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Re: Driving the smartsockets- 6 digit clock, scrolling message

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  • fixitsan2
    ... I hadn t got as far as looking at the hardware side yet John, but using a devboard seems like a great idea to me. Plus I notice that Microchip offer
    Message 1 of 29 , Sep 21, 2009
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      --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, Quixotic Nixotic <nixotic1@...> wrote:
      >
      > Olimex do a reasonably cute development board with a PIC socket,
      > RS232 chip and all the other bits that would make a suitable
      > controller. Plenty of room on the board to add a clock source too.
      >
      > http://www.olimex.com/dev/pic-p14.html
      >

      >
      > How is the code coming along for the IV-4/IV17 version, Chris?
      >
      > Regards,
      >
      > John S
      >

      I hadn't got as far as looking at the hardware side yet John, but using a devboard seems like a great idea to me.
      Plus I notice that Microchip offer device preprogramming with no MOQ

      I know you're always in demand with other work so maybe I should delve a bit deeper myself. My problem is that due to a change in personal circumstances I have to live on one side of town and my programming rig lives on the other. I can see I need to get this sorted out !

      I can envisage this coming together very quickly once the hardware has been selected. I also think that writing the scripts could become overly complex unless the scripting method is carefully worked out. Also instead of an rs232 interface a similar solution which uses an SD card to hold the script file could probably be used for the same cost as an rs232 solution, but time will tell.
      Anything is possible, even a web interface could be added for £35

      The IV-17 version is up and running in a basic form. Each of the four tubes behaves completely independently of the others and just about the only thing left to do is to work out the tube HV and filament supply and to rewrite some of the font patterns.

      Chris
    • v_f_d
      Thank you gentlemen for the info/suggestions! (Sorry to not be back sooner, but it has been quite a week.) I am located in north-central Oklahoma, that is
      Message 2 of 29 , Sep 26, 2009
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        Thank you gentlemen for the info/suggestions! (Sorry to not be back sooner, but it has been quite a week.)

        I am located in north-central Oklahoma, that is nearly the very center of the continental United States. I have ordered parts from Digikey and Allied before as well as Parts Express, MCM, and a few other "surplus" suppliers. I also have no hesitation to order from any other vendor in another country that has something I would like at a decent price.

        As for using a PC to drive Smartsockets, I wouldn't have any more idea how to write a program for that any more than I would to program a PIC or AVR. Though I can take a laptop apart and change out processors, displays, and other boards/drives, I know nothing about programming.

        I do have several old laptops laying around not doing anything, but would rather not have anything that large tethered to a clock circuit. Although I have seen possible infrared communication and Blue Tooth like Bob Coggeshall's 7-digit clock/display:
        http://www.cogwheel.com/nixie/

        Still, I would have to have the laptop sitting somewhere running all the time.

        I had hoped there was already something available like John's simple "Clock-It" driver, (especially since he is kind enough to offer a pre-programmed PIC and EEPROM for a small fee), but with with a few more capabilities and more digits like Chris' demo.

        As I mentioned, I'm sort of a conventional IC kind of guy (I suppose by that, I mean "off the shelf" purpose-made, standard logic, CMOS, and linear). If I thought I could (and especially if I could find an existing schematic, I would use 25 or so chips to accomplish the task.

        The PICs and AVRs are looking better all the time. I especially like the USB Boarduino (Arduino clone) kit mentioned by Brett. The USB connection for programming would be convenient for me. I'm not sure I even own a RS-232 cable. I also think the configuration with pins that plug right into a breadboard would be super-handy.

        [quote from John (Quixotic Nixotic):]

        "My trouble is I have a bunch of other projects to finish before I
        start any new ones. It should be quite easy to allow user strings to
        be sent via PC and be stored by the PIC, for playback through the
        sockets."

        That's my situation too (having other things going). Hence my desire for something easy, fast, or where someone else had already done most of the work. ;)

        However, I have ordered a couple of books on programming/using PICs and one for AVRs, so I guess at some point I may be able to achieve the desired effects.

        Thanks again,
        Vince
      • Brett Paulin
        ... Python is very easy to write and use as long as you dont need a GUI, but if you ve never done any programming of any sort before, there might be a few new
        Message 3 of 29 , Sep 26, 2009
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          On Sunday 27 September 2009 10:44:10 am v_f_d wrote:
          > As for using a PC to drive Smartsockets, I wouldn't have any more idea how to write a program

          Python is very easy to write and use as long as you dont need a GUI, but if you've never done any programming of any sort before, there might be a few new concepts to get your head around. Only worth looking into if you want to run from a PC though. Easier to tinker with and update code than an in-circuit microcontroller, but obviously the PC has to be on for the sockets to run.


          Arduino - If you need a jump start, I can easily convert my PC-based Python code that is presently driving my smart sockets into Arduino Code (Wiring) since they're fairly similair in nature. The basic i/o routines are simple, then you just add the sequences of command strings to send out.

          A clock would require a bit more coding, although if youre after an easy start, you could add a pre-built hardware Real-Time-Clock module to keep time easily, so the micro just needs to read it (which eliminates all the tedious timing and counting code), and feed it to the display (along with whatever fancy effects you want the smart sockets to do).

          > I especially like the USB Boarduino (Arduino clone) kit mentioned by Brett.
          > ... I have ordered a couple of books on programming/using PICs and one for AVRs,

          Many Micro Programming books maionly describe assembly code and spend a lot of time discussing the Micro hardware architecture, memory maps and so on, and may have a quick reference to a C compiler - so dont despair if you find the Micro books heavy going to start with.

