Wednesday, December 31, 2008

MyChicA Biped Robot got a new trainer...

MyChicA is evolving rapidly... from crawling few days ago, she just recruited a new trainer... yeah, yeah... I had to develop the trainer... Written with Visual Basic, the trainer communicate with MyChicA via RS232 at 9600bps. I decided to slow down the comm speed to allow more processing to be done within MyChicA little brain...

The trainer/tester is meant to control the servos in order to develop the various gaits position for MyChicA. Once the optimum values are found, they will be embedded into MyChicA brain so she can perform those tasks autonomously...

I love holidays... once the new year starts, I'm not sure I have the time to pet my beloved MyChicA and teach her new tricks... :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Epson R290 CISS Modifications

Several sites and youtube videos already showed how to install the continuous ink supply system (CISS) on to the Epson R290 printer. All of them require that the ink cover be permanently removed to allow for the tubings to be installed. That's exactly what I originally did but not without problems.

The CISS that I bought uses soft plastic for the ink catridges thus when placed into the ink compartment, it doesn't fit tightly causing the the electrical contacts to be intermittently broken. When this happens, the printer driver will complain saying that the ink is not Epson original thus refusing to allow any printing. In the beginning, I placed some wood wedge to force the cartridges to snug-fit.

Although it worked, it became an unbearable hassle to me. Furthermore, every time the electrical connection is re-established, the printer will recognize the cartridges as new so the cleaning cycle will start thus unnecessarily wasting the inks. I finally decided to give another method a try. Using cutter, I snip the original cover to make way for the tubings. Once that is done, I refitted the cover back to the original position. Lo and behold, it worked like a charm... no more wooden wedges, no more lose connections... I'm a happy man once again...

MyChicA Got Her Brain and Juices...

After my fun-filled holidays with the family, managed to put my hands back on myChicA project. MyChicA now has a brain and power plant. The brain is in the form of Microchip PIC16F876A processor running at 20MHz capable of driving 8 servos with about 200ns resolution. It can communicate with host PC on RS232 interface at 19200bps with no problem. Several spare connectors are on board to allow for future expansion and/or experimentation. So far, myChicA can walk forward and backward with no problem albeit a bit jerky. Software improvement is in progress...


MyChicA with the controller board and batteries (4xAA not visible + 9V) installed.


Let the coding begins...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

MyChicA Biped Robot... The beginning

After much consideration, I decided to start with the basic 4-servo biped. Using the concept from Loki as basis, I went on to design my own. Managed to find the time to cut it on my Sherline CNC using 3mm colored acrylics. So far, all the mechanical work is done. Time to dwell into the electronics.

I gave it a name... MyChicA (pronounced my-chi-kar)...

Loki reminds me of a chicken thus my biped is a Chic. The A is for version 1 as I'm sure more siblings will appear :-) Without the electronics and battery, MyChicA could hold it's posture just using the servo mechanical resistance, as shown below.

Will be updating the progress later... not so soon... going on vacation with the family first... :-)

MyChicA and the twin, Loki... :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Amateur Radio Reunion Day 2008 (ARRD08)

Update 2008.12.15: Individual photos can be accessed from Photobucket using this link (ARRD08 Photos)

Just came back from the said event last weekend. Huge turnouts, youngs and 'seniors'... Weather was good albeit a bit too hot...

Below are the contact sheets of the photos I took during the event. Need to find time to upload it to online photo site. Used the opportunities to meet friends and learn how to use the new D80... :-)




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nice... ooohhh... simple BiPed... the Loki

Still deciding which robot to build first... either the unit posted before this or this Loki... this Loki looks cute... simple to make... less servo... simpler parts... hmmmm


Also for those keen to have a nice toy, the i-Sobot is now available in Malaysia for under RM1000. Very tempting looking at what its can do... check out this youtube video.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New interest... biped (walking) robots....

I have been always interested in humanoid robots. After buying a cheap one for my kid, I decided to make one for me :-) After the usual search on the internet, the kit from Lynxmotion attracted my attention but the price it more than what I'm willing to pay for... I'm starting the research on the basic mechanical design now and will be updating this blog with my progress... anyone else want to join me? I'll be firing up my CNC again for the frames...

On the topic of white balance...

With my new D80, I'm back to snapping photos. While browsing an online photography store, I came across a product called 'Warmcards'. The package comes with several colored cards to adjust the white balance of the camera. Ever wondered why people in your home video look pale and uninteresting? The answer lies in white balance. Most professionals adjust the white balance to make the photo/video look warmer. Refer to warmcards website on how to do this. The image below (image from warmcard website).

