Regarding the development files that accompany TI’s microcontroller offerings

We received a tip from [Fabien] that Texas Instruments had posted a set of IDEs for the Stellaris Launchpad on their download page. At first we skipped right over the link, but then decided to take a look and see if things had changed any since the MSP430 Launchpad had been released. As we expected, there’s really no help on this page if you’re looking to develop for the hardware without using one of these IDEs.

Why would we want to forego the preconfigured development environments TI supplies? For one thing, they offer only trial licenses. When you go to download one of the packages you have to wade through a eyebrow-raising non-export agreement. When we made it that far, the ~500 MB Sourcery package we downloaded was quite slow. And we don’t see any option for installing any of these on a Linux machine. No matter what OS you choose, we think you should be able to develop for any architecture using the same development environment — be it Eclipse, GNU Emacs, Notepad, or whatever . We don’t want to download a huge package just to try out a new chip.

We know you can develop for Stellaris ARM chips using a vanilla cross compiler like arm-none-eabi (we use Sourcery CodeBench Lite — formerly CodeSourcery G++ lite). We hope that TI is planning on adding a barebones package that supplies a simple Makefile, Linker Script, and base libraries for the hardware. But we won’t hold our breath. After all, it is an industry standard to leave out Linux support.

Should we make games for fish?

I have often sat, gazing at my aquarium, wondering what life is like for those critters I keep captive. Are they bored and yearning to be set free? Are they content with their gluttonous lifestyle and constant pampering?

This is a question that is often raised with animals of a higher order, like pachyderm in the zoo, or chimpanzee. Those are easier to personify and to debate, but those are also, not often in our homes.

I keep my aquariums overgrown with actual live plant life. I have a flourishing ecosystem of natural plant filtration and invertebrates that I truly enjoy watching as they pick at the debris and bustle throughout the day. I test my water regularly to make sure it is optimal for the health of all involved. But my fish, well, as I said, I wonder about them.

[Read more...]

Don’t ignore the middle of the country!

“Nothing happens in the midwest”. I won’t say who said it, but it absolutely makes my blood boil. I’ve heard this several times during my time at Hackaday. Aside from being so insanely arrogant and dismissive, it is also completely inaccurate.

Some people believe you absolutely have to be on a coast to be part of anything interesting. In the modern age of the internet, geographical location is becoming less and less of an issue. People are collaborating on projects that span the world. Here at hackaday we see projects quite daily that are spawned from a forum linking hackers to a common theme with virtually no central geographical point.  Robots, video games, open source software, tools, and art installations have all sprung from the diaspora that is the hacker culture without any necessity for being located on a coast.

With tools like 3d printers becoming common in hackerspaces collaboration on physical design is even being spread geographically. You could be in your garage in Arkansas, assembling a machine that was designed by someone in Minnesota, and inserting code that was uploaded by someone in Kansas!

Sure, we all know the coasts are great. High concentrations of like minded people as well as the culture you can find anywhere near the ocean. But please, don’t ignore the middle, it makes you sound like antiquated ass.

Flying Batman is a load of bull

Batman’s ability to fly is a falsehood. Or at least so says science. We didn’t know science was into disproving super-hero movies (that’s a deep well to drink from) but to each his own. But back in December the Journal of Physics Special Topics took on the subject with their scholarly paper entitled Trajectory of a Falling Batman. The equations presented in the two-page white paper may be above your head, but the concepts are not.

It’s not that Batman can’t fly in the way explained in the film. It’s that he can’t land without great bodily harm. By analyzing the cape in this frame of the film, researchers used Batman’s body height to establish wing span and area. The numbers aren’t good. Top speed will reach about 110 km/h with a sustained velocity of 80 km/h. That’s 80 mph at top speed and just under 50 mph when he comes in for a landing.

Oh Batman, how you’ve let us all down. If you liked this paper, you should dig through the archives. We always wondered if [Bruce Willis] could have actually saved the world from an asteroid.

[via Dvice]

Course correcting the Science Fiction genre

Usually we post our own mad ravings in the rants category. But we think [Paolo Bacigalupi's] take on the meandering focus of the Science Fiction genre worthy of the deviation. He discusses the course correction that happened in the 1980’s and makes a case that it’s time for another nudge in the right direction.

We’ve done our own extensive reading of the Sci-Fi that’s out there. And it’s not hard to agree that the pillars of the genre (Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke) feel dated. We remember the thrill of reading Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and other cyber-punk offerings with new enthusiasm. But we never really put it together that this was a course correction. The older novels were focused on forecasting the future of older technology, and as the digital world develop those predictions didn’t mirror the reality of “the future”.

So what about now? Do the Tessier-Ashpools secretly govern that majority of the planet from a lofty orbital platform? Is it time for another reboot? Of course there’s never one single pivot point for these things, but we think it’s already happening in novels like Ready Player One. We haven’t read [Paolo's] award-winning book The Windup Girl (pictured above) yet but he thinks that biopunk may be one of the new directions for science fiction literature. What do you think?

[via BoingBoing]

Don’t bring your 3d printer to MakerFaire

This could easily be called “the year of the 3d printer”. They are in the news, in every hackerspace, and at every event. This last one is the one I’m going to focus on here. All the coverage we’ve seen as well as our personal experience shows that MakerFaires are filled with 3d printers. At MakerFaire K. C., there were so many that I lost count. I didn’t even bother taking pictures or stopping to look after a while. Many were makerbots, though a few repraps were present too.

If you want to be noticed at MakerFaire, DON’T BRING A 3D PRINTER AS YOUR SOLE DISPLAY.

[Read more...]

STM32 demo code carries extra (hidden?) copyrights

Recently I started a repository that houses a template which may be used to compile STM32F0 projects with a GCC toolchain. There are two code packages from STM that I used when putting this together, the firmware for the Discovery board itself, and the Standard Peripheral Library for the chip family. I read the license agreements in the root of both packages and I think they’re quite fair. Basically the agreement is you can use them for any purposes as long as the code is only being used on STM hardware. Fair enough.

You can image I was quite upset so see a comment from a reader stating that I have a copyright violation with one of the files in the repo. It seems the linker script that is given as an example for Atollic’s TrueSTUDIO has it’s own extremely strict copyright:

** (c)Copyright Atollic AB.
** You may use this file as-is or modify it according to the needs of your
** project. Distribution of this file (unmodified or modified) is not
** permitted. Atollic AB permit registered Atollic TrueSTUDIO(R) users the
** rights to distribute the assembled, compiled & linked contents of this
** file as part of an application binary file, provided that it is built
** using the Atollic TrueSTUDIO(R) toolchain.

First off, I’m in violation just for posting the file in a repository. But read a bit deeper. Any code that is compiled with this using a GCC toolchain also breaks the copyright unless it’s Atollic’s toolchain.

My beef here is that STM is distributing this. Why? Why put something so restrictive into a software library with such an otherwise reasonable license? Surely there are many engineers at STM capable of writing a linker script that they could release under their own license which would work with TrueSTUDIO. And, it would have the added benefit of allowing other GCC-based toolchains a convenient (and legal) method of linking code.

So I’ve completely removed the file from the repository. If you were one of the ten people watching it on github, this had the unintended consequence of dumping your watch request. In the mean time I’m trying to learn how to write my own linker. This guide regarding Cortex-M3 linkers has been a great help. If you have the skills to contribute a working linker script, please issue a pull request or raise an issue over at github.

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