Archive for September 2008

It wasn’t doing what I thought it should. This continued for quite some time. So, gasp shock horror, I asked someone. And richdrich said “they’re bipolar inputs”, and I went “eh?”, and he said “put a resistor just there”, and then it worked.

So the sound input circuit is working enough* that it can be tested using external inputs. To the right of the test setup you’ll see one such external transducer.

And in other news, tunes, contempory dance, sunshine, training, cartwheels, arms like noodles, gelato, sleeping. Like usual.

And Charlie Stross is on fine form today, pointing out the downright weirdness of having “ Taikonauts space-walking overhead while the chairman of the Federal Reserve is on his knees?“. But it’s happening right now. Still, I’m not sure that I agree with his conclusion that this is the collapse of the American empire. Space walks and financial crises are just part of progress, the difference being that nations gorw out of the space walk stage and on to more useful things. Financial crises are a recurring part of the adult stage of the empire lifecycle, like parties and hangovers, and empires can survive through quite a few of them.

* – where “working enough” means, as usual, still needing pfaffing with, but working more than it was before.

“kinell it just worked” – Part 3

For the third time running, I made a Mitochondrion bit, plugged it in, turned it on and it just worked*. It’s the QTouch board, though I should point out that I put it in there mainly coz it’s cool, not coz it’s necessary. But hey, the entire thing is unnecessary.

So, quiz for today:

What do you think the Mitochondrion actually is?

Prizes will be given at Fidels for answers that are:
1) The most accurate
2) The most physically impossible
3) The most WTF?
4) The most ‘I know I’m good but I’m not good enough to make one of those’
5) The most ‘damn, wish I’d though to do that instead’
6) Compatible with Rule 34
7) Requiring of advanced technology, but not actual magic

And I won’t be telling people which prize they’ve won.

* – where “it just worked” means it sort of worked, the sensitivity is about a zillionth of what it should be and needs to be, thus there’s at least one thing wrong with it. I can think of one thing, so far, but what’s the odds that what I think is wrong is actually what is wrong?

Coz there’s not enough narcissism on the interwebs

Spin, originally uploaded by -Nicole-.

Pic by Nicole

Van fixed

Four injector seals – $10
Labour to fit – $900

Bastard Mercedes. Next time, we’re getting a Toyota.

(The van is ex-DHL, hence the yellowness. DHL have replaced all their Mercs with Toyotas. maybe we should have taken that as a hint?)

Wandering through town today, I noticed a Holden V8 with a plate saying “HIS TOY”, and the strapline “No Women Drivers”. And someone had stuck a Tui “Yeah Right” sticker onto the bumper just beside it.

This, I think, crashes memes together hard enough that strange and charming particles of hilarity come flying out, at a range of angles.

So I’m biking home last night, I happened to roll up at the lights next to someone on a new and shiny Harley. Holy crap, it looks like it’s about to fall apart. Are they really supposed to shake that much while they’re just idling?

Okay, we all know they’ve got crap silencers, but that’s so people will think the rider is a bad-arse, not an accountant having a mid-life crisis. But really, would it be that hard to put a balance shaft on it? Or maybe even a two-pin crankshaft?

Okay, the crap engineering is deliberate, it’s a statement of style. Unfortunately, that style says:
“I don’t know anything about engineering and I don’t care”
“I want a bike that looks comfortable but isn’t. Also, I want to remove my own fillings without going to the dentist.”

In which case, why get a motorbike at all? Why not take up needlework instead?

Also, valves actuated by push-rods? This is the Twenty-First century. We don’t use magnetos or starting handles and we don’t use push-rods either.

Breadboarding the power supply

Carrying on the “I plugged it in and it just worked” theme, this is the test version of the power supply for the main processor of the Mitochondrion. This feeds a nice steady five Volts to the processor. It should solve the problem of the processor telling the rest to turn on, the rest turning on and sucking up all the power, the processor then dying coz everything else is turned on, and nothing gets turned off coz the processor is ded, and then you’re stuck until the batteries run down.

For the non-geeks, the clever part is the tiny chip on the little green board in the middle. For the geeks, it’s a MAX710 step-up, step-down DC-DC converter. 5V, 500 mA, damn high efficiency.

I plugged it in, it worked. The glare is the LED to prove it worked. It probably worked coz I’ve learnt to spend half an hour checking every little thing before plugging it in.

