Tuesday, August 23, 2016

windows computer went kaputt - again


It was only in 2014 my Windows desktop computer went kaputt. I managed to diagnosed to the system power supply, or as I thought but the root cause was not entirely clear even though I managed to repaired it. I swapped out the power supply with another PC that has an identical unit. Strangely the donor PC works just fine with the "bad" power supply. That left me wonder if the power supply as after all not the cause of the failure. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, my same Windows computer died all a sudden while resuming from sleep.

Monday, August 22, 2016

happiness is another small engine - part 2


It has been nearly a year since I decided to buy a 4-stroke leave blower against the common wisdom. Upon first receiving it I was very pleased with its performance, and especially how quiet it is. Even at full throttle I find it no need to wear any hearing protection. The other benefits are the cleaner exhaust and without having to deal with gasoline and oil mixture. I was also very impressed on how little fuel it consumes - until a few months into the ownership.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

bed cover for isolde


I managed to maintained the upholstery in Isolde in pristine condition after 27 years. The secret is a layer of sacrificial material over the factory fabric. In recent years the fabric on the bed cover deteriorated and I have been challenged as what to do. The cover is a old fashion sleeping bag that has been modified in circa 26 years ago. Today these old fashion sleeping bags are few and far in between. I entertained replacing the worn fabric while keeping the insulation core of the sleeping bag. The problem is the retail cost of the fabric would cost more than the sleeping bag.

Friday, August 19, 2016

arduino based multi-function display for Vanagon - part 4



As in any design development, there are challenges with the parts that one specified. I happened upon the DHT11 temperature and humidity sensor because of its dual function. It would turn out it was fun while the curiosity lasted. I have 3 of this and found that they are worthless junk. The temperature reading often jumps around 2 degrees, and at time 8 in consecutive samples. Also all three are extremely inaccurate. I had play with the Maxim DS18B20 quite early on and found them to be very accurate for solid state active sensor. One reason reason that I didn't choose it was my attracted to the DHT11's humidity capability. The bigger reason is the library for the DS18B20 is very memory intensive, and I had ran out of program memory as well as SRAM.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

japanese rolled omelette


Recently I have been into making Japanese rolled omelette. Actually more like my interpretation of this omelette technique. I am inspired by how Japanese would take foreign dishes and turn them into their own versions of Western dishes but suit their taste.

duck confit galore

I found a source of duck legs in one of the Asian supermarket. They have been frozen once. Ideally I would prefer them never but that is the state of American food supply unless you are in the restaurant business. They don't always have them so when they do, I would snap up a good quantify. I am getting quiet expert in mass production of duck confit now. Duck confit may seem exotic thing to prepare, but in truth it is quite easy. The most difficult part is when you first starting out and wonder where you can find duck fat. I rendered them myself with one whole duck that I bought, and added some cow fat that I render from cow bone marrow. The mallow fat adds another dimension to the richness.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

arduino based multi-function display for Vanagon - part 3


When I first embark on this project, I only have a vague idea of the list of features I want. It was just a preliminary list of requirements. Oil pressure and temperature, interior and exterior temperature, and most import a data logger.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

arduino based multi-function display for Vanagon - part 2


I added a clock and calendar screen. It took a bit of work to sort out the navigation logic since this is a new feature that I didn't plan for. With each feature that I add, it had been a hand-to-hand combat to conserve precious memory, both the flash and the static RAM. The latter is most critical as there is only 2k bytes. My goal is to have a least uncommitted 512 bytes left. The power management features that I implemented is working very well now and appears to have few bugs. The joystick UI is very smooth without mis-registration. I also managed to add time stamps to the file creation and modified.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

arduino based multi-function display for Vanagon - part 1



This is the continuation of a series of post staring with my purchase of an Arduino Uno microcontroller board. Started as a project in search of a mission soon it took on an evolution. It evolved into a project that fulfills some needs that I have long wanted to address and more.

a multi-function display for isolde - part 9



The keyword for this post is power management. Dealing with power management is complex work in hardware or software design. The algorithm of this Vanagon multi-function display has now becomes quite complex. There is a round robin multitasking in which the tasks has their independent cadence and conditional logic. Additionally there is timer interrupt driven polling of the joystick. Now I am adding power management features to manage the ability of soft-on and soft-off based upon the Vanagon's ignition, as well as the ability to use the data logger function independent of the Vanagon's ignition key position. I started to add the power management function when the flash memory is already at 95% capacity. The RAM is already at 70% capacity. Cutting it tight is an understatement.

