Max The Magnificent

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Editor in Chief, Embedded.com

Clive "Max" Maxfield is the Editor in Chief at Embedded.com. and EEWeb.com. Max received his BSc in Control Engineering in 1980 from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK. He began his career as a designer of central processing units (CPUs) for mainframe computers. Over the years, Max has designed everything from silicon chips to circuit boards, and from brainwave amplifiers to steampunk "Display-O-Meters." He has also been at the forefront of Electronic Design Automation (EDA) for more than 30 years. Well-known throughout the embedded, electronics, semiconductor, and EDA industries, Max has presented papers at numerous technical conferences around the world, including North and South America, Europe, India, China, Korea, and Taiwan. Max has given keynote presentations at the PCB West conference in the USA, the FPGA Forum in Norway, and the Embedded Everywhere conference in Denmark. He’s also been invited to give guest lectures at several universities in the USA, Oslo University in Norway, and Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. In 2001, Max “shared the stage” at a conference in Hawaii with former Speaker of the House, "Newt" Gingrich. Max is the author and/or co-author of a number of books, including Designus Maximus Unleashed (banned in Alabama), Bebop to the Boolean Boogie (An Unconventional Guide to Electronics), EDA: Where Electronics Begins, FPGAs: Instant Access, and How Computers Do Math.

Max The Magnificent

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    • An interesting system to ensure that fewer members of the hunting fraternity will end up plummeting to the ground out of the trees.

    • At ESC Boston 2017, Max will be discussing the various design decisions leading to the implementation of the artificial neural network powering his Bodacious Brain.

    • At ESC Boston 2017, Max will be discussing the various design decisions leading to the implementation of the 3D neural network powering his Bodacious Brain.

    • After a ~9.5 year mission travelling ~2,974,585,824 miles, the New Horizons space probe reached its destination 86 seconds early and only ~20 miles off its predicted position.

    • The sessions and demonstrations at ARM TechCon range from the latest and greatest in IoT security to haptic control systems that may find use in virtual and augmented realities.

    • If only it were possible to pose one's questions to a learned panel of experts, but where could one find such an august assemblage? At ESC Minneapolis, that's where!

    • For decades there have been rumors that Microsoft essentially copied DRI's CP/M operating system and sold it to IBM as MS-DOS. In just a few days, all will be revealed.

    • It seems we have a number of copies of 'A Tour of C++' by Bjarne Stroustrup (the designer and original implementer of C++) to give away.

    • It's common to think of deep learning in the context of machine vision, but there are many other potential applications, including audio property prognostication.

    • Neuroscientists took the techniques they use to study the human brain and applied these practices to the analysis of a classic 8-bit microprocessor with surprising results.

    • Do you ever find yourself contemplating the meaning of life, the universe, and everything? If so, these books will really open your eyes!

    • Imagine climbing into bed and saying "wake me up at six-thirty" and having the alarm clock accurately assume that it is the intended target of your command.

    • The ever-increasing sophistication of things like real-time location systems means the world we inhabit may look very different in the not-so-distant future.

    • If all of the other elements forming the diorama turn out as well as the fire, then it looks like we're going to have something spectacular on our hands.

    • To complement the "Hello There!" wireless networked badges we'll be giving away at ESC Boston, we're also giving away four "Hello There!" robots.

    • Renowned around the world as being an embedded engineer's embedded engineer and a consummate speaker, Jack Ganssle's presentations are "must-see" events.

    • As you'll see from the schedule, ESC Boston boasts a hand-picked selection of amazingly tempting tasty technical treats for your delectation and delight.

    • The trick is to power these little beauties in such an unobtrusive way that experienced modelers say to themselves "How the heck did they do that?"

    • If you watch American football on the television while listening to the commentary on the radio, the sound ends up out of step with the picture; what's the best way to solve this problem?

    • In this Christmas round-up, Max brings us up to date as to the current state of play with regard to his ongoing Caveman Diorama project.

    • UltraSoc extends its monitoring and analytics capabilities with Bare Metal Security that runs non-intrusively at hardware speed with minimal silicon overhead.

    • In the not-so-distant future, it may be that everyone watching a TV program in the comfort of their own homes sees different advertising objects seamlessly embedded in the scenes.

    • The programmable meet-up at ESC Minneapolis was a great success; so much so that we'll definitely be doing this sort of thing at future ESCs, starting with ESC Boston 2016.

    • The fully-assembled proto-flange is much like your humble narrator: bright and shiny, as light as a feather, and awesomely good looking.

    • One Arduino library disables interrupts but executes faster; the other leaves the interrupts enabled and consumes less memory but it's slower. Which should we use?

    • The Upverter Parts Concierge service frees engineers from having to create and verify schematic symbols and board footprints for electronic components.

    • These hackathon projects can be used to promote the wide variety of things that are feasible using SNAP technology, thereby inspiring Synapse's customers to think outside the box.

    • The only way the ESC technical content director can survive the ordeal is with the help of his or her technical advisory committee in the form of the track chairs.

    • Embedded designers have to consider security at every point in the system, because each system is only as secure as its weakest link.

    • Displaying things like maps of the world in 2D distorts the data and static displays are so limiting -- what about a dynamic 3D display?

    • These little rascals are surprisingly fast and extremely good at solving mazes -- maybe we should design an Embedded.com version.

    • Water -- or the lack thereof -- is predicted to be one of the major problems facing the world in years to come. Dean's solution could mean the difference between life and death for countless people.

    • Max is thinking of embedding some tiny video cameras around his caveman diorama -- Caveman Cam, if you will.

    • Electronic engineers often work with very large or very small quantities. As an alternative to writing endless zeros, we annotate these quantities with special qualifiers.

    • Creating a full-size BADASS Display can be time-consuming and costly, but it's possible to construct a smaller, cheaper version in relatively little time.

    • The Amazon Echo is a tempting taste of things to come -- a step along the path to embedded systems that boast true embedded speech and embedded vision.

    • Max's diorama is progressing in leaps and bounds, but there are still issues to address, like where he can obtain 1:32 caveman and cavewoman figures.

    • Registers are one of the first aspects of the design that must be tested because they contain the configuration settings for the hardware and are the basis of the hardware/software interface.

    • On Friday, May 15, 2015 -- O frabjous day! -- you will find me charging around the electronic flea market at Hamvention rooting through all the tasty tempting treasures.

    • Greater device complexity mandates increased development productivity. The latest version of Altera's Quartus II FPGA development environment rises to the challenge.

    • Have you seen the film 'Snowpiercer'? If so, do you think it counts as one of the most thought-provoking and/or disturbing science fiction films you've ever seen?

    • Using a computer to translate something like a technical article from a foreign language into English can result in complete gobbledygook.

