Wednesday, August 20, 2008

LEDuino arrives!

Well, I got myself a LEDuino -- its much smaller than I had thought -- very cute. So far I have just run it with the Arduino software and made a led fade in and out. However, now the fun and more difficult part begins --- developing some libraries to use the DCC and CAN connections it has on board. These are used in the model railroading community to network their trains and accessories.

JMRI wins a Big one.

The open source project JMRI, Java Model Railroad Interface, lead by Bob Jacobsen has won a significant battle in their legal action with KAM Industries. Matt Katzer, the owner of KAM industries had sued Jacobsen over patent infringement. One of Katzer's employees had used some of the JMRI project data with attribution. The Appeals Court has ruled that open source licenses, such as the Artistic Licence, is enforcable as a copyright.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Electronic Ink

Looks like 'electronic ink' is finally becoming available. This is a technology that lets you change a display, but the display is permanent, even without power. Looks exciting.

Interestingly, one of the selling points is that these displays are readable in sunlight, like the OLPC computer. I bought one of these, very nice.

Some links:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

LEDuino Announced

Well, Silicon Railway has announced their Arduino clone, which is called the LEDuino. In its basic form it is totally compatible but has a smaller USB port connector, and has a power switch. However, it can also be configured with a DCC interface for railroad buffs, a I2C interface, and/or a CAN interface. Its a well-connected board.

You can read more about it here, or go to their website, or even buy one on EBay. The Arduino original site is here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Photo-editing on-line

I guess this is a portent of what is to come -- most applications being on-line based. As someone pointed out -- this makes you operating system rather moot. This has huge implications on business models.

Anyway, I have just become aware of photoediting software on-line. This in includes: Adobe Photoshop Express, Picnik, and splashup. These use Flash and other techniques to let you edit your snaps on-line. While some of them are limited to minor modifications, Slashup lets you edit in layers. I have only briefly looked at them, but I am sure they will become very handy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Arduino Movement

I have a continuing interests in computer languages, electronics, especially microcomputers, and model railroading. So, it is not surprising that I have had and ongoing interest in the venerable Basic Stamp modules. Unfortunately, these use an interpreted Basic, and don't have the level of functionality I really need. I have also toyed with Forth on microcomputers, but the development platform was always too difficult to let me easily pass projects on.

So, I was pleased to find the Arduino movement which not only uses a more regular microprocessor (Atmel's AVR ATMega168), but also includes a complete development platform using "the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring) and the Arduino development environment (based on Processing). Arduino projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software on running on a computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP). " This results in a rather painless development cycle. This plug into a serial or USB port on your computer and you can quickly compile and download a project. Check it out.

So, I was excited when one of my collegues at Silicon Railway designed a Arduino 'cousin' called the LEDuino. It is completely compatible with the Arduino software, and all the projects work on it - which makes it very freindly. But what interests me is the other intefaces, besides USB, that are included:
  1. DCC -- this is the protocol used across the rails in modern model railroading that allows control of individual locomotives, and has been standardized by the NMRA .
  2. CAN -- this is a serial protocol used in cars, and designed by . I have been involved with a NMRA committee developing the specification of a LCB (local control bus) for model railroading. In parallel the MERG group has developed the CBus. Both of these are based on CAN -- so now I will be able to participate actively.
  3. I2C -- this is 2-wire protocol designed by NXP buffered allowing connection to many I2C chips; and

All these add up to a board on which I can use all my interests.

I can hardly wait to get my hands on an actual LEDuino.

I will keep you posted.