Command Line LCD Arduino Interface

Liquid crystal displays are pretty awesome. Command line interfaces are very awesome. Hmm…

I started daydreaming at work about how to go about making hardware interface with an RSS feed. I have seen some projects that use Arduinos with ethernet shields to check Twitter, for example, but they seem unnecessarily bulky. Or clumsy. I spend a lot of time working on the command line, and love to put together dirty little scripts to solve problems. It sort of goes along the lines of ‘when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail’…I figured that the same thing could be implemented with a little shell scripting and my trusty Arduino, sans anything complicated.

So far, so good.

bad lab mobile
bad lab mobile

I put together a sketch (after the bump) to drive my LCD, writing serial output to the screen. After verifying that the sketch worked via the Arduino IDE’s serial monitor, I popped open a CLI and got to work. FWIW, I am using Ubuntu 11.04 still…ctrl-alt-t pops open a terminal window…unity has me all over shortcuts these days. Anyhow, I was able to verify that I could echo text and direct it to the USB port that the Arduino was mounted to. No sweat.

As a proof of concept, I decided to display the number of times that I had the word “awesome” on swantron.com. Once the LCD was shown to work, the sky is the limit…see some regex, pipes, wget, and so forth in action:

CLI
CLI FTW

Survey says:

+1 awesome
+11 awesome

Eleven “awesome”s. Awesome.
(Hit the bump for some code, an oddity, and more fun…)
Continue reading “Command Line LCD Arduino Interface”

Ubuntu Natty Narwhal Features

I’ve had some time to poke around under the hood of Ubuntu 11.04, a.k.a. Natty Narwhal. I still am struggling to spell ‘narwhal’ for the record, but I’ll share some of my first thoughts. After all, sharing is caring. Write that down.

I’ll put the most obvious thing on the table first…they Apple-ed the crap out of this distro. Take a look at this screen shot, and tell me it doesn’t look an awful lot like OSX, with the bottom ‘stuff’ dumped on the left-hand side: (click to enlarge)

natty narwhal
thanks mr. narhwal

The good news is that like Leopard, Narwhal is usable. The same cannot be said for Ubuntu’s first foray into this new territory with Unity. Their last attempt was in 10.10 Netbook Edition, which was horrible to say the least. The UI was attempting to mix desktop features with mobile phone-like buttons, and it was a joke. Pretty much junk…I reverted my Mini 9 to the 10.10 Desktop Edition, and jumped back on the Gnome bandwagon. Well, to their credit, Ubuntu has polished the thing up.

From what I can gather, Unity sits over Compiz…sort of like a plugin. I snagged the Compiz configuration tool via a CLI and messed around with the settings. The snap-to-side function that came stock with this was a pain in my ass, so I reverted it to my beloved ‘wobble windows’ It was sort of odd to have the options bar integrated with the top bar at first, but when I change gears and use multiple windows, I am liking the move.

The window switcher function pans out and shows you four workspaces…see below (click to enlarge)

window switcher ubuntu
window switcher is switchy

So basically, I am writing this post in one area, have Eclipse up in another, and have two CLI sessions live in their own spots. With the integrated file bar, the Gimp is far less cluttered…which is awesome. The taskbar slider function is a bit spotty still. I have taken Compiz down running my Arduino IDE (trying to set a temp file up as a taskbar item…it puked) but now have it configured and snappy. I would chalk that up to a training issue, rather than a show stopper.

At the end of the day, I give it a surprisingly positive review. I was very satisfied with the last few long term support versions of Ubuntu, and hesitant to make the switch after the whole fiasco with Unity last time. You can switch back to Gnome, but I have no plans on doing so.

Pros:
* Linux distro. Give me terminal or give me death.
* Firefox 4. Much improved.
* Update manager. Keeps me current without much hassle.
* Interesting UI. Make sure you download the Compiz manager to tweak things.
* Free.99. Can’t beat the price

Cons:
* Ubuntu’s slant. Not bad, but they are steering us toward their cloud services and apps.
* Not Linux-y. Feels like a Win7/OSX hybrid at times.
* Rushed to market. Unity is in need of some refinement.