    • Tensilica Fusion is a configurable and scalable DSP that is ideal for applications requiring specialized computation, ultra-low power consumption, and the smallest possible footprint.

    • Max is a hardware designer. When it comes to programming, he makes it up as he goes along. He could do with some help to make his code leaner, meaner, and more efficient.

    • When Max powers one of his projects up for the first time, it's not unusual for sparks and smoke and strange sounds to ensue. In this case, everything worked first time (he's still recovering from the shock).

    • The folks in charge of the Internet are opening up all sorts of top-level domain names, and the guys and gals at Vox Populi have landed ".sucks"

    • The October 2014 Proceedings of the IEEE, Volume 102, Number 10, was a special issue on bioinspired imaging techniques and technologies that may revolutionize embedded systems of the future.

    • In which we discover the current state of play with regard to Max's ongoing hobby projects, including his Prognostication Engines, BADASS Display, and Vetinari Clock.

    • Max Maxfield is taking a more prominent role in the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC), and -- since ESC and Embedded.com are so inextricably linked -- he will be spending more time on Embedded.com

    • Here we find the collected musings of Max The Magnificent. In addition to waffling on about typical technical topics, Max also regales us with tales of his hobby projects.

    • In this session at ESC Boston 2015, some of the leanest, meanest, coolest, hottest contenders in the RTOS multi-universe will take it in turns to explain why their RTOS is the bestest of the best.

    • What's happening at the next Embedded Systems Conference? Here's a behind the scenes look at what not to miss.

    • The Mercury PowerBlock 50 establishes a new class of rugged embedded computing, with up to 172 GFLOPS of processing power in a choice of Freescale, Xilinx, or P.A. Semi configurations.

    • Thanks for the great article Aubrey. So, will you be purchasing one of these little rascals?

    • @Eran: "...play that tune that I like to hear..." What? No "Please..."? I know my wife often says "Thank You Alexa" to our Echo when it's answered a question or performed some service -- I think some people will simply order their devices around, while others will treat them as they would other humans -- it will be interesting to see (hear) how this plays out over time... (for example, can you imaging your device telling you to "say please"?)

    • @Eran: Another point re that fictional conversation, you say: "Also, observe that -- in the scenario above -- the machine can understand that its assistance is required even without explicitly calling it as in today's devices." Is this really a requirement? Maybe thsi shoudl only be the case if you were the only person in the room. If I were alone in a room with my wife, for example, I can imagine saying "Do you remember that imported beer we had at your party last month?" But if both my son and my wife were in the room, I'd start by identifying to whom the question was being addressed, like: "Gina, do you remember that imported beer we had at your party last month?"

    • @Eran: In your fictional conversation between a human and a machine, you end with: "Machine: 'Sure, two six packs of Negra Modelo are on their way.' I fear that, in my house, this conversaton would be more likely to end something like: "Machine: 'I'm sorry Max, but your wife says you are drinking too much, so I've changed your order to sparkling water. Have a nice day!'

    • Here's the response Ivan posted to a related article over on EETimes: Answer: As the teeth bite into the variable bark and shape of the various trees, a switch closure doesn't insure the teeth have bitten sufficiently (or as much as possible given the variations). If you go with this approach, you need a force sensor, because this says we grip enough to be sucure around the trunk. But then, where does the force sensor go? At the base of the gripper's moving arm. Now there is a cost issue. Additionally, as brush-type motors age, the commutator gets less efficient, as brush particles get between the slits in the copper ring -- beginning to shunt current around the coils which nets less force for the same current. This means that new motors produce higher torque which translates to more force than older motors. One might argue that measuring the force could provide a measure of the age of a motor, by monitoring the profile of any given closure over time. In short, yes, but supporting this function is for a SKU that has more features comes at higher cost. The 'ratchet' that is pre-built into the motor's attached gear head does the minimum of what is required (for free) -- begins ratcheting at a pre-defined force, which is known to have sufficient grip for safety. As the motor ages, the customer knows something is wrong, because it begins gripping, and never gets to the ratchet stage. Cheap, dirty -- but gets the job done.

    • "...I did quite a bit of work with systems with hierarchical menus and it seemed that 4 buttons (up, down, back, & enter) was the minimum for reasonable user understanding of the system..." Generally speaking I would agree that "the more buttons the better" but... In the case of my BADASS Display ( http://ubm.io/1FxDPE2 ) I used six buttons on my control panel thinking Menu, Up, Down Left, Right, and Select/Enter. Thus far I've implemented myriad effects, but I've only used two buttons. Also, I'm thinking about the "Hello There" badges we created for ESC 2016 ( http://ubm.io/1Smqysr ). These had only two buttons, but we managed to use these to navigate and control a very sophisticated hierarchy of applications. Compared to two buttons, three is luxury LOL

    • ...the "Wuthering Bytes" Festival... I LOVE it -- I wish I'd thought of that -- I'm from Sheffield in South Yorkshire -- if I was still living in the UK I would love to go to this -- I'm going to let my chum Adam Taylor know about this one -- quaff a pint of beer for me!

    • As you know, I think Notes Plus is great, but the app that's currently "best in class" for my needs is MyScript Nebo, which you talk about in your follow-up blog (which I hope to post later today LOL) In fact there are a lot of note-taking apps out there, such as: Moleskine Journal Notability Noteshelf OneNote GoodNotes 4 Looking over the list of features for each of these, you realize that they all have their strengths and weaknesses -- for example, some allow you to mark-up PDFs, which would be great for students whose lecturers provide class notes as PDFs, but is of no interest to me. If only I had the time (and money), I would love to devote a day or so to playing with each app to get a real feel for it. At the moment, however, I think that MyScript Nebo is the one for me.

    • "...my solution to having to search for a pen is to flood the area with pens..." LOL This reminds me of me -- my office desk is strewn with pens, as is the table next to my command chair at home.

    • Another thing that just struck me is that, when they see this column, a lot of experienced engineers might think "Well, using a LED in this way is obvious." On the one hand this is true -- on the other hand, since there's little written down about this sort of thing, it's a case of constantly re-inventing the wheel.

    • It's funny when I come to think about it -- because I've used blinking LEDs to indicate status and error conditions for years -- but it never struck me to wonder if there were any standards for this sort of thing. In the case of your diagrams, I'm wondering what the error sequences would look like with and without the 0.5 second gap (off state) preceding the 0.5 second red (error) marker. Dang, now I'm going to have to experiment myself...

    • In a comment to Aubrey's column, TonyTib said "A side note, the CANOpen standard specified standard colors and flashing patterns for status LEDs" and Aubrey responded as follows: I found a description on P9 of this document http://www.leinelinde.com.pl/pdf/absolutne/CANopen_Manual.pdf Does anyone know of other standards?

    • I keep on thinking I should take the time to learn Ada, but there's so much to do and so little time to do it all in. Would this be worth my time?

