• Hardware,  Reviews,  Uncategorized

    Motherboard Review: ASRock P67 EXTREME4 GEN3

    Review Summary: Great motherboard good price point ($155). Buy it if you need a 1155 socket and like to overclock. No real drawbacks, but a few manageable quirks. I like to prefix a review¬† with what I was looking for in a motherboard. From rooting about the internet, the P67 or the Z68 are the motherboard types best suited to my processor (intel i7 2600k). That being said, the Z68 is a slight upgrade to the P67, supporting using a SSD as a cache for a hard-disk, along with other minor improvements that I wasn’t particularly dying to get. The core components are essentially the same, so I decided to…

  • Hardware

    Your $400 Hardware Lab

    No surprise, but I love engineering. I love being able to create and build whatever I can imagine. A critical part of this though, is putting together a decent lab! Like everyone else, I’m on a budget. Here’s how you can put together a good digital electronics lab for under $400! Space! Obviously, this isn’t included in the $400 price tag. A quiet, nice spot in your house or apartment is a must. In real-estate-expensive San Diego, I get by with an overly large desk (10’x4′) from Ikea in my 1 BR apartment. Multimeter: $15 You need to be able to measure resistance, capacitance, and voltages. I use this multimeter.…

  • Coding,  Hardware,  Open Source,  Random,  Ubuntu

    Crash Course on Mixing C and Assembly on Linux/x86

    Editor’s Note: This article is designed to get you thinking a bit about assembly on i386 machines, and to provide an example of x86 convention function calling. Its not really comprehensive enough to serve as a thorough tutorial. Look here, or here for a bit more comprehensive introduction. Tinkering with assembly code is a great way to learn about how code compiles and runs, and provides great insight into writing better code. Its probably easier and [frankly] more useful, to insert some carefully crafted assembly code into a C program at just the right place. However, you learn more about the machine, and the way your code is stitched together…

  • Hardware,  Open Source

    Linux Support for the Saleae Logic Analyzer!

    I’ve been looking to set up a microprocessor/robotics type hobbyist lab for a while, and I’d like to use Linux as much as possible for the tools I’ll be buying and using. One of the most critical components in any good logic lab is a decent logic analyzer. A logic analyzer is a tool with multiple probes that you attach to various points to monitor the voltage levels at the test points. It’s pretty much essential if you want to figure out why your digital circuit isn’t working the right way. High-end logic analyzers can process data on the GHz level, and cost thousands and thousands of dollars. Luckily, companies…

  • Hardware,  Open Source

    Me and My Cowon iAudio D2

    So I’ve never really owned an mp3 player before, I had always used a SD card and my smartphone. However, with my Openmoko Freerunner being unusable as a media player*, I decided to go and buy a real mp3 player. I wanted a small mp3 player with video capability, decent capacity, long battery life, easy to sync with Linux, did not say ‘iPod’ anywhere on it, and excellent sound quality. Luckily, I found all of these things (for perhaps a bit of premium) in the Cowon iAudio D2. It got decent reviews everywhere I looked, and so I decided to drop $200 USD to buy the 16gb model. Here’s my…

  • Hardware,  Open Source

    PIC Microcontrollers and Linux

    I love hardware work as much as I love working on software. These two are naturally intertwined, and I feel strongly that I need a good understanding of the two to have a complete knowledge of modern computing systems. As well as working with software, I also have a small lab set up on my desk so I can piece together little projects here or there. In this article, I will give a basic rundown of microcontrollers, as well as explain how to get them working on a Linux OS. Recently, I’ve gained interest in making projects based on PIC microcontrollers, so I purchased the PICKIT1 form Microchip. If you…

  • Hardware,  Open Source

    On the Toughness of Thinkpads…

    Yesterday, I sat on my laptop. Rather, one leg of the chair I was sitting on ended up right on top of my laptop. I was scooching my chair back to get out of my digital design final, and somehow managed to put the chair right on top of my laptop bag… Fearing the worst after hearing a gut-wrenching popping noise, I fired it expecting that my computer would need some serious repair work, or at least a new lcd screen. However, I was really really happy when everything worked fine! The metal casing now has a ding and a stress crack in it, but the LCD screen was totally…

  • Hardware,  Open Source,  Random

    Great Job, Creative…

    “Piss off the hacker crowd? Why not?” This seems to be the attitude Creative has taken towards providing support for its drivers, at least on Windows. In case you don’t look at internet press, Creative Audio Labs has silenced a hacker named daniel_k and stopped him from providing driver support for the Creative Sound cards that Creative has been impotent to write themselves. So, if writing Windows drivers for support that Creative decided to exclude makes Creative throw this legal tantrum, what do you think their attitude for writing drivers for Linux, Mac, the BSD’s, etc would be?? Not good, I can assure you. Personally, I feel that once I…

  • Coding,  Hardware,  Open Source

    Deeper into the Machine

    Lately, I’ve taken a keen interest in getting as deep into the software on my computers as I can. I’ve been trying to get up to speed with being able to write good assembly, as well as reading all that I can about kernels and low level software concepts in order to achieve my goal of getting an encompassing view of what goes on behind the scenes in a computer. I feel that I already have a good understanding of what it means to be an application programmer, and have become increasingly unhappy with accepting some things as black boxes, unknown tools that you can use for accomplishing goals. In…

  • Hardware,  Open Source

    The Digital Onslaught

    Its already begun. Digital is here. “You’re on analog? lame.” A lot of banter has been going around about digital this and digital that as of late. You’ve heard the Circuit City ads, always going on about how digital is so much better than analog was. I also get a sneaky feeling that 60% of the people I know saying these things have no idea what they’re saying, and just like jumping on bandwagons whenever the chance arises. Luckily, I’m here to clear up the confusion :-D. As you may know, analog, the conventional data transmission standard for decades is soon loosing one of its last strongholds in the U.S.A.…