here it is

It's been a month since I posted something (not counting the previous post of course). I keep putting it off because I want to write about all the things I don't want to forget first. But then that is so much that I delay it some more, etc.

So now I decided to work away my backlog. Let's see...

Pukkelpop 2006 - 17-20 August 2006

Around newyear, I set forth a couple things I wanted to do this year. One of them was to go to a Keane concert, the other to go to a festival. With Pukkelpop, I could scratch those 2 off my list because Keane was going to be there after a long period of no concerts.

I left by train (which cost me nothing because my ticket for Pukkelpop was also valid as a trainticket) the 17th. While on there, I did something I've never done before: I talked to a total stranger. His name was Jan and he's an engineering student. Apparently he was also into electronics, so we talked about that a lot. When I arrived in Kiewit, we lost contact.

None of the people that I knew were also going, responded when I called them. So I was pretty much on my own. It took me a while to find a campingspot because the place was crowded. Right after that, I decided to go explore the festival field.

It didn't take me long to realise a couple things: 1. this was not my kind of music, 2. meeting with people onsite would be worse than finding gravitons and 3. food and drinks were gonna cost me a fortune.

Nonetheless, I heard some interesting music: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Foxylane, Daft Punk, Placebo, Beck and of course Keane.

Not surprisingly, most of the big names sounded pretty bad through my ears, but then again, I have bad taste.

Those people who I knew usually slept untill noon or worse, so in the mornings things were even more boring than usual.
On the last day of the festival (saturday 19th aug), I decided to take a walk to Hasselt and see what was going on there. I had bought my previous digital camera in Mediamarkt in Hasselt and thought I'd go there again to see if they had something nice. They didn't... (I still need a camera!). I walk around the city 2 times trying to find Mediamarkt in the first place. Then I sat down at the restaurant and ate some decent food. On my way back to Kiewit, I dropped by Gamma to locate some acetone. They sell it, although I didn't buy it back then. I doubt I could have taken it on the camping site with all the security. I wouldn't even have wanted to, because acetone is highly flammable.

Anyway, on sunday I left for the trainstation and there was free coffee ! A concept that seemed strange after having to pay so much money for drinks.

If I decide to go again, I should take these things into consideration: Get a decent tent (army-tent for 10/20 people would be nice), create some kind of homing beacon to locate other people, DON
T go on my own, bring something to read and maybe a chair.

First day at work - 21 August

After 7 weeks of vacation, going back to work was very strange. It's like going back to school. No more freedom :) Oh well...

My uncle and aunt's 25 year wedding anniversary - 2 September

Because of some unknown dispute, my parents (and thus my close family) haven't seen the rest of my family for about 10 years or so. It was again an opportunity to test social skills and I did. I had some nice discussions with people I didn't know. They party was really nice (Thermae Palace Oostende). Right up to the point where the DJ turned up the volume, and talking became impossible. So while everyone was dancing away, I was getting more and more bored and finally left.

The next day we visited my grandparents (also in Oostende). My grandfather heard I was getting more interesting in electronics and gave me tons of electronic components and books. I'll have plenty to read for the next year or so.

New projects

I was pointed to and was plotting to build my own projector (I gave my old one to my dad), when my eye fell on the "Build your own CNC machine" section in the lumenlab forums. It would be very nice to have a CNC machine for further DIYing... And since noot was already experimenting with stepper motors for his telescope, I decided to go the same path.

The first thing I needed to do was make a working stepper motor controller. I bought a Tandon KP4M2 stepper motor with 1.8 degrees per step, 12V. I whipped out my Velleman K8000 kit that I had actually never used before and tried to interface with the stepper motor. The K8000 has 16 opto-couplers that can be used for output. Opto-couplers are like transistors (something i didn't know at first), so you have to connect V+ and V- to the correct sides or you'll get strange results...

The KP4M2 is 2-phase, which means 4 wires (2 coils). Each of these coils needs to be able to be powered in each direction. So I needed 4 wires that can go V+ aswell as V-. I solved that by making 2 switches per wire: 1 connected to V+, the other to V-. Each switch is actually an optocoupler. So I needed 16 wires in total going to my K8000. I hooked those up using UTP cable from the K8000 to a breadboard. In my first experiment I used a 9V battery to power the motor.

To my surprise, it worked :) Maybe I should post the code, although it's trivial.

I implemented fullstep, halfstep and wavedrive. I also attached a leadscrew to the motor with lots of tape (tape coupled rotor ;) and watched it push around some stuff. Now, the battery is dead :/
But that's. We have plenty of 12V poweradapters for FOT's that are not used. I can recycle some of those. 12V on the stepper motor should provide a lot more torque.

I also bought an L297 and L298 IC. I don't want to control the stepper motor through the K8000 all the time...

My brother also asked me to build something with a microcontroller. I have never done that before but I'm willing to give it a try. A lot of info about the 8051, a commonly used microcontroller, can be found at

My new computer

My new computer arrived ! Although I paid 50 euro for assembling the PC, the first thing I noticed when I got home was how a memtest86 failed. The shop probably didn't do much thorough testing on it, which is a shame. After some fiddling, it appears that the problem is Dual Channel memory. It just won't work... The shop advised me to apply the latest BIOS upgrades while they contact the manufacturer. I haven't heard from them for 2 weeks or so now, and I doubt they are still doing anything. That doesn't mean I don't want Dual Channel though :) I'll contact them about this soon.

Even worse than not having Dual Channel (There are no problems when using single channel, it's just slower), is that the computer won't install Linux ! The problem appears to be the P965 chipset used on Core 2 Duo motherboards. More information on fixes can be found on the Ubuntu Wiki

rtsp connectiontracking, ... and anything that's not on my mind right now.