Geek Buffet

April 13th, 2008

Yesterday morning I hit the Silicon Valley Electronics Flea Market — lots of fun, I highly recommend it.  For flea market n00bs, don’t forget to bring a broad-brimmed hat, a bottle of water and a bag for loot (I forgot the first two), prices are usually negotiable and keep an open mind but not too open.  I made a list and mostly stuck to it; I would’ve liked to find more of the stuff on that list, but there’s a lot of stuff there and you really have to sort the stuff you need from the cool stuff you don’t need and the utter crap or you’ll wind up being able to run your own stall 😉 So what did I “need”?  A few pairs of hemostats, some solder wick, a set of “security” screwdriver bits, a UV LED flashlight, a pair of direct-drive moters with foam-rubber wheels, a game controller with analog sticks I can pull out and play with and a few free transistors (the solder guy has a box of free parts).

Schematic showdown: gEDA vs EAGLE, and the winner is…

April 6th, 2008

…a sheet of graph paper!  I’m only half-kidding, if I had a scanner I probably would do my schematics that way.  Both gEDA and EAGLE suck huge hairy balls, and not in a good way.  I blame X11 and the myth of “cross platform” for many of the problems, but that doesn’t change the fact that both are incredibly painful to use. (Yes, I use a Mac, no the Mac is not perfect, but pretty much everything I use is vastly more pleasant to use than either of these apps.)  Both have obtuse and inconsistent user interfaces, rampant graphical artifacting, and they’re both just plain ugly.  That said, I was able to install both, work out how to draw a small scematic in each without requiring instructions, edit them to correct mistakes, and export them to PostScript (and convert that to PDF).  Both meet my needs fairly well, though I’ll have to re-test both when I try to design a circuit board.  Overall I’m still looking for a solution I actually like, but, despite a rocky start, gEDA seems to suck less; more detail after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Project Day, March 2008

March 28th, 2008

Since I usually don’t take vacation time as fast as I accrue it, I’ve started taking the last friday of every month off to make progress on my current projects.  These days that’s usually working on AVR microcontrollers and, now, working on this site.

 

Today, I reorganized my personal svn repository to the vastly superior, in my experience, top-level Trunk / Branches layout and started looking into building a usb datalogger based on the EasyLogger, though I’d like to use the EMSL board (ATmega168-based) and be able to log more than one input, but I need to either figure out if it has the right internal oscillator or get an external clock.

Adventures In WordPress (Part 1)

March 26th, 2008

Just set up WordPress and already I’m banging into some remarkably rough edges: in the theme viewer, the “Test run” link invariably simply shows the default theme and attempting to narrow down the choices returns a lot of themes that fail the chosen criteria… Is this really state-of-the-art?  :-/

First!

March 26th, 2008

First post! Really.