Posts tagged c++

Getting Back Into Parker 6K4 / 6K6 Controller Programming Again


Its been a long time since I did any work on the Parker Controllers, but I have been having the itch again for quite a while to do some more work on it. There were many things I was doing with the controller that could have been optimized, or improved – such as better feature detection and improved latency. I also never really got around to adding encoder support for any of my previous projects with the controller.

I recently got a Parker 6K6 controller from eBay to work with. They are available for less than 50 dollars nowadays. Its been a lot of fun writing new code to talk back and forth with the controller in a proper, organized way. I have made a new basic communication library that allows easy connection and Send/Receive capability and can be shared across various C++ projects, so if I want to make something new I can just import that code and get going. Adding an interface with wxWidgets 3.xx is fairly straight forward and saves a lot of time. A long time ago I had used an old Parker controller (It wasn’t a 6K4, it was a much older model that used an ISA connection card) to make an experimental CNC routing table for a saw. It was pretty basic, it just about worked but wasn’t very good.

My son is also going to tech school and has been expressing an interest in learning how to work with CNC machines a little more in-depth than just loading a model and pressing the Start button, so I think if I can teach him some of this from a purely technical level, it will help him understand better. I think that him helping to build the machine and understand the programming will be quite beneficial. G-Code in itself is quite a complex thing to learn, especially from an optimization stand point, so we will have to see how it goes.

As I make progress in code, I will make some updates here. If you are interested in this sort of thing or have any questions, let me know in the comments below. Not sure anyone even uses this controller anymore!


Opening & Controlling Multiple Dialog Windows In A wxWidgets Project


One of the things that had bugged me forever in my years of using wxWidgets was not easily being able to open and control multiple Dialog windows. The idea behind what I had been trying to do (as had countless other thousands of people online) is quite simple; I wanted to open up a main Dialog window, with my main program buttons and gadgets on, but then I wanted to have a second window in the background that I could use to hold more gadgets, more controls. I also wanted a 3rd window that I would then set up as a debugging window; I could put data in there and hide it in my project unless you know the secret knock to get it to display 🙂 This would have saved me a lot of time and effort when I was coding my Litecoin Pool tools, instead of logging to a file and reading through it, I could have updated some gadgets in a seperate window and watched in real-time what the hell was going on with the data I was processing 🙂

Screenshot of the Sample Project running in a wxFrame with 3 seperate wxDialog windows open

So there-in lies the problem: When we open a new Dialog, it opens on top of the parent and now the parent is completely locked until the new window is closed. Very frustrating!

I tried a few different ways to achieve this in a way that worked for my project, and so far, this method is working the best for me. If theres a better way to do this, then please let me know in the comments below. I do like using the DialogBlocks tool to make my complex GUI’s as I find its just easier and more productive to do so. Im not too familiar with some of the editors, so i’m not sure if theres anything out there that is as good as DialogBlocks. It does miss some of the new classes that are available, but it works well for what I need it to.

When starting a new project (or in my case, I would make a new Main window in my existing projects) instead of creating a new wxDialog object, I created a new wxFrame. Frames look a little different to Dialogs, they inherit the Dark Grey background and there are no sizers. It’s also a fixed size (DialogBlocks). On this frame, I added some vertical sizers to start, and would construct my frame as normal. To remove the Dark Grey background, you can set a background colour, or use an ID panel etc. There’s quite a few different ways to design the interface properly, and everyone seems to have their own way of doing it 🙂

Now I want to add my Debugging window to my project. For this, I create a new wxDialog window called SecondaryWindow just as I normally would and construct it in exactly the same way. I can add some text strings, or a complete wxNotebook setup with some additional panels and gadgets as I need them. There really isn’t any limitations to what you can insert into the dialog. Once created, I have to initialize the windows manually. To help demonstrate this, I created a sample project which can be downloaded using 7zip download for your own reference. All future references to code, and this example, will be in relation to this sample (with the concept still working fine in your application).

DialogBlocks puts special comments around functions to help it identify which sections need to be automatically updated when changes are made in the Interface designer. Its a good idea, especially when (like me) I use both DialogBlocks and Visual Studio 2017 at the same time, so if I make changes in one, it auto reloads in the other and I know where the automated blocks begin & end.

Getting back to the topic at hand, the sample project contains two windows. The first window is our main window, which is built using a wxFrame. It has a text box, and six buttons. Three of the buttons control the showing/hiding of up to 3 small sample windows (whose class is called SecondaryWindow). Each window is separate, unique and can be controller independently. The other 3 buttons control the wxTextControl and insert text into one of the three windows. The windows can be shown/hidden at any time. All three of the created windows are derived from the same Dialog class, but there is nothing at all to stop you from creating completely independent and different window classes.

