Category Archives: Electronics


Dangerous Prototypes Big Box of Parts

I discovered The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronics Junk (TGIMBOEJ for short, ranking right up there as Worst Acronym Ever) recently. It’s a neat idea; sign up on The TGIMBOEJ site and a box chock full ‘o stuff magically appears on your doorstep some time later. Relying on the principal that one person’s junk is another person’s treasure, these magical boxes of cruft get passed along, telephone game style, from one geek to the next. Participants in the game take items out of the box that they find useful and put some of their spare parts in as a replacement. In theory, this process should be very effective with electronics components, as deep discounts can often be attained when purchasing items in larger quantities. Most electronics hobbyests that I’ve met have acquired small hoards of components, whether due to the psychology of THE DISCOUNT (one part for $5, or 20 for $10? Sold!) or through some failed project notion which never fully materialized.

Alas, though I have volunteered my name for one of these mystical TGIMBOEJ packages, I have not yet been blessed by the arrival of the magical component fairy. However, one day while eating a particularly terrible bowl of soup for lunch and reading through my RSS feeds, I discovered that a user on the Dangerous Prototypes forum was starting a new box of parts in the TGIMBOEJ tradition. I threw my hat in the ring and became recipient #3 of this box! Continue reading

New MSP430 Tutorials

Gustavo Litovski has posted an updated version of his MSP430 tutorial on his site

This is a nice concise introduction to the platform. Code examples use IAR, but should be fairly portable to other compilers.

Another complete set of tutorials that I have found useful is available at the Scientific Instruments using MSP430 site. These tutorials use the free TI Code Composer Studio IDE.

I typically find the commercial IDEs to be bloated and unnecessarily cluttered. I’m not a big fan of Microsoft dev tools, and it unfortunately appears that compiler vendors view MSVC as THE gold standard. The tools are bristling with tabs, toolbars, and HUD windows that add little value to the development process; it always reminds me of a weapons-laden comic book superhero. BEHOLD MY MANY OPTIONS!

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done my time writing production C++ in MSVC, and the options that I’m complaining about do occasionally come in handy. At least some of them. Unfortunately, when learning a completely new platform, the clutter is little more than a distraction. I’ll probably be doing my initial MSP430 development in good old fashioned emacs with mspgcc. Once I get more comfortable with the platform I may look more closely at IDE options; Rowley Crossworks looks intriguing. Crossworks has a native Mac version and also supports most of the available microcontroller platforms. As an added bonus, they have an affordable personal license available.

AnyDisplay Supported Displays

Here’s my initial list of displays which will be supported by AnyDisplay. Currently working on a breakout board for the Sharp MLCD devices which should make these easier to work with.

Display Type Price Size Resolution Colors Controller
Sharp LS013B4DN02 PNLC $20.43 28×32 96×96 Mono
Sharp LS027B7DH01 HR-TFT $45.25 62×42 400×240 Mono
Liquidware Touchshield Slide OLED     320×240 RGB666
EA DOGM128W-6 FSTN $18.00 55×46 128×64 Mono ST7565R
EA DOGXL160W-7 FSTN $35.98 78×61 160×104 Mono UC1610
FSTN $18.55 49×48 160×100 4 bit gray ST7528i
ScreenKey TFT128 TFT n/a 35×30 128×128 RGB565  
Nokia 6100 TFT $4.95 27×27 128×128 RGB565 PCF8833
Osram Pictiva OLED n/a 92×19 288×48 8 bit gray