Mar 18

Flight MH370 – The simple facts

Sherlock homes once said something like: when you eliminate all other possibilities, whatever you are left with is the answer.

In the search for Flight MH370 why is everyone so intent on looking for theories, conspiracies, terrorism and plot? Why not just use the basic facts of what we know?

We know the flight took off, we know it was on-route, but stopped communicating. We know it turned. We know it was still in the air for 6 more hours or so. Thats it, thats all we know for sure really.

With those facts alone you will find the answer. It took off, something happened to harm the plane, it turned. It could not communicate with ground.

I think you will find the plane in the south indian seas, because it turned and then flew, in more or less a straight line, until it ran out of fuel and fell out the air. It is as simple as that – but 10 days later only now are people starting to examine the simple explanation for what has happened. No one wanted to take the simple explanation first, they all wanted the drama of some complicated plot.

Now, in case you think I am jumping on the bandwagon after the fact, just ask my family, they will tell you I was ranting about just following the facts and ignoring the theories long before anyone in the media thought about it. I even drew a line on my map at home showing roughly where I think the plane came down. It’s in the south indian seas, I am sure of it. But I hope I am wrong, and I hope it has actually be taken by terrorists and landed safely somewhere on land, and the passengers and crew are still alive. But I doubt it.

Mar 06

Apple refuses to unlock dead mum’s iPad: Sons told to get court order

Apple refuses to unlock dead mum’s iPad: Sons told to get court order.

From The Register – read it here.

Dec 06

3D Printing – A Revolution?

3D Printing

You cannot have failed to have heard stories in the press and media recently about 3D Printing, and how it  is going to revolutionise the world. Many are likening it to the desktop-printing revolution that began in the late 1980’s with the advent of affordable, desktop, high quality printers that started to appear on the market.

There’s no doubt that ‘3D Printing’ is going to be a revolution – I myself have been banging on about it for some years now. I also have first hand experience of using 3D Printers and of using products built on 3D Printers.

However the stories that we hear in the press and media are often very poorly researched, and more often than not they are based on some particular companies’ most recent press release, more than they are based on fact.

I think it’s time we looked a bit more closely at ‘3D Printing’ and see what all the fuss is about.

Continue reading

Nov 24

Using Creator v3.0 to target PSoC5 and PSoC5 LP

Recently Cypress updated their PSoC Creator tool suite to version 3.0.
V3.0 Brought with it some great new features, such as:

  • Auto Complete
  • Goto Definition
  • Code Explorer
  • Inline Diagnostics
  • Disabled code highlighting
  • Automatic indenting
  • And loads of other productivity and compiler improvements.

However as I have mentioned in this post before, the tool dropped support for the PSoC 5 Chip, which has been superseded by the fantastic new PSoC5LP Device. There are drop in replacements for every PSoC5 chip from the new 5LP Range. Cypress encourage developers to use the new 5LP devices in their new projects and when updating existing projects. The 5LP are pin and source-code compatible with the equivalent 5 Devices, but they are not binary code compatible. You need to rebuild your code with the new device selected in PSoC Creator.

But what do you do if you have an existing product, using PSoC5 devices that is out there in the field, all new boards that you manufacture should have 5LP on them, and you have to maintain and update the code on these boards? You cannot just build a project in the new tools and target the two devices – because the latest tools no longer support PSoC5, just the new PSoC5LP.

Continue reading

Nov 04

ICD 3 vs Mac OS X Mavericks

Well, despite my earlier success I have to declare that, for me at least, The Microchip ICD-3 In Circuit Debugger is not compatible with OS X Mavericks.

I have opened a ticket with Microchip tech Support, so we’ll see what transpires.

Microchip ICD 3

Oct 25

Apples and Oranges

I Watched the Apple Keynote speech in which Tim Cook and others gushed about the latest devices and software to come from Cupertino.

There is new iPad Air, iPad Mini with retina display and, very interestingly, some more details about the new Mac Pro including for the first time, pricing. At over $3000 dollars, I don’t think I’ll be standing in line to buy one on launch day. If only….

Of course there is the release of the new Apple desktop operating system, called OS X Mavericks. I’ve been playing with Mavericks for a while, as I was lucky enough to be on the beta project, as well it being available to all registered Apple developers for a while too. Mavericks is good, but most of the big changes are under the hood. There is not much to read about the hidden changes on the Apple website, but the keynote speech (linked in the first paragraph, above) gives a few details, and the Keynote from the WWDC 2013 Developer’s conference gives a few details too.

On the surface there is some nice new touches, like iBooks and Maps updates, and better integration between apps, and of course better integration with iCloud. Simple things like ‘tags’ in the finder may not sound much, but it’s surprising how much they add to productivity. Best of all, the update to OS X Mavericks is completely free, just get it from the Mac App Store.

Speaking of ‘surfaces’ I see that Frank Shaw, VeeP Of Communications at Microsoft was none to impressed with Apple’s keynote speech. Of course not, he couldn’t see green cheese. You can read his somewhat missing the point Blog over here.

Anyway, best regards,


Oct 23

Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball – infuriatingly close to being a good device.

After decades of working with computer mice I have repetitive strain in my right wrist. It’s not too bad, but it means that if I use a traditional mouse my wrist quickly becomes very sore, with pain right up to my elbow.

I’ve found that using a thumb-operated trackball is much better and doesn’t generate any pain at all, but there are few of them around. I’ve been using the Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 recently, which I got from Curry’s stores. It is so close to being a great product, apart from one tiny, but infuriating defect:

The switches under the buttons wear out very quickly – I mean within 6 weeks of using it. The left button is now very twitchy. It often double, and triple-clicks when I’m trying to single click, and selecting text or doing drag and drop is just almost impossible.

I thought maybe I just had a bad one, so I bought another (from Amazon this time), and it worked great for the first few weeks, but now it has gone the same way.

Of course, being an eletronics engineer, I had a peep inside. The switches for the right and left buttons are the same, so I swapped them and the fault has gone away again, or at least it has moved to the right-click button, but I can live with that for now.

Problem is, I can’t actually find any other thumb operated trackballs.

Books for Electronics Engineers


Here’s a list of books I recommend for electronics engineers. If you have any further suggestions, post them in the comments and I’ll be happy to add them.

First, for a good grounding in electronics theory, circuit analysis, engineering maths for electronics and low level study, try this:
Introductory Circuit Analysis by Robert L. Boylestad. This text is often used in university undergraduate degree courses.

Next, if you are ever doing any analog audio electronics, you can’t go wrong with these books from Douglas Self:


For Microcontrollers and Arduino:

Or for details of the Cypress PSoC range of devices, try this:

Hello everyone!


Hi everyone

I know, I know, It’s about time I got a blog… that way people can see what I’m up to and I can share somethings I might find interesting with others.

Well here we are, wish me well!