Monday, January 25, 2010

USBTiny ISP, Radio Transmitter, Simon's Game

The USBTinyISP kit I ordered from Adafruit arrived today, and I wasted no time at all in putting it together. The final product looks like this:

Due to a few rounds of soldering/desoldering of the ISP pins for Simon's Game the PCB was peeling, and I was pretty worried that I would not be able to get it [Simon's Game] to work. So I was very relieved (and also ridiculously excited) when avrdude wrote to the board without complaining.

The first few times I played it would occasionally freeze up and play a high pitched sound continuously. It seems to have been a fluke though because I can't recreate it now. The only other problem is with single button presses that registers as two presses, but I can always reprogram the microcontroller to ignore a signal if it follows the one before it too closely.

Last night Allen and I built a FM radio transmitter, similar to those used as iPod adaptors for car trips. It has a good range for a device that works off a single AA battery. We're thinking of designing our own tiny receiver/transmitter pairs for use as walkie talkies.

The radio transmitter is only a prototype on a breadboard now and doesn't make for a very interesting picture, so here's a photo of my workstation after I've cleaned up:

Also, I found the old hacking game website Starfleet Academy and a different one I wasn't familiar with called try2hack. I really enjoy doing these. If you're new to online hacking games and want to try one but don't know anything at all about how to start approaching them, I'd recommend figuring out how to use your browser to see the HTML code for any given web page. That's the basic step that will let you start figuring out each level.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Meet Craig / Microcontrollers

Craig is a Nondenominational Secular Winter Holiday gift. Craig is my best approximation of a bluebird. He's got a jingle-bell-thingy inside so he seems like a cat toy, but I promise he won't survive more than five minutes of an encounter with a cat.

In other news:
I won a free $100 worth of stuff at Sparkfun's Free Day a few weeks ago. Here's a list of the loot:
  • 7-Segment Red 6.5" Display x4
  • Simon - Surface Mount Soldering Kit x1
  • Breadboard Clear Self-Adhesive x1
  • Needle Nose Pliers x1
  • Diagonal Cutters x1
  • Illuminated LED Eye Loupe x1
Unfortunately the Simon's Game kit came with a blank Atmega 328 and no cables or connectors. So I scrounged around, looked at pinouts, and hooked it up to an ET-AVR ISP programmer device that I borrowed. Still no dice though, so I went ahead and ordered LadyAda's USBTinyISP kit. Hopefully that works...otherwise I might have to chalk this failure up to my crappy soldering skills and pay a visit to the toaster reflow station.

To celebrate my first Adafruit purchase I decided to do some research/internet stalking of Limor "LadyAda" Fried. After all, almost every electronics DIY project I undertake points back at her website. I'll leave you with this, which I think is very cool: