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Ever wondered how much heat's been produced by your equipment?

Takes a look at my  Sterling Engine busily spinning as a result of the heat

from an External drive running on my desk !


Pitty there isn't much you can do that's actually usefull with this heat but it's fun any way!

A friend and I got talking about the speach sythesiser ICs used in music such as Kraftwerk this turned out to be the SSI/Votrax SC02

Now the '02 was extremely hard to get hold of but th e SC01 was indeed available from Ebay, now that's an extremely dangerous thing and

needless to say it's made it's way from the US to my sticky paws!




The whole story of this chip is quite interesting  but I was more interested in getting  this running on some

modern micro, fortunately I found an old article by Steve Ciarcia in Byte.


Data sheets are also available here so I'm in a good position to do some Retro hacking  expect some more stuff soon.


Any way why don't you do the Retro Challenge and give an old chip some Love today!!

I've just got this pre-release board from Magnus. Yes it's yet another FPGA board, but where as most have some rather

anoying lack of "whatever device connection you needed" it's simple and well thought out with AUDIO/USB/HDMIand micro SD

with 64MB of RAM . Mine came pre imaged with an entire linux machine and the boot Image for it !!!


Any way I got half way through writing this to find that "Alex the Kidd" got there first so go take a look  on his blog too

I've been watching some of Electronics Blogs and during the manditory tear down they always came up

against the laser etched chip. All very anoying but apparently not as effective as it could be if you have a

good idea from the rest of the design you can have a good punt on the chip's true identity.


Any way I decide to have a go at removing the markings from a poor victim who shall remain anonymous


The classic way of teaching folk the 101 of microcontrollers is to get a few LED's to flash.

The code is simple the result obvious and we are all strangely impressed by this "hello World"


In that vein I decided  to make a fun object whic is nothing but lights in this case an Acrylic Space Ship

Lit up using LED Light ropes.Here we have programmed an Arduino Nano on a Breadboard to go through

the test sequences.



If you are interested in owning one of these then give us a shout on the PM


This chap obviously has something against our Vending machine overloards and as spent an

inordinate amount of time designing a Robot (or remote control device if you prefer) that can sit

inside a vending machine and lower drinks down the shoot.



Obviously what he's doing is illigal but the wonderful way he's doing sort of makes up for all that petty Law stuff.


Dancing Robot Time

Posted by Problemchild Top Member Mar 25, 2013

So  much fun I subscribed .  I don't think the electronics are that special

but this is a great example of  a scratch built body for a robot.


Dance Robot Dance !!


Very Japanese .....great!


Eagle on Fedora 18

Posted by Problemchild Top Member Mar 25, 2013

Ok needed to get going on actually installing the Eagle 6.4 on my Fedora 18 machine.

Firstly after the install comes the substantial number of updates (Get these or be forever a Slacker!! )


Imediately I have a couple of problems here, firstly the Linux version is really new and liibs are equally so,

secondly I'm installing this 32 bit application on my 64 bit system, so not only do I need a set of support libraries

but also the 32 bit versions. Fortunately these all exist and some of this as all been done before like here,

thing to note that many sites refer to i386 packages because they are simply old, but no one has really

done i386 optimised packages in yonks so look for their i686 equivelents and you'll be fine !


    yum install expat*686

    yum install fontconfig*686

    yum install glib*686

    yum install libX11*686

    yum install libXau*686

    yum install libXcursor*686

    yum install libXdmcp*686

    yum install libXext*686

    yum install libXfixes*686

    yum install libXft*686

    yum install libXi*686

    yum install libXrandr*686

    yum install libXrender*686

    yum install libgcc*686

    yum install libjpeg-turbo.i686

    yum install libpng.i686

    yum install libstdc++.i686

    yum install libxcb.i686

    yum install zlib.i686


Install these and you are well on your way (yes it also installs a few dev libs but we won't worry about that !)

Now upon running the installer I found my next little nugget, rather than binding the eagle binary to the

version independent libraries some were infact specific versions naughty and anoying as I'm sure they would never consider

doing this on Windows to a DLL! Any way the solution is very simple merely symbolic Link the current libraries to files representing

the old versions Eagle was expecting (Since I was going back and only a version or two I felt confident to do this!!).

