chebe: (Default)
When my mp3-player started displaying a "hard-disk problem" message one day, nearly a year ago, I decided it'd be fun to fix it myself. I was wrong.

I have a Creative Zen Vision W. I love this player, the interface, the weight, simply everything. So I googled around and found this teardown. Great! So I went out and found a Toshiba MK1011GAH 120Gb, and fit it. Only. It didn't fit. The drive is 8mm in height, and as it turned out, I have the slim Zen that only fits 5mm drives.

New knowledge! Try again. Get the Toshiba MK8022GAA 80Gb. It certainly fits, but it doesn't work. Turns out the drive is proprietary to the Apple iPod Classic gen 6 video. It uses an extended/encrypted command set which makes it useless in any other device.

More new knowledge! Try again. Samsung HS081HA 80Gb. It fits! It turns on! I can format the drive! I ... can't reload the firmware. New error message: "firmware problem". GAAAAHHHHHHH! The firmware update tool fails. There's also an mp3 player recovery tool, sure I've nothing to lose. As it's downloading the latest firmware for me my player seems to unfreeze, flashing something about plugs, and restarts. I swiftly unplug the usb cable and sit in amazement as it starts up normally, returned to factory-fresh blue theme and everything. I press a few buttons, see that it's empty, turn it off. Then on again. Just to make sure. Apparently it's 02:27:15am, on Monday, 1st August 2005. *SQUEEEEEE* *ahem* Excuse me. To reload with my music!


Helpful information:
- At least two models of Creative Zen Vision Ws. One, that takes 8mm drives and probably came with Hitachi Travelstar C4K60 Slim 60Gb. Two, that takes only 5mm drives and probably came with Seagate ST760211DE 60Gb.
- To force the player into recovery mode, unplug from computer, take out battery. Pull the power switch to the on position and hold it there as you put the battery back in, and keep holding until the recovery menu appears.
- If you are pressing buttons and nothing on screen changes make sure you haven't the hold button locked. If you've opened the player it's real easy to knock it out and put it back wrong, so be careful.
chebe: (Default)
I can't help it, I think LEDs are pretty. So what could be better than a tshirt with 49 of them? Well, there's a lot to figure out before I get that far. Let's start with a more reasonable number, say 9, that's a 3x3 matrix. Yes, that's doable. But let's not make it too easy, let's try using the sewing machine, and user input. Okay, ready?

Details, pics, and vid. )

Things I Learned:
1. That to use 4-ply conductive thread in a sewing machine it needs to be in the bobbin.

2. That your choice of fabric is very important. If it is thin/light you need to skip a couple of stitches at the point where two traces cross, to prevent possible shorting.

3. That I can use user input through the computer to affect Arduinos through Serial.read().
chebe: (Wild)
It's not just blinky LEDs and microcontrollers that amuse me. Recently I've gotten into modifying tshirts. And since school I've had a thing for chemistry. Luckily for me the two go together quite nicely. I present to you 'smart' pigments:

Ta-da! )

I reckon it's pretty snazzy, and at least now I have something to wear to the AGM. Oh, the possibilities for the future :)
chebe: (Default)
My Lilypad is now aware! It actually does something in response to changes it detects! I can't take the glory, I simply used the code from the project that inspired mine: Leah Buechley's accelerometer shirt.

Interesting things about this code:
Code talk... )

The Result:
Short video... )

Also, there is a newer version of the Arduino IDE available, 17, that fixes the bug I mentioned in a previous post about how the Lilypad was using the wrong baud rate to communicate back to the computer. So now if you set it at 9600, it actually uses 9600. This makes me happy.

Next step? Using data from the 3-axes!

Getting there...

