• Weeks 161-162

    4 January 2016

    Last weeknotes for 2015!

    The end of the year isn’t always quiet for me: I’m often pounding on until the end; may as well make use of all that time. And in some ways, this year was no different. There was various client work to wrap up, and remaining time to get Twinklr underway.

    I added one new feature to Selworthy, altering the domain model to make it easier for the standalone version to handle multiple clients with different needs. Didn’t take long, but will definitely make it more useful even for internal usage. The tool is beginning to see internal usage in anger, which is great: the client are finding important issues much faster as a result, but are also seeing marked productivity gains that we hoped it’d lead to. As a developer, that’s exciting and rewarding.

    I went over to Brixton to install Roshill for Oubliette: getting the electronics from the workbench into the room and the final enclosures. Mike and Dave gave me a good hand with this and, after some hairy installation moments, we ended up with a working puzzle. A quick board of pull-down resistors I’d built up beforehand made all the difference.

    New PCBs for Walton arrived. I’d hoped these would fix the bug and in one sense, they did – but another bug still remained. I’ve now sussed what it is, though, and the only way around it is Ordering The Right Part. So I’ve got some 3PDT switches coming from Germany – along with some more equipment for the workbench – and we should have a final revision in early January.

    I got inducted on the laser cutter at Makerversity, and put it to use. First, I built a test front panel for Walton; the good news is my new workflow for doing so works, and everything fitted. The engraving still needs some work, but I think it’s definitely going to be a goer for prototypes.

    I also spent some time beginning to try fabricating some useful odds and sods for Twinklr. At the end of the year, I designed a test jig in Fusion 360 – in 3D – and then worked out how to bring it down to cuttable flat pieces, which I then produced. A big leap for me: CAD is not my natural environment, but now I can see how that workflow might work, and I know that one more thing in the project will be doable.

    I rewrote the Twinklr software. Already? Well, it turned out that the Raspberry Pi wasn’t hugely happy with endless 800*480 Canvas rendering, so I rebuilt the code to render in SVG. This had lots of neat side effects: it makes a few new feature we’re interested in much easier, and it begins the ‘tidying’ of the code to make it easier to work on. It also makes a few other things easier – in particular, animation – which is always good.

    On a less successful note, I spent a long while wrestling with Raspbian Jessie and USB audio, and am coming to the conclusion that before I spend any longer on it, I’m going to start again on Wheezy. The Pi is a frustratingly… idiosyncratic beast. I’m considering other options for Twinklr – not very seriously, given how suitable the Pi+Touchscreen combo is – but a day of messing around with Linux audio config really did make “not very” become a bit more seriously.

    As ever, more Twinklr notes – and scrapbooking – are on the Twinklr Notebook.

    And that was 2015. Yearnotes to come likely, but in the meantime: happy new year.