          By contrast, Arduino code is much more "general" and easier to grasp if you dont need the precise cycle-by-cycle control that assembly gives you. And for driving smart sockets where alpha-numeric strings are being fed to the SS in serial form, the higher level language with string-manipulation functions makes the task of formatting messages much easier.
        • fixitsan2
          ... That is a good starting point Vince. However, how do you feel about being able to write some scripts, using Notepad on the PC. If there was a device with
          Message 4 of 29 , Sep 27, 2009
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            --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, "v_f_d" <v_f_d@...> wrote:
            >

            > However, I have ordered a couple of books on programming/using PICs and one for AVRs, so I guess at some point I may be able to achieve the desired effects.
            >
            > Thanks again,
            > Vince
            >


            That is a good starting point Vince.
            However, how do you feel about being able to write some scripts, using Notepad on the PC. If there was a device with USB which you could plug into the PC and send the written scripts, which would then replay the scripts to the Smartsockets you could have a lot of control for a very short learning curve.

            The sort of thing I am thinking of would consist of writing a .txt (ascii) file in Notepad similar to this

            #Label1
            DISPLAY TIME
            PAUSE 4 SECS
            SCROLL LEFT "THE DATE IS"
            SCROLL LEFT DATE
            PAUSE 4 SECS
            BLANK DISPLAY
            USE EFFECT 1
            DISPLAY (RANDOM WORD, FILE=WORDLIST.TXT)
            PAUSE 4 SECONDS
            SCROLL LEFT "THE TIME IS"
            USE EFFECT 5
            GOTO Label1

            This could then be saved as a file on your PC desktop, the controlling device gets plugged into the PC USB socket and appears as a standard memory device in Windows, and you simply drag and drop the file into the controller, and unplug from the PC afterwards.

            Chris
          • v_f_d
            ... Hey Brett, keep in mind I had to Google GUI to find out it is Graphical User Interface! I do see what you re saying though, easier to edit the code and
            Message 5 of 29 , Sep 27, 2009
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              --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, Brett Paulin <yahoogroups@...> wrote:
              > Python is very easy to write and use as long as you dont need a GUI, but if you've never done any programming of any sort before, there might be a few new concepts to get your head around. Only worth looking into if you want to run from a PC though. Easier to tinker with and update code than an in-circuit microcontroller, but obviously the PC has to be on for the sockets to run.
              >

              Hey Brett, keep in mind I had to Google GUI to find out it is Graphical User Interface! I do see what you're saying though, easier to edit the code and change things around on the PC.

              > Arduino - If you need a jump start, I can easily convert my PC-based Python code...
              >

              Thanks for the offer! At present I wouln't know what to do with it.

              > A clock would require a bit more coding, although if youre after an easy start, you could add a pre-built hardware Real-Time-Clock module to keep time easily, so the micro just needs to read it...
              >

              The Dallas/Maxim DS1302 looks like it has almost all the clock functions desired except for the alarm.

              > Many Micro Programming books maionly describe assembly code and spend a lot of time discussing the Micro hardware architecture, memory maps and so on, and may have a quick reference to a C compiler - so dont despair if you find the Micro books heavy going to start with.
              >

              Thanks, the first PIC book has arrived and it is at least 1 1/2 inches thick! Not exactly a week-end read for me. It does have a little PCB for a programmer included.

              > By contrast, Arduino code is much more "general" and easier to grasp if you dont need the precise cycle-by-cycle control that assembly gives you.
              >

              Ok, Arduino is easier.

              >And for driving smart sockets where alpha-numeric strings are being fed to the SS in serial form, the higher level language with string-manipulation functions makes the task of formatting messages much easier.
              >

              Does "higher level" language refer back to assembly, or still talking about the Arduino?

              Sorry to have so little knowledge in the field. If you were wanting to know how to modify the 12 valve Cummins diesel in your Dodge pickup for more power, or to run on used vegetable oil I could give you some advice.
            • v_f_d
              ... Chris, the more simple and easy this can get, the better for me. Not that I wouldn t eventually like to really know what I m doing and maybe even make
              Message 6 of 29 , Sep 27, 2009
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                --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, "fixitsan2" <fixitsan@...> wrote:
                >
                > However, how do you feel about being able to write some scripts, using Notepad on the PC. If there was a device with USB which you could plug into the PC and send the written scripts, which would then replay the scripts to the Smartsockets you could have a lot of control for a very short learning curve.
                >
                > The sort of thing I am thinking of would consist of writing a .txt (ascii) file in Notepad...
                >
                > This could then be saved as a file on your PC desktop, the controlling device gets plugged into the PC USB socket and appears as a standard memory device in Windows, and you simply drag and drop the file into the controller, and unplug from the PC afterwards.
                >


                Chris, the more simple and easy this can get, the better for me. Not that I wouldn't eventually like to really know what I'm doing and maybe even make other projects with microcontrollers.

                Let me see if I'm understanding here- Plug in a memory stick or USB memory card reader into my PC, load up the instructions, then plug that memory device into a socket on the control board for driving the Smartsockets? Or just plug a programmer board (like the Boarduino) into the PC, then after the routine is loaded, run on its' own?
              • fixitsan2
                ... Or just plug a programmer board (like the Boarduino) into the PC, then after the routine is loaded, run on its own? ... Yes, thats about it. I m thinking
                Message 7 of 29 , Sep 27, 2009
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                  --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, "v_f_d" <v_f_d@...> wrote:
                  >
                  Or just plug a programmer board (like the Boarduino) into the PC, then after the routine is loaded, run on its' own?
                  >

                  Yes, thats about it.
                  I'm thinking of a nnicrochip pic with a usb socket attached to it and a realtime ckock hanging off one of it's comms ports. This would be the only thing which would be required to run the smartsockets and to play the scipts.

