Category Archives: Updates

Site updates and news

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 (, 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.


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.

Greetings from the Sub-Etha!

Don’t Panic!

You have been diverted.

Welcome to the new home of…

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    / /_/__    __  __    / /_/_   ___   / /_/     __/ /_    / /_/_    /___  /\
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   \___/ / / / / / / / / /\/ / / \__\// /\__\/   \/ /\_\/ / /\/ / / / __  / /
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                                S O F T W A R E
                               Established 1990.

      "In Support of the CoCo and OS-9" ... and Perl, and Arduino, and...


In 1990, Sub-Etha Software was formed in Lufkin, Texas. You can read all about it, if you are curious. Since then, much has changed. It’s hard to believe that was almost 25 years ago!

Although Sub-Etha hasn’t done much for years, for the past few months, I have been posting on my Apple site,, about my exploits with the Arduino platform. I haven’t done this much recreational programming since my days using the Radio Shack Color Computer. This has made me decide to dust off my old software company, Sub-Etha Software, and set up this website. Although I have had the domain for many years, it was just a subsection of one of my personal sites… until tonight.

I have now migrated all my programming-related posts from the Appleause site over to this one. I think they will fit in better here, and it finally gave me an excuse to do something with this domain.

So here it is – the all-new Sub-Etha Software website. Here you will find historical information about the original Sub-Etha, which started back in 1990 to offer products for the Radio Shack Color Computer and Microware OS-9 operating system. There is even a page which will eventually document the items we made for the Interactive Media Systems MM/1 computer, which ran OS-9/68000 (“OSK”). I may even make a page covering some of the items we sold after I took a job with Microware and had to shut down Sub-Etha. (Hint: Sub-Etha SoftWEAR didn’t sell software…)

Around 2001, I learned a bit of Perl programing and created a few simple scripts which I made available free under the Sub-Etha Software name, so Perl gets a page here, too. And lastly, some of my recent development efforts on the Arduino and related devices like the Teensy 2.0. I may even through in some BASIC Stamp talk at some point if I ever dig out my old hardware.

But since Sub-Etha started with the CoCo, it remains with the CoCo. There will be discussions about new CoCo related projects, and a listing of some of CoCo websites I think all CoCoists should check out.

Stay tuned…