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hardware hacking

I've been tinkering with my BASIC Stamp microcontroller kit, putting together simple circuits and writing little programs to control them. Already I can tell that my next microcontroller setup is going to have to support some language other than BASIC. How primitive. :p

On a related note, I've started a page to keep track of my tech projects, be they hardware- or software-related. Ever since I began subscribing to Make magazine, I've read about all sorts of tech projects that sound kinda neat, but I think the sort of projects I'm apt to actually finish need to be something worth making in the first place. Ideally they'd solve some problem I have. Not that it wouldn't be cool to have an Internet-controllable toaster, but I'm hard-pressed to think of any use cases for it.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
jessekornblum
Sep. 8th, 2005 12:59 am (UTC)
If you figure out how to reset your DSL modem remotely. I would be very interested to hear about it! Although I love Speakeasy, I have had to cycle the modem a few times over the years.

I'm thinking of calling my cats and asking them to do it. If we could rig catnip to the power strip it wouldn't be a problem.
uninja
Sep. 8th, 2005 02:13 am (UTC)
ooh, microcontrollers!
I really didn't think much of the BASIC Stamps. They're so painfully slow and inefficient. You'd be much better off working directly with PICs from Microchip in either their native assembly or with PICBasic from MELabs, which was generally what I used when doing PIC work, since it generates really efficient code. There's a C compiler you can buy, but the libraries weren't nearly as good as those in PICBasic back when I last worked with PICs.

If you want higher-powered embedded stuff with ethernet capabilities, you might want to check out Rabbit Semiconductor, which has a nice Dynamic C programming language with pretty good libraries for doing TCP/IP stuff. Their sister company Z-World sells some cool stuff, too.

I did a lot of these kinds of projects when I worked for Chemistry, so if you need any further insights, just ask.
barawn
Sep. 10th, 2005 12:45 am (UTC)
Re: ooh, microcontrollers!
And, of course, the best thing about PICs from Microchip is that they're samplable for free. Gotta love free.

There's also a lot of really good hobbyist stuff at sparkfun including the best source for small prototype PCBs on the Web.
chromal
Sep. 8th, 2005 01:09 pm (UTC)
Lots of ways you could approach the DSL modem reset... Assuming it will correctly reconnect if it is power cycled, set up a computer-controlled power relay that can cut power to the modem from software. Write a simple script that is called every so often (say, every hour or every few hours). It would basically verify your Internet connection is up with icmp (probably using ping). If it's not, it would cut power to the modem for 30 seconds (or whatever).

This wouldn't necessarily need to be a hardware project; you could totally use X10 hardware, which is relatively inexpensive (and probably available even cheaper as used hardware on ebay).
chromal
Sep. 8th, 2005 01:10 pm (UTC)
It occurs to me that you really *ought* to be able to manage a modem reset 100% via software. Doesn't it have a web management interface?
radhardened
Sep. 8th, 2005 11:52 pm (UTC)
Indeed, it's a ZyXEL Prestige 645, and it apparently does allow for remote management. The next challenge is how to connect to it, since it's on the other side of a NAT router from my LAN.
barawn
Sep. 10th, 2005 12:46 am (UTC)

This wouldn't necessarily need to be a hardware project; you could totally use X10 hardware, which is relatively inexpensive (and probably available even cheaper as used hardware on ebay).


Or free from me. I don't really use mine anymore.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )