Sunday, March 25, 2018

My TCF HA Demo & Presentation (March 17th 2018)

My 2018 presentation went well but not perfectly. I decided that I would explain a little bit, then demo, then go on to further explain everything. I really want the demo to stay at the start of the presentation, perhaps better if it runs throughout the demonstration as I show the parts so the demo is more interactive (I can do that). Perhaps a little paint would also help indicate what is what. The demo went perfectly (unlike last year where dnsmasq somehow lost it's settings). The test program did a nice job and wow'd everyone. I think I need to take advantage of that. This year I put a lot of effort into building the display, then at the last minute realized I hadn't organized my slides (Doh! I have a lot!). So I tossed out anything I couldn't easily explain or wasn't pertinent and tried to get some order. I didn't get a chance to run through the material but I really know this stuff, what could go wrong? Well the first thing, I didn't really looked at the front of the display. It seems I cleaned up so well that there was no way to tell what controller was controlling what bulb. So basically no one knew what they were looking at which led to a lot of confusion. Also the next issue was that there was no base use case. Something simple (thanks Bill Dudley for pointing that out). That would have given me a nice base to start with. So next year's presentation will be clearer, start with something simple, one Sonoff Basic and a bulb and grow from there. I've also noticed that many folks have said that I have so much that I probably need 2 hours to cover it all. So next year I'll do 2 presentations. For now I'll start off with the explanation, then the second I'll actually build and add devices (sonoff's with the Arduino Sonoff-Tasmota software) and add it to the Node-Red setup. Perhaps, if there's time I can show some of what MQTT is doing.

So the lessons learned, always walk through the presentation even if you know the material. Start simple and expand. Share the presentation with others and listen to their opinions. You may not be able to use their advice but it should give you some ideas. Look at things from the audience view (literally) you might see something that confusing or not clear.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Trenton Computer Festival, TCF - March 17,2018

Hackaday has a story on Trenton Computer Festival (TCF) titled: TEVOLUTION OF THE WORLDS OLDEST COMPUTER FESTIVAL. It does a nice job of summing up TCF through the years I must say that it does bring back memories. This year, I am again demonstrating working home automation. One of the differences this year is that I'm doing the demonstration first and then explaining it. Last year's failure in the demonstration meant that I could only get things partially setup and useful. I was able to demonstrate the basics and the automatic updates. So hopefully I'll be able to do some more of that.
One thing that was pointed out was that the talks were actually very well filled. I hadn't really thought about it but mine were usually more than just packed. I had standing room only. Hopefully I'll be able to pack'em in again this year.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Vintage computing

It seems a little weird to think of the computers I grew up with as vintage but many of them are over 30 years old (some older). My Ataris and Rockwell AIM65 (6502), the ST2900s and Radio Shack CoCos (6809), the Timex Sinclair 1000 and Z80 SDK with Z80 hardware emulator (Z80) and various other computers date back to about 1984. In addition to my Home Automation projects, I'm currently working on many vintage projects. The Sage 1802 (an RCA 1802 processor) and browser based CDP1802 emulation software (JavaScript), the various Atari projects including the SIO2PI and getting NitrOS-9 in ROM so the CoCo can go to VCF's museum. I also have CPU upgrades for the Atari 600XL & Rockwell AIM65 (65816) and the ST2900 and the CoCo (6309). I have all the chips just need to find the spare time. Which is pretty much true for all my projects. The Atari upgrade require a bit more electronics as the XL and XE line both have custom 6502s. I know what to do to build the upgrade and I've already started the board design in Kicad.

With my recent find of the Sardis ST2900 documentation I may be able to get Microware OS9 (actually NitrOS-9) up and running on the ST2900. As I recall there was only a slight difference between the CoCo and the ST-2900 (serial port?).

I should probably try to get the Z80 SDK and Z80 Hardware Emulator (Applied Microsystems - Z180B or Z184) up and running to demonstrate how we used to do hardware and software development. This would make a good display for the VCF-Museum. Another project to add to the list.

And for those that ask: 'Why do you have so many projects?'. It's my imagination and the various electronic projects satisfy my need to build things. I do software in my day job (Quality Assurance - I break things ;-)) and my first love is still electronics (hardware). I'm also using more modern processors like the AVR, the PIC32 and the ESP processors but I still like to play with my older computers from time to time.