The original Warmcards package look as follows:

But, as always, in the spirit of DIY, I decided to make my own cards. After a quick search on the internet, I gathered enough information to print my own cards to test out. To my surprise, it worked extremely well (although I have no idea how the original cards would be different). My homemade cards were printed with the EPSON R290 printer on matte, resin coated, water proof paper. I later laminated the back side to stiffen the card. The matte finish minimize reflection, water proof so I can wipe it clean if I needed to... :-)

For those wanting to give it a try, here's my test layout... btw, the CYMK values used are from the internet and not necessarily reflect the values of the original warmcards.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My new toy... Nikon D80 DSLR + Epson R290


Though the past few months I've been eyeing various things, I ended up getting myself a digital SLR - Nikon D80. I've not played with SLR for more than 10 years... been going around with digital compact camera all this while... Recently, I just got me an EPSON R290 photo printer. The printer is so good that it bring out the deficiencies in my photos from the compact camera. The Nikon D80 should do some justice to the Epson R290...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Good instruction how to solder SMD components


Once in a while, people ask me how to solder those tiny SMD components like the above... Rather than duplicating what's already widely available on the internet, here's a link to a very good reference...

Reference Number 1: MENY's Backyard (mostly on communications)
Reference Number 2: SMD 101 at Curious Inventor (video)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hmmm... another temptation...

The thing about money is that if you have it, or about to have it, our (especially mine) mind become unstoppable in identifying ways to spend it...

Here's my latest temptation... A USB-Based Logic Analyzer from here

Features:

  • USB 2.0 Cable (5')
  • Sampling rates up to 24MHz @8 bits
  • 9 ultra-flexible test lead set
  • 9 E-Z Hook XKM Micro-Hook
  • -0.5V to 5.25V operating voltage
  • Input low voltage: -0.5 to 0.8V
  • Input high voltage: 2 to 5.25V
  • 24MHz maximum sample rate
  • 200M samples
Dimensions:
  • 1.6x1.6x0.36"
  • 16g (0.5 oz)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Amateur Radio ReUnion Day

Extracts:

"Amateur Radio Reunion Day is an event planned to reunite all amateur radios in Malaysia , Mikes, Whiskeys and Short Wave Listeners , regardless of club affiliation. Furthermore, we are also celebrating 80 years of amateur radio in Malaysia. Our Senior 9M are not getting younger and we have lost a few already. This is the time for 9W and SWL to get to know them. So far 20 Mikes from around the country have confirm their attendence."

More details and update at the blog site here Amateur Radio Reunion Day (ARRD)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Looking for sponsor... for a film scanner... :-)

Looking for a soul willing to sponsor this film scanner to me... really keen on getting one to scan my old negatives... before the digital camera explosion... estimated landed price of MYR1200 through internet purchase... any taker?

Some reviews:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Brief: Quick and Easy Touch Screen Upgrade for Asus EEE 701


Just found this quick, easy and cheap touch screen upgrade for the Asus EEE PC 701 at dealextreme.com for those keen to do it... Click on image for link...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Eid Mubarak and 'Selamat Hari Raya'


The Ramadhan fasting month is fast nearing the end and to that, I take this opportunity to wish all the Muslims of the world, Eid Mubarak, or in my native language 'Selamat Hari Raya'. May God be pleased with us and may world peace becomes a reality.

Aspire One Modding...

Few of my friends have acquired the Acer Aspire One UMPC and now starting to wonder how to hack it for various purpose... there goes the warranties... :-)

Here's a quick link to tnkgrl never ending mods and hacks... this one is specific for Acer Aspire One...



Thursday, September 18, 2008

144MHz FoxHunt Transmitter - Revisited

Hello again all,

Over the last few days, several people have asked me for more details about the Foxhunt Transmitter project that I did earlier. So, in the spirit of sharing, here's the link to the schematic and component layout as well as the compiled code for the microcontroller.

144MHz Foxhunt Transmitter Details

Happy testing...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And time passes by...

Hi all,

It's been more than a month since I last wrote anything here... I'm still alive and kicking... Ramadhan is here too so schedule, and the pocket, will be much constrained...

  1. I loss a dear friend few days ago. He was a senior member of the local amateur radio community who goes with the callsign 9M2DS... Lovingly called Pak Dollah by the gang... As other sites already pay tribute to him, I'll just provide the links here...
    From UNIARM
    From MARTS KLSP

  2. My last project, the LED Blinkers had some problems that need real rectifications:
    - The LEDs burnt out and some of them operate intermittently. I believe this is due to the low quality LEDs used and driven by PWM instead of the normal constant current mode.
    - The acrylic casing for the front is distorted after prolong exposure to sunlight (and the associated heat).
    - Rectification is still in the making. Better quality LEDs have been acquired. Will use constant current mode instead of PWM and will be making PCB for the LEDs. The prototype LEDs were hardwired.
    - The challenge now is to find suitable casing... milling solid aluminum for the casing is just too tedious and costly...

  3. Other than the above, I've been generally lazy for the past weeks... I'm not sure if it's the new workplace, the growing daughter or something else... nonetheless, I'll be working on something soon... just to get myself back on the active mood...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Finally completed... the blink blink project...

Minor Update: 31/07/08
The unit were used as planned. Unfortunately the tack soldering on some of the LEDs gave way (probably due to vibration) resulting in some of the LEDs not lighting up...:-( Not major issue... will make proper PCB for it next time... may revise the size too... also there's some glitch on the software that need to be fixed... simple fix already done... thanks to 9w2alt for testing the unit and for the design input...

