Kitten Cam Offline

I’ve elected to turn off the kitten camera for the time being, as the kittens (more proto-cats now) are now so active that the camera angles almost never capture them, leading to a rather boring view of our dining room.

If the cats decide that they’re going to sleep somewhere predictable, I’ll reinstate the camera hardware – bandwidth permitting – but for now, both cameras are offline.

Thanks to the many, MANY (oh God so many pageviews!) folks who dropped by to see the kittens, and Kashka, Meeville and Malcolm (the cats), as well as Liz and I thank you all.

I’ll post photographs and updates on their progress here in the future.

Malcolm and I

Malcolm and I – Yes, he’s the same kitten as in the banner!

Arduino Batch Tool Prototype, version 1.2

I’ve been poking around in my batch tool, and have been pushing what you can do in the Processing IDE‘s add-on tool framework (turns out, not that much that’s every interesting without doing some fun Java hackery!).

With some slightly fancy trickery, the Arduino Editor now looks like this:

Stress testing the Arduino Batch Tool

Stress testing the Arduino Batch Tool

Yes, this is all loaded from an addon tool – not a rewrite of the IDE, not a custom build, just the stock editor with a single jar loaded from ~/sketchbook/tools and enabled in the menu.

Thus far, additions include:

  • A tabbed script console
  • Multiple target boards are configurable (for single-button-flash-everything functionality)
  • Multiple serial ports can be opened in their own tabs at the same time (and auto close and reopen during flash operations)

Non-visible additions include a partially implemented preferences dialog, and mutli-sketch multi-device support (flashing device A with sketch 1, flash device B with sketch 2, C with 1, etc. all from one button press, once configured).

I’ll be updating the download on the  Arduino Batch Flashing Tool page once I’m sure the tool is fairly stable.

If anyone uses this, I’d love to hear from you, especially those on Windows or Mac, as I’ve only tested this under Linux, but it should work on anything the Arduino IDE works on, as it doesn’t use any special binaries.

Kitten Cam Updates

Sorry for those of you unable to connect to the kitten camera. The DNS address can’t keep up with the IP changes on our line, so I’ve swapped to just the IP raw on the streams for now.

Hopefully this should fix the stream for everyone now.

See The Kitten Camera page for any and all camera streams.

The Kitten Cam!

The Kitten Camera – LIVE!

More views (in case the kittens aren’t in the box can be found here!)

Very recently, the cat we had “adopted” (read: “who had adopted us”) gave birth two three tiny kittens, and one not-so-tiny kitten.

Because various people wanted to see photos or videos of the kittens, I’ve put up the Kitten Camera so all can see them pseudo-live (there’s a delay of a few seconds or so).

For those interested, the hardware used is:

  • A Raspberry Pi running Arch Linux for ARM
  • A Microsoft VX-800 ‘Life Cam’
  • One 4G SD Card
  • One 8G USB drive
  • A fairly beefy phone charger to power the lot

I intended to use the official Raspberry Pi camera to do this with multiple Pi’s, but ParcelForce failed to deliver them in time, so the vx-800 will have to do until the better cameras are delivered.

Arduino Batch Tool v1.1


Arduino Batch Tool 1.1 - Port configuration

Arduino Batch Tool 1.1 – Port configuration

With the addition of tabbing, multiple serial monitors can be instantiated at once – and the batch tool will manage them all during flash operations (disable, write, enable).

Arduino Batch Tool 1.1 - Embedded Serial Monitor

Arduino Batch Tool 1.1 – Embedded Serial Monitor

The tool doesn’t create its own serial monitors, but instead instantiates additional Arduino serial monitors and embeds them in the tool’s tabs.

The stock IDE serial monitor should still work, as long as you don’t try to open the same port in both at the same time!

Release should be soonish, check back in the near future!

434MHz Experiments

In an effort to find a vaguely affordable, 5v two-way radio solution with a decent range, I’ve been attempting to port the simplex RS-485 protocol I’ve been working on to work with pairs of 434Mhz radio transmitters and receivers.

Just a 434MHz transmitter on an ATMega32u4, for testing purposes.

Just a 434MHz transmitter on an ATMega32u4, for testing purposes.

Each node is to have a transmitter and receiver which can be enabled or disabled from code, following the same scheme as the 485 transceivers used on the wired network, and the same protocol can then be sent over wire and wireless alike.

A lashed together transciever made from an Arduino ProtoShield and a 434MHz transmitter/receiver pair

A lashed together transciever made from an Arduino ProtoShield and a 434MHz transmitter/receiver pair

However, at the moment I’m simply experimenting with the hardware to see if I can get a stable, long-ish range link using various Arduinos (Arduinae?) as my development platform.

For the curious – the JST connector on the micro board is for power, and is hooked up such that the normal polarity for a LiPo battery lines up with the GND and RAW pins on the board, hence the odd orientation.

Wildlife on Campus


Its a ‘bird’ – they fly through the air through means modern science has yet to fully understand. This one lives on Lancaster University’s campus.

Tried to get some shots of the wildlife on campus yesterday, naturally everything vanished just as I got my camera out.

This bird was the only one to stand around long enough to get a long shot at, apologies for the poor focus – I had to take this shot on the move.

Random Web Radio Station

To pull a random radio station from my stream list, using vlc, jshon and curl on the terminal, enter the following:

cvlc $(curl -s | jshon -e $(shuf -i 0-`curl -s | tr -cd ‘{‘ | wc -c` -n 1) -e stream -u)

It’s not terribly efficient, but what the heck, it’s only ran once per radio station 🙂

Angel of the North

One of the better shots I took of the Angel of the North. Taken on the way back from Maker Faire in Newcastle

One of the better shots I took of the Angel of the North.
Taken on the way back from Maker Faire in Newcastle

Taken with a Fujifilm s4500, auto-mode, nothing fancy, but it turned out pretty well.

Continuing Server Updates

Second reboot as part of continuing upgrades to the server – double the RAM now!

As always, let me know if anything broke during the upgrade.