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Re: Life programming cable

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  • erd_6502
    ... The one I have is double-ended - female tool on one end, male tool on the other, with a two-toned plastic handle, white on one end, red on the other. You
    Message 1 of 27 , Nov 1, 2008
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      --- In sparetimegizmos@yahoogroups.com, David Betz <dbetz@...> wrote:
      >
      > On Oct 31, 2008, at 11:18 PM, J.C. Wren wrote:
      >
      > > If it's a male DB-9, you can push the pins back out with a pair of
      > > needle nose pliers. If it's female, you need the magic tool....
      >
      > It's female so I guess I'll need the tool. What does the tool look
      > like and do you insert it into the front or the back of the connector?

      The one I have is double-ended - female tool on one end, male tool on
      the other, with a two-toned plastic handle, white on one end, red on
      the other.

      You insert it from the back of the connector. The reason there are
      two "blades" is that the pins are slightly different sizes.

      Each blade is like a thin-walled tube with a slot cut into it.
      You guide the wire through the slot, slide the tool down the
      wire, then press it firmly to retract/cover the barbs on the pin,
      then either press the pin out from the front or gently tug on
      the wire to remove the pin.

      > I'm wondering if I can find something around the house that will do
      > the job.

      It seems unlikely, but I suppose it's always possible.

      Lacking a tool, you could always cut off the wires and solder
      on a female DE9 with whatever pinout you need, but as often
      as you are likely to use the programming cable, a null-modem
      adapter isn't the worst way to go.

      -ethan
    • erd_6502
      ... That is exactly the tool I was describing earlier. -ethan
      Message 2 of 27 , Nov 1, 2008
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        --- In sparetimegizmos@yahoogroups.com, "J.C. Wren" <jcwren@...> wrote:
        >
        > http://www.sfcable.com/cable/p/500-200.html

        That is exactly the tool I was describing earlier.

        -ethan
      • David Betz
        ... As it turns out, my travels took me past an electronics store today and I was able to pick up one of these tools. I haven t tried it yet but I also picked
        Message 3 of 27 , Nov 1, 2008
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          On Nov 1, 2008, at 9:20 PM, erd_6502 wrote:

          > > It's female so I guess I'll need the tool. What does the tool look
          > > like and do you insert it into the front or the back of the
          > connector?
          >
          > The one I have is double-ended - female tool on one end, male tool on
          > the other, with a two-toned plastic handle, white on one end, red on
          > the other.

          As it turns out, my travels took me past an electronics store today
          and I was able to pick up one of these tools. I haven't tried it yet
          but I also picked up another DB9 to RJ11 adapter in case I run into
          trouble reversing the pins on the one I already made. Also, I think
          I'd like one without the programming pin shorted to ground as well as
          the one used for programming. In looking over the source for the Life
          firmware, I see that there is some debugging code that allows strings
          to be written to the serial port. It would be nice to be able to hook
          up the serial port without going into programming mode.

          Anyway, thanks for pointing out the tool. I'm sure it will be helpful!
        • erd_6502
          ... Thinking about it, it s not like you need to swap all the pins, just pins 2 and 3 - that s not so bad to do by cutting and splicing inside the shell. You
          Message 4 of 27 , Nov 2, 2008
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            --- In sparetimegizmos@yahoogroups.com, David Betz <dbetz@...> wrote:
            >
            > > I'm guessing you have a pre-crimped "stuff the pins in a
            > > shell" type adapter...
            > >
            > I used your second suggestion and stripped off a little insulation
            > from the GND wire and soldered the PGM wire to that. At first it
            > didn't work so I used a multimeter to verify that the pins on
            > the DB9 were actually connected to the correct pins on the RJ11.
            > When I discovered that they were, I tried adding a null modem
            > between the adapter and my PC COM port and that seemed to work.
            > It's kind of unfortunate that I have to use the null modem. It
            > would have been nice to be able to just plug the adapter
            > directly into the serial port on the back of the computer.

            Thinking about it, it's not like you need to swap all the pins,
            just pins 2 and 3 - that's not so bad to do by cutting and
            splicing inside the shell. You really only need 3 pins in the
            DE9 - TxD, RxD and GND. The rest aren't going to be used by
            the Life board.

