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ARDUBOY
Yet another mini-arcade system! The Arduboy reproduces the Gameboy's form factor and is big as a credit card (a bit thicker though). The board is Arduino compatible, and has at its core an Atmega 32u4 chip paced at 16 MHz. The monochrome OLED display is beautiful and has a resolution of 128 × 64 pixels. The mini-console is dedicated to 8-bit games. The games - over 100 are claimed - are developed by the community and can be downloaded for free. Of course, the idea is to develop your own games. Unfortunately, the game developer tutorial/guide is not ready yet. So, for now, if you are interested in developing your own game on this platform, you can apply the good old recipe: read other's code and learn!
https://arduboy.com
https://community.arduboy.com
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10/21/17
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Brass Inserts – Experiment 1
Quick test today with brass screw inserts into 3D printed parts. This will allow me to securely install the computer boards into the rocket’s electronic bays for example. But more generally, to have a neat and solid mounting options. Although I have a 3D printer with a large print volume capacity, there are still objects I cannot print in one pass. Using such inserts and screws opens up to making larger models. Next test will be with a real computer board. I will in particular pre-drill holes for the inserts to avoid the melted plastic to re-flow inside the insert.
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9/17/17
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Battery Holder – Prototype #1
My first battery holder prototype is hot out of the press! Looks pretty good and holds the two Li-Po batteries I am planning to use in my rocket’s e-bays. There are few quirks I will need to correct, and few additions. Indeed, I will use zip ties to lock the batteries so they don’t pop out of the holder on deceleration. The holes I’ve designed initially for that purpose are too small and I will need to move them in a different position. I will also need to pick one PDUs and add a support for it on the outer shell of the holder. I will also need to experiment with shoulder nuts to ease the mounting and dismounting of the electronic boards as I will start to incorporate them into the design. Overall, I am satisfied with this first spin of the battery holder!
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7/6/17
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Floating Support Problem Solved!
It turned out that the CURA version I was running didn’t tell me there was a newer one available, even though I’ve used the update checker. Regardless, version 2.6.1 solves the problem of floating support structure I was facing. Many additions and improvements happened since revision 2.3.1, and the test print went well as well as the support structure dissolution. Few learnings: 1) I will be able to print the design as planned without having to manually add support structures. 2) It will take some serious time to print the final model first, and then to clean it even using the water soluble PVA material. 3) The same model, with almost equivalent slicer settings, yields noticeably different print qualities, with a disadvantage to the newer version. But I take the latter problem vs. my initial issue at any time. Now that the floating support problem is solved, it is time to start working on the battery holder. Stay tuned.
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7/2/17
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Floating Support Structures
Quick update on last week’s post about the rocket’s e-bay (electronics bay) new layout. I’ve spent many hours last week to print several versions of the support cylinder. I had to tweak the dimensions of the model to allow an easy fit into the e-bay fiber glass shell, but otherwise, all went great (weight, flexibility and geometry). I’ve faced a serious printing issues when I tried to use support (PVA on the picture, but it is not a filament issue). Indeed, the CURA slicer – in version 2.3.1 – goes bananas on the model, and generated floating support in the holes! Obviously, that did not print well (check out the picture for details). Luckily, the design can print without support. However, when I will add the support surfaces for the electronic boards, I will have to create them manually… Let’s hope that Ultimaker can fix the bug soon. In the meantime, I will design the central battery holder next. Stay tuned and happy 4th!

PS: it took 25 hours to print the full-scale model (~10.5 MB STL file).
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7/1/17
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New Rocket E-bay Layout
While resuming the design work of the rocket project this weekend, I was thinking about the waste of space in the traditional electronics bay design. This design suits well a basic – and small – flight computer and a 9V battery. However, for my rocket, both e-bays will be busy and pretty full. Even though it is possible to increase the height of an e-bay, you cannot go crazy because you have to house your parachutes somewhere in the rocket’s body. And this is THE piece of equipment you do not want to be undersized!