                  When you want to try another script just plug this into the usb port of the PC and download the new script
                • v_f_d
                  ... That sounds great! [Maybe it is pretty much what Brett suggested in the first place, but now seems less intimidating?] Probably the implementation of the
                  Message 8 of 29 , Sep 27, 2009
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                    --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, "fixitsan2" <fixitsan@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > I'm thinking of a microchip pic with a usb socket attached to it and a realtime clock hanging off one of it's comms ports. This would be the only thing which would be required to run the smartsockets and to play the scipts.
                    >
                    > When you want to try another script just plug this into the usb port of the PC and download the new script
                    >

                    That sounds great! [Maybe it is pretty much what Brett suggested in the first place, but now seems less intimidating?]

                    Probably the implementation of the circuit would be as simple as John's "clock-it". That would be hard to beat. The 512K, 24AA512 EEPROM with the word list would be nice too. It looks like the Atmega328 chip has 30K flash memory, 2K RAM, and 1K EEPROM all on board. That might be pretty handy. I can buy those little suckers for about $5.00 + shipping.
                  • Brett Paulin
                    Greetings Vince ... oops, sorry :) Techies sometimes forget to de-acronymise when talking tech... ... Quite likely, or you could use a pre-built module like
                    Message 9 of 29 , Sep 27, 2009
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                      Greetings Vince

                      > > Python is very easy to write and use as long as you dont need a GUI
                      > Hey Brett, keep in mind I had to Google GUI to find out it is Graphical User Interface!

                      oops, sorry :) Techies sometimes forget to de-acronymise when talking tech...

                      > The Dallas/Maxim DS1302 looks like it has almost all the clock functions desired except for the alarm.

                      Quite likely, or you could use a pre-built module like John Taylors smart-nixie RTC board if you want to save some development work.

                      > Thanks, the first PIC book has arrived and it is at least 1 1/2 inches thick! Not exactly a week-end read for me. It does have a little PCB for a programmer included.

                      Yes, I expected that. :) Arduinos are likely to be a better get-started route for you. you dont need a special programmer board for them, just a USB cable that is used in-circuit.

                      > Does "higher level" language refer back to assembly, or still talking about the Arduino?

                      a "High-Level" language (Like C, Basic or Arduino Wiring) in general refers to a language with a greater "abstraction" from the hardware layer than a "low-level" language (Like Assembly) has.

                      By greater abstraction, I mean that the program commands or instructions that the language uses are further removed from the actual functions that the controller knows how to do (which isnt much, add, subtract, move, compare, store, load and basic stuff like that) and require a greater level of interpretation or compiling before they can be run.

                      For example, in a high level language like C or Wiring, to put a messgae on the screen (or smartsockets) you can just use a command like "destination.Print ("Message to be sent")" and the programs compiler takes care of sorting out what that command means in terms of all the detailed individual steps that the controller has to be instructed to follow.

                      In a low level language like assembly, you need to specifically tell the processor where the message is stored in memory, how long it is, write a loop to collect each letter from memory, one at a time, transfer it to its new location (serial port to send to smart sockets), count how many letters have been sent so far, compare that against the total to send, and loop around to do the next letter if you havent reached the full message letter count yet.

                      Quite tedious to write, and noone would bother if it wasnt for the fact that assembly code typically runs tens, hundreds or even thousands of times faster than higher level languages do since the job is so tightly specified in a language the processor understands without translation or compiling. It also allows precise timing control since it is possible in Assembly to work out *exactly* how long each operation takes (in nanoseconds), where the high level language will only be approximates due to the intervening compile steps.

                      For a simple function like a message displaying clock, as long as you have something handling the actual measurement of time (like an RTC chip) for you, then precise timing control isnt necessary, so using a high level language means much less hair pulling during the coding process. :)

                      You Micro programming book will likely be mainly focussed on low-level assembler code so may well seem like black magic alchemy if its your first foray into that area.

                      > Sorry to have so little knowledge in the field. If you were wanting to know how to modify the 12 valve Cummins diesel in your Dodge pickup for more power, or to run on used vegetable oil I could give you some advice.

                      No Problem, I work as an IT/Electronic Engineer/Consulatant, so explaining electro-techie stuff to people doesnt bother me at all :) Sharing knowledge is fun :)

                      It sounds like Chris has an idea for a Smart Sockets text processor on the go with you. I'll stick my nose into that conversation in a minute and perhaps something will appear that will save you from having to do it yourself !

                      As for the WVO, I did consider modding an old Merc into running on WVO at one stage, its an interesting field, and I like tinkering with engines as well being a bit a of a Rev-Head (Triple Weber Hemi Charger is my play car), but trucking around drums of old fish'n'chip oil didnt really appeal, so I diverted into Electric Vehicles instead and have plans to Electrify my little work Wagon once I get the Dino-Burner back on the road. What have you been doing in the wvo area ?

                      regards

                      Brett
                    • v_f_d
                      Hi Brett, Thanks so much for your excellent descriptions. I like to think that the most knowledgeable in a particular field can explain things in terms most
                      Message 10 of 29 , Sep 27, 2009
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                        Hi Brett,

                        Thanks so much for your excellent descriptions. I like to think that the most knowledgeable in a particular field can explain things in terms most inexperienced folks can understand.