At the end of the day, I am sticking with this distro. It will only improve. When the new Gnome drops, I’ll make the call as where to head, but this is it for the time being.

Alarm System In Progress

I suppose I should add a few words. I placed the images in an empty post several days ago, and sort of forgot to update the text on mi telephono.

Dios mio!

speaker
netbook action shot

Well, long story short. I put together the little POC using my PIR sensor a while back. The shit deal, is that the sucker only writes high and low. Easy, for the win. Limited, for the loss.

I may or may not have (I did) disassembled a few CRT TVs last month. Hence, have all sorts of components, such as small sub 9V speakers…

wires
the wires are wire-y

I’m trying to do something with a dual speaker setup, in order to shine up my bugler alarm project. The code is boring…stay tuned…I might be able to come up with something amusing.

Linux Systems Update

Done, done, and done. All systems go.

I dropped Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on the 17″ Dell, via an old image-having CD I had in the man-lab. Updated via the manager to 10.10, on my makeshift table:

honda-y
Laptop Stand

No problem what-so-ever. Works like a champ.

I snagged the 10.10 image from Ubuntu, and created a bootable USB. I backed up my photos on said drive…so that sucker is one sweet USB. I have been packing it in my pocket, in case anyone needs some Linux on the fly…not holding my breath however.

Anyhow, my wireless card needed some update action…had to go manual on the little guy:

w2ires
hiding spot

So the secret is out…I keep my modem and router in a wire-jumble behind the TV. It works. As does Meerkat on my Mini 9…with which I’m posting this tale at this moment.

So, I have a Ubuntu trifecta going on right now. Seems like they should have me on the payroll or something. Free shirt, or something. Not having Windows is prize enough.

State of Affairs

I’ve been busy. General business…not so much free time business. Here is a brief run-down of what is in the works:

Item: Environment updates

I am in the middle of re-purposing my computers. I have three flavors of Linux that I use on a regular basis. Gone will be that setup, along with all dual-boot machines. I am going to dedicate my Mini9 netbook as my ‘work at work’ machine…my old 17″ Dell will become my bench computer for my electronics projects…and my slick 15′-er will be my couch computer slash backup unit. All will run Ubuntu 10.10 with Gnome for the time being. I am toying with online storage options, so that I can drop files to and from my Droid without using swantron.com’s server space. More to come on that.

Action shot…updating the Mini 9 from Ubuntu 10.4 Netbook to Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop…

netbooky
little guy --------------------------------^

Bonus from above…real time apt-get Arduino V0022 action

Item: PIR sensor work on the Arduino

I actually had a little POC put together last week, before the system reboot. I made a generic little alarm, using the passive infrared module and a piezo. Once I can get the Arduino IDE up and running on all three boxes, I’ll snap some pics, clean stuff up, and let it rip. Stay tuned.

Item: General EE work.

I’ve been tearing apart all sorts of stuff. Two CRT TVs, some media players, etc. I didn’t document much, but managed to keep from discharging some big ass capacitors. For the win. The goal is to locate points of failure, and swap out components on the board level. This all stems from the flat-iron failure…for which I’m searching for a replacement switch and diode. Pretty cool.

That is about it. It looks like my wireless on the Mini is non-functional. Great. I’m off to track down an ethernet cord.

State of Affairs

I’ve been busy. General business…not so much free time business. Here is a brief run-down of what is in the works:

Item: Environment updates

I am in the middle of re-purposing my computers. I have three flavors of Linux that I use on a regular basis. Gone will be that setup, along with all dual-boot machines. I am going to dedicate my Mini9 netbook as my ‘work at work’ machine…my old 17″ Dell will become my bench computer for my electronics projects…and my slick 15′-er will be my couch computer slash backup unit. All will run Ubuntu 10.10 with Gnome for the time being. I am toying with online storage options, so that I can drop files to and from my Droid without using swantron.com’s server space. More to come on that.