            -ethan
          • Robert L. Doerr
            Hello, Is anyone currently running their LIFE display from battery power only? If so what mods have you done to make it work? I have a spare LIFE board and
            Message 5 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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              Hello,

              Is anyone currently running their LIFE display from battery power only?
              If so what mods have you done to make it work? I have a spare LIFE
              board and would like to make that one run from a 24V battery.

              Robert
            • Dave McGuire
              ... That s a lot of LEDs; I d not expect that to last very long, unless it s a very beefy battery! -Dave -- Dave McGuire Port Charlotte, FL
              Message 6 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                On Nov 16, 2008, at 10:52 AM, Robert L. Doerr wrote:
                > Is anyone currently running their LIFE display from battery power
                > only?
                > If so what mods have you done to make it work? I have a spare LIFE
                > board and would like to make that one run from a 24V battery.

                That's a lot of LEDs; I'd not expect that to last very long,
                unless it's a very beefy battery!

                -Dave

                --
                Dave McGuire
                Port Charlotte, FL
              • Robert L. Doerr
                ... Two car batteries so it should have enough power for a while....
                Message 7 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                  Dave McGuire wrote:
                  > On Nov 16, 2008, at 10:52 AM, Robert L. Doerr wrote:
                  >
                  >> Is anyone currently running their LIFE display from battery power
                  >> only?
                  >> If so what mods have you done to make it work? I have a spare LIFE
                  >> board and would like to make that one run from a 24V battery.
                  >>
                  >
                  > That's a lot of LEDs; I'd not expect that to last very long,
                  > unless it's a very beefy battery!
                  >
                  Two car batteries so it should have enough power for a while....
                • Dave McGuire
                  ... Oh My. :) Yes, that ll do it. I don t have a Life board...what are its power requirements? -Dave -- Dave McGuire Port Charlotte, FL
                  Message 8 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                    On Nov 16, 2008, at 11:15 AM, Robert L. Doerr wrote:
                    >>> Is anyone currently running their LIFE display from battery power
                    >>> only?
                    >>> If so what mods have you done to make it work? I have a spare LIFE
                    >>> board and would like to make that one run from a 24V battery.
                    >>>
                    >>
                    >> That's a lot of LEDs; I'd not expect that to last very long,
                    >> unless it's a very beefy battery!
                    >>
                    > Two car batteries so it should have enough power for a while....

                    Oh My. :) Yes, that'll do it.

                    I don't have a Life board...what are its power requirements?

                    -Dave

                    --
                    Dave McGuire
                    Port Charlotte, FL
                  • Bob Armstrong
                    ... LIFE only uses about 5-6W worst case, and the average is much less because usually all the LEDs aren t on at the same time. You ve got two problems - * 24V
                    Message 9 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                      >Two car batteries so it should have enough power for a while....

                      LIFE only uses about 5-6W worst case, and the average is much less because
                      usually all the LEDs aren't on at the same time.

                      You've got two problems -

                      * 24V is a long way from 5V; you'll need an efficient switching regulator
                      to replace the onboard power supply. The 7805 just isn't up to this job.

                      * LIFE uses the 60Hz AC line as a time base for time keeping. You're
                      either going to have to provide an external time base, and or modify the
                      firmware, and or both.

                      Two car batteries?? Why 24V then? 12V would be a better choice (although
                      if you're going to build a switching power supply anyway, it doesn't matter
                      much).

                      Bob
                    • Robert L. Doerr
                      ... I need to go back and start going looking over the code. As I recall it used the AC input as a base to keep time. In that case I guess I would be looking
                      Message 10 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                        Dave McGuire wrote:
                        > Oh My. :) Yes, that'll do it.
                        >
                        > I don't have a Life board...what are its power requirements?
                        >
                        I need to go back and start going looking over the code. As I recall it
                        used the AC input as a base to keep time. In that case I guess I would
                        be looking at how to implement the optional clock chip or perhaps use
                        another source to simulate the 60 cycle input that it derived from the
                        AC power. Maybe another little micro to help keep time.

                        Just looking for ideas at the moment.

