Monday, January 2, 2017

Tinybeans, a word of appreciation.
Since my baby daughter was born that the Tinybeans app is the one I use the most on a daily basis. For me this has been a safe haven where we can share our baby's photos and short movies with our family and close friends away from the public view.
Sure Facebook can have closed groups and you can select with whom to share, but there is value added when an application is done for a specific purpose, it just does it better. There is also a website that my mother uses, but for me, my wife and most family the app does the trick.
Our preferred page is the calendar where it shows a thumbnail for each picture taken since the day she was born, when we delay to add a photo we get kind reminders from the family saying that there is no Tinybeans post yet today.
With our family living across diferent countries (Portugal, Germany and UK) it's surprising how much Tinybeans contributes to make distances feel shorter and bring the family closer together.

Sometimes in the evenening after she's asleep, me and my wife take some time with the tablet going through the Tinybeans calendar and contemplate the amazing growth that our daughter has had and how much we've gone through in such a small amount of time. It makes us appreciate how amazing life is and how much our own parents have sacrificed for us and why they say it was all worth it.

So, thank you Tinybeans, thank you for a great idea and implementation. As a developer myself I wish you the best of luck and success.

PS: The Tinybeans did send me an e-mail asking for a review on any parenting forum I belong to. I don't belong to any, but - while it would be appreciated (wink) - I'm writing this above all because it's true and they deserve it. Too much good feels have sprout from them for me to simply ignore a kind request.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Arduino Nano as a ISP programmer

So, rather than buying a programmer, I decided to make my own using an Arduino Nano, altogether I was able to save about.. 1 euro.. and only invested several hours.. :)

I mostly followed this awesome tutorial

With minor changes:
(1) I used a single RGB led with a 1 KOhm resistor. The RGB led is interesting because since different colors have different resistance you have a sort of priority of colors. In this case:
If Red is on, then it will show Red independently of Green or Blue status.
If Red is off and Green is on, it will show Green independently of Blue status.
If Red and Green are off and Blue is on it will (duh) show Blue.

This is awesome since I can use blue for the watchdog, green for write and red for error, all with just one led.

(2) I've removed the external crystal by adapting the "minimal setup" shown here.

I still need to  wait for my ZIF to arrive and then design/printout the casing + do the soldering, but after many hours I'll be happy because I saved about 1 euro if at all. :)

In the casing, I'll probably add slots so that I can easily plug-in the clock and capacitors in the future.

The capacitor shown of the left of the Nano is required for most cheap ones and must be removed when programming the nano itself, so my casing will also have a "Program Arduino/Program Atmega" switch that disables the capacitor when programming the arduino directly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


As a way for me to keep up, here is a list of my current on-going pet projects.

Task clock - A countdown timer capable of holding multiple countdowns for independent tasks.
Its an hardware fun project, involves soldering and 3d printing. Most of it is planned in my mind and plenty of parts have been bought and are its way. Currently I'm trying to get an Arduino Nano to program an atmega328p which will be the micro-controller used. 

Still not sure:
- how I'll be able to upload new tasks (if possible at all)
- whether or not I'll have support for batteries (requires a power booster for the LCD and battery charging circuits)

Board Charts - Trying to extract line/circles information from a picture and overlaying that information as a way to make it look more professional.

MOonRails - Making programming for micro-controllers easier by merging code conventions and communication standards. That's all I can say for now ;)