TI Evalbot development under Linux

We have some beefs about how Texas Instruments does things, the biggest of which is their lack of support for development under Linux operating systems. But if they build it, someone will try to get Linux involved in one form or another. This time around, [BLuRry] put together a guide to developing for the Evalbot under Linux. He got a shove in the right direction from the code package that went along with that nunchuck-controlled Evalbot. Picking apart that example to the bare essentials he wrote up the process of setting up the cross-compiling toolchain in a virtual machine so as not to clutter your system. From there he details how to set up and use Eclipse when starting a new project. What what did he choose for a Hello World experience? Well a plain “Hello World” was first but right on its heels is the “Hello Hack-A-Day” seen above. So if you’ve got one of these on hand get out there and start coding for it.

Didn’t See The Lunar Eclipse, Make One!

Lunar eclipse simulator

Last night was a lunar eclipse meaning that most people would have been out gazing up at the sky watching it. For some the eclipse evaded them using cloud cover, but instead of giving up, they got innovative. [Garrett] decided to build a moon simulator to keep track of the eclipse using a few spare parts and some quick code. The parts that were required for this project includes an Arduino UNO, a singular ShiftBrite Shield, a ShiftBar, ChronoDot and a Satellite Module 001. This is the perfect project for the Arduino to be used in because he had to toss it together very quickly and it is meant to be a temporary solution. If he were to make this permanent, we would guess that he would make a smaller and more cost effective version of the electronics.  He documents his experience on Macetech.com in more detail and the outcome is pretty amazing. Code is yet to be posted but hopefully it is forthcoming soon as well as a video of the simulator working.

Lego machine predicts future eclipses

Hidden behind the white face plates of this machine are racks of gears that make up a replica of one of the oldest known mechanical computers. This is a working model of the Antikythera mechanism made from Lego pieces. In the video, which you absolutely can’t miss after the break, The machine is disassembled into its various components. Each mechanical unit takes advantage of gear ratio combinations to perform numerous levels of mathematical functions in order to display the date and time that future celestial events will occur.

The background information on the original device reads like the script for a sequel to The Goonies. Believed to date back to 100-150 BC, the stone bronze mechanism was recovered from a shipwreck around the turn of the twentieth century. The use of x-ray analysis helped to unlock the functions and confirm the theories of its operation.

Part of what makes this so interesting is the historical connection. But the production quality of the video (which to be fair, seems to be an advertisement) really brings home how complicated this process is. Now it’s time for us to watch the video a few more times, sketching out the gearing to see that this works as they say it does.

Want more of the Antikythera mechanism? Check out the model built by [Tatyana van Vark].

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New Dynamic Duo, Arduino and Eclipse

There are a lot of solutions to programing an Arduino: the default avr-g++, Studio, etc. But [Sandeep] let us know about using one of the more powerful IDEs out there, Eclipse, to do the same. We’ve already outlined why Eclipse is a great IDE but now the fact that you can use it in your MCU based projects adds to its usefulness and already large feature list. However, don’t be turned off by [Sandeep’s] tutorial. While it is aimed at people who are completely new to setting up an IDE and working with an AVR, the tips certainly can benefit even the most experienced hacker.

Open source logic analyzer software

[Christian Weichel] has been hard at work developing LogicAnalyzer, an open source tool that may interest you. It is designed with SUMP Logic Analyzers in mind but a main goal is expandability. What this means is that it plays nicely with things like the Open Workbench Logic Sniffer or you can do a bit of fiddling to get it to work with your own designs. The program is based on Eclipse so you should be familiar with how it works and you can get it running easily on multiple platforms. Take a look at the wiki for a quick start.

New AVR simulator for Linux

simavr is a software simulator for the AVR line of microcontrollers. You might be asking why anyone would write this sort of thing considering the simulator provided with AVR Studio is a wonderful tool? Well, a lot of folks don’t run Windows and don’t wish to use that development environment even if Wine or Virtualbox could make it happen.

We haven’t tried it out ourselves yet. There is a discussion thread going that reports some positive results of using simavr with GDB and AVR Eclipse. It’s a new package, but so far it seems to have put its best foot forward. Currently there is support for ATtiny25/45/85, ATtiny13, ATmega48/88/168, andATmega164/324/644 chips. Several of the common on-chip peripherals are already supported with the others on the way.

Have you tried it out? Let us know what you think in the comments.

[IC Photo]

Russian homemade telescope

In the Russian city of Barnaul, some enthusiasts are gathering their resources to revive a home made telescope and observatory. Built by [Mikhail Levchenko], in the mid 70’s, the telescope is quite impressive. [Levchenko] kept his hobby somewhat of a secret so as not to arouse the suspicions of his neighbors, but its pretty hard to hide a tower as tall as a house with a domed observatory on top. The telescope itself has a 16 inch glass lens that provides 500x magnification. His hobby would turn out to have a pretty big impact on the town. People would come to him hoping that his telescope could tell their fortunes. Not a believer in horoscopes, he tried to educate people with lessons in astronomy and physics. One man was said to have given up drinking after seeing Saturn.

[Levchenko] passed away in 2002 and his observatory fell into disrepair. Local thieves tried to steal pieces for scrap and the whole structure has sunken somewhat. Some of those who were inspired when young by [Levchenko] have decided to renovate it for the eclipse. Barnaul will be a prime location for viewing. The total renovation and possible relocation will cost around 2 million dollars.

In the past, we covered a high powered telescope made by some girl scouts, and this $40 USB telescope looks fun too.