Chip programmer with a twist

I am working on 1000 projects all the time.  You may already know that of me.  This one will be a fun adventure.  I’ve started by this is a site where they show you how to build a bare bones Arduino.  I went and ordered the part for 4 kits via the electronics seller it was under $30 for all the parts I needed.  I did not get boards as I plan to design my own at a later phase. Shrimp + SPI to 8 pin chip  Here’s the shrimp built with an 8 pin chip holder where it can be used to program the little chip.  This is an Atmel ATTiny 85 ready to be programed.

Now the hard part.  Let’s say I want to program a lot of these little chips.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the Arduino held in memory all the code and capabilities to program the chip without an attached USB link to a computer?  That’s goal #2.

random blickers

Here is an ATTiny 85 running code that was pushed through the Arduino in the traditional manner (Goal #1).  What I like about the Tiny line of chips is there is little to no supporting hardware required to have them run.  This makes them a lot of fun for all kinds of little builds.  They will even run off three or 4 AAA batteries and for quite some time.

I’ll tell you the future – it’s a no brainer

Today I thought of EvRA; “Electric Vehicle Range Anxiety”.  I made this up (maybe someone else has already). Honestly I had this on day one.  The very first day.  It did continue to linger for a while but it never seems to really enter my thoughts now.  What was it like way back in the day when there was no such thing as a Gas station.  I guess you could always get a tow from a horse right?  Those crazy horseless carriages! Well it’s not so crazy anymore.  We have electricity in more places than we have cell phone service.  Think about it.  We have electricity in many more places than we have gas stations.

Ok allright – you still need to plan your day or your trip if you will be exceeding your range. Charging an EV takes time [but maybe not – keep reading].  Some are not yet suitable for long trips at all.  We know this, it’s not a surprise to anyone.  If you only drive on a road trip once in a while you can borrow or rent a vehicle with a greater range – someday a larger electric and for now probably a gas or hybrid vehicle.  I don’t see the big deal.  If your driving habits don’t fit within the range or time paramaters that an electric vehicle can offer then you are not in a position to find them very practical at this time.  That’s a no brainer choice today.

What about a two car family  Here the second car could easily be a gas, hybrid or some longer range variation.  I am not a huge fan of this suggestion but it will help increase the EV population and there was probably two cars in the driveway already anyhow (in such situations).  [full disclosure – no I did not sell my other car when I bought the EV and we don’t have a hybrid either.  Three cars, with the two gas ones mostly unused – I can sleep at night.]

Charge iT!

Tesla is building a future.  The one where the time to charge is very much a practical rest stop on a long trip.  They’ve produced a car that does not really need a charge up durring the day (for most people’s habits).  The supercharger stations take care of the long haul trips.  If they execute on plan the entire populated region of the US will probably be available to you without EvRA.  Others are trying to take EvRA completely out of the equation too.  I just can’t get enough of this company and how it is executing on an amazing promise – unlimited range:  My only wish is that an American car company would step up to the plate here (Ford are you listening?).  It looks in the pictures like the battery _may_ be or I hope becomes swappable.  These are non conflicting ideas – fast charging and battery swapping.

Some day, in the future, you will find it more and more difficult to find a gas station.  At some point long distance trips in a gas car will require a significant amount of planning.

Some day, in the future, the same EV I have today will get a new battery with 4x the range it has today.

Someday in the future you will find this blog posting and sigh “those were the days of gas cars kids”.

Kabam Acquires Exploding Barrel Games, Build Outs Presence In Vancouver

Exploding Barrel Games1778

Kabam, a midcore mobile and social developer that ended last year with about $160 million in revenue, just bought Exploding Barrel Games and is expanding its presence out in the Vancouver area. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

via [TechCrunch](

Current electric highway

(puns are fun) This is a google map showing the current super charging stations. From this alone you should be able to get to any destination within 100 Miles of any of these locations and do so without any range anxiety. If your final destination has charging options then you can be comfortable within 200 miles of any of these locations. If you look into public charging stations you can probably cross the country in any direction. By 2015 the Tesla stations should enable cross country trips with ease. I am going to get to know california then the country.

If you are listening Tesla – Phoenix next; I have travel plans and a place to stay all ready to execute.

View Larger Map

The Tesla Model S charge port, juice er up fella!