2009-Sep-16, Wednesday 10:33 pm
chebe: (Default)
The physical construction of my Arduino Lilypad glove is almost complete. Just have to tighten the fit, finish a few edges. I was going to line, decorate, and all that jazz, but feel it's a bit unnecessary for this project. I am getting usable information in, and just have to decide what way I want to use that information, as in, how I want the lights to behave in relation to movement. Here's the glove:

Some text and pics )

Things I learned:

- Analog sensors give you a value between 0 and 1023, which represents the level of current flowing through it. Not anything useful like an absolute temperature, sound level, or angle. You have to work these things out yourself, with a thermometer or other measurement device in hand, and seeing what the values correspond to.

- Analog actuators take values between 0 and 255, which I assume represents a level of current?, but that doesn't really matter much. The easiest way to get from sensor data to usable actuator data is to simply divide by 4. This however, doesn't always give you the behaviour you desire.

- Accelerometers also require + and - lines. If you can't see the markings you need a magnifying glass. It will still seem to work without them hooked up, but you'll get somewhat random data that if plotted looks like a soft wave, sitting at 0 for a bit then increasing over a few values to 1023, where it will sit for a bit before descending over a few values to 0, and repeating.

- The language you use to program the Arduino is called Processing.

- Getting data from the Serial object is quite simple. For the regular Arduino if you specify the transfer rate Serial.begin(9600) it comes through on baud 9600. However, for some reason the Lilypad when set at 9600 comes in at 19200. If set at 4800 comes in at 9600. Don't know why. Yet.

Progess update

2009-Sep-09, Wednesday 12:19 am
chebe: (Default)
Yes I know I've been a bit scarce and the projects appear to have been abandoned while barely begun. But progress has been slow because of the need to acquire new skills. Today was a day of firsts. My first time ever using a soldering iron, my first time changing the threads on my overlocker, and my first time customising a t-shirt past the fabric paint level.

Soldering iron adventures )

Sewing adventures )

So you see, I am working away on my projects, in a rather indirect way. I've borrowed the 'Getting Started with Arduino' book which I probably should have read before starting my project at all, and plan to fly through that. I have to become familiar with the Java Comms package, and a few other things. So slowly, and bit by bit, I'm getting closer to realising my ideas. It's a rewarding struggle.
chebe: (Default)
JOGL. Java binding for OpenGL. The question I get asked is, why JOGL? I haven't looked into Java3D in years, but back when I was making this fairly unimportant decision two factors weighed heavily. Firstly, I already knew a bit of OpenGL from my C-based graphics course. Secondly, the OpenGL standard is used in a variety of different languages, once you know the basics in one you can quickly pick up another, which makes the skillset much more portable. And, as we're already seeing, Java is falling out of favour. So the next question becomes, why not just use C? The answer is also two-fold. Firstly, I know Java much better than C, I'm not planning a major project here, just a utility. Secondly, and this one is very close to my heart, it's more portable. When optimisation starts meaning more to me than portability I'll return to my beloved C, but that's not today. No, this project is very simple, and differences of microseconds aren't going to have a large impact. What is the project?

Details and instructions on setting up )

And that's it, you're ready to use JOGL for fancy 3D graphics. And I'm ready to make a start on my utility project. Have fun!
chebe: (Default)
I got a bug a while back. One that demanded I get myself sorted with some vinyl. So I got the parents old turntable (Technics SL-B3) down from the attic. It was dusty, and had suffered some grim build-up around the controls, so my first order of business was to wash it down with some gently soapy water. My dad suggested that maybe it might need a new belt.

Proof of one man's powers of understatement )

So I ordered the new belt from Turntable Basics who told me what length I needed from the model number, and it arrived swiftly complete with instructions.

Next thing I needed was new needles. This was much more difficult, and had me attempting to track down some 20/30 year old manuals online, before realising the replacement part number was written on the turntable itself. I found a nice place on eBay that sold them, and snapped them up.

But, it's an old turntable, and my stereo is a fair bit newer. It's Aux port expects pre-amped input to be able to drive the speakers. Something this turntable doesn't do. So I needed a pre-amp. I found a very pretty one for £100 that I'd have to order from Belfast. But I'm not a patient lass. So I wandered from A/V and electronics shops, getting looked at as if I was insane. Only two sales assistants had even heard of them. One told me to order from Belfast, the other, in Peats, sold me this with a very dismissive and rude attitude.