More Space Available

Instead, I’ve explored another design: use the central space of the bay to house the heavy components (such as the LiPo batteries – I will design this part next week), and reuse the whole internal surface of a support cylinder – inside the bay – to attach the electronic devices. To be precise, small and ad-hoc flat surfaces can be added as needed to mount each board, sensor or connector. I’ve created a first simple prototype which turned out to be encouraging (~9h print). Then, I’ve designed the support cylinder to 1:1 scale for the smaller e-bay. To reduce the weight of this structure and the ease access to the electronic components, I’ve added a regular network of holes. I’ve dropped the honeycomb structure of my test-beds in favor of disks. The first attempt to 3D print a short section of this cylindrical support structure at full scale will take ~14 hours (height of 52 mm).

Why Is 123D So Slow?

The 3D design took a lot of time unfortunately. Undeniably, I forgot how slow AUTODESK 123D Design can be. To build the regular holes network, I’ve used an initial horizontal cylinder that I’ve duplicated and rotated around the vertical axis (Z). 20 cylinders were created this way and grouped. This composite object was then duplicated and translated along the Z axis and rotated by 45 degrees. These two objects were then grouped and duplicated many times and translated at each duplication along the Z axis (with a uniform offset of 20 mm). The main cylinder itself (vertical) was built by subtraction of a smaller cylinder. To finish, the horizontal cylinders were aligned along the central axis and subtracted. Check out the pictures for details. While these operations are quite simple, it took me two hours to build the 3D model. Each grouping/ungrouping operation for example took agonizing minutes, and the software crashed on a regular basis. This is pretty maddening, because at a given time only one (rarely two) cores of the workstation were busy (100%). Does anyone know if the Pro version suffers from the same limitation? In the meantime, enjoy the pics and stay tuned.
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6/25/17
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Killer Integration
This weekend, I’ve spent few hours to dismount the failing NAS I was writing about last weeks. As a refresher, the NAS works perfectly, all drives are OK, and only the network access is disabled. Too bad, since every WD recovery procedures – at least the published ones – require a network access. Although I do not think that the NICs are dead – I think instead that WD screwed-up the underlying OS configuration. Because of the high integration level of the motherboard, there is unfortunately no discreet NIC to replace or fix. Except if I find a non-network based OS reset procedure, the only option I have left is to buy a new motherboard. I asked my best buddies from WD support how I can do so. I am expecting few interesting exchanges to come. At least, if you ever wanted to see how a NAS look inside, enjoy the pictures. Stay tuned!
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6/18/17
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Customer Support: The Best and the Worst
You know when you’ve pissed-off the gods of entropy, when you are hit by a series of dysfunctions, failures, and other annoyances and you only can blame it on the law of series. Or as Jacques Chirac said: "Les emmerdes, ça vole toujours en escadrille.". A couple of weeks ago one of my NASes died, shortly followed by my workstation. Finally, this week, one of our iPhone’s battery swell making it unsafe to use. Not too shabby for a black series, right! To keep a positive attitude, I thought it will be a great opportunity to compare how Western Digital, Microsoft and Apple supports their paying customers and to share this experience with you.

The Best in Class

Apple is the winner hands down. In 20 minutes tops, the support team identified and explained the issue’s root cause. For a reasonable ~$80$, they swap exchange and setup the new phone! What a delight. For an initial investment on ~$600, ~$80 and 20 minutes of our time later, the problem was solved! Although it is not essential – but always appreciated –, the support team was professional, friendly and made us feel worthy of their attention. Thank you!

