Latest Entries »

It is my first week back in college and the start of a new semester. One of my first tasks was to prepare a report of the progress of my final year project. I found it hard to summarize the work I had done as I have not been keeping as much documentation as I should. Below is the report I handed in.

Final Year Project Semester One Assessment.

• Reviewed current cycling performance measuring devices on the market.

• Tested and experimented with Nuelectronics data logging/Ethernet shields.

• Found Petit FAT File System library did not meet the needs of the project.

• Moved to sdfatlib library, modified and adapted it to work with data logging shield’s SD card.

• Tested Sparkfun’s GPS shield using raw NMEA codes and TinyGPS library.

• Wrote test program to save GPS data to Nuelectronics data logging shield.

• Tested basic examples of the Openlayer’s library using GPS data logged.

• Prototyped different SPI Bus configurations (Daisy chain vs Independent slave) to determine if the Nuelectronics data logging shield could be used with the Nuelectronics Ethernet shield.

• Determined the Nuelectronics shields are not a viable option.

• Researched a viable alternative for the project’s SD card/Ethernet needs.

• Determined the latest official Ethernet shield fulfilled the requirements of the project.

• Reviewed current accelerometers and gyroscopes on the market.

• Analyzed the needs of the project and determined a full IMU(inertial measurement unit) system was


• Reviewed a range of IMU systems available to the hobbyist market.

• Decided ArduIMU V2 (Flat) IMU best meet the project needs.

• Due to limitations of ArduIMU a second microcontroller was found to be needed for the project.

• Analysed inter microcontroller communications systems , SPI , I2C , UART.

• Determined I2C was the best fit for the system.

• Sourced and tested a viable real-time clock (RTC) DS1307.

• Wrote test code for each individual sub system part. i.e. RTC, IMU, SD Card, Ethernet and I2C Bus.

Plans for Semester 2

• Connect all individual elements together.

• Create a XML file format for the data captured.

• Scrape GPS information for use in Google maps overlay.

• Investigate different 3D rendering options for the captured movement data.

• To develop a Web front end server solution to handle the captured data.

• Perform real world data capture tests using the system.

• Compile detailed documentation of hardware design using Eagle.

• Complete an end to end solution.

I received some good feedback from my supervisor on the progress of my fyp. One of the key points made clear to me  was the need of much better documentation. The report counts for 50% of the overall marks. I am due to make a formal power point  presentation  in a week on my work to date.

For Christmas we got ourselves a ps3. Due to exams I only got around to playing it last week. They are a great machine. The space under my TV had now become crowded with the arrival of the ps3. For the last number of years, I have used an old Dell P4 box under my TV to play files from my home server. It ran Ubuntu and worked great. I had a DVI to HDMI cable from the PC to the TV all worked fine but there was a good bit of over-scan. So with my new toy, I began to look for ways to get rid of the computer and stream directly to the ps3.

It turns out the the ps3 is a UPnP client. I began to look for a UPnP server and with one Google search I came across PS3 Media Server.  Very simple to install. On 10.10 it is just

 sudo apt-get install mencoder ffmpeg mplayer vlc openjdk-6-jre

Then download the latest build from I am running v1.20.412. Run the file and away you go. The only configuring I did was to add the folders where my media is stored. In one way I am sad to see my old Ubuntu box go but happy to have under my TV not look like such a mess.

View full article »

Engineers week takes place this year between the 14th and 20th of February .  There are a host of events around the country for all age groups. Last year I ran a number of events for engineers week. I found it very worth while and enjoyable. This year I am giving a soldering workshop and an Arduino programming tutorial.

In the Soldering Workshop I will be showing people how to solder through-hole components and finishing off the class with the students building an astable multivibrator aka flashing lights.

For the Arduino 101 – Learn to Blink night, I will be showing people how to get started writing arduino programmes. All the basics will be covered.

For more information on these events check out or for a full listing of the Engineers Week events check out .

It has been a busy few weeks for me. In December I was mad busy with assignments for college and to make matters worse and I got a bit of H1N1 sickness. Being sick for Christmas is not fun at all. Then came my college exams in January. Not wanting to repeat any, I have been staying away from my usually time consumers  user groups, TOG and this blog. But now they are all done and I hope to get back to doing all of those other things. I had a look over my calendar for the next few weeks and it never stops.  I have listed what I hope to go to over the next few weeks below.

24th Jan GTUG

26th Jan Ubuntu Hour

29th Jan TOG AGM

3rd Feb BTW

10th Feb Ignite Dublin #6

Let me know what are you up to over the next weeks?

A few months ago on Hack a Day a saw a story about Texas Instrument’s  new product the LaunchPad. It is TI’s attempt to come more into the hobbyist market. I ordered two when I read the piece and forgot about it.

Weeks later they arrived , I was surprised how much you get for under $5. In the box you get

  • LaunchPad Development board (MSP-EXP430G2)
  • Mini USB cable
  • 2x MSP430 flash devices
  • 10-pin PCB Connectors (2 male & 2 female)
  • 32kHz crystal (MS3V-T1R 32.768kHz CL: 12.5pF +/-20ppm,
  • Quick Start Guide
  • 2x LaunchPad stickers

A friend of mine, has created a great kit using the LaunchPad the Mini Mood Light.