Of course, when I say it worked, I mean I plugged it in to a wall plug and it kicked out five Volts. I have yet to test its stiffness (quiet in the cheap seats, I mean how steady the output is when the input is bouncing around from three to six Volts in about a millisecond). But we’ll save that for another day.

When the final version is built, it’ll be 25 mm by 15 mm. That’s not bad for something kicking out 2.5 Watts.

The Gannt chart for the next step of the Mitochondrion has forty-seven steps. I’ve ticked off another seven this week, taking me up to twenty-one. This project planning thing is psychologically valuable, otherwise I’d be just looking at the Heap of Stuff to Do, and feeling intimidated by its seeming endlessness.

‘kin flies.
*lets fly out*

‘kin more flies.
*lets more flies out*

Why are there more flies in here?
*lets more flies out*

More? Huh? Where are they all coming from?
*lets more flies out*

*tiekeremembers scratching noise from ceiling last week*
Ah crap. That’s where they’re coming from. There’ll be maggots and all by now.
*I get respirator, torch, plastic bags, gloves, overalls, spatula, ladder*

Now owes me Shoc chocolates. So, which flavour do I deserve?

The complete NZ-made content of the Mitochondrion

Yup, that’s the only bit of the Mitochondrion that’s made in NZ, by Rakon. It will make up 0.008%, by volume, of the Mitochondrion. It’s an oscillating crystal that harmonises the energies and synchronises unstructured intentions into a holistic coherent whole, man! </hippy> Actually, that’s what it is, and that’s what it does, resulting in the processor being overclocked four times, from really slow, to mildy slow.

I feel like I should add in some comment about economic development, and how we’d be much richer if we were selling these and not milk powder, but f’it, there’s no reason not to do both.

After far too long and far too much hassle, we have a building consent.

Okay, it’s only to do the bottom half of the house, but at least we have something to get on with.

Our very own climate deniers, now in Parliament

I know there’s probably not too many ACT voters here, but ffs, Rodney’s latest speech on climate change could have been written by the nutters. It’s like looking into a parallel world, where words don’t mean what you or I might think they mean:

“ACT’s commitment to freedom commits us to something else too – something vitally missing from our politics at the present time – reason. Side-by-side with freedom stands reason – our human ability to think, to discover, to know, and to grow our knowledge by testing our ideas against logic and experience makes freedom possible.”

“I remain sceptical that greenhouse gases are the cause of a global warming.”

“A warmer climate with more CO2 in the atmosphere is an unambiguous benefit to New Zealand and to the world.”

“All official measures of global temperature show that temperature peaked in 1998 and has been declining since at least 2002”

Not surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him at any of the scientific talks that the Royal Society has organised at Parliament.


This weekend’s Mitochondioning produced a whole bunch of virtual stuff, and the successful testing of this new shiny thing:

Yup, it’s dinky. It’s so dinky, and dinky is good. It’s an accelerometer – it measures acceleration. Your iPhone has one. If it’s sitting still, then it measures the direction of gravity, so it can be used as a tilt sensor. (In three dimensions, plus or minus not much, in about a millisecond, using less than ten milliWatts of power.)

It won’t be sitting still.

But mainly, I’m happy, coz I soldered up four wires, wrote three lines of code, and it just worked.

Having things ‘just work’ has not been a major feature of this project. In fact, I’m only using these coz I couldn’t get the ultrasonic range finder to work within the space constraints that I’ve got. Now, whether I’ll be able to write enough signal processing to get from the raw data to the information I want, that’s another question…

I think everyone in Wellington had a day like this
Yeah, we are that old skool.

Facial injuries, part 47

I seem to be averaging one black eye per year. The last two were skate hockey, this one was fire spinning.

I may have to reconsider the idea of a fire staff/chainsaw hybrid…


Yes. Had a most chilled out weekend, which involved snowboarding friday, flips into the Rimutaka gym foam pit sat, and aerials training sunday. And a movie, food, and good people. So not very chilled out at all, but stress-free.

Only source of stress right now is the current situation with the building consents. To explain, here’s Bernard Cribbins (yes, Donna Noble’s dad, for you kiddies), on a gramophone:

[EDIT – bastard Youtube, here’s the link instead. I dunno, this new-fangled technology, come to no good, I tell you, mutter, mutter…]

Lyrics, for those of you at work.