                        Robert
                      • Robert L. Doerr
                        ... Hello Bob, Thanks for the response. I m thinking about adding this display as part of a mobile show robot. The whole thing is powered by 24V so that is
                        Message 11 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                          Bob Armstrong wrote:
                          >> Two car batteries so it should have enough power for a while....
                          >>
                          >
                          > LIFE only uses about 5-6W worst case, and the average is much less because
                          > usually all the LEDs aren't on at the same time.
                          >
                          > You've got two problems -
                          >
                          > * 24V is a long way from 5V; you'll need an efficient switching regulator
                          > to replace the onboard power supply. The 7805 just isn't up to this job.
                          >
                          > * LIFE uses the 60Hz AC line as a time base for time keeping. You're
                          > either going to have to provide an external time base, and or modify the
                          > firmware, and or both.
                          >
                          > Two car batteries?? Why 24V then? 12V would be a better choice (although
                          > if you're going to build a switching power supply anyway, it doesn't matter
                          > much).
                          >
                          Hello Bob,

                          Thanks for the response. I'm thinking about adding this display as part
                          of a mobile show robot. The whole thing is powered by 24V so that is
                          what I wanted to use to keep it simple. To step down the power I was
                          considering a DC/DC converter (18-28V DC in, 5V out) to power the
                          board. My main concern was for the time base. I've been doing a lot of
                          work with the little SX processors (under $3 each) and could probably
                          use one of those to generate the 60Hz pulses.

                          So, at the moment the two things to consider is the proper sizing of the
                          DC/DC converter and generating the 60Hz signal.

                          Anyone know of a simple circuit for generating that 60Hz signal from
                          battery power?

                          Robert
                        • Dave McGuire
                          ... I used to use an MM5369 chip years ago, but I don t think they re easy to find nowadays. It was an 8-pin DIP that used a TV color burst crystal
                          Message 12 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                            On Nov 16, 2008, at 11:39 AM, Robert L. Doerr wrote:
                            > Anyone know of a simple circuit for generating that 60Hz signal from
                            > battery power?

                            I used to use an MM5369 chip years ago, but I don't think they're
                            easy to find nowadays. It was an 8-pin DIP that used a TV color
                            burst crystal (3.579545MHz) to generate 60Hz.

                            Googling for the MM5369, I ran across this neat and very simple
                            "MM5369 replacement":

                            http://ww1.microchip.com/downloads/en/appnotes/4_008.pdf

                            Do you have PIC programming capability at your facility?

                            -Dave

                            --
                            Dave McGuire
                            Port Charlotte, FL
                          • Dave McGuire
                            ... ...and on a lark, I checked eBay. MM5369 chips aren t too difficult to find at all. Search for MM5369 . -Dave -- Dave McGuire Port Charlotte, FL
                            Message 13 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                              On Nov 16, 2008, at 11:52 AM, Dave McGuire wrote:
                              >> Anyone know of a simple circuit for generating that 60Hz signal from
                              >> battery power?
                              >
                              > I used to use an MM5369 chip years ago, but I don't think they're
                              > easy to find nowadays. It was an 8-pin DIP that used a TV color
                              > burst crystal (3.579545MHz) to generate 60Hz.
                              >
                              > Googling for the MM5369, I ran across this neat and very simple
                              > "MM5369 replacement":
                              >
                              > http://ww1.microchip.com/downloads/en/appnotes/4_008.pdf
                              >
                              > Do you have PIC programming capability at your facility?

                              ...and on a lark, I checked eBay. MM5369 chips aren't too
                              difficult to find at all. Search for "MM5369".

                              -Dave

                              --
                              Dave McGuire
                              Port Charlotte, FL
                            • Dave McGuire
                              ... Power Trends made some neat little self-contained switching regulators that are designed to be plug-in replacements for standard 78xx three-terminal linear
                              Message 14 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                                On Nov 16, 2008, at 11:25 AM, Bob Armstrong wrote:
                                >> Two car batteries so it should have enough power for a while....
                                >
                                > LIFE only uses about 5-6W worst case, and the average is much
                                > less because
                                > usually all the LEDs aren't on at the same time.
                                >
                                > You've got two problems -
                                >
                                > * 24V is a long way from 5V; you'll need an efficient switching
                                > regulator
                                > to replace the onboard power supply. The 7805 just isn't up to
                                > this job.
                                >
                                > * LIFE uses the 60Hz AC line as a time base for time keeping.
                                > You're
                                > either going to have to provide an external time base, and or
                                > modify the
                                > firmware, and or both.
                                >
                                > Two car batteries?? Why 24V then? 12V would be a better choice
                                > (although
                                > if you're going to build a switching power supply anyway, it
                                > doesn't matter
                                > much).

