More tea please.

Shed update

Jeff and I spent yesterday doing more work on our shed. We’ve done a fair amount of work since the last time I blogged about it. We’ve dug the holes for the four corner posts, which was a lot of work because of the tree root density. We’ve concreted down the seven slabs on which the floor’s crossbeams lie, which was an unforgiving slog. Then we got onto the fun part: the carpentry. We’ve cut all of the joints in the floor’s crossbeams and the corner posts.

So we now have a three-dimensional structure:


We can’t seem to get away from continuously visiting a DIY store to get bits and pieces. This weekend it was the tarpaulin in the above picture. Last weekend it was the tarpaulin for our shelter that we’ve constructed down the side of the house that allows us to perform carpentry in the rain:


The project’s moving along well. Hopefully we’ll have a shed after a couple more months.

Posted at 3:16 pm on Sunday 30th November 2008

Project Pedal = Awesome

I’ve been following Project Pedal for almost a year now. It’s an independent film being made by a couple of people called Mike and Amanda. They’ve got skills. After I’d watched one of their videos, I wanted to see more. Ever since then, I’ve been keenly watching every video that they’ve produced.

Their film “For Thousands of Miles” isn’t ready yet, but they’ve been producing a short video series on the side about the making of for thousands of miles, and this is part 4:

If you liked this video then go and watch the previous episodes at sixtyfourdays.com.

Posted at 3:41 am on Sunday 30th November 2008

UIF firmware breakage

Just a quick note that might help some people. After the Fedora update to 2.6.27, the UIF stopped working. This is because (I think) all of binary firmwares that the kernel has in it have now been moved outside the kernel itself. The driver for the UIF looks for “ti_usb-3410.bin” which doesn’t exist. This is due to some sort of naming problem. A temporary fix to this problem is:

su -c "cp /lib/firmware/ti_3410.fw /lib/firmware/ti_usb-3410.bin"

I’ll look into whether there are any open bugs on this soon.

Posted at 12:30 pm on Wednesday 26th November 2008

Subversion Presentation

Chris and I did the first Student Robotics “training” lecture yesterday. Not quite as many people turned up as we wanted, but I think it was well received by the people who were there. Hopefully it’ll be the first in a series of sessions that try to fill some of the gaps between undergraduate courses and what Student Robotics needs.

This talk was about how to use subversion, a versioning system. The slides are available here.

First slide of "How to use Subversion" presentation.

Posted at 3:34 pm on Friday 21st November 2008

One presentation down…

Chris and I just finished our presentation about Student Robotics at the Robotics in the Curriculum event. We think it went down pretty well. I’ve made the slides available here.

Posted at 3:18 pm on Thursday 20th November 2008

Two talks in one day

Ever since Student Robotics began there’s been a monotonically increasing knowledge barrier presented to new university student members. We’ve always tried to ease the assimilation process, but our methods haven’t been too effective. However, Chris is now our president. Chris has been through most of this wall of knowledge, which has put him in a good position to understand some of the issues in becoming a new member — and is thus helping the whole group understand this problem.

In a meeting last academic year we decided that we’d run a few sessions on various bits of stuff that would be useful for new members. The first one that we’re running is about Subversion and is happening on Thursday at 18:00 in seminar room 1, Zepler building. Chris and I are doing this presentation and it should last about an hour including questions.

Chris and I are also doing another presentation on Thursday at the “Robotics in the Curriculum” event. Unfortunately it’s a private event, but it should hopefully help us get the message about Student Robotics out to some people who may be interested in helping us expand the scheme.

Of course, I’m also doing my PhD. I spent today’s PhD hours reading about real and artificial Gecko feet. They’re just witchcraft.

Posted at 12:50 am on Wednesday 19th November 2008

msp430-gdb in RPM form

Tom has been around here for the past few days working on the new Student Robotics kit with me. We got to the point where Tom needed to use msp430-gdb so he could debug the firmware for the msp430 on the power board. I’ve previously packaged the compiler, mspgcc, but I hadn’t got around to packaging gdb.

I decided that my time would be better invested if I finished packaging msp430-gdb rather than performing another source install on someone else’s machine. Whilst I was at it, I also packaged msp430-gdbproxy and the udev rule required to get the UIF to work.

Now all the mspgcc packages are available for Fedora 9:

You’ll find the specfiles and source RPMs in the same directory.

You can install them all by running:

su -c "rpm -Uvh http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/rds/rpm/mspgcc/msp430-binutils-2.18-1.fc9.i386.rpm \
http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/rds/rpm/mspgcc/msp430-gcc-3.2.3-1.20080827cvs.fc9.i386.rpm \
http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/rds/rpm/mspgcc/msp430-libc-0-1.20080828cvs.fc9.noarch.rpm \
http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/rds/rpm/mspgcc/msp430-gdb-6.8-1.fc9.i386.rpm \

I’m still waiting for someone to review my request to get binutils for msp430 into Fedora. :-/

2012-08-10 Edit: These packages have been in the Fedora repositories for a long time now. This neutered post is here just for kicks.

Posted at 1:50 am on Monday 17th November 2008

Yesterday’s Halloween Costume

I present you with Screwfix man:

Screwfix Man

That’s just under one Screwfix catalogue and about three hours work. Thank you Faye and Joe for helping me with the assembly.

Posted at 3:37 pm on Saturday 1st November 2008
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