Charge It!A mini fact:  So far the average charge time for the car has been about 2 hours for a normal day to work and back.  If I drive more conservatively some day perhaps that time will come down (unlikely any time soon).  In the photo the surface that looks like a button is indeed one.  When you push this the little flap, that is part of the running lights, pops open.  Push the plug into the car and the green ring will light up.  Pulsing slowly or quickly depending upon the current battery level.  Press the button again to pull out the plug.  All of that will only work if you have the key fob with you.  I tried to remove the plug when the key fob was in the house and it would not unlock / come out.  Also the car can detect the plug is in and will not let you drive off.  Good thing for those (not yet fully) caffeinated early morning departures.  I am not keen to look at the PG&E bill but will do so shortly to see how we are doing in that regard.

On a slightly different note today all driving about has been electric.  A gas free day today.  I’ll maybe start tracking the car and bike usage (all cars and bikes).  When the cars are used to do anything that counts and if the bikes are used to do anything useful other than exercise that will count.  In a gas free world I’d take my electric bike to work while the rest of the day’s outings would be in the Tesla.  A fully electric day.  Half and half would be we use 1 gas and one electric.  Full gas would be we used no electric.  There will be the odd day we don’t go any place at all.  I should probably track this in a Google sheet.

Lastly will be doing the daily cash costs of gas vs electric from the simple fueling only perspective.  I am certain if I use all the gas items from the CC bills over the last year and the electric bills there should be some way to see how much money shifted to electric and if there is any savings at this level.  That’s data collection so some day soon again.

Tesla Model S is here.

The Tesla Model S is a thrill to drive.  I love speed and acceleration so it is a good fit.  To say it has all the features of an electric car sells it short.  It has all the features of any car you’d ever really want.  It just happens to be electric.  A few posts will be here over time about the car and when there is interesting developments but otherwise expect the hardware and geekery that’s considered normal.

Today I drive the car to work for the first time.  My impression of the car, dark in the garage, fully charged, was one of latent power.  For an odd reason I perceive it as asleep and not off.  Odd that I perceived anything of this nature in fact.

First hours of ownership, why not drive the coast for a while.
First hours of ownership, why not drive the coast for a while.

Hi ho hi ho.

Blinking LEDs with a 556 timer chip (beyond the basics)

This is not a how to. I am learning in broad daylight how to do this.  You are welcome to watch. Not sure how this will go but using Upverter to design this simple circuit seemed like one way to go about it. The goal is to use a 556 timer and a limited number of additional parts. Learning electronics and the tool both at the same time may be a mistake – I am aiming for a wonderful mistake 🙂

Stock Bot to Arduino

The original StockBot was built on the Netduino platform.  I’ve been working on the code for the Arduino platform and have now assembled working code.  I can’t claim it is stable yet but it’s doing the job for now.

I am using the Ethernet Arduino.  As I explore a number of things all the time, I have also made a shield for the Arduino to see if this project could become a kit for others to build.  A little stuck on a source for Numitron tubes so I am trying to make the board generic enough to take a tube or a normal led display (still puzzling that through).

Let me clean up the code – I’ll take a hard look at it over the next month.  Maybe after the skis hit the slopes in Whistler I’ll have something to post and walk everyone through. Early December if you don’t ski or board.

What’s StockBot – here’s the beginning post

Here’s the prototype boards I had made.  They have a nasty bug but I learned something (and could fix it so all is good).

Project North Pole – “doe a dear”

So far all I have is a wish list on Sparkfun that will some day reflect the entire bundle of parts I plan to use.  The object is to control 8 strings (or more) of lights as a simple display for the front yard around December or Late October (with the right music).  I’ll need at least a year from now I imagine before I get anything running.


Your passwords sux!

I have facebooked that LastPass is the tool everyone needs to be using.  I am not always clear as to why I select the tools that deserve your attention.  Every week I get some news and security tidbits from the below podcasts.  What I love about this particular source of information is that Steve Gibson provides ALL the details, dives deep and leaves no stones unturned.  I know this is the second post in a row about Steve’s stuff – but I really did get a Facebook message from a cousin today asking why he should trust LastPass with his passwords.

The short answer is that LastPass does not get your passwords (not exactly).  All that is sent to them is your encrypted stuff.

Most if not all of the password decryption runs in your browser – but it may look like it is on their site.  I am no longer 100% clear on this but myself I will have to re-listed to the first podcast below.

Lastpass and why you can trust it:
Text Audio

Lastpass and why you should use it:
Text Audio

There are some password recovery items the paranoid should look into and disable (but think, know, trust, what you are doing when you do so).

Always Swim Up