device. But this story has a happy ending and after hours and hours of trying to revive it let me just jump to what worked for me.

First I tried the following suggested methods of reviving a dead Ipod Touch:

But I had better luck with the "DFU" method:

DFU mode is a mode where the iPod Touch/iPhone will be made to force a restore of the firmware into whatever version firmware it is given.

Getting your iPod Touch/iPhone into DFU mode is somewhat tricky, and it may require some patience/practice because timing is essential to get it to DFU mode and not into recovery mode.

1. First, Open up iTunes, plug in your iPod Touch/iPhone to the CPU's USB port. Turn on your CPU's speaker and make sure it is loud enough that you can hear it.

2. Hold down the Home button (top left for iPod Touch and top right for the iPhone with the screen facing you) and the Power button (located on the front bottom of your iPod Touch/iPhone) simutaneously, until the screen goes black and the device turns off. (past the red slider/slide to power off screen)

3. Now let go of the Power button, but continue to hold the Home button. Your iPod Touch/iPhone should have turned off and the screen should not be on.

4. After around ~10-20 seconds, you will hear a noise (beep/ding) from your CPU as if it had just recognized a new hardware device, now iTunes should recognize it in DFU mode.

5. After iTunes recognizes the iPod Touch/iPhone, let go of the Home button otherwise it will go into recovery mode and you will have to do the entire DFU process over again.

6. You will know when you have put your iPod Touch/iPhone correctly into DFU mode when the display is blank and that you do not have anything on your device.

My problem was first that it took many many tries to get into the DFU recovery process and when it did get started it would stop about half way through and give me an error message (error 6 to be precise).


The solution I found for fixing my IPOD Touch was to do all the above BUT with my Zone Alarm virus checking software turned off. It seems that during the Ipod Touch restore process that it needs to communicate with Itunes headquarters about half way through and the security software was blocking the connection. With the security software turned off I had no problem restoring my Ipod Touch.

I hope this helps anyone out there with a dead Ipod Touch especially anyone thinking of throwing theirs against the wall. Did I mention I hate technology?