If you ever find yourself in this position used the command "ldd" to dump the libraries that an executable has been compiled with


user1@localhost bin]$ ldd eagle =>  (0xf773f000) => /lib/ (0xf770b000) => /lib/ (0xf7700000) => /lib/ (0xf76f5000) => /lib/ (0xf7655000) => /lib/ (0xf761b000) => /lib/ (0xf7609000) => /lib/ (0xf74d1000) => /lib/ (0x49ea2000) => /lib/ (0xf74c1000) => /lib/ (0x49ea9000) => /lib/ (0x49fcf000) => /lib/ (0xf7461000) => /lib/ (0xf72b8000) => /lib/ (0xf71ce000) => /lib/ (0xf718e000) => /lib/ (0xf7170000) => /lib/ (0x49cea000)

    /lib/ (0x49cc7000) => /lib/ (0x49ec5000) => /lib/ (0xf7169000) => /lib/ (0xf7140000) => /lib/ (0xf711e000) => /lib/ (0xf70db000) => /lib/ (0xf6ffb000) => /lib/ (0xf6ff6000) => /lib/ (0xf6fca000) => /lib/ (0x4a13a000) => /lib/ (0xf6fc5000) => /lib/ (0xf6fb9000) => /lib/ (0xf6fb4000) => /lib/ (0x49ede000) => /lib/ (0x49f0c000)

Check the versions you have installed and painstakingly get the right ones or take a chance on making a llink to the current version

(lie, lie again and keep liying )



Anyway after that Eagle pops up with no further touble so it was a very useful hour or so sorting it all out, hope this helps other folks

or at least gives them ideas on how to proceed.


Finally here's my Eagle Cad Proof of life Photo:



Just been popping through the vast number of FOSDEM videos and found this little gem.


if you are a member of an Open Source project encourage those non technical Jane's and Joes's

They bring with them the ability to comunicate to  the world at large with out the aid to

technical Jargon or assuming knowledge or the ever patronising RTFM!!!!


Well worth the 40 odd mins!



The last board layout I did in cad must be 20 years ago and although I get the general idea I'm sure I that in parctice I know Jack(tm) !!


I've been promising to do some designs but talk is cheap so I got a licence for the lattest and greatest Eagle 6.4 (thanks Pat)!!


Over the next few months I will be writing on my findings ..Eagle experts expect loads of NOOB questions.



I have a few projects of my own which simply need to be done over the next few months so there is no excuses you can see

me struggle as I actually produce a board and maybe even sell it pain no gain £$£$£$£$ !!


Out of interest would folk be interested in my interactions with PCB manufacturers or have you all done that and got the T-Shirt.

Please send your  comments below

March ’13 SLUG meet is held as usual at the Cock Hotel Wellington Thursday 28th @7:30 onwards. Food is available on the night. This month David Owen has kindly volunteered to bring his combat robot along and give us a talk on it’s inner workings. Second up is a group talk on the up coming Raspberry Jam, what can you do for the cause, bring your Raspberry  :)  !!!



Last week we had the opportunity to  talk to Alex of Space Gambit in of all places Shrewsbury High street. The upshot is that we have been asked to come with a proposal for a Space Related Project. The project can be anything space related,the project will be judged on it’s merits and the budget required (Up to 20K$). As well as technical merit, an educational element is important also the project must also be open source!

Fellow Space Cadets get your thinking caps (or should that be Helmets) on and create some great ideas for a SLUG project.

Open Call for Projects is here

Shropshire Linux user Group is helping to organise a Raspberry Jam event in Telford.

We are expecting to run it at the local Technical College TCAT.


Organisation is at an early stage currently and we need your input please comment here or on

the SLUG site


SLUG has a meeting every month last Thursday in the month 7.30pm onwards

at the Cock Hotel in Wellington. Even if you are unsure of Raspberries and Linux  come along

anyway and try their award winning ales


Fosdem 2013

Posted by Problemchild Top Member Mar 21, 2013

I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s FOSDEM event in Brussels early this Feb’.


It’ s an annual event started in 2001 and although aimed at developers or others involved in Open Source projects it’s open to anyone who has an interest in open source software.


Held in the University of Brussels it’s simply huge with some 7000 attendees and 486 speakers for 487 sessions and 40 tracks it simply takes over the campus for the weekend,

many of these sessions were videoed I highly recommend visiting their Video Repository.


In a short paragraph it’s simply not possible to tell you every thing that was there every area of open source software was represented, there’s something for any and everyone. I was particularly interested in the Linux on ARM /ARM64 talks and robotics tracks and no doubt I’ll be talking about these at some latter date



There are also developer rooms where project members can get together and code as well as the normal stalls of  Companies and open Source projects.

It should be noted that although they give you the opportunity to donate the entire event is free to attendees, flight and hotel for 3 days was less than £200 a bargain!!

Inspire yourself next year and go to FOSDEM 2014