    • I love reading -- and I prefer real books -- I guess I spend my time 50:50 between fiction (science fiction and fantasy) and science, technology, math, and history books. I used to save (hoard) every book, but I had a big clear-out about 10 years ago when we were moving house and I went through every book saying "will I ever read this again" and if the answer was no giving it away (apart from nostalgic ones). I just read an interesting book called "Algorithms to Live By -- the Computer Science of Human Decisions" (I'll be writing a review on this in the not-so-distant future). In this book there's a very thought-provoking quote by Lydia Davis, who said: "I had reached that juncture in my reading life that is familiar to those who have been there: in the allotted time left to me on earth, should I read more and more new books, or should I cease with that vain consumption -- vain because it is endless -- and begin to reread those books that had given me the intensest pleasure in my past." This really struck a chord with me -- I already have a shelf of books in my office waiting for me to read them -- maybe I should stop buying new ones (at least to I've cleared this shelf), because there are many, many old favorites I wish to read again also...

    • I just heard back from the SED experts at Virtium who spake as follows: How does using an SED protect you from ransomware? SEDs do not protect from ransomware; that's what firewalls and virus-protection software do. Self-encryption protects data at rest that may be lost or stolen, and isn't intended to be a replacement for firewalls or virus protection software. Does an SED know what it's encrypting/storing, and prevent other encrypted data? No, an SED does not know what's being sent over the SATA interface. It encrypts everything, all the time. If an self-encrypting SSD is lost or stolen, it's impossible to reconstruct the data without the authentication mechanism, since the encryption key stays with the drive. Even if someone wants to take the NAND flash chips off of the board and analyze the chips themselves, the data that has been encrypted with AES-256 bit encryption cannot be reconstructed.

    • Maybe that's why Jack said this was "bound to fail" LOL

    • Hi Jack -- thanks for this review -- very interesting -- I think I'll have to add this one to my "Wish List" as part of my quest to become highly proficient (or, at least, less dreadful) at C :-)

    • I really would love to have all of these timepieces on my wall: a) ThePresent: Seasonal Edition b) ThePresent: New Year Edition c) ThePresent: Max's Birthday Edition d) Today Sad to relate, they are a bit out of my price range -- maybe I'll be able to afford them when I grow up LOL

    • Words we should all live by. Actually I do quite well at this. Although I do enjoy the weekends, I don;t live my week just to get there -- every day when I wake up I focus on all the fun things I'm going to be doing that day (admittedly it can be a bit of a stretch some days LOL)

    • Reading the comments on ThePresent website, it appears that when you power the clock up, wherever you are in the world, it automatically sets itself to the right time (well, day of the year). (a) I wonder how it does this and (b) I wonder if the Today timepiece does the same thing (I've sent a question to Scott -- the creator of these little beauties)

    • All of these are great suggestions. In fact, all of the effects (the light sin the fire, pool, tunnel, roof) are going to have a variety of selectable modes/options, so we coudl do the same with the time portal.

    • I'll be happy to get far enough along for this to be a problem LOL At the moment I am snowed under with work -- up to my armpits in alligators fighting fires without a paddle (i never metaphor I didn't like :-)

    • "We need all the help we can get, and that includes good advice and good examples from a website that claims to be a "resource for everything embedded systems designers and developers need to do their jobs". If that is unreasonable, then I am unreasonable. But I don't think it is." The thing is that there are a range of visitors to this site, from experts like yourself to beginners. Also, some folks are hardware focused and just tipping their metaphorical toes into the software waters. To you my code will seem pretty pathetic -- but then I'm not really a coder -- I'm a hardware guy who's picked programming stuff up as I went along (I designed my first ASIC back in 1980 at the gate-level using pencil and paper). We do have programming articles here that are written by coding heroes, but I like to mix things up with my own low-level coding musings, like this article.

    • "Some of us are hardware designers who got lumbered with writing firmware, because newbies aren't the only ones who think that hardware design knowledge is all you need to write firmware" That's not what I said -- all I said was that you need our hardware on which to run your firmware. Having said this, I didn't realize that you were a fellow hardware designer, in which case I greet you as a brother :-)

    • The problem with using the alarm functions in the way you describe is that this only works if the clock is continually powered on -- if there's a power outage, then it would have to check for the current state of play when it's powered back up. In this basis, it's easier to check on the hour to see if we fall inside the DST period, and --if so -- subtract 1 from the hour accordingly.

    • "I'm sorry. I found a site called "embedded.com", and thought it was a resource for professional firmware designers. I am not "annoyed", and I apologise if I gave that impression." No worries -- but one question -- you thought Embedded.com would be "a resource for professional firmware designers"? Ha! I say -- your firmware couldn't run without our hardware (I'm a hardware designer by trade :-)

    • Thus far my attempts at a time machine have been thwarted -- it's almost as though a future version of me were throwing a spanner in the works (so maybe this indicates that I will one day succeed). I'll be happy if it keeps on working until my 100th Birthday in 2057 -- by then I'll probably want to reprogram it anyway. Hmmm -- I do like the idea of being able to set the number of hours in a day and the number of days in a year -- just in case...

    • I always say that the great thing about sites like Embedded.com is that you learn stuff. I knew about the atomic clock stuff as a "background" sort of thing, but I'd never heard of WWVB -- the fact that it transmits at 1 baud and takes a full minute to transmit the current time is understandable for the time it was created -- it's amazing to me that they still transmit this format -- presumably because so many legacy systems use it. Now I can't wait to receive the module from Pete's store and start playing with it -- I'll be reporting back in a future column (so long as it doesn't annoy Mr. Merrick :-)

    • Hey -- give me a break. This is a hobby project that's growing in the telling. If it had been a real project there would have been a spec, and the spec would have said "must account for DST" (along with qualifiers like "Only in Alabama" or "Anywhere in the USA" or "anywhere in the world"). As it was, I had enough problems getting the LEDs to light up and working out how to present 12-hour and 24-hour modes -- I was just happy to get it working -- it's the first clock I ever built -- I forgot about DST -- so shoot me LOL

    • Sez you! I never listen to David LOL The first thing to do -- just "because" -- is to check the results from the code snippet above against the ChronoDot's day-of-the-week register, just to make sure that everything matches, but that's all I'm promising LOL

    • You just had to go there, didn't you -- you couldn't walk by and let a sleeping Max lay there snoozing -- you had to poke him with a sharp WWVB stick. So I did a Google search for WWVB (very interesting) in conjunction with Arduino and found reference to a module called CMMR-6. Unfortunately you can;t get these any more (bummer). But then a bit more rooting around led me to my chum Pete's store in the UK at www.pvelectronics.co.uk (the place I got the electronics for my Nixie Tube Clock) -- in particular the fact that Pete also affers a bunch of radio time modules (http://www.pvelectronics.co.uk/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=9) one of which is a "High Sensitivity WWVB Time Receiver Module With Antenna" (http://www.pvelectronics.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=82) that receives UTC Time from WWVB 60 KHz transmitter near Fort Collins, Colorado. I couldn't stop myself -- I just ordered one -- and it's all your fault!

