PLC and Hardware Control

Aha! Thank you, Dad for my new Arduino hardware controller (and the partially-outfitted Craftsman toolbox to make my life simpler when building stuff)! Easy easy to program, and easier to wire up!

There was a time a few years ago that we were playing with a Seimen’s PLC at my old job, and the process to program it via their development package was more confusing than anything. I’ve seen Lego Mindstorms being programmed: VERY complicated. Arduino has taken these shortcomings of other PLCs and simplified -everything- to make these things easy to understand. All you REALLY need to know is basic electronics and basic programming structure (preferrably in C) and you too can program up one of these things.

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Cell Phone to Sound Board for only $20!

I have successfully finished yet another garage-shop electronics project that actually WORKS!

Tuesday, Pastor Mike at Rez announced that in two weeks, when they’re on their short-term missions trip to India, they’ll be performing yet another Skype call in to 6:33 pm. However, the last two or three times they’ve been anywhere, they’ve tried this, and every time it’s been a rig. Here’s how they did it: a laptop on their end runs Skype, the Mac computer on our end runs Skype, but the bandwidth is low enough that we can only manage video. The audio cuts in and out. So for audio, we do a regular cellphone call (and use the headphone jack on the phone to pipe it into the sound board at church). And on top of that, we relied on the built-in mic in the cell phone to pick up any audio for the overseas guys to hear. A really poor setup to say the least. And each time, I’ve promised to come up with a better solution for next time.

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ISO vs. ZIP/RAR

What is an ISO file? An ISO file put simply is a perfect copy of a disc (usually optical) stored in one file on the hard drive of a computer. ISO is uncompressed and contains even free space of said disc.

According to Wikipedia, “An ISO image (International Organization for Standardization) is an archive file (also known as a disc image) of an optical disc, composed of the data contents of every written sector of an optical disc, including the optical disc file system.” (Wikipedia, ISO Image, June 2011)

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Ubuntu Server – Changing Screen Resolution with GRUB2

Recently I drug out my old Dell dinosaur (Dimension) from the closet and decided to try installing Ubuntu server onto it.

Well, all went well until I also attempted to add the Xubuntu-Desktop package, so I could better run around and do things in there. A quick update for an nVidia graphics driver froze the computer directly after login, and all the stuff I found in the forums didn’t really help that much, except for possibly uninstalling all the packages that xubuntu-desktop stuck in there. Since there wasn’t a lot on there (except for maybe the neat desktop backgrounds that seem to change with every version of any Ubuntu release), I figured a fresh install would be best.

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Textpad Document Classes

Textpad is my preferred text editor. It is super-simple, but has a few advanced features that really make writing source code for various things so much nicer. Besides that it has coloring for various document classes.

Document classes are basically groups file extensions whose properties can be changed for each group. Example: you can completely change the coloring, paragraph options, tab-width and printing properties for HTML files only. Or you could add line numbers to Java script files and leave line numbering out for everything else. Or perhaps the PHP comment is not the same as the html comment (which it isn’t! HTML comments look like this: <!– Stuff –> and PHP comments look like this: // stuff or /* more stuff */.

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Faster Internet is (at least for now) better

We’ve just gone live with our newly activated ADSL connection. As of 5:00 this evening, I was able to plug in the aforementioned modem that we bought on Friday and successfully connect to first Qwest’s initial login page, then, well, everywhere else! Of course, everybody’s test to see if they’re connected is Google. Well, not everybody. The modem and the Qwest disc would rather you connect to their homepage, but it’s still essentially the same thing.

I had to spend a little time figuring out the best configuration, and I decided to go with the transparent bridge setup, where the modem simply acts as DSL-to-Ethernet translator and all other router functions are disabled. In the same manner, I am able to put in all of the primary internet login information directly into the Wi-Fi router and everything works like a charm.

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My Router-Modem Setup

Here’s what I’ve figured out with my router/modem setup.

The router has two sets of plugs in it. One set is the regular ethernet ports to hook in single computers to. However, there is a single yellow port known as the WAN or Internet port. What really is the difference here? I’ve figured it out. The WAN port actually is the interface to a second half of the router. Just as the router communicates with computers so that the computers can communicate each other, all pieces being in a single “network” the WAN port on the router functions in exactly the same way with the though, though the modem now acts as a DHCP server and the router functions as a regular old client computer on the MODEM’S little LAN, known by the router as the WAN. From there, the MODEM creates a WAN network with Qwest…and who cares what THEY do? The configuration for the modem’s LAN is an interface ONLY for the router, and the configuration for the router’s WAN accesses the same exact interface, only from the other side.

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DSL and Networking

I’ve always hated self-help books you find at B&amp;N or the library on how to set up your own home network. In short, they always would assume that you had high-speed internet coming into your house and that you could create a standard configuration. However, up until about 30 minutes ago, we were using dialup for our main internet connection.

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Soundcards and Shoutcast

Yesterday I received an Amazon order in the mail. It was my first ever ExpressCard device!

A few years ago, I burned out the left channel on my laptop headphone jack, so if I wanted to listen to anything with a pair of headphones at the library or something, I couldn’t without putting up with just one side of the stereo mix. So last week, I went on Amazon and found a Creative (Soundblaster) ExpressCard sound card. Just yesterday, it came in the mail and I got it up and running! And I have to say it has excellent quality. 

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