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Microsoft places stamp of approval on Vista-based Ion SFF PCs

Posted by Igor Moochnick on 02/11/2009

 

Nvidia makes me happier every day.

I’m curious – when does my Windows phone will run Vista?  😉

Posted in Hardware, Thoughts | Leave a Comment »

NVIDIA ION is threatening VIA-micro and VIA-nano playground

Posted by Igor Moochnick on 02/03/2009

Just got a pointer from NVIDIA sales team to a great article about their new upcoming NVIDIA ION platform – Article from PC Perspective.

Can’t wait to put my hands on this baby 😉

Posted in Hardware, Thoughts | Leave a Comment »

Welcome to my new electronics blog

Posted by Igor Moochnick on 07/07/2008

I’ve decided to take my tutorials, thoughts and rants about all electronics-related topics into a separate blog: igorbits.wordpress.com.

Welcome to my new blog!

Posted in Community, Electronics, Hardware, Presentations, Thoughts, Tutorials | Leave a Comment »

Hello, Arduino world! Here I come.

Posted by Igor Moochnick on 06/20/2008

After a very very very long wait, followed the Boarduino USB kit order, I’ve finally received the package. And, without loosing any more time, decided to give it a test spin.

The assembling experience was a breeze. Within 15 minutes I was running my very first Arduino “Hello, World!” program. And you can too …

This is how you can do it (I guess that you know how to solder):

Step 1

  1. Don’t forget to order a kit. There are a couple of different Arduino kit distributors as well as a bunch of Arduino clones. I’ve ordered a Boarduino USB kit from Adafruit Industries.
  2. Wait patiently for the kit to arrive.
  3. Prepare some essential tools:
    1. Solder iron, solder and (optionally) flux
    2. Angle cutters
    3. Small pliers
    4. It’ll help you if you’ll have a 3-rd hand.

Step 2

  1. Unpack everything carefully – there are a lot of small parts.
  2. Verify that all the parts in the kit are present. 

Step 3

  1. Start with putting the capacitors C1 and C3
  2. Green LED (D1). Make sure that you use a correct polarity (long leg is a ‘+’, the short leg and a shaved side is a ‘-‘) 

  3. Resistors R2 (1K), R3 (1K). To make the resistors fit nicely in the holes – use small pliers to bend the leads.

     

  4. Solder everything and clip the extra legs

Step 4

  1. Use angle cutters to cut a 2-pin header of the long header strip. Be careful not to burn your fingers holding it in place while soldering it. You can use a drop of a glue to hold it in place or hold it with a tweezers while soldering.

  2. Add the electrolytic capacitor C2. Make sure that you using a correct polarity – align the ‘+’ sign on the cap with the ‘+’ sign on the board.

Step 5

  1. Now you can plug in the Boarduino using a plain USB A-B cable.
  2. Check that the green LED is turned ON – this tells you that your board is now powered up by the USB

  3. Tap yourself on the back, smile and get back to work …

Step 6

  1. Add a Red LED (D2)
  2. 16 MHz Resonator
  3. Capacitor C2
  4. Resistors R1 (10K) and R4 (1K)

  5. Don’t forget to clip all the extra legs after the soldering is done

Step 7

  1. Now we’re going to add some extra hardware
  2. Add a reset button
  3. Add a 3-pair header
  4. Add a chip socket. To ease the pain putting it through the hole – use a solid table surface to bend the pins inward. Make sure to follow the diagram on the board to correctly orient the notch on the socket.

Step 8 – breathtaking

  1. Now hold your breath and insert the chip. Match the notch on the chip with the notch on the socket. To make the insertion easy – use a solid table surface to bend the chip’s legs. 
  2. Go to FTDI site and download the latest drivers. More detailed you can find in Arduino Tutorial Lesson 0.
  3. Plug in the USB cable and:
    1. See that the Green LED is turned on
    2. Note that the Red LED begins blinking. This tells you that the bootloader on the chip does it’s job

  4. On your computer go to Device Manager:
    1. Start –> Control Panel –> System
    2. Select Hardware tab
    3. Press “Device Manager” button and you’ll see the following window:

      List_of_devices

  5. Under the Ports section look for extra “USB Serial Port” item – this is your Boarduino.
  6. Note the COM port number – you’ll need it later
  7. If everything is OK – hold your breath for the next step where we’re going to have a real fun.

Step 9 – awestricken

  1. Go to the official Arduino site and download the development software.
  2. Install it and run the development environment
  3. Configure the Boarduino:
    1. Tools –> Board leave the setting as “Arduino Decimila”
    2. Tools –> Serial port select the port that you’ve noted in the Device Manager in the previous step.
  4. Open a Blink sketch:
    1. From the File menu select: “Sketch Book” –> Examples –> Digital –> Blink
    2. Note that you have a piece of code in the editor
  5. Compile the code: Sketch –> Verify/Compile (there should not be any errors)
  6. Upload the code to the board: File –> “Upload to I/O Board” (if everything is OK – there should not be any problems either)
  7. If you’ve followed all the steps to the point – you should see the Red LED blinking after a very short period of time.
  8. Breathe in and breathe out – go grab a cold beer! You’ve earned it.

Step 10 – optional

  1. If you want to use your Boarduino on bread boards you need to solder the rest of the headers.
  2. Use your angle cutters to cut the header pieces to the required length
  3. Use your breadboard to align them in the correct configuration:

  4. Place Boarduino on the headers.

  5. Solder them one by one. Make sure you don’t heat the leads too much – it may melt the breadboard. Try to solder the headers randomly and one on each side – it will minimize the chance of melting your breadboard.

