Freesteel Blog » Almost run out of things to solder together now

Almost run out of things to solder together now

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 at 11:25 pm Written by:

After spending a few days with all my bits and break-out boards in a bowl and stirring them around aimlessly, I got all the major SPI components lined up on a breadboard, like so:

That’s an SD card writer, an OLED screen display, a bluetooth low energy and a GPS module.

The additional devices are on short 4-wire phone leads in plastic printed boxes of dubious design.

After a great deal of unplanned soldering and the use of header sockets so that none of the bits are permanently stuck in the wrong place, I’ve got a thing that looks like this:


There are issues. The barometer has a separate power supply and now doesn’t communicate, the wind-meter has a degree of noise in its signal, the I2C accelerometer is too complicated, the dallas temperature sensors can only be read one at a time, and all three SPI devices are incompatible with one another.

In particular the SD card and the bluetooth definitely don’t work at the same time. This was a matter raised by someone last November here, and the superhero inventor of the Teensy (the excellent green boarded microcontroller running the whole show) went to work and came up with a fix that involves five updates to other people’s open source libraries.

The turn-around time and technical completion regarding an integration bug of this nature is about a thousand times more effective than what seems possible within the closed-source corporate software world, where a process like this would involve hundreds of managerial hours and meetings and before they could even imagine getting it done. Nobody in the midst of it wonders why it’s such a waste of time. The fact is with an integration bug like this, the problem-solving process requires easy access to the code of both modules simultaneously. This is usually possible in open-source land, and usually impossible in proprietary-code land. It’s like fixing a fence; it’s much easier if you can access both sides of the fence, even though you are supposedly stepping on someone else’s property.

I haven’t tried the fix, and I realize that if I did I would simply be delaying myself. I’ve spend so long building this gadget that I’ve got to start using it. The fear is that all the ideas I’ve been putting this together for (and boring people about) will turn out to be crap. There is a reluctance to pitch in and get started on any in particular.

I do know that a lot of sensor projects get exactly to this point where they can collect and log the measurements into some database somewhere, and then they stall completely. Happens all the time. I can feel the potential for abandonment in me at this point. This propensity needs a name, for it is as real and as tragic as the well-known Not Invented Here syndrome — which I suffer from in spades. That’s my excuse for wasting two days writing an incomplete parser for the GPS module. Oh well. It’s done now.

The only way to fight it is get started on one of the applications. But which one? Oh I don’t know yet. Can’t make up my mind.

1 Comment

  • 1. Francis Irving replies at 28th January 2015, 2:11 am :

    I stalled making Binduino (a lot simpler thing than you’ve made!) at this stage.

    In my case, I couldn’t quite face working out the power issue. Once I’d made the basic thing work, it turned out I didn’t need it enough…

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