To create the three windows, at the bottom of the file mainwindow.h, in the class MainWindow function I have inserted these lines:

////@begin MainWindow member variables
    wxTextCtrl* TextInputString;
////@end MainWindow member variables

// This is where we will initialize our 3 sample windows
SecondaryWindow *FirstWindow;
SecondaryWindow *SecondWindow;
SecondaryWindow *ThirdWindow;

// And create a variable to remember if the window is Visible or not
bool OpenedWindowA, OpenedWindowB, OpenedWindowC;

In the constructor code for the class, we set the values of the booleans to false so that the code thinks they are closed. By default in the project, I chose not to have them auto-open. At the bottom of the CreateControls() function, we can go ahead and initialize the windows themselves, along with giving each window a unique title to go with it:

wxButton* itemButton9 = new wxButton( itemStaticBoxSizer2->GetStaticBox(), ID_BUTTON_SHOWC, _("Show/Hide Window C"), wxDefaultPosition, wxDefaultSize, 0 );
    itemBoxSizer4->Add(itemButton9, 1, wxALIGN_CENTER_VERTICAL|wxALL, 2);

////@end MainWindow content construction

// Now we should try to initialize the three extra windows so we can use them later.
MainWindow::FirstWindow = new SecondaryWindow(this);
MainWindow::SecondWindow = new SecondaryWindow(this);
MainWindow::ThirdWindow = new SecondaryWindow(this);

// Set some Window titles
MainWindow::FirstWindow->SetTitle(wxT("First Window"));
MainWindow::SecondWindow->SetTitle(wxT("Second Window"));
MainWindow::ThirdWindow->SetTitle(wxT("Third Window"));

Now that the windows are created, we can start to call them. For the purpose of the example project, I made buttons that show/hide each of the windows. To do this in DialogBlocks, I added the button and then created an Event to trigger each time the button was clicked. Going into that function, I removed the default comment lines that were inserted and replaced it with my own code like below:

void MainWindow::OnButtonShowAClick( wxCommandEvent& event )
	if (MainWindow::OpenedWindowA == false) {
		// Display the Window. 
		MainWindow::OpenedWindowA = true;
	else {
		// Now we should Hide the window from view
		MainWindow::OpenedWindowA = false;

	// Skip the event

Its a pretty crude method, but it works. As with any new Dialog, the window will appear by default in the centre of the parent, so you will have to move them around. The above code is modified for each window to produce the same effect. You can click the Show/Hide button to show/hide the window, or click the X button to close it. To make the contents of text appear in one of the windows, type something into the box and select the button for which window it should appear into.

Closing Notes

The sample project is pretty crude, and there are multiple ways to do it. The code is probably not the best in the world (I could pass the boolean directly to Show() for example and it will control hiding the window). You can also control opening the windows with ShowWithoutActivating() to display the window, but not switch the focus to it. Lot’s of different ways to do the same thing.

After spending a lot of time in the past working on trying to solve this for my own projects, I found a way that seems to work well for me, and I wanted to share it with the rest of the world who might be new to wxWidgets and are looking for that same answer. If you do find this example useful, please leave a friendly comment below.

Download The Sample Project

The sample project can be download from here: Link (1,354Kb)

Along with the source code & DialogBlocks project file to compile this project, there is also a compiled exe ready to run.

If you found this post, or the sample useful, please let me know in the comments below. Thank-you!


Dennis Ritchie, father of Unix and C, Has Passed Away


Dennis RitchieDennis Ritchie, creator of the C programming language and co-creator of the Unix operating system, has died aged at the age of 70.

Thank-you for giving us a superior language, and being a pioneer in the age of computing. Rest in peace!

/* for Dennis Ritchie */
#include <stdio.h> 

    printf("Goodbye World");

ZD Net Article:

Wiki entry on C: 


Win32 – SDL Loses Sound When The Main Window Loses Focus – Fix


So, I ran into an interesting problem this week while working on the “Alien Invasion” music disk that causes all sound to be disabled when the main SDL window would lose focus or become hidden. This could be a bit of a problem for a music disk, so I looked into trying to figure it out for myself.At first I tried the usual SDL culprits, which are the event system for handling focus, but no luck there.

After some poking around in the SDL source code, I was finally able to find a fix. In SDL_dx5audio.c you can change the following function to read:

void DX5_SoundFocus(HWND hwnd)
    // This makes sound audible regardless of focus being lost
    //mainwin = hwnd;

A better solution long-term in SDL will be to have an option to do this, rather than having to change the code, or just have this enabled by default. We’ll see! This was tested on 1.2.14 which is available to download from Hopefully someone else can find this useful too 🙂


NOW! Amstrad CPC Music Disk Released At Main Party 2010


NOW! Screenshot NOW! is a music disk I have been working on in collaboration with Ultrasyd and Fenyx Kell for the Amstrad CPC 128K system. The music disk features 12 awesome music tracks, and was coded in a little over two weeks before I get settled into working on Zine again. This is my first production on the Amstrad (and also the first CPC project for Brainstorm) that was any good (as I did a bit of BASIC many moons ago), I have played with a friends system many years ago as a kid, but this is the first piece of code I have written on the system that hasn’t been utter shite. I am very pleased with the outcome of this project, and the music is amazing 🙂

I started working on this project on Sept. 13 with Ultrasyd, as the people who were supposed to write him a music disk had bailed out of the project. I took it on as a challenge, realizing the path would not be straight and easy, plus I have been looking for an excuse to get back into 8-bit development for quite some time 🙂

The project is written using Z88DK (available HERE) and uses C and Z80 Assembly language. I used CPCRSlib for some of the graphics code, mixed with a bit of my own dodgy code. The music replayer is by Targhan and available HERE.

