Some things that I have hacked around with
Over the years, I have found that fiddling with bits-and-pieces is probably
much more interesting than doing any real work. I have collected together
those things that I can remember (or can be bothered writing about) and put
their descriptions in here somewhere.
- Got around to looking at my Quicknet PhoneJack card again. It turns out
that the 2.5.66 kernel ixj driver has broken isapnp support, but the kernel
isapnp code has allocated some IO ports to the card. This means that if I
comment out the isapnp detection routines _and_ specify the io ports then
the driver just works. Yey! I can now continue fiddling around with my
PABX program that I have not worked on for almost a year (thats how long the
damn driver has been borken for me - and it has been much more borken than
just the detection routines in the past). Soon, I should be able to
decommission my permanent dialup link and get a phone line to play with -
then I can test out the voice features of my modems and use the PABX program
to connect me to the real world (yes, its silly..)
- How do you tell if a UPS is working and it is just the batteries that are
fucked? Oh, of course, you buy some more batteries. What do you do with new
batteries if you end up discovering that the UPS itself is borked? Yeah, I
have a handful of old UPS's most of which appear to simply have dud batteries.
This is hampered a little bit by the fact that most of these cheaper designs
actually use the battery current to power the monitoring system - which means
that if the batteries are really flat, there is no monitoring system to detect
the presence of mains power and start charging the batteries. Doh!
- Finally got my hands on some working barcode scanners. Unfortunately, the
best one of the bunch doesnt have its interface cable. It is a Symbol LS 2080
and has an RJ-45 socket on the bottom. Its a real scanning laser style barcode
reader so I am trying to make it work but nobody seems to have the specs for
the connector on the bottom.
- Starting to get worried about how much power I am using. So I got out an
ammeter and have some records of how much power I am using for various items
- Got another of my spare LCD displays wired up and working. This one is a
funny two controller in one package job to allow it to support 40x4. Also I
wrote up the connections that I used and stuck them on the
- Oh, woe is me. My Speedtouch Home ADSL modem has died. Not only that,
but it turns out to have only a 1 year warrantee!! I was horified because that
ran out two months ago. Bugger.
- Now that I have a fun USB thing to try and get going, I dug out a USB
"docking station" with a non standard serial and parallel port interface, I am
also thinking of getting out some of the USB modems I have lying around here.
I have sniffusb working on my test
system (** dont believe them when they say it works on winXP - lies , damn lies!, though a new debug viewer might be the answer, I couldnt test that because
the device drivers I am using were giving the system the wobblies when I was
sniffing under both XP and w2k, so back to 98 I go..) and have captured traces
of both my current test devices. I have written a
post processor script for the USB data that is much nicer (to me) than the
couple of scripts I quickly found on the net.
- Got a new toy USB camera - an "X-Eye" camera. Its tiny, and contains but
one do-it-all microcontroller chip (a Sonix sn9c102 but the datasheet is pretty slim
on actual details. Needless to say, there are no Linux drivers for this little
thing, but at $35 I figured that it was a pretty good deal and I might even be
able to write a driver for it.
- Well, I now have a reasonable understanding of the arptables user interface
but still have some corner problems. The question now is weather or not I
try and gut iptables or ebtables for all the interface glue, or just write it
from scratch myself..
- Finally, I get around to looking at the linux netfilter arp tables. I have
been using mac address matching in the iptables to do the job that the arp
tables are for (and it is no where near as good a job as the arp tables could
provide). Unfortunately it turns out that there are no known userspace
tools for using the arp tables (!! - how was it tested then??). I'm going to
have to look closer and maybe write something myself.
- I am the proud owner of a 5 year old Sony Vaio. Boy are these things
really nice neat packages. Pitty about the dead battery with more electronics
in it than in my VCR (makes it hard to replace - $270 !!). The strange thing
about this laptop is its bootable PCMCIA CDROM drive. It has no easy way to
remove the HDD and I dont have a floppy yet, so it was an experience akin to
using a USB-CD enclosure (see below)
- Well, I think that I might try and make a 19k2 FM serial transmitter and
if that works, I will have to make another one. I found them mentioned on a
web site and it definitly sounds cheaper than buying a whole lot os 801.11b
hardware (if a little slow...) with the added benifit of keeping up my
project building skills.
- Interesting times with a USB-CD enclosure. Boy are they slow when you
only have USB 1.x, but I was happy to find that the new motherboards do
actually boot of the CDROM OK, I was just unhappy when I discovered that
the Linux kernel that I am using (2.4.20) doesnt want to work with a CDROM on
the end of that convertor. I tried it again with a Hard-Drive and Linux
picked it up without a problem. I probably now need to work out how to setup
a USB-HDD so that it will boot OK (using LILO doesnt work because it gets the
BIOS drive numbers all borked up) I will probably have a go at using syslinux
- I bought a infra-red keyboard to use as a remote control for my DVD-playing
computer. Unfortunately, it seems that something about that computer makes
this infra-red reciever not work. Damn Compaq! Now I am left with having to
go and buy a new CPU so I can resurect one of these old cpuless systems I have
lying around, then I have to build it up with all the same software etc ...
