Here are where I will place my witterings on matters geekiness. 


Accelerometers keeping hard disks safe from impacts

It's never a great idea to drop your laptop, but these days there's less chance that you'll do it serious damage if you do. The principal of using an accelerometer inside the casing is a development from the idea of fitting air bags into cars. The accelerometer is a sensor that detects proper acceleration – that which is felt by people and objects. It is an acceleration experienced relative to freefall, commonly measured in terms of g-force. Vehicles use Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) technology which is typically faster in its response time than larger types of sensors. They are used to detect the rapid negative acceleration of a vehicle, determining when a collision has occurred and how severe it is. The same technology is used in electronic stability control systems, with cornering forces being measured using a lateral accelerometer.

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Website Issues

GremlinStripeByInti.jpgIf you have been experiencing issues with misplaced content on the website over the last couple of days it is due to a server upgrade that I performed.  Although all appears to be running smoothly on the surface, some of the url’s have been mysteriously changed.  You should be able to find the content you are looking for by using either the menus or the search bar at the top of the page. 

Please bear with me as I resolve the niggles!

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Windows 8.1 Compatible Drivers for the USBtinyISP

I have been using Windows 8 on my Lenovo Ideapad for some time now.  It is fair to say that Windows 8 has been the unlucky recipient of a huge amount of criticism and it is also fair to say that this criticism has been fair.  So when Windows 8.1 Beta came out I could not resist its pull for too long and decided that installing a possibly buggy beta was preferably to tolerating the mess that is Windows 8 for any longer…. Then I tried to program an ATtiny85 and found the drivers did not work!  Happily I fixed it.

Read more: Windows 8.1 Compatible Drivers for the USBtinyISP

Arduino Workshop in Glasgow 2nd July


On the 2nd of July 2011 I am organising an Arduino Workshop at the Center for Contemporary Arts, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

The workshop is being held at the Electron Club room and we meet at 1pm (Presentation starts at 1:30). 

We are going to begin with a presentation about the Arduino programming environment which will be suitable for everyone. I hope to give a short guide on the software and demonstrate the building of a couple of simple sketches. After there will be a chance to compare projects, seek advice from other attendees and generally chat and plan how to move a regular meeting forwards. 

I will also bring my box of "toys" so there will be other hardware (sensors, servos, displays etc) available for people to experiment and play with. If you have an Arduino, bring it and a laptop with you! If not, still come. I have a couple of spares and others may have more too.

This is the first event of this kind that i have organised and I hope that it will become a regular event!

If you are in the area and can spare some time, come along and try out some Arduino programming with us.

XMEGA Xprotolab, 35$ Breadboard Oscilloscope and More - Reviewed


1ssJohn Boxall has got his hands on what looks to be an intriguing and very versatile product.  The XMEGA Xprotolab by Gabotronics is in the words of its makers:

“…the first mixed signal oscilloscope with an arbitrary waveform generator in a DIP module. It measures only 1 x 1.6 inches, and can be mounted directly on a breadboard. The Xprotolab can also be used as a development board for the AVR XMEGA microcontroller.”

The Xmega Xprotolab from Gabotronics is a tiny little device but has a few features that the hobbyist might find useful, in fact to call it an Electronic Digital Oscilloscope it seems is selling it short, it has a waveform generator and power supply built in there as well, ideal tools for someone prototyping a new circuit design.

Read more: XMEGA Xprotolab, 35$ Breadboard Oscilloscope and More - Reviewed

SeeedStudio Release Final Specifications for DSO Quad, 72MS/s Surprise Upgrade

Today in a blog post SeeedStudio released a surprise announcement about the new entry to their range of pocket oscilloscopes.  I reviewed an engineering sample of the  DSO Quad, 4 channel digital storage oscilloscope last week and was impressed with the specifications of the little device.  However Seeedstudio have by overclocking the AD9288-40 dual A/D converter increased the smaple rate on the analogue channels from 36MS/s to 72MS/s.  That is quite a jump in specification.  The DSO Quad was already a very attractive buy, but with the improved sample rate it's just getting better and better.

We are still waiting for a final price from SeeedStudio, but they have released what they describe as the final specification:

Read more: SeeedStudio Release Final Specifications for DSO Quad, 72MS/s Surprise Upgrade

Juan Fuente’s Recycled Electronics… Is this art?

cdplayer_loadedToday I was out on my travels trying to locate a weird sized nut for a rotary encoder I am playing with.  In desperation I visited Glasgow’s Famous (some say infamous) Barras, an indoor/outdoor market.  I had no luck finding the nut i was looking for (for a 6.8mm or .268’ diameter shaft) but did stumble upon a young man who was setting up an interesting stall at the market.

Juan Fuente, a product design student has been creating goods from 100% recycled materials.  Using old stereo’s, DVD players and even a VHS machine, Juan re-cases the devices in recycled wood.

wooden_dvd_player_closeupI am sure that Juan’s designs are not to everyone’s taste, but I find the minimalism of his work rather delightful.  He lays bare some of the electronics which I think makes you more aware that this is their second life.

Read more: Juan Fuente’s Recycled Electronics… Is this art?

Guitar Enthusiasts – You might just like

Jimi Hendrix 1965 Fender Stratocaster.I can just see the ad for it now “For Sale: Fender Stratocaster. One previous owner. Slight fire-damage…”.The 1965 Fender Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix set on fire at the end of his set at the London Finsbury Astoria.Ok before you get excited/upset, the site contains no nudity, not even a stripped down Gibson… But don’t fret what Jon Elliots’ blog does contain are photos of classic guitars, enough to get a few pulses racing if you are an enthusiast of the instrument. 

The site is fairly new, but Jon is collecting an interesting record of classic designs and historically significant pieces.  Head over and start wishing you could own them! 

My favourite is Jimi Hendrix's 1965 Fender Stratocaster, complete with more than a little charring.