                        >
                        ...so using a high level language means much less hair pulling during the coding process. :)
                        >

                        I see, the higher level is easier for us to work with/understand, while the more narrowly defined (and complex to us) code suits the micro better.

                        > No Problem, I work as an IT/Electronic Engineer/Consulatant, so explaining electro-techie stuff to people doesnt bother me at all :) Sharing knowledge is fun :)
                        >

                        It sure is great to be able to find a forum like this with very helpful members (and administrator). ;)

                        > It sounds like Chris has an idea for a Smart Sockets text processor on the go with you. I'll stick my nose into that conversation in a minute and perhaps something will appear that will save you from having to do it yourself !
                        >
                        That would be awesome, something fairly "beginner friendly".

                        > As for the WVO, I did consider modding an old Merc into running on WVO at one stage, its an interesting field, and I like tinkering with engines as well being a bit a of a Rev-Head (Triple Weber Hemi Charger is my play car), but trucking around drums of old fish'n'chip oil didnt really appeal, so I diverted into Electric Vehicles instead and have plans to Electrify my little work Wagon once I get the Dino-Burner back on the road. What have you been doing in the wvo area ?
                        >

                        Oh, the Charger sounds like fun. I have found that once bitten by the hotrod bug at an early age, I will never fully recover. I once had a '69 Olds 442 with a 455, tunnel ram, two 600 fours, solid lift cam, dual point dist., super coil, TH400, 4.33:1 posi, and N50-14s on the back. [And that was when I was a kid in high school.] I still have some motorcycles and a jet boat. Imagine my joy when I discovered a few years ago the big diesel pickup I had bought (so I could haul huge trailer-loads of building materials and such) could be hopped up! :)

                        Yes, the collecting and processing of WVO can certainly be a messy undertaking.

                        I did some research on another great forum (the Frybrid vegetable oil forum) and built my own two-tank heated conversion. I really have to recommend Chris Goodwin's kits- they are of the finest materials and design I have seen anywhere, and with an automated user-friendly electronic control. I have contributed to an extent there to earn "mentor" status, so I know what you mean by getting a little of that good feeling trying to help someone.

                        Best regards,
                        Vince
                      • fixitsan2
                        ... Electric vehicles ? Another common theme. I recently tried to sell my assembled pile of electric car under construction parts on ebay to release soem
                        Message 11 of 29 , Sep 28, 2009
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                          --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, Brett Paulin <yahoogroups@...> wrote:
                          > I diverted into Electric Vehicles instead and have plans to Electrify my little work Wagon once I get the Dino-Burner back on the road. What have you been doing in the wvo area ?
                          >
                          > regards
                          >
                          > Brett
                          >


                          Electric vehicles ? Another common theme.

                          I recently tried to sell my assembled pile of 'electric car under construction' parts on ebay to release soem equity (In dribs and drabs !) but it looks like the car is staying with me because it didn't sell.

                          http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220481328908&ssPageName=STRK:MEUSX:IT
                          (Ebay item 220481328908)

                          If I ever got the time to start assembling it I would be very happy !

                          On with the SMartsockets controller. I'm looking at this as a much broader project, something whcih can record a set of instructions, or take a script of instructions at the input, and produce a corresponding datastream from the serial port.

                          Does anyone know if there are already anything like this ? An Ascii/RS232 data recorder perhaps ? I don't want to have to reinvent the wheel !

                          Chris
                        • Brett Paulin
                          Hi Chris, ... Hmm, no offence, but I m not surprised.. that looks like a project needing a lot of work ! a 35yo shell with no interior or dash, an unknown
                          Message 12 of 29 , Sep 28, 2009
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                            Hi Chris,

                            > I recently tried to sell my assembled pile of 'electric car [...] but it looks like the car is staying with me because it didn't sell.

                            Hmm, no offence, but I'm not surprised.. that looks like a project needing a lot of work ! a 35yo shell with no interior or dash, an unknown motor, no esc, an charger that looks like an arc welder and old SLA batteries at 72v (difficult to get any performance out of. most EV's run 96-144v from what I've seen so far).. ouch you must be a masochist ! :)


                            > On with the SMartsockets controller. I'm looking at this as a much broader project, something whcih can record a set of instructions, or take a script of instructions at the input, and produce a corresponding datastream from the serial port.

                            Writing a scripting language interpreter could be tricky.

                            You could just write an Arduino library with a nice set of predefined functions and then the "program" could be simple inline sequences of calls to the functions, or complex programming as you like.

                            In fact you could take the Smartsockets code, make a board to drive 14segment LED displays (since not everyone will want to use nixies, and the ease of driving the displays with the serial data and transition effects would make LEDs look cool too). and I think it could be quite popular for a number of applications with the arduino library available for users.

                            regards

                            Brett
                          • Brett Paulin
                            Greetings Vince, ... thats a good way of putting it.. I was going to write a reply on your WVO/Car bit, but we d probably better not clag up the smartsockets
                            Message 13 of 29 , Sep 28, 2009
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                              Greetings Vince,

                              > I see, the higher level is easier for us to work with/understand,
                              > while the more narrowly defined (and complex to us) code suits the micro better.

                              thats a good way of putting it..

                              I was going to write a reply on your WVO/Car bit, but we'd probably better not clag up the smartsockets mailing list with off-topic chat for too long. :) If you would like to talk more about that, email me at yahoogroups [at] technomagic.com.au

                              I have started discussing some ideas for a SS driver with Chris.. I'm leaning towards a software library for an established open-source platform (Arduino), Chris sounds like he likes the idea of rolling it from scratch.. :) Lets see where that goes.