There were many technical challenges on this project. The biggest was the small amount of RAM available to the system at any one time, certainly not enough to hold all the music let alone the program and the data it needed to run. At one point, I spent 2 solid days working on getting 5 tunes in and working without crashing the computer, when I realized a mistake I had made in some code earlier that would allow me to hold many more. So at around 4pm yesterday I was able to fit all 12 songs into the production without a problem. Nothing quite like a last second fix for a production thats due to be released the very next morning 🙂 Many thanks to Ultrasyd for staying up late on the CVGM OneLiner to get this thing finished in time for Main (and showing it off to the Amstrad community there). There is also a hidden, 13th tune 🙂

Download the DSK file Here. To run, insert the disk and type RUN “NOW!” to start the music disk. Up & Down arrow keys to change between music. Escape to quit. If you wish to run this in an emulator, I recommend using JavaCPC or WinAPE. This disk has been fully tested on real 6128 Hardware (Thanks again, Ultrasyd!).

Full Production Credits

Music: Ultrasyd/BRS and Fenyx Kell
Graphics: Yes/BRS (Loading Screen), Ultrasyd/BRS (Main Picture)
Code: FishGuy876/BRS
See the TXT file on the DSK/Zip for a full list of everyones greetings and thanks 🙂

EDIT: The music disk was entered into the Wild compo at Main and ranked in 3rd place!!! Fantastic! \o/ Congratulations to everyone again! It can also be found on Pouet now, where you can comment and rate it! Thanks!


Annoying Problems With std::vector on Linux Vs. Windows


So I spent most of this weekend working on getting my engine to compile correctly under GCC/Linux (Ubuntu 10.4) and ran into some serious headaches. It’s been a few years since I last built anything on Linux at all (last time was when I did some work for Epic Interactive and their linux ports) and took me a little bit to remember how makefiles worked etc. and bring my SDL code up to date.

After compiling the code, I was having a hell of a time trying to figure out why it would always cause a segmentation fault after the first few seconds of running. Here is what gdb had to say:

[Thread debugging using libthread_db enabled]
[New Thread 0xb3da2b70 (LWP 4813)]
[Thread 0xb3da2b70 (LWP 4813) exited]
[New Thread 0xb3da2b70 (LWP 4815)]
Program received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
0x0807c27d in ?? ()
(gdb) backtrace

#0  0x0807c27d in ?? ()
#1  0x08083eee in ?? ()
#2  0x0807e59f in ?? ()
#3  0x08082231 in ?? ()
#4  0x08062d98 in ?? ()
#5  0x0804deaa in ?? ()
#6  0x0806659b in ?? ()
#7  0x00369bd6 in __libc_start_main () from /lib/tls/i686/cmov/
#8  0x08049891 in ?? ()

Unfortunately, that doesn’t really tell me much of anything 🙂 After a little bit of playing around with the manual pages in GDB, and some serious googling, I was able to get the app to compile with some debug symbols. This is the output:

[Thread debugging using libthread_db enabled]
[New Thread 0xb3da2b70 (LWP 3711)]
[Thread 0xb3da2b70 (LWP 3711) exited]
[New Thread 0xb3da2b70 (LWP 3713)]
/usr/include/c++/4.4/debug/vector:265:error: attempt to subscript container
with out-of-bounds index 0, but container only holds 0 elements.
Objects involved in the operation:
sequence "this" @ 0x0xb162bf4 {
type = NSt7__debug6vectorImSaImEEE;
Program received signal SIGABRT, Aborted.
0x0012d422 in __kernel_vsyscall ()
[Thread debugging using libthread_db enabled]
[New Thread 0xb3da2b70 (LWP 3711)]
[Thread 0xb3da2b70 (LWP 3711) exited]
[New Thread 0xb3da2b70 (LWP 3713)]
/usr/include/c++/4.4/debug/vector:265:error: attempt to subscript container
with out-of-bounds index 0, but container only holds 0 elements.

Objects involved in the operation:
sequence "this" @ 0x0xb162bf4 { type = NSt7__debug6vectorImSaImEEE; }
Program received signal SIGABRT, Aborted.0x0012d422 in __kernel_vsyscall ()

This error is generated whenever I try and set up Vectors in the code to handle some rather simple arrays. I even tested the code where I created a vector, and checked its size to see if it was 0 and was still able to create the same problem. This is how I did all the safety checks in my code; if Vector.size() > 0 { Safe To Do Some Stuff, If Size Was Legal For Array }.

So, for whatever reason, they behave very differently than in Windows. I really don’t have the time to figure out the specific reasons, though after a couple of hours of googling trying to get GDB to display as much information as it did, it turns out a lot of people have issues with vectors doing strange things on Linux.  As a result, I will be removing that code from the project to make sure it’ll compile and run on all 3 platforms (Windows, Mac and Linux) without any further issues! Lucky for me, it is an easy fix!

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