  6. Now you’re really DONE. Be very careful when you’ll be pulling the Boarduino from the breadboard – you can bend the legs. Try to pull it out by slightly rocking and preserving it parallel position to the breadboards as close as possible.

Extra Links

  1. Official Arduino site and Arduino Development software – http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software
  2. Boarduino site and USB Boarduino Schematics – http://ladyada.net/make/boarduino/download.html
  3. Arduino tutorial – http://www.ladyada.net/learn/arduino/index.html
  4. Getting started with Arduino – http://www.arduino.cc/en/Guide/HomePage
  5. FTDI Chip drivers – http://www.ftdichip.com/FTDrivers.htm

Posted in DIY, Electronics, Hardware, Robotics, Tutorials | 2 Comments »

Announcing the PopSci.com/Bug Labs Build-a-BUG Challenge

Posted by Igor Moochnick on 12/30/2007

You have a chance to win BUGbase and the first batch of four BUGmodules – the open, modular consumer-electronics hardware and Web-services platform that you can use like Legos to build practically any gadget you can dream up.

Join the PopSci.com/Bug Labs Build-a-BUG Challenge. More information can be found on the PopSci.com.

Posted in Hardware | Leave a Comment »

PocketPC phone usability horror story (Verizon XV6800 review)

Posted by Igor Moochnick on 12/27/2007

I’m a Verizon member not by choice but by "no choice at all". Like in: I don’t have any other choice of a provider in my house. T-Mobile, ATT nor others have any acceptable service level in my house. I think, mainly, because my close proximity to Newton and Brookline. This article will not be about Verizon’s service and support (I have a lot to say here) and not about the worst choice of the devices between all the providers out there, but about my user experience with the mobile communicators that I’ve had recently.

XV6700 with keyboard openI have a corporate phone/communicator and using it a lot to reply to my office e-mails. As you know it’s not easy to type on keyboard that has tiny buttons, like Treo or similar. The best keyboards out there are on Blackberries (it’s a shame Symantec doesn’t use them) and on a slide-out keyboards of the HTC devices (or alike). So, being an forced Verizon customer, I had no choice by to chose HTC XV6700 as my communicator.

This is when my nightmare began. The exterior design of the phone looks nice until you start carrying it with you all the time. Since the joystick is sticking out, the carrying case starts to control the phone. Yes, literally.

The phone was calling other people on it’s own, answering phone calls without asking me, adding appointments and deleting calendars, etc, etc… It was like the phone was leaving it’s own life. And the worst of all – when the phone call came it was hanging (to the point of soft reset). A total nightmare …

So, after talking to Verizon, I got an OK to replace it. With what? That was my main question. I had no alternative, but to wait. I’ve suffered for more than a year (from Jun/2006 to Nov/2007) and, finally, had a chance to replace the phone to it’s successor XV6800.

Verizon XV6800 Overall impression: the phone is better than it’s predecessor but not drastically. It has more memory, I should give it that, but the usability was not improved. Actually it has improved in the joystick area and became worse in others.

Joystick is not sticking out as it was before, but the buttons on the sides of the phone are soft. Every time you’ll want to pick the phone out of the pouch – you’ll 100% press one of them.

The biggest design flaw of this device, as I see it, is a headset adapter cable. There is no headset outlet on the phone, so if you’d like to plug-in one, you’ll need an adapter. It’s a thick cable 4-5 inch long with huge plugs that will be sticking out of your phone while you’re walking – horrible view and very inconvenient. Be very careful with this adapter, it’s easy falls off the phone and it’s small enough to be easily lost, BUT… you can’t find a replacement in any of the stores nor online.

All said above is not even begins to convey how bad is the Windows Mobile usability aspect of BOTH of the devices. Let’s start from the worst part:

  1. It’s impossible to make the phone to auto-lock. So, if you want to lock the phone, you have to go to "Today" screen and press the lock button ON THE SCREEN. Yes, it’s not a hardware button. There is no way to assign a hardware button to this action.
  2. It’s impossible to turn the screen off while the device continues to work. I need it every time when I start a media player and put the device in a pocket or in a pouch. At this moment the phone is prone to accidental button and screen actions.
  3. The phone turns on once in a while. It’s fine with me, but, at the same moment, the screen and the buttons are activated. So… you get my drift (all from above applied here).
  4. The phone synchronization is a nightmare. ActiveSync is very unreliable, self enclosed, rigid and impossible to make it do what you need. This is not a stone into the XV6800 backyard, but it adds cons to the whole experience.

I can go on an on, but, I think, I’ve said enough.

To conclude the story, I’d like to say that, to my taste, the whole user story is not completely backed and we’re still in a very deep deep Beta of the product. Under the product I mean the device(hardware) + software(OS). At this moment it looks like there is no common team that owns such product. There are hardware companies that create the hardware and Microsoft, that have fun creating an software for an abstract device.

So bottom line I have a very bad user experience with this device. I’m looking forward to the next Windows Mobile release and hope the things will change to the better.

Posted in Hardware, Thoughts | Leave a Comment »

SourceBoost .NET plug-in framework

Posted by Igor Moochnick on 03/03/2007

If you’re a fan of the SourceBoost IDE and want to extend it with a set of great new plugins – now you you can do it easily. If you know any .NET language, you’re welcome to download the SourceBoost plug-in framework that allows you to create plugins with comfort. .NET provides you with ease of use and an advantage of a rapid development.You can download the framework from the SourceBoost Plugin.NET page. Follow a set of very simple instructions that I’ve outlined on the download page and you’ll have your first plug-in in no time.

Posted in Robotics | Leave a Comment »

 
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