Hardware

Slacking Period Commencing :)

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Sub-Lit Testing StationI have been slacking hard by most standards over the last few months, I have been so busy with work and other activities that I really haven’t been able to spend too much time writing about anything.

As far as work goes, I have spent the last few months working with the Bosch Rexroth aluminium profiling system (or Aluminum as my american friends like to call it). For those who have never heard of it, it’s a system of metal profiles, or struts, that interconnect similar to Meccano/Erector Set and it is used to build structures, desks, and anything else you can think of. I really like the system, and maybe I will start blogging about some of the various things I have built if there’s interest. I currently use it to build workstations, tooling, and small cabinets to house various pieces of equipment.

I have done a bit of coding, I made a great start to my Mahjong game, and hope to finish it as soon as I get some available time!

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New Schleuniger MegaStrip 9650!

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Schleuniger MegaStrip 9650Β My company has been lucky enough to purchase a brand new Schleuniger MegaStrip 9650 & PreFeeder machine. This beauty has the rotary incision box, and I have it set up and configured to work with Cayman software.

I was travelling to Europe last month as part of work, and was lucky enough to go to the Schleuniger facility in Thun, Switzerland for two days to do some testing on this machine before we purchased it. I toured the facility, met some of the engineers who designed and made their products, and learned a great deal. As always, Schleuniger were excellent hosts, thanks a lot guys πŸ™‚

This machine will be used primarily to cut corrugated copper cables, about 16mm thick. The Cayman software will be configured with the various different connectors we use on our cables, then the lengths can be tweaked in later. It’s always nice to get a late christmas present, and i’m going to have a lot of fun working with this machine πŸ™‚

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New CVGM.net Server Upgrade Almost Ready!

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Β This is the new Dell PowerEdge 2950 server that will be used on the CVGM.net website. It’s packing a nice dual quad-core 3.16Ghz CPU, 16gb of ram, and VMWare to make management and repairs easier and better. The current server only has 2GB of ram, and a very ancient quad-core 2.1Ghz cpu (one of the first Xeon quad core CPU’s released). We are still adding some bits to it, saving up our spare change and buying them as we can.

In the next few weeks, this bad boy will be shipped off to the datacenter and installed in it’s rack, so the site can receive a much-needed upgrade.

If you want to check out CVGM and listen to some great oldskool computer game music, check out http://www.cvgm.netΒ  Thanks!

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CNC TouchScreen Prototype

Prototyping New CNC FlexIO Program

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CNC TouchScreen PrototypeI have been working on a new version of my FlexIO program for quite some time new, which has a lot of new features in it including use of wXwidgets for the GUI interface, better accuracy, and even more tools & control for the operator using it. This week I have finally began connecting stepper motors to it, and doing some real motor experiments.

There have been other significant improvements to the program as well, especially on the controller side. It is still using the Parker 6K4/ZETA4 Combo, only now with the new code the communication between the hardware and the controller is much more effective. It also does not need such a high end PC to run, as now there is no DirectX requirements, there doesn’t need to be any high refresh rates. This was a problem with the MicroATX computer used on Joshua, and a problem of the old program anyways. We all do crazy things when we have very little time to complete a project πŸ™‚

Now that the new program is going through the final paces of it’s hardware testing, I hope to have this finished and out of the way within the next couple of weeks. I have a lot of other projects building up that I need to work on! Click on any image to see an enlarged version.

In the above picture: On the left are 3 ZETA83-135-MO Parker stepper motors, each connected to a ZETA4 controller box (the 3 stacked units to the right of the motors). These are then connected to the Parker 6K4 controller box (the large box to the right of the ZETA4 units, with 4 red LED’s on the top) which controls the motor’s movement. The 6K4 is then connected to the PC via an RS-232 connection, which receives instructions from FlexIO. During the development process, laying the motors out flat like this is a good way to test the motor communication & the programs ability to switch between motors and steps accurately and smoothly, without damaging any real hardware in the event that a problem might occur.

Screenshot of the current program interface for setting up the cable being processed:

FlexIO V3 Screenshot - 06/13/2011

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New Commodore 128

New Commodore C128 & 1541 Disk Drive \o/

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New Commodore 128About 3 weeks ago I found a new toy online πŸ™‚ Meet my new Commodore 128 & 1541 Disk Drive. Both are in really excellent shape, and the 1541 is pretty much brand new, it doesn’t have a fingerprint on it! At the same time that I got the machine, I also went ahead and bought an XA1541 transfer unit, which connects to a regular PC, or a 1541 Commodore disk drive and acts like the device itself.

