TekVenture & MantisBT

I’ve been busy the past few days.

Saturday I went to a workshop at TekVenture in Fort Wayne. I had worked it out and if I joined (at $40/month) it would be $5/hour or less for the time I’m there. That seemed pretty inexpensive to have access to scopes, milling machines, CNC mills, wood working tools and 3D printers. This week I got rid of my land line which will save about $30/month, so it comes out pretty even.

Today was an experiment to see whether I’m more productive down there. I went this afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised that the trip only required 35 minutes. That’s not bad for reaching downtown Fort Wayne from Auburn. I stayed about an hour and a half today.

Much of the time was spent trying to diagnose why I couldn’t connect to the wifi… and then I realized my laptop had its wifi turned off. Doh! Once I did that, I was up and running in about 10 seconds. Another block of time was spent getting the drivers for the Arduino installed.

Today I connected my Arduino to the prototype output board for the first time. I wrote a simple driver program (which worked after a surprisingly few tries) and the Arduino and display worked perfectly together.Circuit board with 12 digits

The other thing I did this weekend was set up MantisBT bug tracking software. I was going to install Bugzilla, but Bugzilla depends on Perl. Its install needed me to run some Perl scripts. I don’t know how to do that on my hosting account. MantisBT is all PHP and was going after a only few hours of work.

The bug tracker has a learning curve + a setup hump. Each project’s setup is evolving which slows down how I use it. I created 3 projects so far: “How Far Is Mars”, “yyj-tool” and “SysAdmin.” I don’t want to need to remember what needs done next. I’m getting to the point where I am starting keeping little slips of paper and comments in disorganized notebooks.

yyj-tool is the version logging tool that has evolved over the years. I’m getting it going pretty well. One part I’m working on are self-tests. I have big dreams for the next one, yyj-tool++ when I add a few more features.

The next feature to add to yyj is a hot-spot detector. It will take a Git archive and identify blocks of code that had changed a lot in the Git project.,The theory is that the “hot” areas need more care. The analyzer would probably create HTML documents to browse the analyzed code.

How Far Is Mars is a device to display in real-time the distance to Mars from Earth. I’m still prototyping the algorithms for that. Perhaps the local astronomy club would be interested–especially if it also displays the azimuth and elevation of Mars from the user’s location.

Scoping out the neighborhood

I’m getting interested in some digital hardware projects. I’ve got plenty of supplies from over the years.

To really get into it, I need to repair my oscilloscope. I believe it will cost about $1000 to repair it and calibrate it. I used to work at a company that has calibration and repair as one of their core services, so since they’re close, they’d be a good place for it. I’ve also got a USB logic analyzer. The manufacturer doesn’t exist any more and it only runs on Windows XP. I can run the XP in a virtual machine, but I might be able to get a dinosaur laptop that could be more convenient.

I’ve looked around and a comparable scope is a lot more than $1k. There are some scopes less than $1000, but they aren’t nearly as capable as what I have.

I’ve got a few different things I can do. One of thing in my toolbox is a Xilinx FPGA starter kit. I haven’t really done more than open the box and play with the design language. I also have an Arduino that is idle, a temperature gauging chip and a few other Atmel AVR processors.

On an unrelated topic… I’ve been wanting to clean my house’s gutters. I was texting a friend and found out that he and his dad have started a gutter cleaning business. My friend said that they would come by soon to give a quote.

There’s more than enough ways to spend money….