A phono-phono cable acquisition later and everything was in place. But to be sure I needed a record I knew the air of by heart but didn't mind getting damaged. Cue a 7" copy of Moonlight Sonata I picked up in a charity shop.

All fired up and looking pretty )

But alas! The pre-amp is complete shite. I had to turn the stereo up a lot to even vaguely hear the music, and as I did the background noise and hum got so loud it actually drowned out what little sound was present. To give it another chance I hooked up my mp3-player to it. And yep, the same result. So tomorrow I begin my attempt to return the useless piece of scrap-metal that is far from fit for it's purpose, and order the pretty pre-amp from Belfast. Once again I learn that it's impossible to walk into Peats as a female and actually get anything useful from them. But now I'm only a hairs breadth, or about two weeks, away from getting to listen to my brand new LPs. This is an event I greatly look forward to.
chebe: (Default)
How It All Began:

In this world there a great variety of people, with vastly different skills, interests, backgrounds, and futures. But for the sake of this post I will concern myself with only two kinds. Those who know cool electrical stuff, and those who don't. I fall into the latter category. But when a friend told me about these pre-assembled circuit boards, that are used to rapidly prototype gadgets and inventions, that are so simple to use that artists with no technical background are able to pick them up and realize their visions, well, my first thought was, 'that's kinda cool'. So idly I browsed the interwebs, for this strange thing called Arduino, and discovered it's sleeker, purple-ier, sibling, the Arduino Lilypad. It offers a subset of the range offered for the Arduino, but washable, and redesigned for use on clothing. My imagination immediately filled with visions of me dancing, trailing swirls of colours. *ahem* And other less girly things. And I just knew I had to get my teeth into it. Afterall, if it was so simple to use then I could hardly fail.
This is long, and has two photos, and two videos )


Things I Learned:

- The Lilypad is more expensive than the Arduino, so unless you want wearable tech specifically, stick to the Arduino.
- The Arduino works in a three-dimensional space. You can build flat circuits, or giant cubes. The Lilypad, although it has to shape and conform to the 3-D form of the body, works primarily in flat planes. You are fairly limited to above the fabric, and below it.
- If you don't know much about electronics the Lilypad is easier to use and understand. As you learn more you start seeing how your projects would translate to the Arduino, and just how neat and clever (both intentionally, and coincidentally) the Lilypad is.

- I have installed the Arduino IDE on both Fedora 11 and Windows XP. Both are similar and very easy. Windows does have the disadvantage of offering you many COM ports, and you just have to try them all to find the one that's connected to your Arduino. Whereas on my Fedora machine I have to launch it from the terminal, and as root.

- When using the Lilypad you may notice a complete lack of resistors. This is because the power sources readily available are about 3-5V, which is the range the Lilypad likes. But also, despite it's name, conductive thread, while being conductive relative to ordinary thread, is a quite poor conductor with regards more traditional electrical items like wire. So in essence the thread is your resistor. If you need a greater resistance, simply create a longer path of thread between the power source and your components. Adding other pieces, like clasps and such can also add a decorative touch of resistance if needed.

- Conductive thread is like unshielded/uninsulated wire. It is very important not to cross the positive and negative strands. And seeing how easily the thread frays you will need a way to seal away the knot-ends at the very least. I currently use fabric paint, and find it very good, despite a quite long drying time.

Self reminders

2009-Jul-30, Thursday 03:32 pm
chebe: (South Park)
Just a working tally to act as reminder to me for things to do:

1.) Nokia 3250, phone not turning on. Have replacement battery, not helping. Got service manual. Now to follow instructions and buy equipment/replacement parts.

2.) Creative Zen Vision W. When turn on receive error message: Hard-disk failure. Tried the freezer and knock tricks, didn't work. Found step-by-step disassembly instructions. Next step, to purchase a 1.8" ZIF drive and replace it. *edit* See: http://chebe.dreamwidth.org/17695.html
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