If connected to the 1541, the PC can transfer disk images back and forth between the drive, handy for making backups, copying downloaded images back to floppy, so they can be ran on the C128.

Software exists to connect the 1541 directly to the C128, however I wasn’t able to get it to work, so I may have to build a special DOS box in the future and try it again. The software is quite old and might not even work with this particular adapter.

Information on the adapter, and others in the series which can connect to various commodore devices, can be found on the following site:Β http://sta.c64.org/xa1541.html This is an open design, anyone can freely made it, although I chose to pay a fee and bought mine pre-built as I can’t solder to save my life πŸ™‚

After playing with the new setup, it was very handy for transferring SID files to disk for playing on the real machine. Its funny to me just how used to emulated recordings I became, as the real SID versions quite often sound very different. I will eventually record some of these and put them on CVGM.net.

I plan to use this computer to do a bit of coding in the future as well, so expect a small intro or some other piece of coding poop to come from me soon! Meanwhile, some additional images!

XA1541 C128 running 'BatPlot' by Adam West Group

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Fuel Pump Problems On My 1993 Ford Escort

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Last week has been a really bad week for problems on my car. Started last Monday after the damn thing broke down while out to lunch. Despite having a full tank of gas, I couldnt get it to start. A similar problem happened the Thursday before when I thought I had ran the car out of gas; And after filling it with a Jerry can it was able to start again, but I was still quite sure it wasn’t empty. Anyways, I couldn’t do much in terms of repairs, so had to have it towed back to the house.

Turns out the Fuel Pump/Sending Unit is the culprit. After removing the cover to mine, I could see that it was extremely rusted, so rusted in fact that it didn’t take very much effort to break off the old locking ring instead of unscrewing it. Inside, the whole thing was heavily corroded and it wasn’t any wonder as to why it didn’t work anymore! Junkyard Time! Went to EZ Pull & Save junk yard and pulled another pump for $15 and spent all day Sunday installing it.

Unfortunately, the install didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked. Due to the excessive rust on the old systems, the new lock rings would not correctly seal, and so when I would test drive the gar it would pour gas out of of the top of the new seal! After several attempts and cleanings, I have it sealed well enough that it now only leaks just a little amount of gas when the tank is very full and swishing about. Will re-seat it another day when I have time and energy to do so πŸ™‚ If it continues to leak ever so slightly, I may need to replace the fuel tank =/

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Using MorphOS Again For the First Time In Years!

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Finally getting somewhere :)

In the last week or so, I have been convinced to un-box my Pegasos II motherboard and boot it up to have a play around with it. It has been at least 3 or 4 years since I last even looked at the board, let alone turned it on. I got the board when I was employed with Epic Interactive, as I ported several games to MorphOS/Mac/Linux at the same time. At that time, I was using MorphOS 1.4 which was very buggy and not very intuitive. While it was nice to be able to run all of my old Amiga apps again, the instability of the OS made it a very troubling task. I still remember the nightmares I had trying to get various ports to build correctly without crashing the system, or editing code changes. Good old days πŸ™‚

After playing around with the Open Firmware (which I am quite sure is horribly out of date) I was able to figure out how to boot the Peg from the CD, and install the OS to the hard drive. It took me a little while to get used to where the different settings were, then I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t see the HD, until I realiszed it wasn’t in RDB mode. After that, slapped on a few Amiga partitions and bingo, off it went.

My experience in the short time I have played with the OS is that it is much nicer and cleaner than it used to be. It has come a long way with the new Ambient and other tools. I will take a full play with it and even get it online in the next few days to see just what is out there and available for it. I was very happy to see that they finally included a TCP stack as standard that didn’t have to be registered by itself to use fully. As much as I loved Miami (and did pay for it back in the days of the Amiga), I don’t have my keys anymore and wasn’t able to get Nordic to re-issue them to me.

As much as I would like to start making games for MorphOS again, im not sure if I want to pay the $111 euros to get a license key for something I won’t use all that often, and still not even sure if it’s something thats worth developing for. Based on the price alone, which is a little bit less than buying the new Windows 7 operating system upgrade, i’m sure that there are many people who are still only using the 30 minute restricted version. I have a few games that could be ported, but they will have to wait for a while.

If any MorphOS developers have any free keys they want to give away, feel free to throw one this way πŸ™‚

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