                              Feel free to weigh in with some ideas about what you think would be good attributes (apart from easy to use :) ) and we'll see what condenses out of the vapor,\

                              regards

                              Brett
                            • fixitsan2
                              ... Ouch, oh yea of little faith. You sound like my ex wife ! ... Arduino libraries hold little interest for me I m afraid, because I am starting to think that
                              Message 14 of 29 , Sep 28, 2009
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                                --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, Brett Paulin <yahoogroups@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > Hi Chris,
                                >
                                > > I recently tried to sell my assembled pile of 'electric car [...] but it looks like the car is staying with me because it didn't sell.
                                >
                                > Hmm, no offence, but I'm not surprised.. .. ouch you must be a masochist ! :)

                                Ouch, oh yea of little faith. You sound like my ex wife !


                                >
                                > In fact you could take the Smartsockets code, make a board to drive 14segment LED displays (since not everyone will want to use nixies, and the ease of driving the displays with the serial data and transition effects would make LEDs look cool too). and I think it could be quite popular for a number of applications with the arduino library available for users.

                                Arduino libraries hold little interest for me I'm afraid, because I am starting to think that it may be possible to produce a high performance master Smartsocket with an integrated USB interface which could be located in position 1, driving the remaining sockets.

                                The problem now is that I was contacted this afternoon by a university offering me a last chance to apply for a PhD course in "Electrokinetic Strategies in Microfluidic Devices for Waterborne Pathogen Detection" which if I accept, and with a title like that, I suspect is going to absorb my time for these Smartsocket projects for a good while.

                                Unless I get my butt into gear and start now......We'll see !

                                Chris
                              • v_f_d
                                ... In Chris defense, I must confess some interest when I looked at his eBay listing. Of course the fact his project is all the way over in the UK makes it
                                Message 15 of 29 , Sep 28, 2009
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                                  "fixitsan2" <fixitsan@...> wrote:
                                  > >
                                  > > > I recently tried to sell my assembled pile of 'electric car [...] but it looks like the car is staying with me because it didn't sell.
                                  > >
                                  > >Brett Paulin <yahoogroups@> wrote:
                                  > >
                                  > > Hmm, no offence, but I'm not surprised.. .. ouch you must be a masochist ! :)
                                  > >
                                  > "fixitsan2" <fixitsan@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Ouch, oh yea of little faith. You sound like my ex wife !
                                  >

                                  In Chris' defense, I must confess some interest when I looked at his eBay listing. Of course the fact his "project" is all the way over in the UK makes it fairly easy for me to resist. Looks like Chris thinks along some of the smae lines as me- materials that may be less than optimum might still be used, especially if the "price is right". ;)

                                  Chris, I do hope you can manage to build the device you envision before tackling that class. As you say with a name like that, you will probably be pretty busy for quite a while.

                                  Best regards,
                                  Vince
                                • Brett Paulin
                                  ... Aw, I m sorry.. I didnt mean to upset you :) My plan for an EV has Lithium Batteries, An Advanced DC, Warp9 or Kostov Motor at around 200-250v and a Zilla
                                  Message 16 of 29 , Sep 28, 2009
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                                    > > > I recently tried to sell my assembled pile of 'electric car [...] but it looks like the car is staying with me because it didn't sell.
                                    > > Hmm, no offence, but I'm not surprised.. .. ouch you must be a masochist ! :)
                                    > Ouch, oh yea of little faith. You sound like my ex wife !

                                    Aw, I'm sorry.. I didnt mean to upset you :)

                                    My plan for an EV has Lithium Batteries, An Advanced DC, Warp9 or Kostov Motor at around 200-250v and a Zilla or OpenSource Motor controller (Im keeping an eye on the new Silicon Carbide FETs starting to appear ! Theyre going to make some big waves in the ESC World ;) )

                                    Admittedly thats about $10k worth of gear, but Im thinking daily driver, so I want it to move along snappily. Still, mine is still vapour, yours has at least been started, so despite my sniffing at your vintage gear, you're in front at the moment ! :)

                                    > Arduino libraries hold little interest for me I'm afraid, because I am starting to think that it may be possible to produce a high performance master Smartsocket with an integrated USB interface which could be located in position 1, driving the remaining sockets.

                                    Well, that would work too, but I'm not up for designing a new PCB for anything at the moment, got enough projects on the go already, so I like the "software for existing hardware" idea. :) Especially seeing as how that hardware is cheap, open source, has all the bits (USB, serial, Dev Environment etc) needed..

                                    If you want we could do both.. The tedious part is working out all the command strings for the S.S to look funky, so, if you feel like being creative there, I can wrap them in some C/Wiring code and do the library bit. Unless youre hoping to make a saleable product ? in which case I wouldnt expect you would give away the hard bit for someone to make a free one from :)

                                    Just for interest, These are my SS's which are hooked up to my PC displaying text with some random effects applied periodically - Heres a Pic, but the SS were in the middle of a random effect transition - hence the gibberish on the display. http://www.technomagic-storage.com/temp/The%20Interface/The%20Interface%201%20dark%20angle.jpg


                                    > The problem now is that I was contacted this afternoon by a university offering me a last chance to apply for a PhD course in "Electrokinetic Strategies in Microfluidic Devices for Waterborne Pathogen Detection"

                                    Wow, thats a mouthful alright. An electric water disease detector ? Sounds like the sort of thing a water treatment plant would use. With a title like that, it certainly sounds time consuming ! :) reminds me of "Reflections on the Anomalous Chronological Properties of Plattnerite" ;)

                                    regards

                                    Brett
                                  • fixitsan2
                                    ... Hi Brett, I understand where you re coming from regards using existing technology platforms, but I always seem to get let down one way or another by their
                                    Message 17 of 29 , Sep 28, 2009
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                                      --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, Brett Paulin <yahoogroups@...> wrote:
                                      >

                                      Hi Brett, I understand where you're coming from regards using existing technology platforms, but I always seem to get let down one way or another by their limitations ! Perhaps I just need to leaern how to compromise ?