    • All good points -- C has been the mainstay of the industry for decades now -- and that comes with experience -- but we also learned a lot since C was conceived -- there are a lot of things I like about Python -- but at the end of the day I'm a hardware guy who dabbles with small software projects, not commercial-grade software, so I'll let you software gurus fight it out LOL

    • Speaking of Brad -- check out the column I just posted about his latest Kickstarter project: Cunning Low-Cost Dual-Rail Breadboard Power Supply Kickstarter http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=216&doc_id=1329190

    • Arrgggh -- I hate that you make a good point -- like you, I've agonized over this -- but I've personally come to the conclusion that the braces are best on separate lines and that it's best to use 4-space indents. And since I just rewrote the code for my cunning chronograph -- I'm not going back now! LOL

    • Thanks for this advice -- I'm going to wait to see what the general consensus is and then I'll take whatever course rises to the top of the pile -- also, I'll talk about my progress in future columns.

    • I haven't added a Simblee to the BADASS Display yet -- but only because I'm currently focusing on my Cunning Chronograph (http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=216&doc_id=1328600), which does have a Simblee, and my Caveman Diorama (http://www.embedded.com/electronics-blogs/max-unleashed-and-unfettered/4441138/Caveman-floodlights), which will have a Simblee. For a lot of projects you might decide to only use a Simblee -- in addition to the Bluetooth Engine it also has a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 processor. In my case, I need to use the Arduino Mega because (a) I'm driving NeoPixels and the library is written in assembly for use with An Ardunio Uno/Mega, (b) my sound shield was designed for use with the Mega, and (c) everything works on the Mega, so why change it? LOL I've now created a very spiffy hierarchical menu (that is displayed on my iPad) for use with the Simblee driving my cunning Chronograph -- I'll post a blog about this sometime in the next few days describing the way in which the Simblee is physically connected to the Arduino and also giving the Simblee code for you to look and and play with -- so keep on coming back to Embedded.com to see this column when I post it :-)

    • There was an interesting article a day or so ago on EE Times (http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=36&doc_id=1328589&) talking about how the original frequency range for telephones was set ages ago, and we are now increasing that frequency range, but that this paradoxically makes noise problems worse...

    • It looks like a fantastic site -- two things that would make it more useful would be: a) If I had a 3D printer b) If I knew how to use a 3D modelling application LOL

    • I need a 1/32 model of an H G Wells time machine (modified to be a 3-seater) -- see http://www.embedded.com/electronics-blogs/max-unleashed-and-unfettered/4441138/Caveman-floodlights and http://www.embedded.com/electronics-blogs/max-unleashed-and-unfettered/4441138/Caveman-floodlights It sounds like you could create this without breaking a sweat...

    • ### "So, I already had done the same using those tools before I was 8 y/o..." So now we all know who to come to if we need help with anything LOL

    • I did woodwork and metalwork at high school -- then a 6-month apprenticeship at Rolls Royce as part of my university degree (mills, drills, grinders, lathes, welding, etc.) But I know a lot of folks who never did any of this sort of thing -- so to them seeing these jigs and thinking "3D Printer" is like a light bulb going on over their heads.

    • I think the thing is that most of us just "get stuck in" and do lot of stuff without thinking that our lives would be much easier if we made a jig. Did you see Steve's blog about the jigs for his 8x8x8 cube? (http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=36&doc_id=1323590)

    • You make these design changes without telling me!!! LOL I'll share more pics in a future blog when I get my 3D prints back from Shapeways.com and the stuff you've sent me ... I cannot wait!

    • Do you remember "The Speaking Clock"? That number you would call on the telephone and the voice saying "On the third beep it will be x hours, y minutes, and z seconds precisely .... beep, beep, beep" Do the telephone companies still do that, or has this gone the way of the Dodo?

    • If you already have a DropBox account, you may think that's the way to go, and I'm not arguing with you, it's just that I've never actually had an occasion to share a file with anyone that way. But I have to tell you that this WeTransfer is really easy -- and it's something you could suggest to someone without a DropBox (et al) account if you wanted them to send a large file to you.

    • In the middle of my "Not Your Grandmother's Embedded Systems" presentation I say "in the next four slides we'll consider embedded systems 10, 20, 50, and 100 years from now" ... Each slide starts off with "Experts predict the death of 8-bit processors" LOL

    • I agree -- it's not fancy -- but it works. Take the trick about using the xref[] array, for example. I'd started using this to address one of my own problems, then a friend emailed me to say that he had somehow messed things up with his clock -- one of the rings was 1 pixel misaligned and he was not looking forward to dealing with it -- I told him about the xref[] trick and it made his day (just another service I offer LOL)

    • Arrgggh -- you are of course correct -- I've changed all the "xref[i]-1" type expressions to their "xref[i-1]" equivalents. That's what happens when you write code for an article without compiling/running it. Thanks for catching this.

    • Good question -- I don't know the answer -- I do know that the Teensy 3.1 is brilliant when it comes to dealing with NeoPixels because you drive the NeoPixel strings from the DMA (direct memory access) port and thsi can be happening while the main processor continues to do it's thing. One big point here is that the XLR8 has the same form factor as an Arduino Uno, which means you can simply switch out an existing Uno with an XLR8 and all your existing shields continue to work happily away -- the Teensy 3.1 and the Particle Photon have different form factors. I'll also ask the XLR8 folks to comment on this.

    • That's a valid point -- I'd be interested to see how this affects the timing -- the next time I have a moment free... The real problem is dragging Ivan's monster oscilloscope from bay to bay -- I need to get myself a modern small lightweight one. I have an iPad version -- but my iPad is at home, and overall I prefer a dedicated scope -- I'm going to look at what's on offer at ESC Minneapolis -- Rohde & Schwarz are going to be there -- and Tektronix -- but both of these may be out of my league (sad face)

    • Hi David -- I hadn't really wrapped my brain around this until I saw a somewhat related implementation coded by Nlklas_e (see below). I'm up to my armpits in alligators at the moment, but when I get some spare time I plan on coding both of these to see how they compare to my original implementations.

    • Its funny you should mention this -- I was just looking at the Blink Without Delay example the other day -- I may well end up moving to this if I start to do multiple things while flashing (if you see what I mean)

    • Re your implementation of the encoding Iconoc mentioned -- I don't think I'd really wrapped my brain around what he/she was saying until I saw your implementation -- very tasty -- plus I learned a lot just looking at how you write your code.

