Raspberry C64 Pi Audio and Cooling Update

It was time to improve the performance of this Raspberry C64 Pi computer by adding the official regulated fan to the case. I also added a USB audio adapter to improve the sound quality. With these two inexpensive upgrades, the Raspberry Pi performs much better and the audio quality is much improved.

Nokia’s Body Cardio Scale Will Remove Pulse Wave Velocity

Since Nokia took over Withings the company continues to struggle with delivering good products. Today Nokia informed me that the Pulse Wave Velocity reading will be automatically deactivated and that there is nothing I can do to prevent this from happening. The reason they provide for the deactivation of this feature is that “it may require a different level of regulatory approval”.

While I agree that complying to the regulatory framework is a good idea, I wonder why they only considered this years after introducing the product. Why was this not part of their original design process? Regulatory frameworks vary considerably across the globe and Nokia decided to deactivate ALL scales. This does seem rather indiscriminate.

They offer a refund for the purchase price and they will then completely deactivate your scale. In their FAQ they do not mention the exact nature of the refund, but once you login into your account or followed their link you will find that:

I understand that I am eligible to be refunded for the purchase price of my product as shown on my receipt, less any fees that may have been incurred, including but not limited to: customs, duty, brokerage fees, shipping, or delivery costs. Nokia reserves the right to refund the local MSRP in lieu of this purchase price.

Again I have to wonder why there is no option for, lets say, half of a refund and you could continue to use the scale without the Pulse Wave Velocity reading. This all or nothing approach does not sit right with me since I do not want to throw away an otherwise fully operational scale but I also think that Nokia should reimburse us for the feature they are going to delete.

All of this is again an example of horrible product management and customer handling. The one feature that set this scale apart from their own Body+ scale is gone. I had an eye on their new Nokia Sleep tracker, but I do not want to go through this process of them screwing up their own products again.

Holonomic LEGO Mindstorms Robot

A holonomic robot uses omni-directional wheels to drive and turn in any direction on the spot. Agilis is an example of an early LEGO holonomic robot. My model is much simpler and robust. Essential to all holonomic robots are the use of omni-directional wheel, such as the the ones from Rotacaster. I am using a compass sensor to allow the robot to be remote controlled on an absolute grid using Connexion’s Space Navigator. This 3D input devices can be mapped to the unique movements and rotations of a holonomic robot.

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Tutorial on how to install and setup JInput on Mac OS X using Eclipse

Tutorial on how to install and setup JInput on Mac OS X using Eclipse. This will enable you to use different input devices in your Java programs.

Using mouse, keyboard, joysticks and other input devices in your Java software is much easier using JInput. Unfortunately, the documentation on how to install and setup the software is short and difficult to follow. I was struggling for days getting it to work with Eclipse on Mac OS X 10.12.6. My first approach was to use Maven to install JInput. The excellent M2Eclipse plugin provides good support for Maven. Unfortunately, the pre-configured Maven Repository does not include JInput. I was unable to configure Maven/Eclipse to connect to The Central Repository to download JInput from there. Okay, I am not a fulltime Jave programmer and maybe it would become clear to me eventually. In the meantime I got it to work manually. I hope that this tutorial will help you in your project. I used Mac OS X and I cannot guarantee it will work on any other platform.



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Easy LEGO Mindstorms Spirograph

Ever since I created the Spirograph Automaton I remained interested in drawing machines. For this years Christchurch Brick Show I wanted a more compact, easier to build version of the Spirograph. This time I used three motors instead of just one. Controlling the speed of both arms and the table was very easy this way. The Spirograph worked reliably throughout the whole show. The MinuteBot baseplate makes the construction even easier. The building instruction are available for LEGO Digital Designer. More information is available at Rebrickable.