Friday, March 18, 2005

The long wait before the build

So though I have ordered the majority of the components that I will be needing for the build of Minty, I am still wating on my order from Maxim-ic. I ordered parts from TI almost a week later and have already recieved those parts, so I am begining to wonder. Maybe I should break down and actually pay for it?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Ordering of major components completed!

I just sampled the PCM1748 from as well as the TUSB3210PM, a USB controller. This means that I have now sampled all of the big pieces of the project, yeah! So now I need to go to Fry's to get the smt converters so I can test on bread boards and get this minty show on the road.

Just for fun, I was looking for a general purpose RISC machine with full os (not ce or Linux with no x-windows) and stumbled upon's reduced instruction set mainboard with full peripherals. The linked product even comes with an LCD and can be booted from flash, Compact flash, or SD. All in all a sweet product, that comes with ce .net binary and Linux Kernel for development. The 6.4 inch screen appears to completely cover the mainboard and all it needs is a case and some form of a power supply and this could be a very mobile or compact computing platform with the 2.4 kernel.

I am looking for other small platforms like the PC104 and other low power consumption fully functional platforms so if you see any please post some links in the comments.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Ah PCB123 hell

So I am starting to appreciate the work that Ladyada has put into the Mintymp3 player, and have decided to not send her any more "suggestions" on how sweet her project could be if she used it as an educational program. I downloaded and installed PCB123 and started laying out the electronics for my minty (killing time waiting for my sampled chips to come) and became very confused. I now know pcb creation programs are like CADs only much less fun to work with, I wasted well over an hour trying to make a chip that was not in their inventory. After it was over, you would think I had learned something; but you'd be wrong. The chip I was making was the PCM17481 the DAC that Ladyada thought would be a good replacement to the CS4340. Now I think I know why she did not feel like replacing it on her board; it probably was not listed in the standard parts, and she didn't want to have to invent the wheel. Not re-invent mind you, when you are working in these worthless programs (the one she was using is infinitely worse in my opinion than the one I am using) you actually have to invent. In one place I searched for Molex and found a large number of Molex connectors 2 to 40 pin, and then when I went to create a 50 pin straight through for the CF/IDE adapter and same search yielded no hits. Whatever.

So the net result of this week was nothing actually getting done (as far as the actual lay out of the board is concerned) I was so frustrated by the program I avoided it all 12 hours I would have otherwise worked on it and listened/read Robert Jordan books. Always next weekend I suppose.

Completely not related, it looks like the Servo magazine published the results of the servo hackasapien contest (not that they bothered to update the contest page, or even point to some of the sites up for the contest) so if you cared purchase the back issues Jan and Feb.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Yeah! Welcome to my hardware hacking.

Ok, so call it an attempt to avoid boredom, or just laziness in not setting up my own website for hosting this blog. I am starting this to document for anyone else that cares, my attempt to build fun and interesting things in this world of ours.

To start I have been reading a number of sites and blogs with regard to building and hacking interesting hardware. Hack A Day has offered a large number of fascinating projects and really has motivated me to try to actually build some of these great projects. One small problem though. I have lots of time, but very little actual electronics knowledge. So the dilemma begins, knowledge before experience or gain knowledge through experience? In other words to go back to school or school myself? Well I have decided both. I live close to Seattle Pacific University, and only work 3 days a week (3 X 12) so I have the weekdays to myself. To rapidly gain some electronics experience I purchased one of the Parallax Inc Basic Stamp® and project book kits, and a bread board for prototyping.

Thus far I am well into the Homework Board kit, and have found the course unfortunately aimed a little low. Though the intended audience is High School, I think they missed and hit Middle School. The book is well written, and the designs are made to push the students to questions that almost always are on the next page from when I started thinking about them; I have found that I want to move faster than the book is progressing.

I have found Minty mp3 which appears to meet my need for a challenge (more likely exceeds it), and have started to procure parts. I am following Ladyada's examples of how to sample from the large manufactures, and discovering the challenges of ordering from the different low volume electronics components providers across the WWW. To dated I have sampled the PIC18LF452 and am looking for low cost decoder, and DAC. I have already purchased a 2.2 gig Magic Store CF card and am still on the fence about the DC/DC converter and FM transmitter. The DC/DC converter really doesn't sell me because I was planning on using a cell phone battery, and the FM transmitter I am reluctant on only because I was hopping for a simple design with only an next, back and volume.

I will try to populate this blog with the progress of my creative process and hopefully others will find it helpful.