Action shot…updating the Mini 9 from Ubuntu 10.4 Netbook to Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop…

netbooky
little guy --------------------------------^

Bonus from above…real time apt-get Arduino V0022 action

Item: PIR sensor work on the Arduino

I actually had a little POC put together last week, before the system reboot. I made a generic little alarm, using the passive infrared module and a piezo. Once I can get the Arduino IDE up and running on all three boxes, I’ll snap some pics, clean stuff up, and let it rip. Stay tuned.

Item: General EE work.

I’ve been tearing apart all sorts of stuff. Two CRT TVs, some media players, etc. I didn’t document much, but managed to keep from discharging some big ass capacitors. For the win. The goal is to locate points of failure, and swap out components on the board level. This all stems from the flat-iron failure…for which I’m searching for a replacement switch and diode. Pretty cool.

That is about it. It looks like my wireless on the Mini is non-functional. Great. I’m off to track down an ethernet cord.

Droid 2 Must Have Games

Games kick ass, am I right? Am I right? (****Spoiler…YES!*****)

Since I haven’t blathered about how awesome Android stuff is in a while, I figured I would ramble about games for a while. So far, I have found four games that are pretty much “must-have.” I hate that term, but it gets me search engine traffic. And traffic is a must-have. (Sorry.) You can find these must-havers on Android Market, but you probably knew that. Let’s begin.

In order of most-must-have, to still-must-have-but-not-as-much-as-most-must-have…

Angry Birds — Q. Why so angry, birds? A. Those egg-stealing pigs, that’s why.

mofo
I like that one ^

Robo Defense — Tower defense, FTW. I got really, really sucked into this one, keeping it in the two spot. All acheivements, check.
joke fail
D - Fence...get it (shakes head)

Fruit Ninja — Chopping the shit out of fruit…this game is as fun as it sounds
nacho ninja
Fruit Ninja looks more like Nacho Ninja

Doodle Jump — Pretty sure this (like Angry Birds) made some waves on iStuff. You jump a doodle…it is amusing as hell.
stupid flanders
Stupid Flanders

I’m still waiting for the non-advertisment-laden version of Angry Birds to drop. Right now, the free app is all that is out there on the Android Market. I’m not entirely sure, but I think I spent less than 3 bucks for the other three apps. Robo Defense has a pretty solid trial version, FWIW.

Well, in any regards, get Angry Birds. Meetings at work become little workday vay-kays. Little bird flinging vay-kays.

If you come across anything that I should check out, hit me with a comment. Or, Tweet that crap over to @swantron. Plug.

Droid 2 Must Have Games

Games kick ass, am I right? Am I right? (****Spoiler…YES!*****)

Since I haven’t blathered about how awesome Android stuff is in a while, I figured I would ramble about games for a while. So far, I have found four games that are pretty much “must-have.” I hate that term, but it gets me search engine traffic. And traffic is a must-have. (Sorry.) You can find these must-havers on Android Market, but you probably knew that. Let’s begin.

In order of most-must-have, to still-must-have-but-not-as-much-as-most-must-have…

Angry Birds — Q. Why so angry, birds? A. Those egg-stealing pigs, that’s why.

mofo
I like that one ^

Robo Defense — Tower defense, FTW. I got really, really sucked into this one, keeping it in the two spot. All acheivements, check.
joke fail
D - Fence...get it (shakes head)

Fruit Ninja — Chopping the shit out of fruit…this game is as fun as it sounds
nacho ninja
Fruit Ninja looks more like Nacho Ninja

Doodle Jump — Pretty sure this (like Angry Birds) made some waves on iStuff. You jump a doodle…it is amusing as hell.
stupid flanders
Stupid Flanders

I’m still waiting for the non-advertisment-laden version of Angry Birds to drop. Right now, the free app is all that is out there on the Android Market. I’m not entirely sure, but I think I spent less than 3 bucks for the other three apps. Robo Defense has a pretty solid trial version, FWIW.

Well, in any regards, get Angry Birds. Meetings at work become little workday vay-kays. Little bird flinging vay-kays.

If you come across anything that I should check out, hit me with a comment. Or, Tweet that crap over to @swantron. Plug.