Category Archives: Updates

Site updates and news

The CoCo is hooked back up.

Last week, I finally got around to unpacking and hooking back up all the Tandy Color Computer gear I took with me to the 2018 Chicago CoCoFEST! I am now using Ed Snider’s two-slow mini MultiPak replacement, so I ever have more room on my desk. I hope to get the Matchbox CoCo (new name for Roger Taylor’s FPGA CoCo recreation) permanently setup on the desk as well.

Even though I’m still going to be quite busy with summer activities (mostly taking bicycle rides), this gets me one step closer to returning to work on various CoCo projects, including SirSound.

I also got a cheap 3-D printer I will be reviewing, soon. The first thing I printed with it (other than the demo “cat” that it had) was an enclosure for the CoCoWiFi device (compliments of designer Travis Poppe). Now I know why John Strong of StongWare has been so into these printers for the past few years. Even this cheap “toy” one is great!

More to come…

All quiet on the Western front…

 

Things have been very quiet here. I started a new job a few months ago and have been having a blast doing embedded C firmware programming for power-over-ethernet LED light control systems. I am currently working on the CoAP protocol, as mentioned previously.

I have a few articles for this site waiting for me to get back to them:

  • Tiny BBS – A new take on my 1983 *ALLRAM* BBS for the Radio Shack Color Computer. A few years ago, I had ported my old MIcrosoft BASIC BBS program to Arduino C. I decided to do a new version of the system using things I have learned over the past 34 years. I had worked up a proof-of-concept version earlier this year which had a substantially larger message base in the same memory. I hope to find time to return to this. I think it would be fun to take a CoCo and a $3 WiFi-to-serial adapter and put a micro BBS online ;-)
  • const-ant confusion in C – I have another article in the works that will delve in to the const keyword in C, based on how I’ve been mis-using it most of my programming career. I learned quite a bit about it at a recent job, since we had it defined in our coding style guide. But, many of us there were still using it incorrectly.

But meanwhile, I’ll be chugging away at my day job, working on my Iowa Adventureland amusement park website, and doing various side projects to earn extra income so I can save up for something really cool for my child’s birthday.

To be continued…

Back to work… Soon… Arduino arcade interface.

Last August, I got very busy with side jobs that kept me from working on any of these Arduino-related projects. I hope to get back to work on them soon. Right now, I pretty much don’t work on anything unless it’s tied to generating some form of income.

I hope to get around to posting the work I did on a USB joystick to iCade interface. The code used an Arduino with USB HID support (Leonardo, I believe), and a cheap USB Host add-on shield. A standard USB Playstation style joystick could be plugged in, then it would emit USB keypresses that match the iCade protocol. Ultimately, I want this code to be configurable, so you could open up a USB serial console on a host computer and walk through text menus to configure what you want each joystick button to send (similar to programming MAME input controls). That way, it would work with “anything”.

I also want it to accept standard key inputs (like the XArcade Tankstick emits) and convert them, as well, allowing it to basically convert anything to an iCade format.

With the recent discovery of a $20 USB HID transmitter from ADAFruit (http://www.adafruit.com/products/1535), it would now be possible to make it send the iCade commands via Bluetooth, though this is not plug-n-play. Ultimately, I’d like to see that part made in to an Arduino shield. The requirement of soldering and complex wiring kills these things from being used by casual hobbyists.

More to come…

Account signups temporarily disabled

Due to getting what seems like hundreds of spam account signups per day (each sending me a nice e-mail), I have had to turn off account registrations. I will re-enable when I find some kind of spam solution that the ‘bots can’t just drift through.

I guess no commenting until I get that fixed, but you can always e-mail me as webmaster@ this site.

Allen in the real world…

Early in 2012, I began a new job with a consulting company. They were going to place me in an embedded programming position at a company about an hour away. Normally, the thought of 120+ miles of driving each day for work would never be something I would agree to, but this was a very unique opportunity for me. It was a chance to get back to my roots as an embedded programmer and work on constrained systems without hard drives or monitors. Because of this environment, the job became one of my all-time favorites rather quickly (second only to the “dream job” that got me to move to Iowa back in 1995 — hard to beat a dream job).

During my initial days being trained, I started to recognize many of the concepts of their device — discreet outputs, analog inputs, etc. They were just like the Arduino I/O I had been working on a few months earlier for some projects I was doing for a local Halloween attraction. In fact, much of what I first learned around 2005 for BASIC Stamp seemed to apply as well.

And it never dawned on me to list any of that on my resume. I mean, it’s just “toys” and a “hobby”, right? It turns out, the experience I gained building things for Arduino really helped my learning curve with this job.

So I wonder… Do any of you list your Arduino work on your resume? If so, what do you say, or how do you say it? In the early days of my career, my resume was full of accomplishments that came from a cheap computer I bought at Radio Shack, and it is kind of a full circle that I find myself wanting to do this again — though this time it’s an Arduino, rather than a TRS-80.

Thoughts?

Cleanup in aisle four…

I have just spent far too much time going back and editing all the posts to this site which include source code. WordPress has done a wonderful job mangling them, but I think I finally have a solution in place, moving forward, that should prevent it. The ALLRAM BBS conversion project has also been updated to the latest version.

Also, you will notice the theme has been changed. I was having some issues with the other terminal-looking theme, and it didn’t support all of the things I liked having (like the horizontal menu bar at the top of each page). When I find time, I will learn how to customize WordPress and try to make this theme look more retro and less generic.