                                Power Trends made some neat little self-contained switching
                                regulators that are designed to be plug-in replacements for standard
                                78xx three-terminal linear regulators. I've used them before and
                                they work very well. They're good to a Vin of 38V, and operate
                                around 85% efficiency. Texas Instruments sells them now, since they
                                bought Power Trends. Check them out here:

                                http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/print/pt78st105.html

                                These are good for 1.5A; I assume the Life board draws less than
                                that? The only downside is that they're expensive ($14/ea), but they
                                are very efficient...and if you're only buying one...

                                -Dave

                                --
                                Dave McGuire
                                Port Charlotte, FL
                              • Robert L. Doerr
                                ... Thanks for the tips! I ll let everyone know how it works out. Best Regards, Robert
                                Message 15 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                                  Dave McGuire wrote:
                                  > On Nov 16, 2008, at 11:52 AM, Dave McGuire wrote:
                                  >
                                  >>> Anyone know of a simple circuit for generating that 60Hz signal from
                                  >>> battery power?
                                  >>>
                                  >> I used to use an MM5369 chip years ago, but I don't think they're
                                  >> easy to find nowadays. It was an 8-pin DIP that used a TV color
                                  >> burst crystal (3.579545MHz) to generate 60Hz.
                                  >>
                                  >> Googling for the MM5369, I ran across this neat and very simple
                                  >> "MM5369 replacement":
                                  >>
                                  >> http://ww1.microchip.com/downloads/en/appnotes/4_008.pdf
                                  >>
                                  >> Do you have PIC programming capability at your facility?
                                  >>
                                  >
                                  > ...and on a lark, I checked eBay. MM5369 chips aren't too
                                  > difficult to find at all. Search for "MM5369".
                                  >
                                  Thanks for the tips! I'll let everyone know how it works out.

                                  Best Regards,

                                  Robert
                                • Dave McGuire
                                  ... Good luck! -Dave -- Dave McGuire Port Charlotte, FL
                                  Message 16 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                                    On Nov 16, 2008, at 12:10 PM, Robert L. Doerr wrote:
                                    >>>> Anyone know of a simple circuit for generating that 60Hz signal
                                    >>>> from
                                    >>>> battery power?
                                    >>>>
                                    >>> I used to use an MM5369 chip years ago, but I don't think they're
                                    >>> easy to find nowadays. It was an 8-pin DIP that used a TV color
                                    >>> burst crystal (3.579545MHz) to generate 60Hz.
                                    >>>
                                    >>> Googling for the MM5369, I ran across this neat and very simple
                                    >>> "MM5369 replacement":
                                    >>>
                                    >>> http://ww1.microchip.com/downloads/en/appnotes/4_008.pdf
                                    >>>
                                    >>> Do you have PIC programming capability at your facility?
                                    >>>
                                    >>
                                    >> ...and on a lark, I checked eBay. MM5369 chips aren't too
                                    >> difficult to find at all. Search for "MM5369".
                                    >>
                                    > Thanks for the tips! I'll let everyone know how it works out.

                                    Good luck!

                                    -Dave

                                    --
                                    Dave McGuire
                                    Port Charlotte, FL
                                  • Bob Armstrong
                                    ... If you re a software guy, then the most straight forward thing would be to modify the LIFE firmware to generate the 60Hz clock internally. The 8051
                                    Message 17 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                                      >Anyone know of a simple circuit for generating that 60Hz signal from
                                      >battery power?

                                      If you're a software guy, then the most straight forward thing would be to
                                      modify the LIFE firmware to generate the 60Hz clock internally. The 8051
                                      already has a crystal clock and it's got a couple of timers left over,
                                      unused, so really no additional hardware is required.

                                      Another option would be to write the firmware for the external RTC chip,
                                      which is on the PC board but never implemented.

                                      Bob
                                    • Bob Armstrong
                                      ... Yes, these are really nice and would work fine. I used one in the FP6120 front panel. They re a little expensive, a little hard to find, and a little bit
                                      Message 18 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                                        >Power Trends made some neat little self-contained switching regulators ....

                                        Yes, these are really nice and would work fine. I used one in the FP6120
                                        front panel.