    • Re your point about my having 9 elements of delay instead of 7 -- eeek, how could I have missed this -- I've fixed it (and added the '?' and '!' punctuation characters -- the new version is here http://bit.ly/1JO3lKG

    • Eeek -- it's my bad -- for some reason when I saw your first comment I thought you were talking about my follow-up blog http://ubm.io/1fLyimr -- that's why I was waffling on about my displayThis() function and stuff -- I only now realized you were talking about my first column and i totally agree with what you say.

    • One problem arises if I decide I want to include punctuation -- both a period and a comma require six dots/dashes. But there is a way around this if we use the three MS bits as follows: 000 xxxxx zero data bits 001 xxxxx one data bit 010 xxxxx two data bits 011 xxxxx three data bits 100 xxxxx four data bits 101 xxxxx five data bits 11 xxxxxx six data bits Actually, since we know that there will never be zero data bits, the first combination is superfluous -- we could make 000 xxxxx represent one data bit and so forth, but that doesn't really gain us anything.

    • "Sadly, I'm not getting one of the development kits but looking forward to seeing what everyone is making." But you are -- you are -- I emailed you to say "congratulations" and to ask you for your post address -- but silence was the grim reply, as it were -- I just checked my spreadsheet -- your entry is still waiting for me to tick the box saying that you've emailed me your shipping address... The "boing" sound you hear is the ball landing on your side o the court...

    • I tried parachuting in my younger years -- when I was around 25 years old -- just static-line ("mushroom" type parachute) jumps where you had to throw yourself out of the plane door -- not free-fall or anything. After the third jump I realized I would be a lot happier if there wasn't a fourth LOL

    • What did you think about the last video? My heart was in my mouth when I saw it. It terrifies me to think what would happen if he missed.

    • I'd never heard of the fictional biography of Claude Émile Jean-Baptiste Litre -- that's a brilliant idea -- I just found thsi entry on the Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_%C3%89mile_Jean-Baptiste_Litre -- at the bottom there's a link to the original spoof biography -- I'm just about to read it now -- thanks for sharing.

    • Eeek -- you are correct -- I just went back in and "tweaked" this -- thanks for spotting it and for letting me know -- thanks also for the kind words.

    • I think someone did suggest varying the light to focus on whoever is talking or the current area of interest in the scene -- I might look into that when I'm further along -- this would look really good if I could get to animate the figures -- even if it was just turning a head or raising an arm...

    • Hi Rick -- I would use a PIR or ultrasonics to detect someone's presence -- I want the tiny cameras to embed in the diorama so I can show images from the diorama on a big screen on the wall behind the TV.

    • Re the mountains -- I'm thinking 100% computer generated -- plus having the volcano and the moon and meteors and stuff. As to how this will be achieved ... ask me after we've got the waterfall done LOL

    • Hi Steve -- Mike and I were here in the office for 4 hours this past Saturday experimenting with the water effects -- it has to be said that ours don't look as tasty as the ones in the video -- but that's what practice is for. Watch this space :-)

    • I have to say that the more I learn about different languages, the more I am amazed about how many different ways there are to do things. Having said this, English is obviously the best, otherwise I wouldn't have devoted so much time and effort to learning it. I don't wish to boast, but I started learning it when I was a tiny baby -- that's how good I am (my mother used to say I was "special" -- perhaps foolishly, I took this to be a complement).

    • "My hubby left me for another woman after 2 years of marriage..." Possibly because you are prone to posting totally irrelevant comments on technical forums where they will be read by people who really could care less about your meaningless meandering witterings. I'm sorry... did I say that out loud?

    • That's a good point -- thanks for sharing. There is also some interesting stuff coming out in the programmable logic domain. As I wrote a while back (see http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1325799), in addition to programmable fabric, the next generation Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC will boast 64-bit quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processors augmented with an ARM Mali-400MP graphics processor. Also there will be 32-bit dual core ARM Cortex-R5 real-time processors, which can be run independently or in Lock-Step mode. We aren't in Kansas any more, Toto LOL

    • Re: "And don't forget to include solar and lunar eclipses in your background video!" It's not a video -- it will be a computer generation in real time -- but I do like the idea of adding the occasional solar and lunar eclipse -- with suitable moaning and groaning from the cavemen and me explaining what's going on -- similarly for comets and shooting stars and meteor showers and thunderstorms...

    • Re: "As for lighting the cave paintings, I have two ideas. First, how about a spotlight mounted on the time machine, police car style?" That's not a bad idea -- I'll wait until the cave (and painting) are finished, and then decide whether this would suffice, or whether I'll need a couple of free-standing floodlights.

    • I'm not too familiar with the security systems provided by SRAM-based FPGAs and SoC FPGAs (like those from Altera and Xilinx), but what about the Flash-based SmartFusion2 SoC FPGAs from Microsemi? http://www.microsemi.com/products/fpga-soc/soc-fpga/smartfusion2 I particularly like the SRAM-based physically unclonable function (PUF) technology (see my column http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1325360) Microsemi are doing some very interesting work on the security side of things -- like using their chips to bridge between the host processor and the external memory to ensure a secure boot.

    • I was just chatting to Richard Wawrzyniak, who is the Sr. Market Analyst for ASICs & SoCs Sat emico Research Corp. Richard noted that one of the biggest challenges facing us today is security -- we haven't done a very good job of it. The world is a scary place, and we need to secure every aspect of our systems (hardware and software) from PC and servers to the smart grit to home automation to industrial control to ... EVERYTHING. Intel paid a whopping price for Altera. The folks at Intel aren't stupid -- they must have a plan for making all of this money back and more. Is there any way Intel might be planning on using the combination of their processors and Altera's FPGA technology to increase the security of the ensuing system?

    • "Maybe a failsafe camera mounted on each traffic light that sees at least a few of the other traffic lights?" That's a very interesting idea -- especially since the deployment of embedded vision is poised to start ramping up exponentially...

    • Who is this man called Clide? (asks "Clive 'Max' Maxfield") LOL In answer to your question -- they were green north-south for a long, long time as the trickle of traffic was allowed through by the police -- then once I'd turned east, they stayed green in my rear-view mirror until they faded from sight about a mile away.

    • "My clock certainly has provoked discussion." If you count "what the heck is that supposed to be?" as discussion LOL

    • "although obvious to me because I programmed it, the representation of the time wasn't so apparent to others..." That's the tricky bit -- to make it so obvious that anyone who sees it says "Ah, a clock!"

    • "My clock tells the time but yet to do anything fancy with the LED's, but it is now housed in a rather nice Ash jacket." As always, I am well-impressed with your woodworking skills -- I think your Ash jacket looks wonderful -- in my case I'm heading towards something a bit "meatier" -- I think you'll be surprised...

