|Steve Wozniak with his phreaking blue box|
Some of you may have seen the Lite Brite LED clock project here. I entered the clock in Instructables.com's LED contest and ended up coming in second place. I think the judges got it right. The winner's project, LED Matrix Glasses, was incredible, and had excellent documentation too. I ended up winning an Apollo Jammer music controller and a few other Instructables items. Since I don't have any RGB LED strip lighting to use with the controller and don't really have much of an interest in lighting, I've put the controller up for sale on eBay. You can find the listing here, at least for the next few days.
I was commissioned to write a how to article for Make: magazine. I've already written and submitted the article, and it will be in the first issue of 2013. My first paid writing assignment! I guess I'm a semi-pro author now? I'll talk more about this article once it's been published.
Listened to a fascinating book - iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. I always kind of thought that Wozniak did most of the engineering, but Steve Jobs did a lot of the work too. The truth is, Wozniak did ALL of the engineering on the Apple computer, and he was doing things that had never been done before. The level of detail that Wozniak goes into when describing the engineering of his various creations is just right - you don't have to be an engineer to appreciate it, but you do have to be a fairly hard-core geek. The childlike enthusiasm and naievity that Steve Wozniak uses to approach life is refreshing and sometimes a little sad. After reading this book, I think Apple computer could have been created without Steve Jobs, but Steve Wozniak was indispensable. I do not, however, think for a second that Woz would have been capable of starting his own company. This is a fascinating read, so buy the book now if you haven't already.
As you've probably noticed, I've been posting videos lately that are highlighting the use of one component rather than entire systems. I'm trying to build a toolbox of components and code for me and others to use to build bigger systems. For instance, you can now find on MeanPC complete information on how to use a Toshiba TB6612FNG motor driver, an HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor, a Tamiya twin-motor gearbox, hacked MG995 servo, and parallel LCD display. I've also included a lot of information about using the TI MSP430 chip with Energia, which allows you to program the MSP430 with Arduino code.
If you take all of those articles, how-to's and tutorials and throw them into one project, you would get a really powerful, very low cost robotics platform. Quick math tells me that I could build a robot based on the components above, including a TI Launchpad for under $40. You can look for this project soon.
I've got to plug the Energia team once more - they are doing some fantastic work. I've gotten Energia to successfully run the HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor and LCD display. I don't anticipate having any trouble interfacing Energia and the TB6612FNG motor driver.
I recently discovered Cashdollar.biz, a blog about electronic circuits, microcontrollers and embedded programming. I initially saw Cashdollar.biz on Twitter, and I assumed it was some multi-level marketing spammer. It turns out that the blogger's name is actually Matt Cashdollar! Matt is doing some really cool stuff with the MSP430, including building his own home automation system. One of his most recent posts describes how he wrote his own operating system.