Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FMBomb Does Voice Now

So one of the requested enhancements to the FMBomb was to be able to transmit your voice. Well, ask no more. I've updated the schematic with the electret microphone breakout board from Sparkfun..

This little board is a great example of how easy it can be to bolt on functionality to an embedded project. No firmware changes were needed and the whole upgrade, including soldering a breakaway header to the breakout board, took me about 20 minutes. I immediately tuned all of the radios in the house to my preset transmission frequency and began speaking to the family from my basement lair. The transmission range is pretty good with just a simple 30 inch hookup wire antenna. Anyway, the schematic has been updated on github and I'll probably post an update to the Codeproject article in the next week or so. Keep the comments and requests coming. Who knows what we'll do next.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Go Ahead, Reinvent The Wheel

A friend of mine is always telling me that I'm someone who loves to "reinvent the wheel." The other day I was browsing through the almost 900 page spec of the Intel processor instruction set. My mind started racing. How cool would it be to hook up an Intel processor to a microcontroller and have it execute some instructions? I'm not planning on trying that FYI but the thought was there. Then I started reading more about processors and the North and South bridges on a motherboard and how to write a bootloader and starter OS for a PC. My friend would say "Why on Earth would you write a PC bootloader or OS? Here you go reinventing the wheel."

Why "Reinvent the Wheel"

So why do I "reinvent the wheel" sometimes? One word, education. I know I'm not going to create the next Linux or Windows or the next great whatever it is I'm reinventing. That's not the point. The point is to learn something new. The thing I love the most about my educational background is that I can explain, with fairly decent detail, how a computer works down to the physics of the billions of transistors. It's not magic fairies to me like it is for a large percentage of people. But this isn't just limited to computers. Whenever you dig into the "guts" of how something works I guarantee you will learn something new. It can give you ideas for projects you are working on. It will give you a deeper understanding of the technology.

Black Box? More Like a Coffin

The people who rely on the black box encapsulation are fine until that black box fails on them. Then what? They turn to the person that knows what's going on inside that black box. Be that person. That desire for learning, that insatiable need to know how things tick; you can't outsource that. So to all you wheel reinventers out there I say "Go ahead, reinvent that wheel and all the other wheels you can find."

Thanks for the Votes

Finally, I'd like to thank all those who voted for my FMBomb Codeproject article. I won first place in the Beginner's Hardware Competition. Thanks for the support.