Debugging small HW

At work, we got back our 0.9” x 2.0” CAT M1/NB-IoT sensor platform. We found a couple of small errors. One, the caps on the RTC crystal are the wrong value, and a missing 100K pull down on a MCU line. Other than that ok. With 6mil VIAs and 6 Mil traces, there is NO room for error. Even our JTAG connector is tiny. The modem, of course, takes up most of the top board space, but we also have components on the back side like GNSS receiver, MCU, level converter from 1.8v <-> 3.3v (modem and GNSS run at 1.8v). Fun stuff.

My flirting with Micro.blog is over.

I have gone to a free account on Micro.blog. I  still have not figured out what use I can make of it. I tried posting little quips, but no one seems to respond and it seems like it is a vast emptiness you write to. Maybe if I set it up on my own server, it might make sense, but paying 5 dollars a month for something I hardly use seems to be a waste. Maybe someone can explain to me the benefits of it. Ciao.

Idlewild

Seas of Faces leaving places,
Racing Emptiness one by one.
Facing Skywards to bold horizons
Shooting vapor tails at the sun
There’s nothing to declare, this race is run
We never even cared, we came undone

Idlewild, you’re not the only one.
For pity’s sake these fake goodbyes you offer everyone
And Idlewild, no time to come undone
The bitter truth is blinding you for staring at the sun.

Posted: jeffmc.micro.blog

Computers of yesterday

When I first got into computers, Apple and Microsoft weren’t even companies.
Computers used to take up rooms (some buildings). I had the pleasure of working at a company called GenRad (formally General Radio) which used the Digital Equipment Corp’s PDP-8/E and PDP-8/A in their test systems. I got hooked on the PDP-8, which caused me to get a job at Digital Equipment Corp (DEC). I specialized in older machines like the original PDP-8 and the siblings PDP-8/S (it had a serial adder and a slow clock cycle), and the PDP-8/I, PDP-12 (a LINC/PDP-8 lab computer with real A/Ds).

The Living Computer Museum in Seattle, has a number of computers that I learned to program, or repair. What is funny, for 18 months in my early career, I was detached to Gordon and Gwen Bell’s Computer Museum project in DEC’s Marlboro facility and worked on getting the MIT TX0 (first transistorized computer. Google it) running, as well as a number of other DEC classic computers.

My good friend, David Brown, turned me on to this wonderful kit. It is essentially an emulated PDP-8/I (using a RaspberryPI) and a PDP-8/I replica control panel. I want to build this, and have it in my office. Why? Because .

http://obsolescence.wixsite.com/obsolescence/pidp-8-get-one

Now call me an old git, if you like, but I can appreciate the new technology we have today, because I lived the stuff that got us here. I have been privileged to have worked in an industry where I got to learn from the masters, and got to play a key role in some of the modern computing technology of today. Something I never take for granted. When I see the FB app for IOS at 700mb in size and remember writing code that had to fit into 128 12 bit words of memory, I want people off my lawn.

Anyway, I should write a book of my adventures in computing. The title would be:

“Screw your JavaScript, we wrote operating systems in assembler for breakfast!”

Or

“An Extraordinary Life in Computing”

The former title could be the subtitle.

Cheers.

Classic Jeeps

A lot of you who know me, know that I love the older Willys Overland Pickups and Wagons. I think they have a unique style and are built like tanks. I own a late model 1953 Willys Overland utility pickup truck.

IMG 2382

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which comes to my biggest complaint about these vehicles. People who modify them as street rods, or even wedge V8s in them. I personally feel it does a dis-service to the memory of these fine vehicles. As they were built, they were functional, solid utility vehicles. I drove one of these vehicles as a kid. My dad bought one off my uncle, and it was such a great truck. I bought my late model 1953 2 years ago. It was rough in many places, but the body seemed reasonable. In July of 2017, I sent the truck to Willys America in Cazadera, Ca. Paul and his team, there, take these poor neglected vehicles, and makes them look like they are new. Paul and his team have been working on mine. They pulled the engine, rebuilt the engine from the ground up, balanced, blueprinted, etc. (I have the F4-134 75HP 4 cyl.) They also converted the vehicle to 12Volts, put in a new wiring harness, new gas tank/sending unit, added an overdrive, so the truck can go over 45 MPH, and are fixing the Wind shield, repairing and balancing the drive shaft and a firewall blanket. So, some  small cosmetic changes. The picture, below left, was how the center dash looked when I sent it. The right picture is what it looks like now.

Old bezelIMG 2060

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, these are real jeeps. Jeeps made by the inventor of the Jeep. Remember, in the late 50s, Willys Overland was sold to Kaiser Motors. In the 60s, Jeep was sold to America Motors, and then was sold to Chrysler motors, who have take the Jeep brand and perverted it into something it is not. Only the current Wranglers have any connection to the Jeeps of old. I should be getting this vehicle back from Paul and his team in April. I will enjoy driving this around the area. If you see me around, wave hi.

Remembering the past

When I first got into computers, Apple and Microsoft weren’t even companies.
Computers used to take up rooms (some buildings). I had the pleasure of working at a company called GenRad (formally General Radio) which used the Digital Equipment Corp’s PDP-8/E and PDP-8/A in their test systems. I got hooked on the PDP-8, which caused me to get a job at Digital Equipment Corp (DEC). I specialized in older machines like the original PDP-8 and the siblings PDP-8/S (it had a serial adder and a slow clock cycle), and the PDP-8/I, PDP-12 (a LINC/PDP-8 lab computer with real A/Ds).

The Living Computer Museum in Seattle, has a number of computers that I learned to program, or repair. What is funny, for 18 months in my early career, I was detached to Gordon and Gwen Bell’s Computer Museum project in DEC’s Marlboro facility and worked on getting the MIT TX0 (first transistorized computer. Google it) running, as well as a number of other DEC classic computers.

My good friend, David Brown, turned me on to this wonderful kit. It is essentially an emulated PDP-8/I (using a RaspberryPI) and a PDP-8/I replica control panel. I want to build this, and have it in my office. Why? Because .

http://obsolescence.wixsite.com/obsolescence/pidp-8-get-one

Now call me an old git, if you like, but I can appreciate the new technology we have today, because I lived the stuff that got us here. I have been privileged to have worked in an industry where I got to learn from the masters, and got to play a key role in some of the modern computing technology of today. Something I never take for granted. When I see the FB app for IOS at 700mb in size and remember writing code that had to fit into 128 12 bit words of memory, I want people off my lawn.

Anyway, I should write a book of my adventures in computing. The title would be:

“Screw your JavaScript, we wrote operating systems in assembler for breakfast!”

Or

“An Extraordinary Life in Computing”

The former title could be the subtitle.

Cheers.

The Day is upon us.

We have packed the Abbey contents with just a few things we need to live for the next two days. On Monday, the moving truck arrives and the movers load it. Stef is heading down to the new house with the pups and a car full of things we do not want to put on the truck. (She did a run today, south). A week from today, the Abbey is put up for sale. Owning a number of properties does not make me a landed gentry, for I would like to sell the Abbey to someone who will enjoy it as much as we did.

Anyway, that is the status of this moment.

 

Ciao, for Now.

 

JeffMc

Moving to Oregon!

Almost 4 years ago, we moved to Vashon, Island, Wa. We bought a gorgeous country house that had a huge kitchen with 2 islands, a 28 ft ceiling great room, an incredible master suite with his and hers bathrooms. It was the perfect entertaining house. We hosted a fall brunch every year, where we invited neighbors, island friends, and off island friends to come out and spend the morning/afternoon in the splendor of the house. We jokingly nick-named the place Vashon Abbey. It looks grand from the outside, and the detailed woodworking inside makes it a unique house on this island.

 

But alas, our experiment with island living has come to an end.

As a lot of you know, we started a business building HW modules for cellular + Machine 2 Machine based telemetry. The modules provide the basis of flowmeters, agriculture sensors, environmental sensors, etc. But alas, living on an island, it is hard to travel to your contract manufacturer at a whim, or to go to meetings where everyone does not have to wait in a ferry line (which in and of itself is a pain in the derrière).

So we decided to look at the Beaverton Oregon area. The company reasons were:

    1) Close to a number of Contract Manufacturers.

    2) A workforce pool that includes HW engineers and FW engineers.

    3) Better value office space.

The personal reasons are:

    1) Close to my son

    2) Closer to our place at the beach

    3) Closer to Oregon wineries. ( I love good pinot noir).

 

So we found a house in Beaverton, Oregon, up on a mountain near the south end. About the same size lot we have here, but less square footage in the house, but the space is more efficient, and it is one level. But the yard is like a park. And it is 6 miles from where my son lives, close to shopping, restaurants, etc. But the big thing is: NO FERRY. I am not against the Ferry System of Washington State, but when I moved to Vashon, I mostly worked at home. But now with our own business, and my team on west and east coasts, I need to be a bit more flexible in travel and such. The other good thing about Beaverton, is that there is light rail into Portland and to the airport. And if I need to come back up to Seattle, there is Amtrak. (I supposed I would come back up to spend time at Xcoders once every couple of months).

So there it is. Moving.

 

Cheers!

    

This blog now has a JSON feed

Manton Reece and Brent Simmons have developed a new type of syndication feed. Instead of ATOM or RSS, both that use XML, they are using JSON. I have modified my blogs to provide this feed to anyone that uses a News reader that supports JSON as the feed.

To learn more about JSON as a feed, look at http://jsonfeed.org

To access my feed, scroll to the lower right of the side bar and click the link:
JSON feed for this blog

Micro.blog customization

So,

As I mentioned last week, I backed Manton Reece’s Micro.blog project. I have since set up integration with this blog. As you can see on the sidebar, there is a micro.blog feed. If you want to see the whole thing, you can click on the micro.blog link in the menu at the top right of the blog.

Best Regards,

JeffMc