                                        They're a little expensive, a little hard to find, and a little bit bigger
                                        than a 7805+heatsink. Other than that, they're perfect :-)

                                        Bob
                                      • Dave McGuire
                                        ... Digi-Key stocks them now, so no problem locating them anymore. But the expense and the size can bite you on the butt, I m sure. I didn t know the FP6120
                                        Message 19 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                                          On Nov 16, 2008, at 12:45 PM, Bob Armstrong wrote:
                                          >> Power Trends made some neat little self-contained switching
                                          >> regulators ....
                                          >
                                          > Yes, these are really nice and would work fine. I used one in
                                          > the FP6120
                                          > front panel.
                                          >
                                          > They're a little expensive, a little hard to find, and a little
                                          > bit bigger
                                          > than a 7805+heatsink. Other than that, they're perfect :-)

                                          Digi-Key stocks them now, so no problem locating them anymore.
                                          But the expense and the size can bite you on the butt, I'm sure.

                                          I didn't know the FP6120 used one. Very neat.

                                          -Dave

                                          --
                                          Dave McGuire
                                          Port Charlotte, FL
                                        • Andrew Wasson
                                          ... would be to ... 8051 ... chip, ... I was thinking the same thing.... If not with the 8051 then you could grab an SX chip and either write it from scratch
                                          Message 20 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                                            --- In sparetimegizmos@yahoogroups.com, "Bob Armstrong" <bob@...> wrote:
                                            >
                                            > >Anyone know of a simple circuit for generating that 60Hz signal from
                                            > >battery power?
                                            >
                                            > If you're a software guy, then the most straight forward thing
                                            would be to
                                            > modify the LIFE firmware to generate the 60Hz clock internally. The
                                            8051
                                            > already has a crystal clock and it's got a couple of timers left over,
                                            > unused, so really no additional hardware is required.
                                            >
                                            > Another option would be to write the firmware for the external RTC
                                            chip,
                                            > which is on the PC board but never implemented.
                                            >
                                            > Bob
                                            >

                                            I was thinking the same thing.... If not with the 8051 then you could
                                            grab an SX chip and either write it from scratch or run it in PIC mode
                                            and use the PIC listing Dave McGuire suggested a few posts back. Gotta
                                            love those SX chips.

                                            Good luck,
                                            Andrew
                                          • erd_6502
                                            ... Because I couldn t receive parts orders for 9 months and I wanted to run my Life from a single DC supply (I didn t have the right 5V regulator on hand), I
                                            Message 21 of 27 , Nov 16, 2008
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                                              --- In sparetimegizmos@yahoogroups.com, Dave McGuire <Mcguire@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > On Nov 16, 2008, at 11:39 AM, Robert L. Doerr wrote:
                                              > > Anyone know of a simple circuit for generating that 60Hz signal
                                              > > from battery power?
                                              >
                                              > I used to use an MM5369 chip years ago, but I don't think they're
                                              > easy to find nowadays. It was an 8-pin DIP that used a TV color
                                              > burst crystal (3.579545MHz) to generate 60Hz.
                                              >
                                              > Googling for the MM5369, I ran across this neat and very simple
                                              > "MM5369 replacement":
                                              >
                                              > http://ww1.microchip.com/downloads/en/appnotes/4_008.pdf

                                              Because I couldn't receive parts orders for 9 months and I wanted to
                                              run my Life from a single DC supply (I didn't have the right 5V
                                              regulator on hand), I rigged up a version of that MM5369 replacement
                                              with a different 8-pin PIC chip. It took a bit of fiddling to get the
                                              pin definition bits set correctly, but in the end, I had a 16-pin DIP
                                              socket with the crystal, the PIC, and the caps, all perched over where
                                              one of the onboard PSU caps go, with a 60Hz wire running back to where
                                              it needed to go (near the bridge rectifier), and ran it for months at
                                              my desk. I'd take a picture, but I just put everything away to get it
                                              all home from the Pole.

                                              If you don't care about time drift (i.e. - you just want blink
                                              patterns), you could get close to 60Hz with a 555 circuit. The
                                              present firmware does need a tick or it just sits there and waits
                                              for one, but the tick doesn't need to be hyperaccurate for the
                                              firmware to do its normal things - you'll just have an inaccurate
                                              display of the time if you are in those modes.

                                              I ran mine off of a 2A +5VDC brick with the PIC supplying 60Hz,
                                              but with one of those 3-terminal mini-switchers, a 24V supply
                                              shouldn't be an issue.

                                              -ethan
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