                                      > If you want we could do both.. The tedious part is working out all the command strings for the S.S to look funky, so, if you feel like being creative there, I can wrap them in some C/Wiring code and do the library bit. Unless youre hoping to make a saleable product ? in which case I wouldnt expect you would give away the hard bit for someone to make a free one from :)
                                      >
                                      > Brett

                                      That's a very kind offer Brett, to which I have no objections if you wish to go down that route. There are far too few SS projects on the go.

                                      But rather than work out a script which *I* think is good I would sooner give users the opportunity to create their own, and that creates a deliciously appealing problem of how best to create a scripting language which is both powerful and yet one which remains very easy to use !
                                    • v_f_d
                                      ... Hey guys, How are you doing? Well, I ve run across a feature that might be nice to add- name/number caller ID. I have found a few references to the task
                                      Message 18 of 29 , Oct 18, 2009
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                                        Brett Paulin <yahoogroups@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > I have started discussing some ideas for a SS driver with Chris..
                                        >
                                        > Feel free to weigh in with some ideas about what you think would be good attributes (apart from easy to use :) ) and we'll see what condenses out of the vapor,\
                                        >

                                        Hey guys,

                                        How are you doing?
                                        Well, I've run across a feature that might be nice to add- name/number caller ID.

                                        I have found a few references to the task being accomplished with just a PIC or AVR, though the actual implementaion is a bit elusive. It seems most of the old caller ID chips are now obsolete. I could try to hunt through a few old CID boxes, but finding something really useful might be difficult. I can buy the MT8870, but I think it would only decode the calling number. The CMX602B Calling Line Identifier looks good, but I'm not finding it. MC145447P is available and looks pretty good. So is the XR-2211 1200 baud FSK decoder, though it may require more external components/be more difficult to use?
                                        See: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NEONIXIE-L/message/37015

                                        Ultimatley, Chris Burtis used a "socket modem" to obtain the ID info from: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NEONIXIE-L/message/39576?o=0&var=1&l=1

                                        I have a few modems laying around in old Toshiba laptops, that might be used towards this purpose? I may even have a spare for a Dell, I'd have to dig a little.

                                        What do you think? I might not implement the CID with B-7971s, but rather maybe Chris' IV-17 smartsockets.

                                        Thanks,
                                        Vince
                                      • Brett Paulin
                                        Hi Vince, I m working on some Arduino Code for controlling John Taylor s I2C SmartNixies at the moment. That will probably keep me busy for the spare time
                                        Message 19 of 29 , Oct 18, 2009
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                                          Hi Vince,

                                          I'm working on some Arduino Code for controlling John Taylor's I2C SmartNixies at the moment. That will probably keep me busy for the spare time this week, then I'll look at expanding it to handle alphanumerics and serial (instead of I2C) output to drive the SmartSockets. Probably a week or three away though.

                                          Caller-ID sounds like fun, however I'm down here in Australia, which might have different caller-id data than you use.

                                          I'm quite experienced with modem circuitry, I know the MT8870 and the XR2211 chips from work on them many a year ago when I used to build custom modems for people (woo, 1200 baud !, although I never used the XR2211 I used to use the AM7910 "World Chip" for most of them.

                                          From what I can see caller id is usually based on decoding FSK pulses between 1st and 2nd rings, which means a telephone line interface and isolation circuit, ring detector, the frequency decoder and associated analog circuitry. Likely quite a bit of fiddling about to get all that analog circuitry running smooth.. it might be easier to buy a commerical unit and try and suck the display data out of it somehow

                                          Bit of a waste with alphanumeric display capability though. better would be have a PC with modem do the caller-id reception, then you could look it up in the incoming number in a contact book, and feed the matching name out to the smart sockets. If you dont want to be tethered to a PC, you could use a Bluetooth Serial Port between the PC and the display. Then you can easily update the PC program to feed whatever you want to the display. Weather, RSS News, Caller ID, anything. If youre going to use IV17's though, then plain number display is obviously required.

                                          Heres my B7971's sitting above the computer screen, although in this photo they are in mid-transition which makes them look a little wacky :)
                                          http://www.technomagic.com.au/interface/The%20Interface%201%20dark%20angle.jpg

                                          regards

                                          Brett
                                        • v_f_d
                                          ... True, I have to make sure I use a chip capable of the correct decoding. Of course all the data sheets make them sound like the best thing since sliced
                                          Message 20 of 29 , Oct 18, 2009
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                                            Brett Paulin <yahoogroups@...> wrote:
                                            >
                                            > Hi Vince,
                                            >
                                            > I'm working on some Arduino Code for controlling John Taylor's I2C SmartNixies at the moment...
                                            >
                                            > Caller-ID sounds like fun, however I'm down here in Australia, which might have different caller-id data than you use.
                                            >
                                            True, I have to make sure I use a chip capable of the correct decoding. Of course all the data sheets make them sound like the best thing since sliced bread and easy to use.

