Computing, Empyrean, OpenBeacon Mini

OpenBeacon Mini Progress

I know it’s been quiet on the blog front. It’s because I’ve been working through some tricky issues with OpenBeacon Mini firmware. A long story, but the gist of it is that a timer subtlety was causing some hard-to-troubleshoot problems causing inconsistent transmit timing for WSPR. I’ve finally overcome that particular family of bugs, and now have the transmit working reliably. As you can see, I’ve put OpenBeacon Mini on the air for the first time and it’s receiving spots. Now that I’ve confirmed that the basic functionality is working, I need to fill out a few more firmware features and then actual beta testing can start, which shouldn’t be very long now.

On another note, I’ve also been doing more PC and PC parts hustling on OfferUp in order to fund an upgrade to my main workstation. I managed to snag a Ryzen 5 1600 for a good price at $159 at Fry’s, since the new Ryzen refresh CPUs were just released. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it’s a fantastic processor. It also handles OBS much better than my old i3, so when I do get back into streaming on a more regular basis, my stream quality should be even better yet. From my testing, I should now be able to push out 1080p 60 FPS video to Twitch with no problem now.

Stay tuned, as the news around here should pick up again.

Meta

Dang

A huge thank you to everyone who made the effort to try the Brave browser via my referral link. I ended up getting significantly more BAT than I expected from it. Given the current exchange rate of about $0.22, that’s a nice bit of funding for my work. I very much appreciate all of you who gave it a try. Hopefully you’ll continue to find it useful and will like the entirely new funding paradigm it brings to the Internet.

An extra shout-out to those who are funding the blog in an ongoing basis through Brave Payments. You’re awesome! I feel a lot better about this than using Patreon.

On a side note, OpenBeacon Mini firmware is just about in a state where I can send some initial units out for testing. I’ll have more on that soon. My next blog post will be about some interesting PC upgrades. That should be dropping quite soon. Cheers!

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I Failed To Take My Own Advice

It’s easy enough to give other people directives, but not so much to live up to them. I thought I had managed to dodge the latest round of the upper respiratory viral infection that settled into our house, but I was wrong. The last five days have been riddled with a lot of coughing and congestion. Ugh.

At least now I seem to be on the rebound again, so I can get back to doing some productive work now that I’m back to getting some semblance of a full night of sleep and some of the mental cloudiness is starting to lift. I know I’ve failed to do so the last few times I’ve mentioned a Twitch stream, but I think there’s a good chance I’ll actually be able to do it this Saturday, even if with a scratchy voice. Stay tuned for further info.

Microcontrollers

Si5351 Library Mbed Port

A quick note to let you know that courtesy of David Mills, G7UVW, the Etherkit Si5351 Arduino library has now been ported to the Mbed platform. He reports that it seems to be behaving the same as the Arduino library, so if you’re an Mbed user, definitely go check it out. I was giving some consideration to making this port, but I’ve got so much other stuff on my plate at the moment that I just hadn’t got around to it yet.

Three cheers to David for this! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Etherkit, Meta

Another Shack Cleaning!

Guess what? I realized that I had a bunch of microcontroller dev boards and such that I was probably never going to use, so I figured it would be time to put them up for sale, along with some other miscellaneous electronics stuff as well.

Please peruse my listing on my For Sale page!

Also, for a limited time, I’ve decided to bring back my old EtherProg AVR programmer, this time as an assembled product, lovingly built and tested by me. Only $9 plus shipping! Cheap!

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Be Brave

As previously mentioned, I’ve been experimenting with using the combination of the Brave browser and its advertising partner program to bring in some extra funding for my work (and replace what I was getting from Patreon). You can see from my last blog post on the topic that the results have already been positive.

Now comes word of a new referral program to try to convince more folks to use the Brave browser. If you download and use the Brave browser via my referral link, I can score some BAT from Brave, which helps to fund my work here.

The thing is, I do think using Brave is quite beneficial to you as a user. It’s based on the Chromium engine and is quite snappy. Ad and tracker blocking is baked into the cake by default. It also has a nice feature of upgrading many non-encrypted connections to HTTPS. And I do believe that the Basic Attention Token model of funding is a much more sane and honest way to do things compared to the current model of ads, trackers, spyware, hidden cryptocoin miners, and general trickery that a lot of sites use. So I like supporting a paradigm shift in this field.

