A.D.D. has kicked in

I have been busy with 4 different projects, one done and the rest coming along. I seem to bounce back and forth as I ponder over some design flaws and possible solutions. Which usually leads to a “hey let’s do this too” moment, I like to call it my Shiny Penny Syndrome. It works for me. 

Click on the project title to to the that projects link if you wish. 

Bluetooth Speaker

We need a bluetooth speaker for the outside by the pool and I have also wanted one to use inside the house as well. This one is 90% complete. I still need to find what I am going to use for front and back grills. I may settle for some black material on a frame for the front and some aluminum grill for the back. In the meantime at least it is ready to go!

 

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Volumio Case

While the Volumio is up and working in the family room downstairs, I am still working on the case for the setup. I have the idea firmly in my head. I have the case hollowed out. I need to find a way to get down to the bottom and clean and smooth the bottom. it is too small to work it with any chisel I have. I was thinking of upping the RPMs on my drill press and using the drill bit to clean it out. We’ll see, I still have a little research to do on this one. 

  

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Arduino CNC experiment

My goal here is to have a larger CNC mill, a real one, that can handle wood and soft metal like Al and brass. While I usually like to jump into a project with both feet, I have learned and bit by over enthusiasm in the past. I have read quite a few builds using old DVD drives, the LM293, and an Arduino to make a simple X / Y potter (the Z axis raises and lowers the pencil). I have the X axis works, the Z axis servo works when it feels like it (so much for the cheap micro servos in the intro kit. Time to scavenge from an old RC car tonight). The Y axis just grinds at me, so I need to dig into it here tonight and get it moving, literally. 

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RetroPie

This is one that was downloaded, installed, configured, setup with 2 controllers, an old LCD monitor, and it has been hard to find to time to play with it myself. That is OK it is being well used. I have an audio DAC for the Pi 3 some old monitor speaks to mate with it. I have been searching for a case idea. The cases one can purchase are well – so so, do in a pinch, rather not spend money on one, will the HAT fit? As I pondered and searched, I stumbled upon an old Game Cube for sale on eBay (9 bucks right now, don’t bid on it please) and it looks like it will do the trick quite nicely. Integrated power supply, spaces for controllers / USB ports, and about the right size. I hesitated when I click on bidding for it, but as time goes and I read some, it should work quite nicely. Stay tuned for where this one ends up. 

Tempest Spinner

Since the RetroPie is up and going, I have been playing some Tempest, my ALL time favorite arcade game; but it just isn’t right playing it with a controller, keyboard, or mouse. One really must have a spinner for the real experience. I have looked for them online, but they are rather pricey (upwards of $70.00) so I have been looking into making my own. I have the box of parts and my notes in line. I will find some time one night when nothing else interests me 😉 I guess you will just have to check back on this one to see how it goes. 

 

 

 

Bluetooth Speaker

Bluetooth Speaker Project

We need a bluetooth speaker for the outside by the pool and I have also wanted one to use inside the house as well. This one is 90% complete. I still need to find what I am going to use for front and back grills. I may settle for some black material on a frame for the front and some aluminum grill for the back. In the meantime at least it is ready to go!

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Secure e-mail review

A while back when I was putting together my wrightmac.net domain I started looking at a better ways to secure my email. Free is fine, but free is letting google check out your email and figure out what to try and sell you while taking a peek at your cookies. I took a couple of evenings and started looking at what was out there. Lavabit was in limbo at the time (after shutting down over the Snowden incident) and had heard about Protonmail.com. 

I signed up for the free account at Protonmail. I used the account for awhile. I liked that there is an iOS app that works quite well. They don’t have or support a desktop app yet, but they do have a nicely done web interface for desktops/laptops. After giving it a good run I decided to sign up for the paid account, just the low-end one for now. I had just delved into the world of BitCoin and since they accepted them, I tired it out. I have to say while getting the Bitcoin was kind of a pain in the butt, using them is easy peasy. And since I purchased my original $90, I spent $40, and I still have $70 something left. This virtual currency is pretty cool. I was greenbacks would do the same thing. 

I like their authentication, their encryption mindset, no logging, end-to-end encryption (even outside of other ProtonMail users), and I just learned about this one self-destructing emails. The default is 28 days. Sending a secure email to a person outside of Protonmail is easy to do. When creating the message, just click on the Encrypt button on the bottom, enter in a password, and continue composing your email. When it is sent, the receiver sees an email stating they got an encrypted email and to click the button to view it. They are taken the the Protonmail server where the message is displayed. It is not ideal, but I do like that secure emails can be sent to all. All of their gear is stored in Switzerland and have very strict privacy laws where government fingers can’t peek at them. 