                                            > I'm quite experienced with modem circuitry,...
                                            >
                                            > From what I can see caller id is usually based on decoding FSK pulses between 1st and 2nd rings,... it might be easier to buy a commerical unit and try and suck the display data out of it somehow.
                                            >
                                            I'll have to take a look at some of the various laptop modems I have laying around. I also have a currently unused name/number CID unit that could be a donor.

                                            > Bit of a waste with alphanumeric display capability though...
                                            >
                                            (?)
                                            Though I used Chris Burtis' wonderful IN-18 (number-only) project as an example, I think his technique [modem/RTC-TCXO/AVR could be used to drive the smartsockets probably even more easily than the 8-bit shift registers he used. I would consider just building his version, as it is a very nice unit, and he even did some cool scrolling and random-looking digit drop-outs. I am expecting some IN-18s to hopefully show up soon. Though if using the B-7971s or IV-17 VFDs, the caller's name could be displayed too.

                                            > Heres my B7971's sitting above the computer screen, although in this photo they are in mid-transition which makes them look a little wacky :)
                                            > http://www.technomagic.com.au/interface/The%20Interface%201%20dark%20angle.jpg
                                            >
                                            Yes, I had seen that pic of your desk. I think I'm seeing IN-18s on the left, with IN-12s just to the right, and then the B-7971s. Nice nixie glow going on there. I also see that Charger as wallpaper. I do have to ask though, just how many monitors does a person really need? ;)
                                          • Brett Paulin
                                            ... The chips themselves usually arent tricky, its the line interfaces and duplexors that tend to be fiddly, although in your case, the modem doesnt need to
                                            Message 21 of 29 , Oct 19, 2009
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                                              > True, I have to make sure I use a chip capable of the correct decoding. Of course all the data sheets make them sound like the best thing since sliced bread and easy to use.

                                              The chips themselves usually arent tricky, its the line interfaces and duplexors that tend to be fiddly, although in your case, the modem doesnt need to transmit and receive simulataneously, so you dont need the bandpass filters and duplexing op-amps that conventional modems need. In fact you arent even actually answering the phone, so you dont need to sink the "sieze current" and might get away with just a line isolation transformer and simple op-amp on the interface side.

                                              > > Bit of a waste with alphanumeric display capability though...
                                              > (?)

                                              Ah, I thought you were using B7971s on SmartSockets, not In18's.

                                              > I would consider just building his version, as it is a very nice unit, and he even did some cool
                                              > scrolling and random-looking digit > drop-outs. I am expecting some IN-18s to hopefully show up soon.

                                              Are In18's hard to get at the moment ? I used to get mine from Tubehobby, but they seem to have dissapeared at the moment.

                                              > > http://www.technomagic.com.au/interface/The%20Interface%201%20dark%20angle.jpg
                                              >
                                              > Yes, I had seen that pic of your desk. I think I'm seeing IN-18s on the left, with IN-12s just to the right, and then the B-7971s.

                                              Yes, Theres some In-4's and IN-16s (? I think.. I forget the number, the baby version of the In12) on the other side of the room as well, plus several VFD's and a half built "Super-B7971" behind the door - a 6 foot high B7971's with the segments made out of those plasma-tubes you see inside computers. I was going to make a large smart-sockets driven display for a company, but it was going to work out at around $200/chr so I only ever half made one of them.

                                              > I do have to ask though, just how many monitors does a person really need? ;)

                                              That depends on how many computers you have. :) There are 5 in this room. 1 older Linux Raid file and mail/chat server for the whole house.. a "test machine" that I fiddle with different operating systems on and also use that monitor for working on clients machines in for repair, currently running a testing Mandriva 2009 Linux, The main central machine which I do most of the work on running Mandriva Linux 2008, a dual screen Win-Xp machine on the right two screens for games and win-only apps, and the laptop which dual boots. The bottom right monitor doesnt actually get used much, its mainly holding up the right side LCD at a comfy height and acting as a post-it-note board :)

                                              I did take a picture of them once all running different "Matrix" screen savers but that was years ago when they were all CRT's. I'll have to make a new one sometime. :)
                                            • v_f_d
                                              Hi Brett, Sounds like you re having lots of fun going on there. Just to be clear, I am wanting to do a B-7971 smartsockets project. I was using the IN-18
                                              Message 22 of 29 , Oct 19, 2009
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                                                Hi Brett,

                                                Sounds like you're having lots of fun going on there.

                                                Just to be clear, I am wanting to do a B-7971 smartsockets project. I was using the IN-18 caller ID (number only) as an example, though part of the circuitry would likely adapt well.

                                                I do however have some IN-18s on the way. I say "hopefully" since I was one of many who had bought from the seller "Sisimbr" on eBay, and after a month and the excuse that they are "tied up in customs", I have filed for a PayPal refund (which in turn should show up any day). See: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NEONIXIE-L/message/43810?var=1&l=1

                                                I did buy more from a seller that is considered to be reputable, so we'll see. Since Sisimbr isn't listing any more, a few other sellers have popped up, but they are considerably higher.

                                                I would consider buying a few more and just building Chris Burtis' CID as "number only". It is a sweet looking project and would be very handy for me to see who's calling from anywhere in the room (at least to the point that I would either recognize the number or not).

                                                The other thought is that a name/number CID could be built with the IV-17 VFD tubes and smartsockets (though I'm not sure if Chris has actually finished up everything on them?).

