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2015

Oh well, my keyboard somehow gets stuck so I have to type slamming the keys quite hard and it still doesn't type certain keys sometimes =) I got my i5 laptop fixed - was as easy as ordering the right part off eBay. Unfortunately, it has its quirks. But - it's finally more comfortable to develop web interfaces which is part of my job right now - see, luakit developer console just doesn't work right =( Saves me some time in searching for money for which to buy a used laptop to do my job right.

 

Had a hard day today. Was installing the first part of sensor network I'm developing as main project, noting down what I have forgotten to take from home to the place - and I took a lot of things, mind you. Had to take about 7 PSUs, a lot of wires and 4 computers - and all that having a bike as my primary means of transportation =( I came home and felt very, very sleepy. I had a lot of things in mind to do, but 'd constantly find myself browsing FB on my phone, as my brain apparently thinks is a relaxing activity. However, I just had to eat something, take a shower then fall asleep - only to get delayed for 2,5 hours as a result. I certainly need to monitor time I'm wasting, as time wasted while doing 'relaxing' things sometimes is time stolen from sleep, or from the things you have to do when you wake up - as it's the case now, as tomorrow I have to continue connecting the sensors.
So what can be done? With my wearable computer, I can imagine a daemon that you could send a command to, like, 'I need not get distracted now'. It'd then monitor your motions from the accelerometer, maybe put some fast and energetic music on. If there was another daemon that'd collect and store data about your average time needed to complete tasks, they could communicate to predict how much time it will take to do everything you need to do, and provide you by step-by-step instructions,as well as pick slower music as you're closer to going to bed. This is what I see, and this is what I know I need. I need a device that would ping me constantly to make me less slacky, and I have the qualifications to do this.

Moreover, it'd work with depression, too. If the device can detect that the user is awake, but still in bed, more often than not it means slack, but with certain conditions it can be diagnosed as depression - and do something, maybe at least give some advice. Not to mention that a device capable of not only tracking and reminding to take your antidepressants, but also persuading you to take them, is something that can improve the healing process severely, as stopping to take antidepressants rarely means something good - as it is with most pills, frankly.

 

Anyway, have some photos!

powerbank closed

powerbank open

Here's a powerbank that I've developed to power my portable Raspberry Pi on the go. It's 2 Li-Ion cells from laptop batteries in series, with a step-down DC-DC to feed stable voltage to the Pi effectively, as well as charger&protection module connected to each battery slot. It has a USB socket which can be kept inside the housing together with USB plug connected to it, as you can see - saves some broken wires! The casing is made from 3mm PMMA, and is too bulky to be wrist-worn. I'm already planning to make a waistbelt attachment, and I've made a wire long enough =) As for now, this gives 7 hours of uptime before the batteries are fully discharged, and this is with possibly with the most consuming RPi board. Fitting a RPi B+ will double the rating, and I won't even mention RPi A+ =) This is without many peripherals, though. It also needs to have its corners rounded, as well as to be painted black - as well as this one:

first walls of main module - view from connectorsfirst walls for main module - view from GPIO pins

 

This is base + one wall of the Raspberry Pi casing, the main module of my creation. It's gonna have most of the sockets on RPi accessible one way or another, as well as have some space inside for USB peripherals and the Ethernet jack - and you can see the laser cutter I'm using =) I'll talk about minimizing it in next series, as well as show how you can connect many peripherals to it in a creative way that applies to any RPi.

 

My job supposedly ends at the end of October, but I can imagine it stretching a week further. Also, if any of the thoughts I express sparkle your interest, I'd be glad to hear about it in the comments!

During these weeks I experienced lot of problems with the Emlid board and the servo controls

The servos that move control surfaces were moving not so smoothly and they made a lot of noise and vibrations. I Initially thought that the problem was in the mechanic (leverages not moving smoothly or getting stuck during the movement)

After one of the servo started emitting some magic smoke, I started thinking the problem was actually on the PWM signal...

So I connected the Bitscope to the PWM output as I saw something really strange...

 

PWM output.png

 

The frequency of the PWM signal was incredibly high: 250 Hz, whereas it was assumed to be 50 Hz

It took me a lot of time to find out that there was one parameter (MOT_SV_SPEED) that was set by default to the wrong value!

 

PWM parameter.png

 

After I changed the value from 250 to 50, the PWM output was perfect

 

PWM output 2.png

 

Now the servos (I mean, the survived one) run smoothly and without vibrations

Hi again!The Pip-Boy desktop prototype
As you remember from my previous post, I was planning to start my work on this project at the beginning of October. Unfortunately, I cannot make it so - my current job, which requires me to build a control system for Modbus devices, has extended the project's deadline and I am currently doing what I should have been doing 2 weeks ago - helping to plan all the wiring they're making for the whole setup, making some new devices, searching for parts that are missing, and, most importantly, not yet receiving any money as I'll get money as soon as I install the system on the site which isn't ready yet. I'll make a personal blog entry about the system some time later, it'd be excellent as I know it's gonna be interesting to many =)

Depression is a funny illness, in a way. In my case, there are still too many factors influencing me that don't let me get rid of it. But then, I don't feel any of it when I work on things I love working on, and that's coding and electronics. They make me distracted so well that I don't feel any of bad things I usually feel. Instead, there's a sense of accomplishment. Well, the explanation is easy - one thing that depresses me is feeling unproductive. Those reasons are something I should be getting rid of, but as far as it helps me along the way, why not? Hope that helps me fight my procrastination. And about that I shall start my train of thought.