Hello again all,

Sorry for the very long silence... very much tied up with work and taking care of my little princess who is too active for my age... hi hi...

After the long and treacherous journey, the project is finally completed... 9W2ALT took delivery last night and will be fixing it to his vehicle today... hoping all goes well for the live use on 30th June...

Photo below show the completed unit comprising the interface module, the power control module and the LED banks. The LED banks are to be mounted using the suction cup base as in the photo...

Close up photo of the LED banks... don't you love CNC... ha ha ha... too bad I can only do max of 8"... will disturb Yau or Dexter for longer units...

Close up photo of the interface module and power controller box... will definitely change the interface design in the future... once cased, it is too big... will probably use handphone LCD for next design and use a smaller switch or joystick type...

Here's a short video of the LED in action... sorry for the quality... using my digicam as a videocam...

video

Friday, June 13, 2008

LED Flasher... in development...

I've been busy for last one month... shifting work place and all... not much time left for hobby... :-(

Anyhow, I've started working on an LED Flasher for a friend... just completed the interface box PCB and will start coding soon... the completed unit will consist of 3 separate module...

  1. The interface module... for the driver to select the various blink modes for the LED...
  2. The controller module... the actual unit controlling the LED banks...
  3. The LED modules... two for the rear and one for the front...
More on this later... here the photo of the interface module PCB... mocked up... yet to be completed...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Asus EeePC... Warranty voided...

Update 080514:
Photo below shows my mods. The 8GB SanDisk Cruzer 8GB drive is on the lower right. The wires going to top right is for the bluetooth module. The bluetooth module is placed on the left side of the LCD unit. Few hours of troubleshooting leads me to believe that the USB points on the spare ePCI slot CANNOT be used for bluetooth... no logical explanation... my module just not detected... if I put a thumb drive there, it worked fine so it's not a wiring issue... I end up swapping the spare USB connections... the one on the spare ePCI is used for the thumbdrive and the USB near the WiFi card is used for bluetooth... problem solved... :-)

For those installing WindowsXP onto the EeePC, this link outlines step-by-step process for smallest footprint using nLite freeware.

Original post:
I just couldn't stand not having bluetooth built into the EeePC so... the internet saved the day again... after going through several sites on how to mods the EeePC, I took the plunge as well... While at it, I added additional 8GB of USB drive inside the unit too... As for the USB drive, I used SanDisk Cruzer Micro 8GB... A quick speed check shows that the Cruzer is almost as fast as the built in SDD... only about 15% slower... Should be able to run apps from the USB drive as well... I will be adding my photos of the mods later but for those keen on doing the mods, here's a good reference site... Asus EeePC References

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Asus EEE PC... my new toy...

I've been lugging the Sony Vaio TR3 notebook for the past 4 years. It has served me well and I have nothing much to complaint except that the webcam failed after 1 year. I don't use it anyway so I didn't bother to get it fixed.

My friend 9W2AFY brought the subject of Asus Eee PC for special uses... After doing some study and looked at the unit, I fell in love and bought it last weekend. It was loaded with Xantros Linux and have about 40 applications built-in. Since I have been a Windows user for along time, my familiarity and gadgets are all windows-based. I reinstalled the system with Windows XP Professional the same night... It worked with no problems and surprisingly fast for a Celeron 600MHz system.

Spend the last few days installing other applications including Microsoft Office, MapKing, some utilities and some of my must have applications for my hobby (MikroC, PicKit2, etc). My first thought is that the 4G SDD (Silicon Disk Drive) is kinda small but when you consider the applications you intend to load on it, I still have more than 1G of free space... The small screen limits the type of application you can run (screen is 7", 800 x 480 display).

Pictured below is my Eee PC next to my trusted Sony Vaio TR3 and behind it is a 19" LCD monitor... It's tiny, less than 1kg in weight... no moving parts... decent battery life...


Some link on Eee PC for those who wants to take the plunge...
Asus EeePC Website.
Eee PC News, Mods and Hacks.
or just google "EEE PC Mods Hacks" if you're into mods and hacks (like me)...

For those fellows out there who think I'm crazy... check out this link... and you'll realise that I'm much better that some others out there... :-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

A2ZCNC Monster (mini)Mill...

They started out as making upgrades for the Sherline mill... giving extra travel... ballscrews... riser blocks... etc

Now, if you were to put all the possible upgrades together, the only original parts remaining are the stepper motor mounts and the spindle assembly... I guess very soon that will go away too...

And here's the 1 million dollar question... who's gonna sponsor the upgrade for me... :-)

The A2ZCNC 'monster' mill...

Here how the tame little Sherline creature looks like before the metamorphosis...

9M2DS 77th Birthday Gathering...

In honor of his iconic role to the amateur radio community in Malaysia, the local gang in Klang Valley area held a small yet cheerful birthday gathering for 9M2DS, passionately called Pak Dollah, on his 77th birthday. We all wish him a great live for the years to come...

Some photo from the event below: