Welcome to Robot Dialogs. This is a place where I will record my progress, mistakes, errors, failures, lessons learned and hopefully occasional success in my designs and implementations of robots and other technical endeavors. I will try to make it as educational, informative and entertaining as I can...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Holidays! --- Celtic Knot Coasters

Time for another post not about robots... Most projects are on the back burner because I've been poking about with an Ubuntu Server, Drupal and CiviCRM for CCCKC.

I decided to make some coasters as a gift a family member.

I went to Michaels to pick up the wood circle blanks, and Hobby Lobby had 4 inch cork coasters.

I used one coat of stain before using the method I've described here to do the knot designs. This coat keeps the Sharpie ink from bleeding too much. When the designs were done I used 2 more coats of the stain and glued the wood disks to the cork coasters.

Pictures taken with my EVO and the Droid Tripod Mount (yes it works with the EVO too!).

I'm still on the fence about the Gorilla Glue. Hopefully it holds...I'm not sure I used enough. I tested one of them overnight with a puddle of water on the stained surface and it seemed to be sufficiently water proof.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Kansas City Mini Maker Faire 2010 - Another Video

Another video made by an attendee. Better than the news spot if you ask me :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kansas City Mini Maker Faire 2010

The Maker Faire has come and gone and was a pretty big success. We had a news crew in the morning and then a whole slew of people showed up. I had the RC Nerf Turret and other robots on display. It was a long day with a lot of interested people and a ton of kids. The turret got most of the face time, even got on the news and a mention on the Make Magazine blog.

There's a bunch of pictures here and here. I bought a LoL Sheild and Diavolino and got it up and running this week. I'm pausing progress on the Gameboy project so I can fix and upgrade the software in the turret before I take it into the office.

Note to anyone reading: We are going to have another Maker Faire next year. We don't know if it will be mini or full sized. It all depends on how many exhibitors we get...but...WE NEED MORE ARTISTS. A Maker Faire shouldn't be confused with science fairs (which this one was...far too often for our liking). So carpenters, welders, sculptors, photographers, new media folks, graphic designers, and anyone else who is more comfortable with a brush than they are with bytes we NEED you next year.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

GameBoy (Classic) Work In Progress Part 3

First: The Open Logic Sniffer is the best thing since sliced bread.

Second: I finally have reliable recorded data from the GB CPU to the GB LCD.

Okay so before making sense of the data here's what you need to know. I clocked the GameBoy CPU with my own micro-controller the resulting GameBoy CPU Frequency was 812 kHz. That's 24.63 times slower than normal (20 MHz), so all of the data collected needs to be time scaled appropriately.

The data was collected on Pins 12-19 of the ribbon cable between the CPU board and the LCD board (See previous post for pin numbering and pin names, some of which are guessed). These pins correspond to inputs 0-7 on the logic analyzer respectively (see labels on image above if you're confused).

Two of the data sets were sampled at 10MHz and one at 1MHz. The 1MHz set was only taken for timing of the Vblank (it isn't a high enough sample rate to be considered accurate for data analysis).

I won't be drawing conclusions about the data just yet, for now I just want to make it available.

To get the data go here: GB Data 2.zip I'd be happy to collect more, just leave a comment.

To view the data go to The Gadget Factory and get the JAVA Client. It's Free. Run the executable (it doesn't install, it just runs a JAVA program) and then open one of the ".sla" files.

It's too late to code it up tonight, and I'm building a new PC tomorrow so hopefully this weekend I can get it working.

As a side note, I am really pleased with the Logic Sniffer. I had it out of the box, firmware updated, and got this data collected in less than an hour. I highly recommend that you consider getting one.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MakeKC: Mini Maker Faire

So I'll be participating in my first (Mini) Maker Faire next month. I'll have most of the projects from previous posts there with me on display. I don't know exactly where I'll be, probably get that email in the next few weeks. Should be some good projects out there.

In the time between now and the fair I'll be working feverishly to finish my GameBoy project. The idea has picked up some new traffic in the previous post's comments and on the forums so I've got some new data and help in that respect. New data is below and I've ordered a logic analyzer so I can get even better info.
1 Frame of GB LCD Data

More Data

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Spin Cycle - Old Video

Quick post of some old video of Spin Cycle...just now got around to uploading it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

DIY Droid Tripod Mount

I've been tinkering about with making panoramic pictures lately and when I'm out and about my Droid is the only camera I have. But taking panorama quality pictures with it is pretty tough. So last night I whipped together a very simple tripod mount.

It's pretty self explanatory...here's what you need:
  • Wood, I used 3/8" pine from the scrap pile.
  • Small screws
  • Wood glue
  • Drill and bits (1/4" for standard tripod screw)
  • Saw (I prefer the small teeth of a hack saw for little stuff like this.)
  • Paint
I had some in progress pics but Windows ate them. Essentially the only part I measured accurately was the slot the droid slides into, other than that it was just eyeballed. Two small screws hold the upright pieces (wood glue also). I used some paint I had from a robot project. Tripod screw threads right into the wood. I spent nothing upfront on this project...I'd estimate cost around $1 of material and maybe 30 minutes time went into it.
It fits quite snugly. Some sanding before painting helps keep it from scratching the phone (some cloth might be a nice feature...). Its not great if you need to tilt, but a strategic rubber-band can solve that.

Now I can toss it in my glove box put the tripod in the trunk and any panoramic scenes I drive by will no longer be lost opportunities.

(Stitched w/ Hugin)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

GameBoy (Classic) Work In Progress Part 2

This is mostly just to get some pictures up. I'm just getting this posted so I can try and refocus on thesis...I should be so easily sidetracked... Any future developments will be posted in the forum first...I'll post here as facts become more concrete.

The farthest I got with this setup was a man-in-the-middle setup (as shown below) where I could intercept the CPU's commands to the LCD passing them through the microcontroller and then to the LCD board. I had to move up to a ~11MHz crystal (not shown) on the microcontroller just to come close to allowing the signals to pass through unhindered. The best I managed was a slightly distorted picture...I'll need something faster to actually read the signals so I can reverse engineer them. I've also removed the GameBoy's oscillator so I could clock the GB at a slower speed. This did work but I haven't taken a ton of time to work on the coding side.

The goal when I can work on it again is simply to replace the CPU PBC outright. I will keep the LCD, Voltage Converter and Audio Jack PCBs interfacing them with a newer microcontroller. This would allow all manner of interesting hacks...I could use it as a wireless remote for things, a desktop clock w/ USB, get some emulated or custom games running...endless possibilities. For now I have to put it in a box and try to forget it.

Test Setup
Breadboard Setup
Audio Jack Front Audio Jack Back Voltage Converter
Voltage Converter

Monday, March 8, 2010

GameBoy (Classic) Work In Progress

This is a dump from the forum...it's notes on an in progress GameBoy hack. I will refine it later.

Forum thread is here.

I'm trying to identify and spec out the LCD signals in the GB (classic). I'm looking to do away w/ the GBs original controller board while keeping the LCD board.

Basically I want to plug the ribbon cable into my on PCB and output the necessary signals to drive the video myself.

I'm just wandering if anyone has more info on LCD signals output by the z80 so I can emulate them to display stuff.

So far I've mapped all the buttons, speaker, power LED, LCD negative power to the appropriate pins on the ribbon cable.

What I have so far:
Note: Pin 01 is the pin on the ribbon cable closest to the power switch (at the cables connector).
Note: Pin LCDV1 is the pin closest to power switch on the LCDs vertical axis connector (beneath LCD).
Note: Pin LCDH1 is the pin closest to power switch on the LCDs horizontal axis connector.

Pin 01 GND
Pin 02 Power LED - (Unregulated Batteries Voltage)
Pin 03 LCD Drive voltage (-19 V) This voltage comes from the voltage converter attached to the CPU section.
Pin 04 Left & B buttons
Pin 05 Button Diodes 1 & 2
Pin 06 Down & Start buttons
Pin 07 Up & Select buttons
Pin 08 Right & A Buttons
Pin 09 Button Diodes 3 & 4
Pin 10 GND
Pin 11 Vcc - Regulated 5V (different from Pin 02).
Pin 12 VERTSYN (I think) Goes to LCDV8.
Pin 13 ? - Connects to LCDV6 and LCDH7 (Either DATALCH or ALTSIGL)
Pin 14 CLK ? - According to nitro2k01's inverted display mod. Connects to LCDH8. (Data suggests Pin 18 as CLK though.)
Pin 15 DATAOUT1 ? - According to nitro2k01's inverted display mod. Connects to LCDH9.
Pin 16 DATAOUT0 ? - According to nitro2k01's inverted display mod. Connects to LCDH10.
Pin 17 ? - Connects to LCDH11 (Either CONTROL or HORSYNC)
Pin 18 ? - Connects to LCDV10 and LCDH12 (Either DATALCH or ALTSIGL) (Data suggests Pin 18 as CLK but this conflicts with LCD schematic...)
Pin 19 ? - Connects to LCDH13.
Pin 20 Speaker
Pin 21 GND

So I need help assigning Pins 12-19. I also need to know exactly what they do, and whether the controller or the LCD driver chip(s) are the ones switching them.

Basically...the sequence in which to flip bits...

I do have the LCD section schematic from devrs.com (gameboy2.gif) but it doesn't have the ribbon pinout or explain what the non-obvious signals do.

Here's a bit of captured data from all those pins...my current setup doesn't really do time stamping, so it's virtually useless...unless you want to know that 3 frames fits in 7000 bytes: