Or, how I love open source
Ok, most of you would now know about my VoterCard project from perusing this blog. It trundles along, picking up speed. But one thing needs to be said before I go any further:
We lost the court case. And we lost my inheritance as well as my mothers house. I’m trying to be constructive about it, but I gambled, and lost. This is why I normally don’t gamble.
Now thats out of the way, to be constructive, even though I got as crook as a dog afterwards, I have thrown myself back into my work. To that end, I’ve been ordering parts, and consulting with a number of people about the design of VoterCard.
Andrew has been helping with the GPSDO design and filter design, Holger from Sysmocom has talked to me about the GPSDO itself, and recommended the Sydney hackerspace Robots and Dinosaurs (R&D) to help out with the construction of the GPSDO. I’m waiting to hear back from them, along with the status of my standing invitation.
I’ve also found out my little cousins partner, and my nephews stepdad, Bobby, is particularly interested in audio engineering and car modifications. To this end I’m letting him in on VoterCard to show him how the the design and prototype process works (for myself at least), and how to consult with various people about aspects of a project. I’m looking forward to working with Bobby closely on VoterCard and anything else we dream up in future – Bobby wants to have beat synchronised EL wire controlled by an Arduino.
Additionally, Christmas is coming up, and I’m actually looking forward to it this year. Not only do we have little Lachlan, my nephew, to celebrate for, I have an invitation to Andrews parents famous Christmas party. Wow, I’m spoiled this year! Now, what am I going to get Andrew? I’ve got Lachlan, Bobby, Renea and Carmel all sorted. Just Andrew, Dave, Jason and Nathan (as well as Jen and Wes, I’ve sorted them though, just got to get the stuff) to get presents for now.
Back to the “Voter” products, I’ve become aware of AllMon, a webserver for monitoring app_rpt instances over a network. It also works with chan_voter, meaning that VoterCards can be monitored! This will prove invaluable over the coming months as I assemble and then start testing the VoterCards.
Additionally, VoterApp is the server that runs all the software related to directing and informing the network of VoterCards. Although it may go through a number of iterations, the end result at this point looks good – tightly integrated.
Another outcome of this will be, once I’ve gotten my cabling licence fixed up (later today I’ll send the paperwork for that), and my green provisional drivers licence fixed up I’m going to work on getting my Standard Radio Licence. I am, as a result of VoterCard, needing to legally modify radios, and I don’t want to use “the loophole” to do so, its such a pain in the rear.
In terms of the hardware for VoterCard, I am planning on building a breadboard version first. I am getting right angle bent stiff wire jumpers (which I could’ve probably made myself, but I dont have any stiff single core cable), as well as breadboard-able parts:
Of course, theres more, but this takes care of the ethernet interface, and the DSPiC CPU, as well as the programming interface for the DSPiC. I have MPLAB X on my Macbook, and I can get the firmware for the RTCM, which is what VoterCard is based on.
Andrew has promised me we’ll get the signal generator out when it comes time to test the oscillator part of VoterCard. I’m looking forward to it!
As well as these parts, I want to get a GPSDO, as I alluded to in the beginning of this post:
This gives me a 14.4MHz sine wave output (after filtering the third harmonic of a 4.8MHz square wave) and a 1PPS signal for the DSPiC. Of course, this is where R&D comes in, I haven’t built anything like this, in terms of surface mount, before, and I’m not feeling lucky lately. Especially at the price its at.
Now that the RaspberryPi works with the URI, it seems a little harsh to give up on that work, and in fact, I’m going to keep it working with the URI as and when, however, for VoterApp and VoterMon, I want to use this:
If I keep going the way I am now, I may have a prototype of VoterCard by June long weekend next year, when Andrew and I may be going out camping to test the radios in prep for Expedition at Marramarra next October. If I do, I will be a very happy man!