Solar Harvesting & Supercapacitors

I happened to go spelunking on google today for some information on super capacitors, and I stumbled upon a gem.  Seems that someone over at CAP-XX gave a presentation at some conference somewhere some time ago, and this is the PDF of his powerpoint deck.  The topic?

Using a Small Solar Cell for Harvesting and a Supercapacitor for Power Management in a Wireless Sensor.

While I’d prefer an actual paper, the deck is still quite interesting.  Enjoy!

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Guide To Blocks & Grand Central Dispatch

I needed extremely simplistic concurrency support for an application I’m working on, and that led me to stumble over a 2009 article on Grand Central Dispatch.  I have to say, it’s one of the cleaner implementations I’ve seen, and I’m impressed.  Not relevant for my current project, but still exceptionally useful.

Read the article over at Cocoa Samurai.

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Free USB Product IDs

Have an open hardware project that uses USB? Now you can get a VID/PID pair for free from

Note that your project must be open source to qualify.  Not a bad deal considering it eliminates the $2,000 cost of a personal USB vendor ID…

[found on DangerousPrototypes]

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Microchip XC8: Much Ado About Nothing

If you’ve followed the TuneConsole project, then you know that I’m not at all enamored of Microchip’s development tools for PIC18.  So when I saw that Microchip released a new line of compilers, I was kinda excited.  I mean, hey, maybe they’re finally doing things right!

No such luck…

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Facebook Facepalm

I’m not exactly a savvy investor, and I usually don’t publicly comment on this sort of thing, but Facebook’s IPO is just begging for it.  I mean, really, how did anyone think this was a good deal?  They valued the company at something like $104 billion!


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Samba & Bonjour with Avahi

Okay, so you have a shiny new Linux box, and it’s running Samba, all nice and configured to share your files.  You have a Mac, and you want to use it with your nifty new Windows shares.  You can connect with Command-K in the finder, but it doesn’t show up in Finder under the Shared section.

You need Avahi.

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Posted in Bonjour, Linux | 8 Comments

Generate Any Microchip PIC Footprint For EAGLE

While EAGLE includes a fair number of PIC microcontroller footprints in their standard libraries, the selection is limited compared to Microchip’s full catalog.  If you’re looking for a more obscure part (like the PIC16F1947, for example), you’re on your own.  There is also no official Microchip-supplied EAGLE library.

They do, however, offer an alternative – and it applies to more than just microcontrollers.  Read on to learn how to generate component symbols and footprints for almost any part that Microchip offers, and with a minimum of fuss.

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Posted in EAGLE, Hardware Hacking, PIC | 6 Comments

TC: Microchip USB Stack Isn’t Redistributable. Bah!

For the three people waiting on me to turn TuneConsole into an OSHW project, I’m afraid to say you’ll be waiting for a while longer.  I’ve noted before that I’m concerned about the licensing on the Microchip Application Library (from whence the USB stack comes), and this thread over on DangerousPrototypes anecdotally confirms that my concerns are valid.  That makes me patently unwilling to distribute the code; I don’t need the potential legal hassle.

Instead, I’ll have to port the firmware over to this stack when I have the time; I’m unclear on how good the HID support is, so it may take some effort.  I’ll be out of town for a conference next week, so it’ll probably have to wait a while.

And that’s assuming no other priorities come up.

If all you’re looking for is the hardware design, I posted it to a thread over on Dangerous Prototypes for consideration in their upcoming PCB design review video.  I’m sure they’ll find all sorts of stuff wrong with it if they choose to use it.  :-)


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Xcode 4.3 Command Line Tools Missing By Default

If you’ve installed Xcode 4.3, then you may have discovered that the command line compilers are no longer available by default.  I’m not sure why Apple decided to exclude them from the standard install, but they did.  Fortunately, they’re easy to get back.

To install them, go to the Downloads pane in Xcode preferences; you’ll see “Command Line Tools” in the list.  Simply click the install button on that entry, and 130MB later, you’ll have command line tools again.

I hope Apple eventually makes this standard again.  If I have the developer tools installed, I expect to, you know, have the developer tools installed!



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TC: Final Hardware

I submitted the enclosure for TuneConsole to Ponoko on March 13, and that only proves that their service is distressingly slow.  The acrylic panels arrived here on March 27, exactly two weeks later.  I was out of town for an interview that day as luck would have it, so the box sat around for a while before I finally got around to breaking it open and finishing the hardware portion of the project.

Read on to see how it turned out…

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Posted in Hardware Hacking, TuneConsole | 13 Comments