I kept an eye on the Lavabit web site. Around the first of the year I put in my $$ to reserve a first-in-line spot to get a Lavabit address as well. A few days ago I received the email that they were ready to start taking customers and it was time to pick out my address. Wooo-hooo. The process was easy peasy. Save now I HAVE to use Thunderbird as my email client. Lavabit does support Android, Linux, and Windoze, the Apple world is left a bit out in the cold. That is alright, I have one way in, mail is secure, and I am sure that some Mac developer will save the day. 

Lavabit also provides end-to-end encryption. They also encrypt all layers of the mail being sent, the transport, metadata, and the message itself. They look to provide the most secure email solution. They have developed their own email server, Magna which runs their DIME encryption service (I think I have that right). They are working on a client for iOS and other platforms called Volcano. Being a proprietary client, it will integrate tightly with their server architecture. 

So why two more email accounts. My rationale is that I, I, ok I wanted them. I wanted to try out both services and wean myself off of the “free” mails services of personal information sucking giants. My Protonmail, wrightmac will be for my projects, wrightMac Studio, and the such. I will put the Lavabit account, peterhein to use as my professional address. 

I commend the developers of both software packages and ecosystems on their focus on security and making it accessible to us, but it would be great to have one secure email standard everyone could depend on. I have been around this internet and computer stuff too long to think that it will get there anytime soon. In the meantime I will keep on seeing what is here and what is next. 

Raspberry Pi Arcade Project

Next on the project list is a Raspberry Pi arcade system. Once again we are starting small with as much stuff as we could from around the Studio. I already had a Pi 3, monitor, keyboard, no controllers (ordered those), and for kicks I got another of the Pi Zero Audio DACs for sound. I will have a speaker leftover from the pool-USB-Streaming-Audio project so it works out well. 

We loaded it up with RetroPie and I have to say I am quite impressed. The software works quite well and while it is easy to setup there are quite a few options to check out later on. Right now the most imperative thing to my son was getting it up and playing on the screen today. 

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Someone has donated some Xbox controllers for the system. We are still going to make some kind of case for it. At this point I am not sure if it will be an all-in-one or keep the console separate from the monitor. Once again I will have to let this one stew and see what comes of it. 

I want to start to put together a real arcade style box for the controls, joysticks and buttons for 2 players while keeping the USB controllers for other games. I doubt I will go the standup route, but I never know where projects take me after a while. My big must have for this phase of the project is a Tempest spinner controller. Tempest has to be one of my all time favorite games! And it really isn’t the same trying to play it with a keyboard or mouse, and most paddle are wheezy at best. I have started digging into them. 

So let me share with you the links and information I have found on making a spinner. I am looking forward to scrounging and finding the right pile of parts for this one. 

BREAKING NEWS – I just found this site today and it seems to have one great manual for making a spinner. 

There is one place I found where you can purchase one, theirs is called the SpinTrak, they are pricey. Maybe when I make my standalone Tempest game. 

I found this setup which is pretty cool. And making a controller was my original and still my preferred idea. 

Below are some of the other links I have found dealing with DIY spinners. 

Made from an old VCR head.

Another excellent example made from the what-the-lab-will-surrender category

A spinner made right inside the mouse. Pretty neat concept.

Divine Muse

I have been dragging around these chunks of cherry for more than I care to remember, but I have been keeping them for a project. I have bee stewing about a case for mi Pi Audio Streamer. 

I had the garage door open a few days ago and pulled these out and started to look at them. Huh, a cherry case would be nice, look classy, and with a custom volume knob and single power light. . . ideas started to flow. How thin to cut the sheets? Joint them? Glue them? 

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I ended up grabbing the skinner of the two. It has some interesting grain to it. 

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I cut three sections from the good end of the chunk. I still have the rest as there is some solid wood hidden in there and it might come in handy yet. Sorry the color is a little off but it was getting to be later in the afternoon. 

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I have my sections of wood and I have the inside of it drawn out. My plan is to hollow out a section for the Pi and knob, I will get the drawing posted up here soon, but until then. . . 

Seeking shelter

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We are all looking for a little shelter from the rain the past couple of days, even some of God’s littlest helpers.

And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat,

and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.

– Isaiah 4:6

Amazing what trips your eye when you stop and take a moment to look around, even during some rain. This little guy was under one of the pumpkin flowers by our front porch. I didn’t notice till now, but the pumpkin leaves don’t have any rain drops on them. I wonder why?