announcing the return of the group order

I am pleased to announce that I am re-starting doing the group parts ordering service.

deets are at:

Favorite Visualization

I have a favorite visualization that I apply to conversations. Each participant is represented by a string. Each character of the string is one hour. Activity in that hour creates a blip. Inactivity leaves dots (or comma at midnight). Here are five days of Dorkbot project blabber visualized. I share my methods in the remainder of this post.

I prepared this chart in two steps: first get the data in a file and then plot it. Let's work backwards. Here is the plot routine:

DorkbotPDX Bus Pirate Group Order!


Dangerous Prototype's Bus Pirate, several members of our humble band have decided to put together a group order for components to build out own Bus Pirates.

As of this writing, our component and PCB order totals more than 10 Bus Pirates. The greater number we have, the better the component prices (in many cases) will be.

Why are you doing a group order instead of just buying them? The easy answer is of course price.

Blinky RGB Lights - ShiftPWM Library

Using Elco Jacob's ShiftPWM Arduino Library. Probably the cheapest possible way to drive lots of RGB LEDs!

(EDIT: added PCB files)

EDIT again: documentation is now available here.

Diagnosis in a Complex World

After two years of service my outdoor air temperature sensor blinked out last week. Moisture was the culprit as shown here:


Various readouts in my SensorServer system lead me straight to the problem through a half-dozen layers of software. How cool is that?

Honestly, I'm more interested in how we know and trust complex measurements than knowing the temperature outside.

My SensorServer software worked so well that I prepared a Keynote presentation explaining each diagnostic step along the way.

Flight Sim Controls on Teensy

Demiduino a(nother) tiny Arduino compatible

Last night I finished assembling and uploading a sketch over USB to Demiduino. At half the dimensions of an Arduino, Demiduino is a small, portable, and affordable Arduino compatible with the Leonardo bootloader.

Introduction to eTextiles –- Sew a Glowing Ornament!


Want to add a bit of extra sparkle to your holiday decorations? This workshop is a great place to start.

ByteBeat in the Background

Bytebeats radically reduce the already austere chiptune music to one-line formulas. When wrapped with a dozen more characters of C code these formulas will feed your sound card endlessly. Musicians speak of discovering bytebeats, not composing them. I've used a bytebeat dubbed Crowd as the background score for a one-day film shot yesterday. Note that I include the entire discovery in the film's credits (disrespectfully broken into two lines.)


Kragen has written a good summary of the short history of bytebeat with links to catalogs, videos, analysis and especially interactive tools for exploring them.

November 21st Meeting

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