Wifi versus Powerline Networking

The Problem

My personal home network may be a little more complicated than average.  I used to work as a full time Unix/Linux sys-admin so I have some specific ideas about how I like to do things.  But I suffer from a similar problem as many, many other people: I have more than one computer spread through my house and they aren’t all in the same room as my DSL router.  To complicate things I have an upstairs and a downstairs basement and it would be impossible to run cables every where I need to go.


The obvious solution …
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How to be an Electronics Whiz on a Small Budget

Simple tools that you will use all the time!

I work with small electronics boards and components as part of my day job. I don’t really have a nice concise job title for myself, but lately it would be something like “UAS Embedded Flight Control Engineer”.  I come from primarily a software / computer science background, but when you have an obstinate electronic gizmo sitting on your desk and no one to hold your hand, it’s time to get up to speed on some basic electrical engineering concepts.

Digital Multimeter

A digital multimeter is a great first tool.  You can …
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Gumstix Overo, RC Servos, and PWM Signal Generation

What I want to do: Control RC Servos from a Gumstix Overo

I have a project where I need to drive standard RC servos from a Gumstix Overo.  It doesn’t appear that the Overo ships with any built in PWM drivers.  I did quite a bit of googling, and still couldn’t find a single drop-in driver that worked well for driving RC servos.  I did find some great help though, rolled up my sleeves, and stitched pieces together to make the mother of all RC servo drivers.
Scott Ellis @ jumpnowtek.com has a nice introduction to programming the Overo hardware

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Fedora 15 and Gnome 3

This weekend I took the plunge into Fedora 15 with Gnome 3.  This is a major change from previous versions of Fedora.


Fedora 15 is very different from previous Fedora releases.  The main reason is the upgrade to Gnome 3 which is entirely different from Gnome 2.  In Gnome 3 your entire desktop experience is completely (and I say completely) changed.  This is no small thing.  As with any change, there is good and bad; some things I like, some things I miss.

Cool thing: gnome-shell

The gnome-shell is something new in Gnome-3.  This isn’t a “shell” in the …
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North Pacific Debris Gallery

NOAA Debris Research Cruise

In the spring of 2008 I joined the ATI team on a NOAA research cruise into the “North Pacific Gyre”, AKA “North Pacific Garbage Patch” — an area north of Hawaii the size of Texas where floating plastic debris collects.  Plastic can break into smaller chunks but it doesn’t really decompose, or it degrades so slowly that it is accumulating much faster than it is disappearing.  This leads to an increasing colleciton of junk and garbage on the surface of our oceans and is an ecological problem.  I’ll leave it to others to debate the magnitude …
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Tracking Ocean Debris in the North Pacific

The Search

On April 2, 2008 I found myself on a 224′ NOAA research ship, the Oscar Sette.  We were sailing about 1000nm north of Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This was day 10 of a nearly 3 week cruise.  Our mission was research. The task for the day was to search for debris. We had entered the North Pacific Gyre two days earlier. This is often called the “garbage patch”. A debris field of floating plastic junk the size of Texas.  It is made up of human generated plastic waste that never really decomposes, instead it …
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Build Your Own Freaking Fast FlightGear PC

Building your own PC

I’ve debated whether it is worth posting an article about building your own PC. Anyone who’s a serious builder can come up with something that fits their budget and performance requirements better than I can. Anyone who’s not a serious PC builder might be better off not messing around with the idea. It’s easy to get yourself into trouble and ruin parts if you don’t know a little bit about what you are doing.  On the other hand, it isn’t that hard, and the end result can be a great system for minimum cost.

The Basics

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Google Nexus S

This week I upgraded my phone to a Google Nexus S (sold at Best Buy).  I just wanted to share a few thoughts and impressions about the phone.  For the past two years I have owned the original G1 android phone and have really liked the environment and the available free apps.  The last update they pushed out for my old phone was v1.6 and since then a lot has changed with android and with many of the apps.

There are a ton of choices these days with Android based phones.  You can look at screen size, camera megapixels, processor, …
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