Improvements Required

Microsoft support team was professional and compassionate. However, they could not root cause or solve my problem, and let me with limited options and a useless computer. The PC failed to boot after a minor SW update, following a successful upgrade to Windows 10 Creator’s Update. One positive note: I could request the support to call me back, so I avoided listening elevator music for eons or messaging with a stubborn chat bot. Thank you very much. What sucks with Microsoft, is their inability to deviate from their troubleshooting scripts and their failure to understand when they should escalate a ticket to the next level. Indeed, the support technician latched on the error message (INNACESSIBLE BOOT DEVICE), and could not say anything else than “contact your drive manufacturer for help”. I tried to explain that a new SSD is unlikely to fail because of a minor SW update, and that no issues were found by chkdsk run via the special boot menu of Windows 10. I even tried humor at some point to unlock the situation asking if “I should call Intel’s offices in Santa Clara next and ask them to help me with Windows 10”. You won’t believe it, I obtained a “yes, exactly Sir.”. For an initial investment of ~$200, and after an hour or so on the phone, my $5K workstation was left unusable. I finally solved the problem – if you have the similar issue – by reverting to the previous version of Windows from the boot menu. I will wait until Microsoft solves his problems with the Creators’ Update before attempting the adventure again.

Death is Sweeter Than You WD!

Western Digital’s customer support barely deserves an F. The support technician was disdainful and totally incompetent. He could not identify the problem or solve it. As a result, I lost all the stored data after I’ve spent ~$1600 for this SMB-class NAS. Cherry on the cake, WD made a ridiculous compensation offer! More on his later. But first the issue. As you may read it the post linked below, both network interfaces of a Sentinel DX4000 died the same day. After reading similar posts on the web, I’ve requested an RMA for the unit. And the nightmare started. After two weeks of mail exchanges, I finally received via mail: ”Based on the information provided, it seems like the network card on the device is defective. I've made a research in the case and the warranty status on this product WUDxxxxxxxx is already expired on 4/10/2016. Due to the time elapsed since the warranty expiration date of this product, we are unable to replace it through our RMA Services. However, we can provide you with a 25% discount coupon to order a WD drive. The coupon can only be redeemed at our WD Online Store.”. Really WD?! Let me use an analogy here, so you can understand why you barely deserve an F. It is like if an entire family perished in a car crash imputable to the manufacturer, and their relatives were offered a coupon for a free tire if they decide to buy a new set from the online store! WD, you should know by now that customer’s data is precious, and yes, you have the moral responsibility to do your utmost to ensure data safety. Since I am let alone to solve the problem, I will try to replace the NICs and see where I go from there. What I definitively do know, is that I will stop spending my money on WD products.

Dead WD NAS: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JamelTayeb/posts/Z1sMg2dZs7C.
Windows 10 Creators’ Update: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JamelTayeb/posts/a5iNRjHHS4E.

#Western #Digital #WD #Microsoft #Apple #Customer #Support
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Arcade on The Go
I like what Tiny Circuits does. In the short, they give us the means to miniaturize our Arduino projects. If you need it, once your Arduino application is done, it is likely that you can shrink it to the side of a quarter. I presented a stack of their products a year or so ago (1st link below). In another post (2nd link below), I walked you thru my build of an arcade MAME machine. So, when I learned that Tiny Circuits are selling a tiny arcade – a previous Kick-starter –, I could not resist. It is pretty cool, and now I can play arcade games on the go! Next step: learn how to add games to this tiny arcade.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JamelTayeb/posts/97vgGb8BgR2
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JamelTayeb/posts/JYpfJWBZ2vz
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6/1/17
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Hakko Omnivise C1390C
One piece of equipment we all need in the lab for our electronics project is a set of good vises. I am using quite happily several PanaVise models 201 and 301 for years now. But for my vacation project, I’ve decided to try out the Hakko’s Omnivise PCB holders. I bought two of them because of the size of the PCB I need to hold. For smaller project, one may suffice. These vises are vertical in the sense that they hold the PCBs horizontally (see pictures) and can do it 360 degrees around. The height is adjustable in five positions and the build quality is remarkable. With a weight of three pounds, it feels very stable. Cherry on the cake, these vises are ESD safe – if you need it. I will spend some time using them during the next days. I will update this post with some real use feedback once I finished my project. Stay tuned!
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5/29/17
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