 

Have you ever actually played Fallout? I highly recommend it - not if you have an important project coming, mind you ;-) I started playing Fallout 3 two years ago, and I got stuck in it for two freaking months. I had a boring shift job, completely unrelated to what I love doing, but at least, hey, I received money, even if it was sorting shitloads of dirty laundry every day! But that was boring. I didn't feel any achievement at all, and the pay wasn't that good compared to amount of force applied. So I went home every day, tired and needing some relaxation. As usual, it was videogames or similar stuff - so I was installing lots of games to try out, but the Fallout 3 was the one that caught my attention with first hours of gameplay. I know I like open-world games, first person shooters even more so, never liked RPGs much but there was and still is something beautiful about the whole combination of these that Fallout is. Long story short, it consumed all my free time, and even a little more, given how boring the job was ;-) What was fascinating about the whole thing?
The sense of achievement. The whole thing that we call gamification wasn't a new idea to me but it was a hella good motivator and every second of gameplay felt worth it. What's the matter? Well, I'd say we people generally like achieving, and we like to be reminded about these achievements. Or maybe it's about how people like quantifying their success... Crap, I'm not a psychologist and I don't know the explanation by heart =) But I'm sure you've felt that way, at least once, if not regularly, and can understand what I mean. Basically, we need achievements, reminders about our successes and victories and similar motivational things to keep us going. Or is it just me? =D

 

Gamification was the reason I started to think Pip-Boy is worth bringing to the real world. The Pip-Boy, which had a task manager I've come to love so much. For the non-enlightened ones - it was all about the in-game quests, and it happened to be so well built onto the gameplay it started to be an integral part of it. I remember missing it in Vault 112 (wasn't it the one with Tranquility Lane simulation?), always being amazed by how well-built the interface is while using it and discovering some new functions when I thought I knew everything. Say, your life consists of some quest lines, each having its own tasks, sub-tasks and maybe some optional things to do that might influence the outcome. You can see what you need to do at the moment, what you can switch to doing and what's needed for what purpose. That's not exactly a new thing, as that's what people keep all those task books, note books, whatever those paper calendar books with blank places for describing TODOs for every day are called :-) But then, that hardly can be gamificated! It's just a plain boring note book. Moreover, it's not electronic and therefore it doesn't have notifications, achievements and task trees I call quests - not without some scissor and glue magic ;-) There are phone apps for task management, but 1) I still don't have a smartphone 2) neither I want to keep my data on the cloud 3) neither rely on third-party application to provide the exact functions I need when I know I can make my own and better. There are more reasons, and I'm yet to list them all for you - but one thing for sure, I need my own task manager, Fallout style.

 

Enough about the reasons. While I still have time, let me describe what I've got.
As for now, it's a rechargeable accu-powered Raspberry Pi 2B with a simple yet sophisticated framework for managing simple input devices. The framework is a crucial part of the system and will be something I'll base all my software on. You can read more of it here, I've planned to put a short description here on Element14 but right now I've got no time for writing, so a hackaday.io link will do =) I wrote the whole description there because I needed something to push me to work, and a Hackaday Prize deadline looked like worth it. No way I could have gone further that the application form, but at least I'll likely get a T-shirt with Hackaday logo, and if that's not worth it, then I don't even know ;-) I still plan on describing it here, just not today.
Another Pip-Boy photo

Right now, as I've told you, it's all cardboard outside, meant purely for protection from occasional wind and rain. See, it travels with me every day in the rear pocket of my backpack, for now - as a music player =) Music playback is one of the functions I've already implemented because I needed it desperately. I don't actually have anything capable of music playback all day long that fits in my pocket and is comfortable to use, and the real problem is I'm getting depressed without music. Two months ago, I'd come home only to feel completely powerless and unable to do anything, then fall asleep - only to regret my lack of productivity the next day. Music in the background changes everything, though. I feel better and I'm able to do more things, and if all that's between my well-being is making a Raspberry Pi battery-powered and writing a music playback control system, I'll do it.

 

It's gonna change this week, however. As you can deduce from the first pic with a Vault-Boy badge, I've got access to a laser cutter, and it's completely free for me. I've got a part-time job maintaining the said cutter, and I get to play with it too =) I've ordered a sheet of acrylic that I'll use to make a case, and I plan on making the first wrist-worn version till Monday, possibly with minor app updates. I wish there could have been more to tell you, but I already spend too much time on my main project. As for now, keeping you updated =)