                                                I would almost buy one of the "Bright Id'er" units to either just use as is, but preferably tie it to a nixie or VFD display. At almost $100.00, it would be a bit expensive to use as a starting point. However, with 16-segment LEDs it might adapt fairly easily to the IV-17 VFDs. Though there could be some, I'm thinking there aren't any digits that would use just one of the two top or bottom segments, so in that case the B7971s could likley be interfaced. However it would require 16 tubes, and that would be a little too big. So, probably yet another project apart from the originally desired B-7971 build.

                                                I may have a few more B7971s on the way (never count them before they're actually here). In that case, I would have enough to do a larger display similar to yours. With 10 tubes the name/number CID *could* be implemented in real giant fashion, showing the complete number, and maybe scrolling if the name contained more than 10 characters. It would still be pretty big and I'd have to decide if that would be cool or a little over-the-top. Of course, a little over-the-top is usually cool! ;)

                                                Even though I have several old laptops laying around and in the closet not being used, I do really want to end up with a stand-alone device, not tethered to a computer. Just plug it up to a USB cable to enter in the programming (maybe even with the programming adapter that unplugs afterwards), then let it run on it's own. I like the look of this Arduino board, and it is available with a 7805 regulator that would supply all the low votage circuit needs: http://www.wulfden.org/TheShoppe/freeduino/rbbb.shtml

                                                I'd even consider moving up to this bad boy if I thought it would be better: http://www.wulfden.org/TheShoppe/freeduino/sanguino.shtml

                                                Thanks for all your help. I'm sure with assistance from you, Chris, and other members, I will eventually have something really cool. There's no huge hurry as I too have other things that are more pressing at the moment.

                                                BTW, it sure would be nice if we had a way to go back and edit our postings for spelling corrections and to add something. I suppose that just isn't the way this works, being a "message board" sort of thing rather than the "forum" format I'm more familiar with. I'll just have to try to polish up my replies a bit better before I send them. ;)

                                                Best regards,
                                                Vince
                                              • fixitsan2
                                                ... Hi Vince, for your and others information the IV-17 sockets are working. I have 4 tubes attached to each controller, multiplexed via a couple of octal
                                                Message 23 of 29 , Oct 20, 2009
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                                                  --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, "v_f_d" <v_f_d@...> wrote:

                                                  > Thanks for all your help. I'm sure with assistance from you, Chris, and other members, I will eventually have something really cool. >
                                                  > Best regards,
                                                  > Vince
                                                  >


                                                  Hi Vince, for your and others information the IV-17 sockets are working. I have 4 tubes attached to each controller, multiplexed via a couple of octal drivers and transistors.

                                                  I have most of the transitions in place, and just need to work on the fonts and custom UDC characters. The snag with the UDC's is that using one controller with a limited amount of eeprom space limits the number of UDC's you can write to the group of 4 tubes to be about the same as for just 1 tube, but I'm seeing this as an acceptable compromise for now.

                                                  I also need to write the font bit patterns, and some background animations (which are not present on the B7971 or ZM1350 version, but may come later)

                                                  I'm also at the planning/chip selection stage regarding the smartsockets driver. I have found a nice PIC, the 18F26J50, which has USB, I2C, serial ports, a real tiime clock, and 64kB of memory, and with that I plan to make a deivice which appears as a flash memory stick to your pc, where you copy scripts and word lists to it, and it can drive smartsockets, and John Taylor's Smart Nixie boards, as well as probably having a shift regsiter output too. Hopefully, a 'one chip does all' solution. I expect I will only start with basic smartsocket controls and an implementation of the real time clock/alarm, adding the other features via firmware upgrades as and when I get the time to work on them.


                                                  PS my spelling is lousy at times too, don't worry , it's content over quality as far as I'm concerned !

                                                  Chris
                                                • fixitsan2
                                                  ... Before anyone feels the need to correct me... ... I did of course mean quality of content over quality of spelling ! Having finished looking at PICs I
                                                  Message 24 of 29 , Oct 20, 2009
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                                                    --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, "fixitsan2" <fixitsan@...> wrote:
                                                    >
                                                    >

                                                    Before anyone feels the need to correct me...

                                                    >PS my spelling is lousy at times too, don't worry , it's content over >quality as far as I'm concerned !

                                                    I did of course mean quality of content over quality of spelling !

                                                    Having finished looking at PICs I think the 18F46J50 is going to be my favoured choice for the Smartsocket controller, given that it looks to have two I2C/SPI channels together with two EUARTS which means it could also drive an I2C sensor/memory device, as well as receive data from a TTL serial source (Perhaps read SMS messages from a mobile phone, or get email headers via ethernet ?)

                                                    Chris
                                                  • v_f_d
                                                    ... Thanks Chris. It was only after making the rookie mistake of deleting my previous post so I could edit it and re-submit a couple of times that it
                                                    Message 25 of 29 , Oct 20, 2009
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                                                      --- In smartsockets@yahoogroups.com, "fixitsan2" <fixitsan@...> wrote:
                                                      >
                                                      > I did of course mean quality of content over quality of spelling !
                                                      >
                                                      Thanks Chris. It was only after making the "rookie" mistake of deleting my previous post so I could edit it and re-submit a couple of times that it occurred to me that though just the most current version would be posted on the message board, everyone receiving e-mails would have three instead of one. Sorry, didn't mean to clog up everyone's inbox!

                                                      > Having finished looking at PICs I think the 18F46J50 is going to be my favoured choice for the Smartsocket controller,...
                                                      >
                                                      Thanks for the updates on both the IV-17 smartsockets and master driver plans. Sounds good to me!

                                                      Vince
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