- It turns out that bochs is now quite mature. I have been playing with
it since its recent 2.0 release and it is perfect for testing my bootable
CDroms before I actually cut a disk
- OK, I just got a fancy new phone with GPRS and all kinds of fun syncing
abilities - now all I need to do is write the right orbex cgi-bin server so
I can hot-sync my Ericsson T68 over the internet.
- Finally got around to building one of those parallel port LCD display
dodads. Most of the diagrams out there want some extra parts, I used only
hookup wire, leaving out all the trim-pots and latches and so on, and it
works really well. The only extra parts are a couple of pull-up resistors
for the keyboard, but I probably could get away without them. Something
that I could not get away without was an external +5v power - I was hoping
to get enough power from some of the unused parallel port pins, but alas,
it was not to be.
- It seems that the DVD-Audio format specification will include something
called MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing) which I can find a lot of marketing
celebration of, but not much information about its technical format (so that
I could evalulate it for myself)... Still looking...
- I dragged an old Aztech UM9800 USB software modem out of the cupboard
today. IT is based on a st7554 & 7550 chip pair and I was hoping to find
some information about the required software interface (I want to build a
voice mail box or a soft PBX). I managed to find the linux drivers for
the modem (they dont work without major surgery on 2.5) and a product brief
PDF, but still no programming information
- I would have thought that USB Card-Flash readers would be reletively
standard by now, but it seems that the device I have doesnt want to play
nicely with the Linux USB storage drivers. Oh well... Must try again
when I am not running an ancient linux kernel (Ha! 2.5.25 - positively
- Fiddling with bootable CD images. Trying to find a disk partition
tool that can be run from the isolinux prompt, without an OS (the Ranish
Partition Manager might be able to do this, but I have some issues with
the rest of that program that makes me want to find a better one. The
Ranish Partition Manager is the best Partition manager I have so far found
and the thing that annoys me the most is that the earlier versions of it
(while being limited with todays sized hard-drives) did not have most of
the faults that I currently find. Also looking for a Disk Editor program
that can understand many filesystems and maybe be run straight from the
isolinux prompt. Next task is probably to make a menu program for isolinux.
- Well, I got wine going. This was a bad thing. Some of my games worked
acceptably (Starcraft) so I played them for a while (winemine!) but then I
started working through my old games. Of course, I ended up having to
resurect my old Windows box (its been sitting in a corner for almost a year
now..) and play some games.
- Finally got around to completely reorganizing my "slow" SCSI chain to
allow me to plug in and try an old flat bed scanner that someone had given
to me. I now have a Wide-Narrow cable going to an old Sun CDROM (turned off
- its only there for the plugs on the case) a High-Density Narrow to
Low-Density Narrow (Centronics style) cable from the old CDROM to my tape and
CD-R pack (which now has its original cable instead of a bastardized Ultra-Wide
cable) and finally from that pack to the scanner. Imagine my suprise when I
then discovered that the scanner was not color (serves me right for not looking
up the model number). Quite happy with its performance though and it will serve
my scanning needs (I want to scan important meat-space documents so that I can
index and search them without looking at the horror that is my filing-cabinet).
On the other side, I still need a High-byte-only Wide SCSI terminator if I ever
wish to use a Wide device on this bus.
- I think that having a kernel implemented circular log file is very useful,
especially if you are trying to have an embedded device (I am). Here is a patch
for the Linux kernel to implement this clog.patch
- Many moons ago, I found the Hardware Book online that had cable
information and connector pinouts. Eventually it disappeared,
but I eventually it reappeared (at http://www.hardwarebook.info/.
found the original author, nor did I find any reference as good. Today I gave
up on looking for new information - I figure that as I find info, I can add it
to my very own cable specification web page. Of course
there is nothing in it right now (Doh!) but soon..
- SMS OMTI3500. Recently, I have
found that the linux floppy drivers are a little flakey, so I thought I would
try and get this old SCSI floppy convertor running, giving me yet another SCSI
device and changing the floppy driver to a sd driver (which is a little more
stable, especially since I need it to boot with). It gets recognized, but
doesnt want to read the disk. I can run scsiformat and it seems to initialize
the disk, but the process hangs. Looking for more information, especially re
the jumper blocks (maybe it is configured wrong for my floppy drive)
- My Birthday! So of course, I spent some time updating my
linux kernel (Geek!)
Much older stuff
- Creative "inlay" card, Luxsonor ls220 card. Recently, it seems that Alan
Cox was writing a driver for this stuff, but I have not seen anything recently.
I have a couple of these, and still think that the hardware is superior to any
recent MPEG-2 decoder card (ofcourse, these being older, they had to provide
better acceleration...) pity the software sucks - thus my hope for a driver one
day. I actually got started on a driver myself, but didnt get very far before
realizing that I didnt have the right development environment (physically
speaking, my computers are used and cant really reboot...)
- Philips Smart-card reader (still need more information for this)
- "power" over ethernet
- XFree86 device driver for the Apollo Domain hires monochrome video card (should link to more info)
- Using an Adaptec ACB4000 MFM - SCSI converter
- Using old workstation fixed frequency monitors on your standard PC
- My NEC PC-8201 - the ultimate in laptops
Older stuff can be found in the old hacks page
If you are reading this page, you may also find that my list of sites with tech info
is also useful
Back to Hamish's homepage