    • "I have to say thanks for this challenge, it has kept me occupied for the past 3 weekends now and I'm enjoying it." It's just another service I offer -- you're welcome :-)

    • "Hey Max, at last you've made a start and its looking good. Can't wait to see what you do with it next." You and me both LOL I can't believe it's taken me so long to get up-and-running -- it's like the old saying goes: "Work is the curse of the drinking class" I have a few tricks up my sleeve to stump the Cringing Cowie :-)

    • Nice column -- thanks for sharing -- I'm looking forward to your next one when you discuss the software. I have one of these dev kits myself -- it's sitting on the desk in front of me making me feel guilty -- I really have to start playing with it. It should be noted that Silego's real market is folks who are building 100s of 1,000s (some times 10s of 1,000,000s) of units -- because the space and cost savings for those folks can be humongous -- and those folks don't have any problems with tiny, fine-pitch parts. Having said this, it's fortunate (for us) that this dev kit is so affordable and that it comes with a bunch (~50?) of chips that can be really useful on hobby projects. I'm also looking forward to seeing some of your future boards that incorporate these tiny GPAK mixed-signal FPGAs.

    • "I suspect that what you are seeing is that you are changing the display faster than the LEDs can keep up." Hi Elizabeth -- you may have hit the nail on the head -- We currently have a "delay(10);" (ten milliseconds) at the end of the "loop()" function -- I'll try increasing that to see if the effect disappears and report back -- but not today because the notepad I use to upload the program to the BADASS Display is at my house at the moment.

    • Actually -- I'm going to try two versions. In the first, after holding for a short time, the peak dots will fall at a constant speed. The alternative is for them to hold, then start falling and for the speed of the fall to accelerate as though under gravity...

    • Hi David -- I do like this "peak detect and hold" type effect -- here's another version https://youtu.be/DUoX9fDibYk In fact I mention in the blog that this is going to be one of the next effects I look at.

    • Hi David -- in fact there are multiple prizes, including: the radiance of my smile will lighten your life -- I'll post another video so everyone gets to see their code running on my BADASS Display -- and then we can all vote st see who has the best effects, and those folks can bask in the glow of a job well done LOL

    • I was just wondering -- do you think the graphic representations of the structures like my colors[][] array help in understanding what's going on, or are they superfluous to requirements?

    • "I would assume, and may be wrong, has the limited life of an acid paper." You are probably correct, but even so it will last my lifetime, and I doubt future historians will cry over the lack of my logbooks LOL

    • It was my bad -- I spent most of the day outside roaming the electronic flea market looking for parts for my Steampunk projects -- by the time I started thinking I should look into getting my license, I was too tired to track the info down inside the main building.

    • I also prefer spiral bound because it's easier to photocopy pages than hard bound. The one I have in my hand came from Wall Mart -- inside it says "Smart Notes" from www.BlueSky.com (it also says it's printed with soy-based ink on 50% recycled paper) I just visited their website -- the closest I could find was ProNotes (maybe this is the next-gen version of Smart Notes) http://www.bluesky.com/notebooks/pronotes-charcoal-8-5-x-11.html It's 8.5" x 11". Inside the front cover there's two pages of calendars covering 2015 to 2018 -- after that, the left hand page of each page-pair has a faint 1/4" grid (useful for sketching) while the right-hand page is ruled and has a "subject/date" area at the top. While looking at the book in my hands to write these notes, I just discovered that the inside back cover has a list of all the major holidays and their dates for 2015 through 2018 -- plus a map of the USA including timezones (also including the time zones of Alaska and Hawaii). It lacks an area on the front cover for me to write my name etc., but I'm going to add a sticky label to cover that. All in all, I really like the look and feel of this one -- I will be buying more like this in the future.

    • You can only do so much. I'm just thinking how I would teach this. Maybe drop a few "crumbs" during the semester then -- without having given them any sort of "heads-up" that it's coming -- ask a question in the live class at the end -- the first to hand you the correct (written) answer based on the info from their logbook gets a prize.

    • "...especially now that we have million line of code (LOC)+ systems." I remember working with large systems with tiny memories circa 1980 -- if's someone had said "million lines of code" we'd have laughed our socks off -- how things have changed...

    • Out of all the systems on the planet, traffic lights must count amongst the most researched and the most used, so how could the ones I saw possibly fail to all green?

    • "Is it really so in US that the lights turn(or they are supposed to turn)red upon failure? At least here in Nordic Countries lights start to blink orange upon failure or loss of control" Actually, now you mention it, you may be right -- I think the "fail to red" was a memory from my university course where either (a) they were simplifying things or (b) that was the way they did it 35 years ago in England. But -- as I say -- now I come to think about it, them may well all fail to flashing orange over here in the states.

    • "Easy answer: someone did not do their job properly. Accounts for probably 95% of cases like this?" You're turning into a cynic (which is not to say that you aren't right :-)

    • Yes -- we used them for a bunch of things, from simple lookup tables to state machines and beyond. It's amazing how much we achieved with so litte LOL

    • You can probably get a schematic package for the iPad -- but I really think Notes Plus will blow you away -- it's an amazing app for the price -- and they have lots of instructional videos to get you up and running -- Max

    • I agree (at least about getting my license) -- how do I go about getting started?

    • Check out my review of "Notes Plus" in Part one of the following blog trilogy -- these were written some time ago -- the app has evolved tremendously since then -- you can type notes or hand-write them with your finger or stylus -- you can auto-convert the hand-written notes into machine fonts -- you can use your finger to draw diagrams (the system auto-straightens the lines and allows you to drag/resize/etc. objects - you can embed audio and video and images in your notes... A cornucopia of iPad apps (Part 1) http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=28&doc_id=1285270 A cornucopia of iPad apps (Part 2) http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=28&doc_id=1285301 A cornucopia of iPad apps (Part 3) http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=28&doc_id=1285318

    • Notes Plus is a great iPad app -- in addition to text (types or handwritten + character recognition etc) you can draw sketches with your finger or a stylus -- also capture pictures and videos and audio and embed them in your notes. The big problem for me is finding stuff -- I know you have search functions -- but I typically find it easier to find things in pencil and paper books (especially log books where you know the approximate date you're looking for).

    • As you know, I also tend to have multiple projects running at any one time. In the case of components, I have a plastic storage box for each project, so any project-specific components and datasheets and suchlike go in the appropriate box. I guess it would also make sense to have a project logbook in each box -- but I don't think I generate enough notes per project to justify that. Overall, I think having one ongoing logbook will work best for me.

    • "It would be nice to see a more genericly configurable parallel bus device for MCUs, which you could directly interface to, say, an FT232H chip using FT245 mode." I agree -- now, we are starting to see MCUs coming out containing very small amounts of programmable logic -- maybe if we had a bit more we could use it to implement special peripherals like these interfaces...

