— IslandCT Journal 2019 —

Island Creative Time
The family web site of Kelly Sears and Patrick Sears.

Server migration complete.

2019-03-04 -- Patrick

Migration to the new server. The migration to the new server (mseal) is complete. I think. I may have missed some stuff or some files may have been corrupted on the old computer without my noticing it. But it all looks ok so far. The computer that used to act as our server (mplesiosaur) is still limping along. So if anything is missing, I may still be able to retrieve it. Along with the migration, there will be a few changes. We're closing the blog. It was fun but most new content was going in other places. So that's where we'll put our efforts in the future. It was nice to have the latest blog entries show up on the IslandCT home page though. So instead of the blog entries, we'll feature pages we're working on in the news section on the home page.

Some work continued in background. While the website appeared stalled, work was continuing in the background. Mostly work has been for the ARDF spring season and other radio work. Anyone checking the CHCCS ARDF pages could see stuff changing. That part of the website has been tested and is functioning as before. Most important, the event registration is working. Happy day : )

Course timing system. The big change for this season's CHCCS ARDF is our new course timing system. cts for short. Actually, we had a huge failure yesterday evening. We finally got the last six field boxes built. There was a big premature **Hurray**! We then tried to do the initial firmware upload on one of the boxes. Fail : ( Tried it on another one. Fail, oh ho. Houston, we've had a problem. There were not too many changes between the previous and this version. So there shouldn't be a design error. And yet two in a row failed. Could it be the USB-FTDI cable? Anyway, we're working on that. At least we have enough working field boxes to run the classic events. The sprint is another story. It requires twice as many field boxes. Stay tuned.

GPG and vim for file encryption on several computers.

2019-03-06 -- Patrick

This is a quick reminder for myself since I just did this yesterday evening. If it gets more complicated, I'll write a full web page for it.

The system: Debian 9 (stretch), Xfce, 64-bit.

On first computer.

  gpg --export-secret-keys -a "Patrick R. Sears" > prs-20190305a.priv

On second computer.

- Install
  . rng-tools5
  . secure-delete
  . pinentry-tty
- In .bashrc, at the top, add
    export GPG_TTY
- Create
  and put the line
    pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-tty
- Then
    echo RELOADAGENT | gpg-connect-agent
- Mount the mfuse m folder and copy the file
  onto maurochs.
- Do
    gpg --import prs-20190305a.priv
- Delete the priv file using srm.
- Copy the contents of
  into the .vimrc file.

Note that I found the vimrc code on a Terry Grant website. But the code is actually by Wouter Hanegraaff.

Layout diagram for MFJ-9040 transceiver.

2019-03-08 -- Patrick

Have you ever checked out the layout diagram in the MFJ-9040 manual. Hmph...

We'll, I'm currently work on repairing my MFJ-9040. So to make my life easier I made a new layout diagram. I hope it can be useful to others.

Right-click and view image to see full size.

The diagram is not complete yet, but I'll update it as I work on it.

IslandCT course timing system progress.

2019-03-20 -- Patrick

Work continues. Progress is being made. The failure mentioned in the 2019-03-04 journal entry was not as bad as expected. You know when you look at something a thousand times and don't notice it's incorrect. You're so sure that's not where the problem is, so you look but you don't register the error. Well, I tracked down the failure to an obvious item in the configuration of the development environment. I was then able to program one of the field boxes that had failed.

I haven't programmed the other five boxes yet. I don't expect any problems and getting the download/master working is the new priority. The first ARDF meet is less than three weeks away.

The plan for the download/master system is solidifying. Because we need to get it done soon, everything is being simplified. Simplified to make it easier to develop, that is. So it will be a bit more difficult to use and definitely not as cool. The original plan was to use a Raspberry Pi running a curses program. That's on hold. Instead a laptop will read serial data sent from an Arduino. The Arduino will have an Adafruit PN532 module attached to download data from the RFID cards. To see the results, we'll just open a file created by a program running on the laptop. Less fancy, but ready on time.

Side note regarding using an Adafruit 3.3 V Pro Trinket. It seemed like a good idea. We're already using these in the field boxes. The new master box will not need to do practically any processing since all it has to do is send serial data to the laptop. The voltage of that Trinket already matches the 3.3 V of the Adafruit PN532 module. It's perfect! Or is it... The problem is that there is no serial to USB chip on the Trinket. I think we could get the data out using an FTDI-to-USB cable. But using the Trinket is getting a bit silly if an FTDI cable has to be part of the solution. Eventually we'll back to a Raspberry Pi solution anyway. So the Arduino it is, for now.

Course timing system, master #2 hardware. On the left, the assembly. It has the Adafruit PN532 module (blue) on top. Below that a small PCB (white) with part of a CD4050 visible. The CD4050 is being used as a level shifter between the 5 V Arduino and the 3.3 V PN532 module. Then there is the Arduino. And finally some prerf-board at the very bottom, just to hold the stand-offs in place. At right is the enclosure. The bottom has a peice of rubber just thick enough to place the PN532 close under the cover. Right-click and view image to see full size.

The software for the PC and the Arduino have been tested in parts. The hardware is pretty simple and almost completed. I tested the basic setup with a breadboard. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I spent the evenings building. I cut and soldered the PCB, built the assembly to hold all the modules together, and fitted all into an enclosure. Test it, and... It doesn't work : ( Wait! It does work! No it doesn't. What is happening??? More testing with two different Arduinos... It works outside the enclosure but not inside. It's probably a bad solder join on one of the wires that opens when pushed into the enclosure. I hope that's all it is.

Anyway, we're getting close. I can't wait. This should be super cool.

The text we wrote, pictures we took, and system we used to layout our web pages are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Link to License. This means that you can copy anything you want, use it and alter it as you want, as long as you give credit to us for the original work, provide a link to the license, and explain any changes you made. We try to make sure all other content we display is also available to use. But check the sources we list before using them.