Friday, June 10, 2016

a multi-function display for isolde - part 8


A lot of Arduino toys keep arriving in the Asia to USA transit pipeline. Because of the 20 to 25 shipping time I have been trained to put stuffs that I anticipate I can use way ahead of time. I also tend to buy 2 if I anticipate the item would be good because I need to keep one copy of the system for continue code development and maintenance. I however buy 1 if the item is unknown or expensive. Most of these stuff cost between $1.50 to $6 so it is not like I am going poor house doing shopping spree.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

a multi-function display for isolde - part 7


The rude awakening that my code exceeded the 2k bytes of RAM in the Atmel ATmega328 uC's quickly put the brake on the progress. I have spent some time in the weekend investigating what are the big RAM consumers and to find way to work around them. Else I have to readjust the list of features that I set.

Friday, June 3, 2016

a multi-function display for isolde - part 6


More toys arrived from China. Among them are an 20x4 LCD display with I2C interface with green LED backlight, an accelerometer breakout board, Arduino Uno protoboards, and the most exciting one - a data logger shield that has an RTC and a SD card connector as well as some prototype area.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

a multi-function display for isolde - part 5




This is a continuation of a previous post a multi-function display for isolde - part 4. I have been searching for ways to mount the OLED display and the joystick onto Isolde's accessory track. My plan is to hide away the Arduino Uno and the miscellaneous electronics in an enclosure.

Friday, May 27, 2016

a multi-function display for isolde - part 4


The reason I purchased these engine oil pressure and temperature gauge was to get the corresponding sensors. The gauges were so cheap ordered directly from China so I thought the purchase would be a good hedge against my homemade multi-function display project should I decided against it. I would have the option to install these two low cost, yet relatively unobtrusive gauges.

Monday, May 23, 2016

a multi-function display for isolde - part 3



This is the following on post to "a multi-function display for isolde - part 2". I am making some small progress on the programming, and more parts arrived. Among them is the 128x64 pixel OLED display that I was looking forward to play with.

isolde engine coolant warning


Recently I took Isolde out during an early hot day. The ambient temperature was about 88F which is unseasonably hot for May. In my return trip home, the red LED in the coolant gauge began to blink. I thought to myself this is not good. I was crossing a long bridge at the time and I had yet to gather my faculty as what the LED indicator is for. I initially thought it is the engine oil warning light.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

in good shape - brunnhilde part 22

I have been taking a lot of time pondering the best way to carry the Honda generator in Brunnhilde. There are only two viable options. Carry it inside or outside in the steel enclosure that I recently purchased. This is the follow-on post to the previous one in this series.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

a multi-function display for isolde - part 2


This is the following on post to "a multi-function display for isolde - part 1". I have been giving some thoughts to how to package the bits and pieces of this multi-function display system. It is quite easy to design the electronics and develop the software. What often overlook aspect in project like this is how to package the electronics and dealing with the interconnects. Fabricating good looking enclosures are always the biggest challenge for hobbyists and I am no different.

Monday, May 16, 2016

a multi-function display for isolde - part 1


The idea of a multi-function display for Isolde came to me quite accidentally. It started from when I decided to play with the Arduino microcontroller board. In anticipating its arrival via long shipping time from China I tried to prepare for what simple programs to write. I found this LCD display that I have at home since circa 1994 without any expectation it is of any good  or I can find datasheet for it.