Monthly Archives: May 2009

And she’s off

Managed to get Nefarious on the plane to visit her mother, but was temporarily delayed by a jackass US Customs official who thought he’d prove that he had “power”… I really can’t stand it when small people — be they border thugs or cock-cutting torturers or be they cops — need to make themselves feel important by proving they can mess you just because they can and feel like it. Anyway, we got there a little early so we read a few chapters of The Emerald City of Oz (did you know there are fourteen in the series?). It’ll be nice to have some sleeping in time, but I can’t wait for her to get back on Sunday so we can all watch and launch some fireworks.


Boat Building Et Cetera

I started to work on the Minimax today, a little 4’x8′ powerboat that’s basically just two pieces of plywood and a couple of bulkheads (download the plans). I think it’ll be a lot of fun, and it only weights about 70 pounds, so it’s easy to lift up on the roof of my truck for transport… Because Nefarious is going to be out of town this weekend (visiting her mother and her new boyfriend) as is Caitlin (also visiting her mother) for at least part of the weekend, I’ll try and finish it off so I can do the fiberglass work while no one else is around (and only I will be poisoned by fumes).


Luckily they will both be back in time for the fireworks. I think now that we have some good empty lots in this new neighborhood, it might be time to go pick up some real fireworks like the gold ol’ days. Speaking of good ol’ days, looks like my old monster truck will be back on the road soon!

We went to the park after school and played with a little girl whose mother is dying of cancer so her aunt was looking after her… Nefarious and her tried as many swing stunts as they could come up with, and rough-housed on the slides, and then dug up an ant-hill. This photo was taken during the kill frenzy.


We finished reading her latest book as well (part of the Magic Tree House series), which was good timing. I picked up two more books in the Oz series, so I guess that’ll be what we start on when she gets back.

Our lives… not another Arduino video

First, I forgot to mention Caitlin‘s birthday — and I forgot to take a picture of the cake that Nefarious and I made for her before it was mostly eaten. Nefarious was in charge of stirring and also — of course — helped with decorations. I’m a little ashamed because it’s hugely inferior to the cakes that Caitlin has cooked for me (or for Nefarious). But I’m a lover, not a baker. Ha.


I chopped my finger with a razor cutting foam for my submarine… There’s blood everywhere, all over it. Nefarious took this picture of me and the project — the strips around the cabin are just scrap so I can see the shape. I’ll comment on this more elsewhere when I get the chance, but I’m thinking about pulling the panels off and starting over with a slightly different method as I’m finding it hard to get nice flat, smooth transitions with this method.


One of the nice things about having a concrete floor is being able to draw on the floor with chalk! I can’t wait until it’s just a touch warmer — and I’ve build a little “rope hook” for the garage door so it stays open — because then we can open this place up most of the time… The majority of our neighbors have their doors open wide all the time… It’s a pretty community-oriented building. Way more than anywhere else we’ve lived.


What else…? I tried to surprise Caitlin by getting a couple little goldfish to add to our (in need of cleaning) fish tub, but my surprise elicited no shock whatsoever as she instantly knew that I was the cause of the extra fish.


Arduino Timer Test Code

For my second program for the Arduino/TouchShield, I experimented with some simple timer code, which includes a pre-calculated trig lookup table (for placing things rotated like a clock around the central point), a custom vector-font for drawing the text, and monitoring of the touch pad so it changes color when you click, and the little fast dot changes direction — awkwardly — when you double click. I’m just using a plastic straw as a stylus, so it takes a few tries to get the clicks sometimes, as you may notice in the video.

I think next I’ll do something “real” and useful rather than just testing functions — I feel fairly comfortable writing code. I think I’ll do a kitchen timer, and then after that, start experimenting with sensors and motors and LEDs and so on… Definitely fun!

Code follows after the break.


First Arduino test program

It’s far from exciting, but I wrote my very first test program for the Arduino. Definitely easy! All it does is watch for finger-presses on the OLED, and then writes the location in text to the screen, and also places a pulsing (the central dot changes color rapidly and randomly) target wherever you touch (I haven’t calibrated the screen yet as you may have noticed), only redrawing when it needs to. I still have a lot to figure out, but it works!

Anyway, I’ll write something more substantial later, but this just shows how easy it is to get the Arduino up and running by someone who’s got no recent experience with microcontrollers.

Code for this is really easy:

void setup()
int oldmouseX;
int oldmouseY;
int tmouseX;
int tmouseY;
int r;
int g;
int b;
void loop() 
  tmouseX = mouseX;
  tmouseY = mouseY;
  if (tmouseX != oldmouseX || tmouseY != oldmouseY)
  oldmouseX = mouseX;
  oldmouseY = mouseY;
  fill(255, 0, 0);
  ellipse(mouseX, mouseY, 20,20);
  ellipse(mouseX, mouseY, 15,15);
  ellipse(mouseX, mouseY, 10,10);
  ellipse(mouseX, mouseY, 5,5);
  text(oldmouseX, 10, 10);
  text(oldmouseY, 10, 30);
  r = random(128, 255);
  g = random(128, 255);
  b = random(128, 255);
  fill(r, g, b);
  ellipse(mouseX, mouseY, 5,5);