Finally some Ord Bot progress

2013-08-02 17.22.49I’ve been neglecting my ord bot build for awhile, but I’ve finally made some progress.

First of all let me explain something.  Aside from the hardon platform, I really didn’t want to follow any templates.  I just figured I’d order a bunch of parts and figure things out as I go.  If I wanted instructions to put X in Y I would have bought a full kit.

With that out of the way — I decided to start mounting the electronics.  I played with the idea of putting the power supply under the platform.  I think that for weight distribution it would be nice under there.  I don’t remember exactly (as I’m playing catch up with posts at the moment) but I decided not to.

So second choice is to mount the power supply to the main brace with the handle.  Which conveniently has lots of mounting holes in it already.  Again weight distribution in mind, it should lay flat, but that would have taken all my real estate for mounting stuff to it.  So I ended up mounting the power supply vertical and using it as a shelf for my controller.  I figured why not.

I started out with some acrylic I had laying around and drilled some holes to mount some standoffs from the power supply.  Then I did some more standoffs for the actual Azteeg X3 controller.  Finally, I think I had to drill 1 hole to mount the power supply to the board (I re-used one existing hole).

I’m actually happy with the way it turned out.  It does make the back end a little heavy but I don’t think it will affect anything much.

For now I’m just twisting and taping the wiring so I can get a feel for how long things need to be and mounting.  I’ve actually made more progress, but I wanted to break each part up in sections.

Setting up HackRF in Windows with SDR#



*** UPDATE ***

With the latest releases of SDR# and everyone getting their HackRF One’s from kickstarter, it appears this article is out of date.  I haven’t tested it but some chatter on the HackRF mailing list say that you should still grab the SDR# Nightly build, but there is no need to download the hackrf dll’s or editing the config file.  It should just work after that.  So it’s a little simpler now.

/*** UPDATE ***

I already got my HackRF working in linux with GNU Radio, but I dual boot my laptop into windows too and sometimes its nice to have access to other programs anyway.  Besides, I can’t seem to get it working inside a linux VM while in windows (Keep getting libusb IO errors, puuuh!).   So on with it.

USB Driver

zadigFirst thing we need is a driver.  Grab the latest Zadig, I’m using  Un-7zip the file, run the installer and select your HackRF device to install the usb driver.




Grab the latest _DEV_ version of SDR# here.  As of writing this I’m using 1135.

Unzip SDR# to your drive under your favorite naming convention (i.e.  c:\sdrsharp)



Next grab a copy of the HackRF plugin from Zefie’s site.  Here is a link to v1.3 which is what I used.

Extract the HackRF plugin to your sdrsharp directory (i.e. c:\sdrsharp)

Open up SDRSharp.exe.Config and find the line “<frontendPlugins>”, and add

<add key="HackRF / USB" value="SDRSharp.HackRF.HackRFIO,SDRSharp.HackRF" />

sdrsharpeditpreferably directly after “<frontendPlugins>”

Save and close SDRSharp.exe.Config.



 Last few bits

Grab a copy of hackrf-tools for windows here generously compiled by Zefie again.  Extract this somewhere, you might need this.  How about c:\sdrsharp\hackrf-tools.  Copy libhackrf.dll and pthreadVC2.dll from hackrf-tools 32 bit dir to the sdrsharp directory.

Finally you may need the Microsoft Visual C++ 2012 Redistributable package.  I didn’t because I already had it, but in case you don’t have it you can grab it here.

That should be all you need to get up and running.  I did notice some issues like my feed would stop every once in awhile, I just did a stop then start in SDR# and it got going again.  This is probably due to the fact everything is beta :)

Happy SDRing.

Fun with Le Strum

2013-07-03 22.00.18I picked up a Le Strum kit from tindie. The kit is made by Jason Hotchkiss.  He’s got some amazing kits.  I also picked up an Arpie, but i’ll get to that one when I have time.




2013-07-03 20.37.52


So what is Le Strum ?  It’s a midi controller that generates notes by strumming.  So what do you get in the kit ?  Well a PCB board, a ton of buttons, a few ic’s and passives… etc.  Everything needed to put the kit together.



2013-07-03 21.10.20

First thing to notice here, is there is a _lot_ of soldering to do.  All the resistors, diodes, and buttons oh my!  The instructions are pretty straight forward, hosted on github, no complications, put the resistors in, the diodes, caps, buttons, solder it all….  Assemble the strumming probe, power it on and rock out!



2013-07-03 22.00.06

Don’t forget to attach the legs in the correct order, I had the long and the short ones offset at first and it was odd… but that was quickly fixed.

So powering it on for the first time.  Everything looked like it could work — but I couldn’t get any audio out of it.  I was using a USB-to-MIDI adapter and trying to get some music into Fruity Loops Studio but I wasn’t getting any midi notes.

I started diagnosing the problem fearing i would have to disassemble the entire thing.  I grabbed an LED and shoved it into pins 4 and 5 in the midi port and verified there was some data being clocked out (despite there being a midi led on the board… I wasn’t sure if the led was wired to the actual traffic or just a gpio on the pic).  So I had data clocking out but my USB-to-MIDI adapter (which I’ve used in the past) just wasn’t happy.

So I ended up hooking the Le Strum up to my MIDI controlled YM2149 that is technically still in beta.  Surprisingly it worked fine with my board.  So it may be a cheap USB-to-MIDI adpater being picky about signal quality or clock skew.  Good thing the kit comes with the quick reference card it was a timesaver.  My YM board didn’t like the default setting of being on note-off but changing it to note-on and in 2 channel organ + strum mode it sounded awesome.  Here’s a video of me strumming some chiptunes!

2013-07-03 20.50.58So in closing, awesome kit.  My only concern is the incompatibility with my cheap usb to midi adapter.  Makes me wonder if other equipment will have the same issue.  My next issue is the longevity of the strum pads, I feel they are going to wear out pretty soon and I’m very temped to just blob them with solder to keep them from wearing out.  Here’s a closer up picture of the pads, they are just like large pcb pads — I guess we will have to see!

Building a large bristle bot with my son

2013-06-30 18.47.59In the spirit of being a maker-dad, my son got this bristle-bot kit for christmas.  A little preemptive since he was only 2 and a half.  Well he is 3 now and been carrying around the box screaming robot for awhile — I thought it was time we put it together.



2013-06-30 17.57.32


He’s pretty amp’d up about putting this together.





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A little upgrade for the hackRF

2013-06-21 20.09.03There’s actually a nice svg template located in the git repo which follows the ‘sick of beige‘ mantra.  Cut time was only about 6 minutes with some thin acrylic… I used nuts as spacers seeing how the board was designed generously and there’s nothing near the corners.  Turned out pretty well, the screw heads on the bottom provide a good footing.  I was tempted to put rubber feet on on it but the screws were good enough for me.  Now I don’t feel odd with a bare circuit board flopping around.


Playing around with the HackRF SDR

2013-06-19 20.51.18

Lucky me! I was selected for the HackRF beta program and received my board from Michael Ossmann / Great Scott Gadgets.  If you don’t know what the HackRF is, its an SDR (or Software Defined Radio), read more here.

I’m running Mint 14, I already had a previous install of gnu radio I was using with a rtl-sdr. I was able to get things up and running pretty easily. First I grabbed the hackrf firmware release package, and the hackrf host tools.  Then I built the host tools and updated the firmware.  At this point I thought I would be good, but it appeared that I had to update my rtl-sdr package as the hackrf source wasn’t present.  After that I was pretty golden and was able to get a FM demod sketch running pretty quickly.

2013-06-19 23.03.16By default the Jawbreaker is tied to an internal pcb trace that acts like an antenna, it’s just that antenna is pretty horrible.  Luckily I already ordered some parts from amazon.  A 2.4ghz +10db gain antenna, and a SMA to RP-SMA adapter.  The HackRF uses SMA, where as most wifi antennas are RP-SMA.  After cutting the trace to disconnect the antenna (R44), putting the adapter and my massive antenna on it… I was getting a good feed of data.


2013-06-19 23.20.00

I used a sketch that someone had made from the HackRF mailing list, it worked pretty good.  I already made my own FM demod using the RTL-SDR so I understand how it works, except this one was more elaborate.  I’ll investigate this more as I learn gnu radio a little better.  For now I at least got things up and running.


What I’ve been up to redux

Again I’ve been ignoring my personal projects for the chipKIT design challenge. Our entry (with a few guys from my hackerspace) is a KeeLoq shield, and Key Fob. Design Files / Firmware / Libraries are available here on github.

If you would like to vote for us, go here. Our Entry Number is ck765.

Here’s the video entry for the shield.