TI clam the kit is open source but there is no easy way to use it in Linux. I followed these set of instructions to get the Dev environment working with Ubuntu.

For small projects I think the LaunchPad will be the way to go in the future.

Yesterday I had a bit of trouble getting home. Leaving college at 3pm to find all the buses stopped. I decided to walk into town from DCU to try and try and get a train. After making my way to Drumcondra train station, I got the train to Tara Street station. I then hoped on the train home.

After 10 minutes on the train waiting between Tara and Connolly station, I started to feel  strange. The heat and lack of air was unreal. I stated to feel my head spinning, I dropped my phone and that’s all I remember.

I woke up a few minutes later to find myself lying down on the seat with a concerned people around me. I had fainted or blacked out or something. The people around me had moved to a seat and got some water and some chocolate. If it wasn’t for the nice people around me I don’t know what would have happened. It goes to show the kindness of strangers and their willingness to help other. I never got the names of the people who helped, maybe some day I can return the act of kindness to someone else.

Over the last number of weeks I have been working on the high level design of my Motion Capture system for my FYP. I have come up with the design below.

Parts List

Over the next week or so I hope to work on getting the I2C and SPI buses working.

For any of you big the Wedding singer fans out there you will know where the title comes from.

Over the weekend I was down visiting my twin brother. I had a great time building a snowman as they had plenty of snow in Laois. I even stayed an extra day due to being snowed in(not really that was just the excuse ).  Anyway back to the title, my brother asked me over the weekend to be the best man at his wedding next year. He plans to marry the love of his life in March next year in the romantic surroundings of  Tullamore Court Hotel. I have only been to one wedding before this and that was in Poland. I am a bit unsure of the duties of best man. After some googleing around and reading different articles , I found my main duties are

  • Organizing the stag night.
  • Making sure he makes it there on the day.
  • Giving a speech.

Stag Night,

I got talking to all his friends on ideas for the stag night over the last few days. The general idea is, we want to go to another county. The consensus  being,  what happens outside Ireland stays outside Ireland. The cities on the cards so  far are Berlin, Newcastle and Liverpool. The date, some time in January (I have to find out my exams dates first).


Having only heaned one real best man speech in my life and that was in polish, I am still unsure what i should talk about. I think I will head into Easons this weekend and see if I can find a book on the subject.

If any of you have any suggestions on a best man speech, where to go or  things to do on a stage night please leave a comment.

View full article »

Our Table. I blured out the other person as I never asked him if I could put this photo up

As I mention last week, I planned to along to an event being organized by Enterprise Ireland and the Enterprise Europe Network Ireland called the Business Value of Open Source Software. The event was held last Tuesday in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Santry. This was very handy for me, as I was in DCU all morning finishing a project.


I was amazed at the quality of the talks. All the speakers were great public speakers. It reinforces the need for me to continue improving my public speaking skills. The two speakers to stand out for me , were Simon Phipps and Mark Shuttleworth.

Simon gave a great talk on the business value of open source. He explained why you need software freedoms. The talk clearly showcased the advantages of using open source. I liked the talk very much. It was great to hear a different side of why to use open source . A lot of other open source talks I have been try to get you to use open source for philosophical reasons . Simon explained you should use open source in order to stay flexibly and agile in the business world.


For the coffee break and networking session of the event their were a number of tables set up outside. A few different Irish open source providers were their with all their bells and whistles set up. As I mention last David from Enterprise Ireland offered me a table at the event.  For the TOG table we had our Makerbot a few posters and lots of Ubuntu Cd’s along with us. As with other events I have taken the Makerbot too, people love to know what it is. We had lots of people come over asking about. I talked to loads of people about hackerspaces and Ubuntu. It was great to meet some follow hackerspace members who were up from 091labs for the event. Overall the it was worthwhile having the table at the event. I am not sure any of them will be new TOG members but the overall awareness was definitely raised.

Sugru is like a modeling clay when you take it from its pack. Once it’s exposed to air, it cures to a tough flexible silicone overnight using the moisture in the air. Working time = 30 mins. Cure time = 24hrs (3-5 mm deep).

So a few months ago at a Make night I came to use Sugru for the first time. I started out trying to make some new feet for my laptop. It turned out to be a disaster. I did not leave it anywhere near long enough to set. I ended up with bits of orange silicone on the bottom of my laptop.

So hearing that the inventor herself Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh would be doing a event in the Science Gallery I decided I would head along and give Sugru another go. I took along  a new breadboard I had. I wanted to add a Power Female Jack Connector to the board. This would allow me to easily use a 12v power supply with my breadboard. Also I had an Seeeduino Mega with me that I wanted to add feet too.

After a little talk with the inventor, I set out to to make my feet and attach my connector.  Second time round I found it much easier to work with Sugru. I left it to dry over night and it all worked perfectly. I loved meeting the inventor and working with it . I am not sure if I would have enough uses to go out and buy lots of it. I guess time will tell. For  all of you open source people out there you could try and make some Oogoo, a home-made Sugru substitute.