    • "I can't help but wonder how the conversation moved from wants/ needs in a house to LEDs for a model railroad." Apparently, one of the requirements was that -- even though the kids have left the nest -- he still wants a big second family type room (like a big room upstairs where you sometimes put a big TV to watch football matches) so he can start constructing a really big diorama.

    • Thank you once again for your kind words. With regard to supplementing my income (a) I wish (b) I'm a full time employee of UBM and I'm not allowed to and (c) I don't have a minute spare in my day (sad face) I could certainly do one on digital verification -- simulation (different flavors like event-driven, cycle accurate, timing, fault), emulation, FPGA-based prototypes, virtual prototypes, formal tools, ATPG, BIST ... stop me, I'm getting giddy with excitement! LOL That could be a good one -- but it will have to wait until after next week's ESC Boston

    • There's all sorts of things around. Cypress Semiconductor have a graphical interface for their PSoC devices. You've played with the GPAK stuff from Silego so you know about their graphical interface (admittedly their chips are small in capacity). Altium supports VHDL and Verilog, but they also allow you to create schematics of TTL-type functions... and so it goes... On the other hand, if you are creating a design with the equivalent of 20 million logic gates, you probably want to move to a higher level of abstraction LOL

    • I'm sorry you have to live under that sort of regime -- and thankful I don't -- if you ever find yourself in Huntsville, Alabama, USA, the beers are on me :-)

    • The problem is that their definition of being really effective is to navigate their way through the hierarchy of committees -- not to actually pass laws that are useful and make sense -- meanwhile our infrastructure continues to deteriorate and our manufacturing capabilities continue to decline...

    • Steve Manley is the king of the jig people check out this column (with video) where he shows the jigs he created and used to construct his 8x8x8 tri-colored LED cube: http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=36&doc_id=1323590

    • ## They are not us, but are we even us? Oooh -- now you're going all Zen on us (or not if we aren't us)

    • Ivan already has his three rings lit up in his office and they look AMAZING. I'm still sticking to three rings also, but I may use more (like a 60 outside, a 24 inside to the bottom, and three 12s sitting in the area above the 24) in a Mark 2 version -- I'm not sure what they would all be illustrating yet -- maybe things like phases of the moon

    • Hi Jamie -- maybe it's time for a new video LOL Speaking of which, I love the links to the videos you sent me of the user projects using the WAV Trigger -- I'll post them here as comments tomorrow.

    • Hi Jamie -- I'm the author of this blog -- in fact I was just looking at your site trying to work out what SD card to use (I ended up finding it on the SparkFun site -- as far as I could see there's no mention on yours -- it might be good to add it to the FAQ). As I mentioned in this column, we were thinking of creating out own board, but it looks like the WAV Trigger does everything I want it to. I actually have a number of projects that I'm going to add this to. Do you have a free moment to chat? 256-319-0257 (my email is max@clivemaxfield.com)

    • Hi Crusty -- I must admit that I like the idea of messing with people's minds -- the ideal thing would be for the clock to be aware of what's going on around it -- so when someone new enters the room it shows the correct time -- but after that it slows down or speeds up. Even better, if the clock could detect that you were looking at it and that you then checked your wristwatch, it could revert to displaying the correct time so that when you looked back at it everything was as it should be LOL

    • Hi Elizabeth -- I just tried this and it works (hurray!) -- making this change in the declaration and then modifying my low-level functions in which I previously had to use switch/case statements reduced the overall program size from 7,662 bytes to 6,716 bytes, which is pretty significant. And this was just when doing my simple test patterns -- I think that implementing more sophisticated effects (like varying the height and colors of each column) would have become increasingly painful (and memory-consuming) using my original technique. Time for a happy dance!!!

    • I have one of the Silego development/evaluation kits for their latest GPAK4 parts sitting on my desk. I can't wait to start playing with it -- I'll report back later.

    • I'm ruunning at the 800KHz data rate -- I'm not sure what would happen if I added 15 x 33mm = 495mm down, plus 50mm across = 545mm = 21.5 inches of wire.

    • Wow! Happy Dance My personal email is max@clivemaxfield.com If you send me what you've got I'll give it a whirl If you want, you can download the Arduino IDE from www.arduino.cc and try compiling it just to see if it compiles I look forward to seeing what you come up with for the diagonals. THANK YOU!!!

    • In hindsight (the one exact science) I sort of wish I had done the single 256 strand -- of course this would have involved the first 16-element strand going bottom to top, linking to the next one going top to bottom, and so forth -- so there would have been some algorithmic messing around to sort things out there. The thing is it's not just a case of re-wiring -- I'd have to pull each alternate strip off and flip it upside down -- trust me, that's not going to happen LOL Actually, the current implementation isn't too bad, because I've buried the fact that there are 16 strips deep down in the lowest level functions. On the other hand, I would like to know how to do this better if there's a more efficient implementation.

    • You are 100% correct -- I should have done that -- but I didn't have any heat shrink that was wide enough and I am an inpatient man -- so I went ahead without it (I hang my head in shame)

    • That's what I was planning on doing -- right at the beginning I had contemplated having a CRT-type display for the modes -- then I thought, hang on -- I can use the main display area, D'oh!

    • Hi Crusty -- I'm flattered you would choose my image to present on your OLED display -- but wouldn't Mrs Crusty have preferred it to be an image of her?

    • That's the great thing about this sort of display -- you are limited only by your own imagination (and your programming skills -- that's my downfall :-)

    • If the truth be told, I'm beginning to wish I had daisy-chained them -- I was sort of thinking about maybe swapping over to a pair of Teensy 3.1s at some stage in the future -- each of which can drive 8 channels simultaneously -- but there are so many other cool projects to play with...

    • Hi Steve -- thanks for the kind words. I've actually got 16 separate strings -- each driven by its own Arduino pin -- so I'll have to do 16 .show() commands -- but apart from that everything is as you say -- pre-load the values in the array stored in the Arduino's memory then use .show() commands to stream the data into the strings.

    • You know, I might just try that -- I also thought of doing a "fireworks" type effect with a white rocket trail going up then a star-burst of color -- and a "raindrop" effect with white dots randomly falling from the top and splashing when they reach the bottom. Plus, of course, I actually have to get it to act in its originally intended role as a spectrum analyzer type display LOL

    • With regard to the wash stand -- that came from Gina's grandmother. Gina has the spare room looking really pretty -- it's a constant source of annoyance to her when she looks in the room and finds one of my "creations" staring her in the face LOL

    • Hi Aubrey. As you say, I can only write a column out at a time -- but in this video I'm also adding a 50ms (1/20s) delay between writing each pixel and each column. If I remove these delays -- plus I write entire columns at a time -- I think the final result will appear to be instantaneous. I'm working on the routines to do this as we speak -- I should be able to post a follow-up column early next week that includes my code for you to peruse and ponder.

