Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Still alive, what I've been doing, plus what's next: Zumo Sumo

Well, 2020 has been a raging dumpster fire, eh? Hope you're doing ok and staying safe and healthy. I'd love to hear from you, so hit me up on twitter (@bot_thoughts) or comment.

It's been ... awhile... since I last posted. Life intervened and I needed a break from robotics blogging. Is anyone still doing blogs these days? I should probably be on TikTok... (yeah like that'll happen) 

Some of what I've been up to since last time:
  • Teaching Lego robot sumo at my daughter's school
  • Home automation
  • Collecting and repairing fountain pens
  • Painted my first paintings (acrylic on canvas)
  • Retired my rusty, formerly robotic Jeep Grand Wagoneer & got a 4Runner
  • Wheeling in Moab, Ouray, and trails in Colorado
  • Making a few things with my Taig MicroLathe II
  • Printing with my new Creality Ender 3
Next up... I'm excited to teach my kid and a couple of her friends Arduino programming using Pololu Zumo robots with epic sumo battles to follow!



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Decoding GM's ALDL with Teensy 3.6


I want to log my Jeep's Engine Control Module (ECM) diagnostic data reliably and inexpensively any time the vehicle is running so I can tune it to pass emissions tests and reduce pollution.

To do that, I am using a new Teensy 3.6 microcontroller to first decode the data stream out of the ECM and then store it on a microSD card for later retrieval.

My Jeep is running a retrofitted General Motors #1227747 ECM, which is the brains of a mid-80's Throttle Body Injection (TBI) system found on Chevy and GMC trucks.

The ECM, which predates OBDII systems, spits out a serial data stream called Assembly Line Diagnostic Link (ALDL) at 160 baud. This data stream protocol is nothing like plain old RS-232 serial protocol, however...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Diagnosing Watches With Electronics

I've been fascinated by mechanical watches since I was a kid. Little machines on the wrist, marking out the passage of time with an unexpected level of accuracy, at least if the watch is in good shape.

To measure accuracy and diagnose issues, watchmakers use a watch timer which listens for and measures intervals between ticks. However, the tools are rather expensive for hobbyists, such as yours truly.

Fortunately, free or low-cost options like Watch-o-Scope ease the burden, but require a sensor and preamplifier. Here's my take on this fun little preamp project.