The caveat is that Brave is still in what I would consider a beta state; which I would define to mean that it mostly works as it should but you might run into an odd bug here or there. But in my experience it is pretty stable and mature enough to use regularly. If you have even a bit of computer savvy, I think you’ll be fine.

I don’t know if this will be the wave of the future, but I think if it’s not than something similar will be. Give it a try and see what you think.

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Stay Healthy, My Friends

Feh.

This has been a nasty cold and flu season. After having it hit our house twice already this winter, we were struck again this week, with everyone in the house getting pretty ill with the exception of myself. That meant that I had to attend to the family’s needs, and therefore didn’t get much work done on OpenBeacon Mini this week. Fortunately, everyone is now healing and I can devote more time to work again.

I’ve previously mentioned how I upgraded the office/shack network infrastructure by running Ethernet cable from the living room router and by upgrading our internet package. Now, I’ve completed phase 2 of the upgrade by getting a new Asus AC-1900 router to replace the cheap old TP-Link TL-WR841N that we were previously using. The difference between the two are like night and day. Not to mention that the old router didn’t even have Gb Ethernet support, so all around the networking situation is much better now. Good times.

My dog’s fur gets everywhere, as you can see.

Back to OpenBeacon Mini for a moment. I’ve completed about 80% of the menu system at this point. This menu system is almost entirely new code, which is why it is taking a significant amount of time for me to get it complete. A significant portion of it is being implemented as an Arduino library, so once I’m satisfied that it’s working correctly, I’ll publish the library in the Library Manager and let you know about it. The rest of the coding needed to get OpenBeacon Mini in a state where it’s suitable for broader testing should proceed at more of a brisk pace, since I can leverage a lot of the pre-existing OpenBeacon 2 code. More updates to follow soon!

Coding

Si5351 Programming Flowchart

I recently received this nice flowchart in email from Joe Marin, CO7RR which documents a method for programming the Si5351. It looks slightly different from the way I do it in the Si5351 Arduino library and I haven’t personally tried it, so I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but I wanted to pass it along in the spirit in which it was offered. I have seen different algorithms used by different projects, so I know that there is definitely more than one way to do it successfully.

This reminds me that I get inundated with requests for help and bug reports/feature requests for the various open source code that I maintain, and it’s kind of difficult for me to stay on top of all of that, plus work on developing new products, as I’m mostly a one-man operation. I do try my best and thank you for your patience, as I know I don’t answer a lot of you as quickly as would be ideal.

Anyway, hopefully this will be helpful to others. Thanks Joe!

Meta

Many Thanks

Today I received a pleasant surprise in my inbox:

That’s a bit more than $8 at the current exchange rate.

I didn’t know that someone (or multiple someones) was already using the Brave browser and allocating Basic Attention Tokens to me, so that was a really awesome surprise for me today. Thank you very kindly to the person or people who have taken the effort and funds to contribute to me in this way. Since abandoning Patreon, I still haven’t found a good strategy for on-going funding, but it would be great if this method picks up steam. It was a little bit painful to give up the monthly Patreon funds, but I still feel quite good about the decision from a moral standpoint. I’m looking forward to seeing if this model can actually become a thing. From the sound of this, the idea is picking up some steam. The token giveaway mentioned in that article is over, but they say there will be another soon, so watch for it.

OpenBeacon Mini

OpenBeacon Mini Firmware Coding Proceeds

A brief update to let you know how things are going. I’ve got a long checklist of things to implement in the OpenBeacon Mini firmware, and much of it I can leverage from my old OpenBeacon 2 firmware (although quite a bit of that needs to be refactored and updated). However, one bit that I never implemented properly in OpenBeacon 2 was a menu system, so I decided to tackle that one first, since it will need to be written from scratch.

That’s what I’m working on at the moment. No Twitch stream for today, as I don’t think this would be very interesting to watch as I stumble around trying to figure out a good way to do this in C++. I’ve created a menu class, and I’m working out all of the details and debugging on the desktop PC, so that I can then transfer it to the Arduino environment once it seems to be working correctly. I think it should have that up and running by the end of the day, and that I’ll have another Twitch stream within a few days once I can get back to code that I’m a little more adept at writing.