    • Thansk Mark -- I must admit I was high-fiving myself when all of the LEDs lit up the first time I applied power. The usual scenario when I first power up a new project is for nothing whatsoever to happen at all LOL

    • That's my fault -- when I create the links, I set the "open in a new window" option -- so backspace won't work -- but you can always kill the new window and then you'll be left in the old one. I could do it so that clicking on a link appears in the same window -- but then someone else would complain about that (trust me :-)

    • It's hard to say -- I did hear that the "Donuts" folks mentioned in this column have raised $57 million to acquire a bunch of domain names like ".help" and suchlike -- presumably they intend to make this back by leasing sub-domains under these to other companies. There's obviously a lot of dosh sloshing around out there (I just wish some would slosh in my direction LOL

    • All I can say is that I'm constantly blown away by biological organisms -- did you ever read my review of "Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell"? http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=31&doc_id=1284611

    • Re upgrading the firmware via the Internet connection -- this is one of the benefits of modern technology, but it also opens up another vector for attack. The way around this is for the upgrade to be encrypted and for the receiving system to decrypt it and authenticate it before installing it.

    • When I was young and foolish, I focused all of my energies on engineering -- but I have to admit that I wish I'd taken the time to learn more about PR and Marketing.

    • With regard to not saying anything about my mother -- you are wise beyond your years -- she sees all and knows all -- be afraid, be very afraid lest her all-seeing eye turn in your direction...!

    • On the one hand I wish I had tales like this to tell... on the other hand I'm glad I don't LOL

    • I don't know about you, but if this works as well as the folks at Xilinx say it does, then it's going to be a real game-changer. There are so many software developers who could really benefit from using hardware acceleration to boost their code. 100X speed improvement is not uncommon -- so something that takes 600 minutes (10 hours) can now run in 6 minutes -- but they may not have access to a hardware design team who can implement these functions in an FPGA -- with SDSoC, it's pretty much a matter of clicking on a function, selecting the "Implement in Hardware" option, and pressing the "Go" button.

    • Hi Mark -- I think that's the way they are leaning. In fact I just got back from the appointment (the ice had melted enough for me to get through) -- they took more vials of blood than I've ever seen before -- like 20 or so -- the nurse couldn't wrap her hands around all of them. (Maybe they just wanted to add some English Nectar to their collection :-)

    • We may not be out of the woods yet -- we got hit by an ice storm two days ago -- the roads are still really bad (the temperature is rising now and hopefully they will have cleared up later today). The think is that the left-elbow specialist mentioned in my blog ended up referring me to another doctor/specialist -- the appointment was this morning -- I just called to try to push it back a few days -- and it was only when the automatic system answered the phone that I discovered the new guy is a cancer specialist (dum-dum-dum duuurrrm!)

    • Do you know, I had never even thought about the numeric keypad being on the right-hand side. I rarely use it, so I never considered the problem of switching between the keypad and the mouse ... I learn something new every day!

    • Hi Bob -- that's very interesting -- I always imagine the yoke as being mounted in front of the pilot -- in addition to allowing him/her to use the best hand, this would seem to make sense in case of a violent incident that left the pilot without the use of one arm. In the case of the Airbus A380 you describe, if the outer arm were to be hurt, it would be real awkward to use the other arm. With regard to ease of use if you are right-handed and your yoke is on the left (or vice versa) -- my knee jerk reaction is to go with you -- I find it real difficult to use my mouse with my left hand -- on the other hand we have to hope that your commercial pilot friend knows what he's talking about. Also -- now i come to think about it, I have to say that when I learned to drive a car with a stick-shift (gear stick) in England, the driver sat in the right-hand seat and used his left hand -- it's the opposite in the USA, but I didn't have any problem swapping over...

    • Hi Steve -- can you send the pics to max@clivemaxfield.com -- I cant wait to see them. Re fast visual estimation -- for some reason I think it's easier to spot "trends" with an analog meter. Sometime in the next day or so I hope to post a more detailed video & blog of my Vetinari clock -- watch this space!

    • Hi Mark -- thank you for the kind words -- I really want to watch that Connections Program again. But there's no time at the moment -- would you like to borrow the DVDs -- I could drop them in the post to you if you wish (send me an email if you're interested)

    • What you really need is a high-precision computer controlled helping hands -- but it needs embedded vision and embedded speech capabilities (see my CEVA blog from a couple of days ago) -- plus some artificial intelligence -- so it could work out what you were trying to do and act appropriately.

    • One thing that's stopping us is expense -- but I know what you mean. When I'm working at my kitchen table with my hobby projects, I often avail myself of one of those magnifying glasses with the "helping hands" in the form of two crocodile (alligator) clips. Actually, now I come to think about it, using the two clips on the same stand can be a bit of a pain -- I might invest in another one of these. Actually.... now I think further ... this would actually be a very useful kickstarter project to come up with "Helping Hands TNG"

    • For many of us, it's amazing just how big the differences are between our dominant and non-dominant hands -- you certainly wouldn't want to see me throw a ball with my left hand LOL

    • My mother used to teach shorthand and typing at college -- she begged me to learn, but this was back in the late-1970s before the widespread use of computers, and I never thought I'd have to type anything. Imagine my surprise with when I ended up writing 800+ page books using the"hunt and peck" method. On the other hand, I can be hunting and pecking with both hands, then pick up a phone or a cup of coffee with one han while carrying on pecking with the other...

    • We did do one in London a couple of years ago -- I'd love to bring ESC back to the UK (my mom could come down to see me LOL)

    • OK -- OK -- "Almost" all robots and dogs in science fiction films... Jeez -- give a man a break LOL

    • Hi Mark -- as you'll see in my next video showing the current state of play with regard to my Vetinari Clock -- when I'm starting to characterize a meter, one of the tests I perform is to use the MCU to automatically cycle the meter back and forth from zero to its full scale deflection (FSD) looking very carefully for any indication of tiny (or not-so-tiny) sticking points.

    • Hi Crusty -- it's great to see you here also -- how's life in Crusty Mansions? Also, my complements to Mrs Crusty. You are of course correct that a typical traditional house clock was not truly analog (or analogue) in the purest sense. As you say, if we go far enough down the power train we find the clock being incremented in small digital steps. However, from a macro perspective, clocks with hands have traditionally been called "Analog" because when you look at the hour hand, for example, you can't detect any discrete movement -- it "appears" to be analog.

    • I'm no tan expert, but my understanding is that ZigBee has grown "bloated" -- check out my article from a few months ago: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-blogs/other/4217647/IPv4--IPv6--The-Internet-of-Things--6LoWPAN--and-lots-of-other--Stuff-

    • When I first heard about KaiSemi's FPGA to ASIC conversion process I thought "that will never work" ... but after talking to them I for one am convinced that they really do know what they are talking about...