LittleArduinoProjects#209 a funky little LED display

I found this interesting LED display at Sim Lim Tower, and grabbed one to test. The LED unit combines 7 x 7-segment display (no decimal points) and 7 indicator LEDs (Red-Green-Yellow).

It is marked as "72R02PHIL T9717". I have no idea what that means(!), and of course there's no sign of a datasheet on the net, so pinouts needed a bit of reverse-engineering. All in all, an interesting display unit for a combination of (more...)

LittleArduinoProjects#208 Single Stage FM Transmitter

I've been experimenting with FM, and the hardest thing to get right tends to be the hand-wound coils. So to get a baseline, I picked up a 1-transistor kit during a recent visit to Sim Lim Tower.

As always, all notes, schematics and code are in the Little Electronics & Arduino Projects repo on GitHub.



LittleArduinoProjects#207 Frequency Counter

Testing a CMOS frequency counter circuit with a 100Hz - 5MHz range.

I found this circuit published in Electronics magazine (Sep 16 1976). It's a classic demonstration of the CD4026 "bucket-brigade" and CD4047 astable oscillator.

The frequency counter is governed by a CD4047 oscillator. Since this offers a clean 50% duty cycle, it is ideal for flipping the circuit between two modes: sampling period; display period.

As always, all notes, schematics and code are in (more...)

LittleArduinoProjects#206 CD4047 Astable Oscillator

The CD4047 is capable of running in astable or monostable configurations, with operating frequency configured by an external RC network. So in one sense, sounds like the 555 timer!

Unlike the 555, the CD4047 provides a fixed 50% duty cycle with good frequency stability (+/- 2% @ 100KHz).

As always, all notes, schematics and code are in the Little Electronics & Arduino Projects repo on GitHub.


LittleArduinoProjects#205 Triac Dimmer

A triac is a "bidirectional thyristor" because it conducts in both directions and is typically used in AC applications.

The basic behaviour of a triac can be summarised in two rules:
  • Rule 1. To turn ON, a gate current ≥ IGT must be applied until the load current is ≥ IL (latching current).
  • Rule 2. To turn OFF (commutate), the load current must be < IH (holding current) for long enough for the device to return to the blocking state.

This project is a test of the classic AC dimmer circuit (more...)

Create a Simple Cassandra Cluster With 3 Nodes

Apache Cassandra™ is a massively scalable open source NoSQL database. Cassandra is built from day 1 to be clustered to tick the usual clustering boxes; no single point of failure, and capacity and throughput scales with cluster size. This guide will look at creating a three node basic cluster within a single data centre. It is assumed

Cassandra Firewall Ports

Cassandra uses various ports for communication, either server to server communication or client to server communication. If you’re using Cassandra in a firewalled environment you may need to open various ports depending on your needs. All ports are TCP and can be configured in the relevant config files to use non-default ports.

Install DataStax Cassandra 3 on Debain/ Ubuntu

The following process will install the DataStax distribution of Cassandra on any Debian based system, such as Debian or Ubuntu. We’ll use the official DataStax apt repositories to install Cassandra using apt-get. Cassandra is written in Java and the latest version (at the time of writing) of Cassandra requires Java 8. You can use either OpenJDK or

LittleArduinoProjects now with fancy catalog!

I keep finding new uses for GitHub Pages - situations where in the past I would otherwise have spun up a web site on heroku or similar. But if the site can be static, and especially if you are already hosting the git repository at GitHub, Pages are perfect.

For a long time, I've maintained the LittleArduinoProjects project index as a simple table in the README. But it wasn't particularly nice or usable, so I (more...)

On "random" CI failures

I closed a bug yesterday that's been kicking around for almost a year as a sometimes fails on CI but no-one can figure out why frustration.

Sooner or later you'll hear someone suspect it must be a problem with CI. Which is ironically funny in a shoot-the-messenger kind of way!

Thankfully our "CI issue" turned into a for-real bug. In short, the code involved many classes with near 100% test coverage. It had been read (more...)

LittleArduinoProjects#204 Type K Temperature Logger

I'm working on an idea where I need to measure temperatures to around 500°C - above those typically supported with semiconductor sensors or thermistors.

This project demonstrates the basic approach using an Arduino as the "temperature logger". I'm using a K Type thermocouple that's rated up to 700°C. Since thermocouples only measure a differential temperature, I'm also using an LM35 to provide the cold-junction baseline. The temperature measurement is displayed on a 5110 LCD.

As (more...)

阿部真央 Don’t let me down

One of the best finds in the racks at Tower Records Fukuoka福岡市. It's been years since I last got to browse a record store in Japan; I'm glad they still exist, with stacks of CD players queued up to sample. And a huge relief to see the indie rock scene is just as vibrant as I remember!

LittleArduinoProjects#203 Homopolar Motor

What happens when electric fields cut across magnetic fields? A force is generated, and the homopolor motor is the classic demonstration.

As always, all notes, schematics and code are in the Little Electronics & Arduino Projects repo on GitHub.


LittleArduinoProjects#202 LM3915 Audio Level Kit

The LM3915 is a useful IC for simple audio level displays. This is a cheap kit build which largely follows the reference circuits in the datasheet.

As always, all notes, schematics and code are in the Little Electronics & Arduino Projects repo on GitHub.

Generating Diceware Passwords in Python

Today I’m going back to a theme from a post last year and looking at generating passwords with my favourite programming language. A tweet from Simon Brunning pointed me to Micah Lee’s article at The Intercept and my first thought was to write a function to do this in Python. So here it is;

def generate_diceware_password(word_count=6):
    import random
    word_dict = {}
    passphrase = []
    with open('diceware.wordlist.andy.txt') as f:
        for line in f. (more...)

Teaching an old dog to Fish

Inspired by the recent furore around Shellshock I decided that it was time to try an alternative to bash. By the very grown up process of shutting my eyes and poking my finger at the results of a search for “shell” I ended up at fish shell, described by the project as “a command line shell for the 90s”. I’m presuming that this means the 1990s and is not a minimum age requirement.

I’m (more...)

Generating Reasonable Passwords with Python

Thanks to a certain recent Open SSL bug there’s been a lot of attention paid to passwords in the media. I’ve been using KeePassX to manage my passwords for the last few years so it’s easy for me to find accounts that I should update. It’s also a good opportunity to use stronger passwords than ‘banana’.

My problem is that I have always resisted the generation function in KeePassX because the resulting strings are very (more...)

My Career

The next time anyone asks me what I do for a living I’m just going to point them to this YouTube video.

Found on the twitters thanks to Nick Hodge and Jess Dodson.

Howto debug Mendix java actions

To debug Java Actions used in a Mendix Microflow you need to make some configuration changes to the way you start the Mendix runtime.

Add the following in your project settings, in server configuration add the following to Extra JVM parameters:

-agentlib:jdwp=transport=dt_socket,server=y,suspend=n,address=5005

Mendix Project Settings

Start your application in Mendix.

In your Java IDE you need to configure remote debugging. The following screenshot shows my configuration in IntelliJ

Mendix Intellij remote debugging

Start the debugger, put some breakpoints in your (more...)

Profiling Mendix using JProfiler

JProfiler is a Java profiler which can give you insight into what a running application is doing: which methods are consuming the most cpu, how many objects are created, etc. Jprofiler also shows you information about jdbc calls and sql statements executed by your java application.

Setting up Jprofiler to profile a Mendix runtime is easy, you can start profiling a running Mendix runtime, without reconfiguration or restarting the application.

The installation guide provides a (more...)