Friday, December 30, 2011

My prototypes! My poor prototypes!

As you may know (if you follow me on Twitter, say), I had placed orders with BatchPCB, for my ATtiny 45/85 Programming Shield, and with the DorkbotPDX PCB order service, for prototypes of my ATtiny 45/85 dev board and AD595 breakout board, in recent weeks (they were actually my first times ordering PCB's from any service and are in fact my first ever prototypes).

As an update here's what's been happening:

I was informed by the good people at BatchPCB that my order had returned from the fab house and had been shipped to me on the 13 of December, two weeks and three days ago. I'm kinda going nuts not having it yet xD I totally understand why though: I ordered close to Christmas and international shipping can take a while. Doesn't mean I have to like it :P

As for my DorkbotPDX order it was my first time participating in the PCB order Laen does but had heard wonderful things about it from the hacker community..... You have to love the purple PCB's you spy in the wild xD This is the image I went in with and it's still intact, but the edges are now a little blurry thanks to what's happened:

It is typical that it should happen when I place 
only my second ever order for prototypes xD

There have been two malfunctions of sorts with the 5th & 12th of December order runs, stemming from the fab house and UPS. Laen has been super and my experience is still awesome, and I will certainly use the service again if my boards are as expected, so my experience isn't that tainted =)..... And as a little side note, when you use DorkbotPDX for PCB runs you get three boards. If they turn out to work I'll be giving away one of the development boards and an AD595 breakout board to someone out there (this probably won't work out, last time I tried to give something away no one heard me).

I understand why I don't have my boards in my hot little hands but it's just that I don't have any work to do at the moment and no TAFE work to keep me busy, no girlfriend and the majority of my friends are a long ways away so I had been hoping to be fiddling with gadgetry into the new year, which I guess I will be but just further into the new year than I had hoped... Oh well, Happy New Year! Don't get too drunk!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Microcontrolling with a Mac

Until recently I used Windows 7 exclusively for everything... Everything except microcontroller fiddlery which I delegated to a Linux box running Ubuntu (This setup was preferable because Linux is awesome and Windows is a necessary evil, nuff said).

That is until I bought a lovely 27-inch iMac on a whim and moved completely to the platform, including my µC IDE's. I wasn't entirely sure if there were IDE's for the controllers I wanted to use made for the Mac and OSX, but found that the list of compatibility included the Arduino, PICAXE, and Parallax Propeller which all have either official Mac ports or officially recognised suits (in the case of the Propeller). 
I thought I would have to keep switching back to my Windows box to use the PIC line of controllers, but with the release of MPLAB X I can now relegate my Windows box for games only:

Now it's as easy as firing up the suit I want, plugging the board in and starting to mess around with my favourite microcontrollers (That is of course not including the MSP430 line, unfortunately) on my favourite commercial computer! I've got an RFID car security immobiliser based on a PIC in the pipeline, and am wanting to learn more about the Propeller so expect to see them here in the new year!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What I've been up to.

It's a simple question with a rather simple and probably boring answer...

If you look at the top of this blog you'll see a list of three pages. The first is for my CNC mill and corresponding controller, the ArduFrauenfelderCNC, which I have been refining in both the controller and the physical mill (which I'm design in SketchUp in 3D), the next is an Arduino shield for programming the ATtiny 45 and 85 microcontrollers (they're somewhat compatible with the Arduino IDE meaning they're pretty darn easy to code) and the third is for an ATtiny 45/85 development board and it's accompanying breakout boards.

They're all ATtiny related, except for the CNC controller, because ever since reading High-Low Tech's articles on programming these little chips using the Arduino platform ( and seeing Pleasant Hardware's Toaster Over reflow controller (, which uses an ATtiny as the brains, I've been infatuated with the tiny things.

The reason for this outburst of stuff? I'm currently studying Library Sciences through TAFE as an external student and they close between the end of October and only reopen in February the next year meaning I have a fair amount of time on my hands, which I've been putting into designing things I've been putting off. I'm currently in the process of refining all the boards I've published on my GitHub account.

In fact I'm having the programmer shield made by BatchPCB and am hopefully getting the development board and thermocouple breakout board made through the DorkbotPDX PCB service (NOTE: I've now paid for the two boards to be made by the DorkbotPDX service and am on the December 5th run! Can't wait to get my hands on those little purple prototypes XD). Once I get my prototype boards from BatchPCB and DorkbotPDX I'll construct them and publish it here (and hopefully finally use my four year old instructables account) with construction steps and videos of the board and what they can do, hopefully - fingers crossed.

I've also designed a development board for the ATtiny 44/84 as it has a few extra pins, just incase the 45/85's 8-pins aren't enough. I really only needed to swap out the ATtiny45/85 for its larger brother. There's also an Arduino-based ATtiny44/84 and 45/85 programmer in the works, where the ATMega328 is running the ArduinoISP sketch and is solely used to program the ATtiny chips, meaning you have to use an ISP header and programmer if you want to program it outside of the Arduino IDE (it's probably not that useful, but I have time on my hands I'm not using doing anything else so what the hell!).

I'm also currently trying to put together a RFID location aware and talking/singing teddy bear for my lovely niece. It's taken directly from the pages of the latest Make Magazine (Volume 28) which is about toys!

And I'm finally contemplating entering my CNC mill in the intsrucables ShopBot competition, though I don't know I'll get it all finished by the cut off period (I thought a DIY CNC mill in a competition to win a professional CNC would be ironically funny xD). 

Anyway, that's what I've been up to, and will be up to, in the near future.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Introducing the ArduFrauenfelderCNC

I no longer have access to some of my previous blog content, which is sad to me. So I thought I'd reintroduce the new and improved ArduFrauenfelder!

He has gained a CNC at the end and is going through his beta development. He is up to version 0.1-b3 and is continually changing as I learn more about how to use ECAD tools and electronic design.

A big change since last we met is that I am using EAGLE as my primary design software (I am still using KiCad but as a secondary tool set, meant to compliment EAGLE). I decided to give the freeware behemoth another chance as most people, both hobbyist and commercial concerns, seem to be using it for electronic design. With KiCad I was disappointed with the lack of native libraries out there (like SparkFun and Adafruit EAGLE libraries. They didn't create KiCad versions, community members have attempted to though), not to mention eagleUp. But with EAGLE I can design with it and then convert to KiCad, whereas you can't do that in reverse. I will release the ArduFrauenfelderCNC board design files in both flavours, but EAGLE will be first.

You may remember I released the ArduFrauenfelder on GitHub but it wasn't anywhere ready for release into the wild. I mainly did that to try and find help, which I didn't. After not getting anywhere I decided to rethink the design and came up with my new naming scheme. ArduFrauenfelder will be the base name for any Arduino device I design, adding designators to the end to complete the name, i.e: CNC denoting the board is CNC related. I also decided to use EAGLE and to become somewhat more serious in my endeavour. I have also decided to make it a joint venture between myself, Design Tech Industries, and the yet non-existent Tamworth Hackerspace which I hope once established can sell the boards as kits and finished products (fully constructed board and mill) to raise money for our shenanigans.

You can find the design files for the board up on GitHub: It's still in Beta versions so that should tell you about it. This is my first attempt at electrical circuit design and as such I have probably done something stupid with my layout and implementation of basic principals. To assist with development I have implemented Issues labels and issue naming schemes:

Box one shows the three labels: feature request - Green, improvement - Orange, bug - Red. Box two shows the naming scheme, which is to add in brackets what the issue is, i.e: [improvement] for improvement etc... As you can see I've already added a couple improvement and feature request suggestions. I'm currently pro typing the board on perf board, which is a little messy, but I feel like it's what I should do. Next I'm going to attempt to create the design files for the actual mill and see if I can get it cut out.

I hope you choose to have a fiddle with my creation and to help me along it completion. It is released under an Open Source Hardware friendly license, meaning it allows commercial use of my design.

I support the Open Source Hardware Definition v1.0

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tutorial: How-to backup your NDS games

This is here mainly for my own edification as I'm new to the whole NDS flash cart scene.

This little tutorial is basically what you'll find in the embedded video below (credit goes to sneakwit), I've just used my own FTP server instead of Smallftpd, plus uploaded as sneakwit's link no longer works.

NOTE:- The main reason I chose to use my own FTP server is portability, i.e: I can backup anywhere in the world with a wireless AP (as long as it's WEP, unfortunately). So say you're in Japan and you buy some games. Copy them and then stow them away in safety =D.......... That and I was bored over the weekend XD


1 X Nintendo DS Lite w/ WiFi setup (a good guide can be found here. I use Pokemon Soul Silver to set mine up because that is how I also role.)

1 X Flash Cart (I used a CycloDS Evolution running version 1.59 w/ a Sandisk 16gig SDHC card. I highly recommend if you don't have one.)

+Plus - and Smallftpd, if you're not using an online FTP server. Links at bottom of page.


  1. So first you need to unpack the contents of and alter the NDS_Backup_Tool_Wifi.ini in notpad or Notepad++. You need to change the serve IP address and the username & password to match that of the FTP server you are using. Save altered .ini file.

  2. Copy NDS_Backup_Tool_Wifi.nds, NDS_Backup_Tool_Wifi.ini and ôÃé±é+âl.txt to the root of your SD card (the root being the top of the folder and not inside any other folder. If placed in any other folder it defaults to anonymous and an IP of Load SD card into your CycloDS Evolution or equivalent.

  3. Start the flash cart and navigate to NDS_Backup_Tool_Wifi.nds and run it.

  4. It will start and immediately start connecting to your AP (that we preconfigured with a WiFi enabled game) then it will connect to the FTP server we included in the .ini file.

  5. Once connected it will ask you to remove your CycloDS Evolution and insert the game you want to backup (well, it uses rather bad English but you get the gist). Once the game is inserted it will give you a menu. Scroll through it with the L and R until you get to the NDS backup menu and press B to start.

  6. That's it. It will take a very long time to complete. You can then copy your save file (scroll through the menu again) and then copy the created .nds and .sav files to you SD card and have fun playing =D


Smallftpd - is a simple, small and free FTP server for Windows. - what makes all this possible =D

[By downloading you are agreeing that it is for use on your own Nintendo DS game carts and that you won't do anything nefarious with it.]

Monday, October 31, 2011

Welcome and greetings!

This is the new, interim, home of!

I had to move as my host (JustHost) suspended my account due to the overuse of resources and were trying to make me get $140p/m dedicated hosting, which is ridiculous for a simple blog.

So until I can shell out the money to get GoDaddy hosting this shall be where you can find my ramblings on crap I make.

Enjoy (or not, it's up to you)!