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The Race Timing Project - Some (hard) Lessons Learned

As I mentioned in a previous post I've been working on a small scale commercial project in collaboration with a friend, unlike most of the other projects I talk about on the site this one will be manufactured in quantity (for small quantities at least) and needed to be designed for end users who expect to be able to just use the device and are not the least bit interested in modifying or hacking it. I had a number of additional things I wanted to explore with this project, above and beyond simply making a working device: Use it as a test bed for the real world use of the Clixx prototyping s…

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Wireless Communications - 433MHz Modules

David Lyon recently sent me some 433MHz transmitter and receiver modules that he is designing some Clixx tabs around. These are often used in remote control devices like garage door openers and remote power control systems which use a simple command code to activate or deactivate the remote device. There is already a lot of software around that lets you use them to control your garage door and other devices from an Arduino or similar micro - I was more interested in using them for simple one way data communication (for remote sensing applications for example). This post describes how I went ab…

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Information Dominance

I read this article with a strange mix of fear, humour and envy. Essentially the guy running the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (who is now working at the NSA) seems to have a bit of a nerd streak in him. From the article: ... a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a "whoosh" sound when they slid open and closed. I don't have a room that looks like th…

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Retro Single Board Computers

When I was a pre-teen I cut my teeth programming on small 8 bit system called a ZX Spectrum. Friends of mine had similar machines including a ZX 81 which was an earlier model by the same company, the Microbee (in that case it was the original kit version that his father helped him put together) and a Super 80 (which was a another machine that came as a kit). Although I loved my Speccy I was a bit jealous of my friends with the kit based machines (especially my friend with the Super-80, his Dad seemed to be forever building little add-ons and extensions for that machine). When I started high sc…

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Life Gets In The Way

Everyone knows that having a hobby is beneficial but finding the time to devote to it continously can be very difficult without some level of planning. Everyone knows someone who dived deep into a hobby at first and now has a garage full of unused equipment and half finished projects (you may even be guilty of it yourself). Completing a project (no matter how small) gives you a great sense of accomplishment and encourages you to do the next one, on the flip side failing to complete things in a reasonable amount of time discourages you and makes it harder to keep going when there are so many ot…

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