Dry Months Ahead

Recently I’ve moved interstate for a pure-software engineering internship position and had to leave most of my electronics things behind. Even worse, during the midst of packing, I forgot to pack a few of my favourite tools and boards – you know, just for goofing around during slow and hot weekends – especially my CC-Debugger and HM-10 breakout board.

So, as for my existing hardware related projects, there will be absolutely no bug fixes or update of any kind, for about a year, which will become obsolete with new hardware rolling out every year or so.

Catch you next time.

All I Want for Christmas is You

Celebrating this year Christmas, I searched for a Christmas song to learn on the guitar and my favourite was John Morrison’s arrangement of “All I Want for Christmas is You”.

I find it much easier to learn a piece with both notation and tab, and since John was nice enough to provide photos hand-written tab in another video, a score with both tabs and notation – All I Want for Christmas is You – Full Score was made.

Merry Christmas folks!

Extending TWCalc simulator

Thanks to to the whoever wrote TWCalc’s simulator to make their code open as a Javascript source file, I’ve come to find that (berserker and paladin), and (trebuchet and nobleman) placement in the attacker and defender’s objects for simulation were swapped around. Once corrected, the battle simulation result were very much spot on.

Furthering the capability of the simulator, I then added in berserkers strength modifier and officer support to the attack strength formulae, and make this modification available as a customized simulator on Github Pages: TW2-Sim. Lacking the CSS skills to make it pretty, I resorted to tables and double-line borders.

Tribal Wars 2 Quick Sim Tool

I’m back into playing Tribal Wars (TW) again, this time it’s Tribal Wars 2 (TW2). It’s been going for about 5 months now. All started when I got this promotional e-mail from Innogames announcing their fancy new version. Of course, I waited a few months for the initial bugs to be ironed out, or actually I forgot about it.

Personally, I think the average proficiency of TW2 players are much lower compared to TW1 players. Barb-noblers are everywhere! It’s come to a point in which I’m deciding whether to bypass an entire province (like a church zone in TW1) because every single barb is taken. Overall, the game is buggy, slow and requires constant refreshing. For some reason, it needs lots of processing power which makes my laptop fan runs wild every session.

In TW2, there are no official simulators. I use TWCalc. The icons used to be coherent with TW2’s official unit icons, now it’s some random ones. Anyhow, it’s not very accurate, only gives a rough estimate. But it’s better than nothing. To speed up the process of having to enter units manually into the simulator and switching tabs to verify that the units are correct, I made a tiny Chrome extension to do this for me. And I checked with the TW2 support team, it’s not a breach of rule to do so! Thumbs up for the dev team for using a template for their HTML file, making the report so much easier to extract.

Here you go: TW2 Quick Sim. Behind the scene, it extracts the units from the top-right unit bar and extract the units from the scouting report; then opens up a TW2Calc website and inject this data into it. It ignores morality, luck and church – you can’t get these data from a spy (scout) report. Works like a treat!

ThinkClamp Bluetooth project ceased

I’ve decided to stop working on the ThinkPad keyboard adapter with Bluetooth support. It’s taking too much time and the work is repetitive. I’ll probably just add UART to my USB board, add in a LiPo charger and modify the firmware a bit. It’s possibly not going to be energy efficient compared to using interrupts on the keyboard inputs and the TrackPoint clock line.

Also, prices for MSP430 parts are jacking up. It’s simply not economical to use them anymore. I’ll switch to ARM Cortex-M0+, like Freescale KL2x series.

Thus, here’s the schematic to the ThinkClamp PCB v0.8. I hope it helps you with your future endeavor with building a keyboard & TrackPoint adapter.

Update: It’s been 2 years since the project completed, may as well share the schematics. Sad news though, I can only find v0.6.2 on hard disk: ThinkClamp v0.6.2.

As for folks who would want to build a case, I’ve made a 3D model of the ThinkPad T60 keyboard: Grabcad.

ThinkClamp – short project update

Finally got some spare time yesterday to solder the new PCB revision and it works well, some better than anticipated. I’ve found one or two PCB errors. Nothing major though, it’s all working well enough.

I decided not to solder on the reset buttons as a slide between the ON and OFF positions of the slide switch would effectively reset the entire board.

Soldered board with MSP430F5502 and HM-10

Soldered board with MSP430F5502 and HM-10

Now it’s time for some programming. With a USB-enabled microcontroller, this board would eventually support both USB and Bluetooth functionality, preferably with the same firmware flashed. I’ve decided to use the HM-10 with my custom firmware instead of using a RN42-HID module so I can further improve the firmware.

Update: There might be a minor problem with the LiPo charger in which the battery voltage may jitter when a battery is not connected. This caused a bit of a random enumeration/disconnection problem. However, if a battery is connected to the battery output pins, the board seems to work fine. The USB microcontroller enumerates with no problems at all. For now, I’ve soldered on a single-cell battery pack so that I may get on to write the firmware.

Krisp and their incredible glossy photo paper

Krisp’s glossy photo paper for inkjet printers is amazing for PCB toner transfer. It takes toner superbly well from a Xerox laser printer and with no soaking required, the paper can be easily peeled off, leaving toner sitting perfectly still on the PCB copper surface. Here’s the proof:

Great print

Great print

Amazing transfer

Amazing transfer, well except for that tiny bit on the bottom left

Trasferred PCB, it looks much sharper on camera

Etched PCB, it looks much sharper on camera

It has been wasteful to use an A4 piece of paper on so little printing area so imagine the if multiple PCB designs are panelized, imagine all the designs that can fit on an A4 and save so much time not soaking and removing the paper layer-by-layer.

This might be old news, but as the site description “The archive of things that are worth posting” dictates, this post is worth posting.