Day 30+: a postlude

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While the rest of the world is preparing for super sportsing, I’m taking the opportunity to tinker. This post is a continuation of the GaSiProMo challenge I took part in a while ago.

Today’s update brings in the next stage of that project with my OsRAM LED display: better packaging.

The goal here is to reduce the amount of “rat’s nest” wiring from the prototype to a more manageable amount of cabling for better display of the pretty blinky lights.

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Day 30: final day

This post is part of the GaSiProMo challenge.   You can read more about this here.

I’ve got most of the bugs ironed out in my display interface, but not all have been squashed in the driver portion.  In other words, the method in which I can input text into the OsRAM is working nicely (I’m using a serial port console), but the nuts and bolts of how strings are sent to the display — arguably the most important part of this project — remains broken slightly.

The problem is that I was lazy.  I should have paid more attention to the WR and CE lines for proper data latching into the display at the right times.

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Day 15: display testing

This post is part of the GaSiProMo challenge.   You can read more about this here.

So I have my display working sort of.  It’s definitely showing good old ASCII characters.  Here’s a quick video of it in action:

You can see my code at GitHub.

I’m quickly realizing that I will need a more sophisticated text parser to make this thing usable.  ‘Cuz sending a character at a time for bit-fiddling pretty much sucks.

Day 6: early firmware testing

This post is part of the GaSiProMo challenge.   You can read more about this here.

Things are progressing nicely.  I have the display fully wired now to the Mega.  It’s a spaghetti mess, but it’ll work.
I have the serial port on the Arduino working nicely for debug.  I also did a fair amount of thinking with regards to data and address packetizing.  It quickly became apparent that doing a bunch of digitalWrite calls for all this pins (8 data, 5 address, per character of the display) would be a nightmare.

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Day 3: Arduino setup

This post is part of the GaSiProMo challenge.   You can read more about this here.

I’ve had a bad experience with Arduino.  But perhaps I was just cranky that night.  I was also unlucky with a defective Uno.

The good news is that for my new project (which has a deadline), my new Arduino Mega is not in fact defective.  I can attest its functionality tonight, at 10:45pm.

This platform is pretty slick.  They cleverly have positioned it between full language control and  GUI-only.  The syntax is mostly C strict.  But there are abstracted functions and methods that keep the very low-level hardware constructs from mucking up the works.  In a word, Arduino has “de-engineered” the sometimes maddening experience of working in firmware on any given microcontroller.

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Day 1: setup

This is day 1 of the GaSiProMo challenge.   You can read more about this here.

I got the display mounted to a breadboard. How about that, it’s green!

The display has a self test diagnostic mode built in, which is incredibly handy. Saw little cute LED bits flashing and twinkling. So the thing appears to be alive, after all these years!  Here is some video too:

The majority of my project frustrations seem to revolve around toolchains.  I hate changing tool sets because the learning curves are so steep.  After a few hours, I finally sided with an Arduino Mega board.

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I’m a notorious task-starter, and not a great task-finisher.  My garage is littered with old projects that are collecting more dust than accolades.  I can lean on the old, dependable excuses but really that’s lame.  If every moment is the new normal, then there aren’t any excuses.  Our hobbies define us, and I love my hobbies.  So it’s time to get serious about some side projects.

One thing that I’ve always responded to positively when it comes to my side projects is a good deadline.  Nothing motivates like external pressure.

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From iOS to Android, part 2: ecosystem shock

Last time, I talked about two key aspects of technology that tend to make loyal customers: platform ecosystem and user experience.

It was a natural transition from owning Macs for the better part of a decade to iPods and then finally iPhones.  Apple has done well to keep the user experience very fairly consistent between all the platforms.  That is probably their single greatest contribution to the technology world: coherent ecosystem.  In other words, the way you work on a Mac tends to be naturally the way you would work on an iPhone.  And that’s a good feature.  It makes for loyal customers.

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From iOS to Android, part 1

You read that right.  I’ve made the switch.  Got rid of my iPhone(s) and careened over into Android territory.  And so far, the grass is still pretty green over here.