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Archive for February, 2015


TFT Word Clock

I have a number of TFT displays that I use for all sorts of projects and depending on the outcome of the project, sometimes I recycle them. In to new projects of course…

I have a few 2.4″ displays, TFT, that require level shifters to work with the Arduino because the Arduino’s that I commonly use are all 5V, not 3.3V. I’ve tried the “resistor / divider” and ended up just using a small PC board, some breakout pins and a 74HC4050 level shifter to do it. Which for me works just fine (although I do wish all those TFT displays handled 5V)…

So while I was toying with the recycled 2.4″ display, I was also testing a GPS and I thought, what the heck, let’s make a word clock out of it. So I did.

The first obvious difference being that it was going to be smaller than the 12″ square ones I made for Christmas last year. I have some small plexiglas cases I buy off eBay and they work great for these little projects.

Parts are an Arduino Mini Pro, TFT 2.4″ (ILI9431), GPS shield (serial 9600 baud; it’s hidden behind the TFT so you can’t see it), two DC to DC buck converters (one for anything over 7 to 5V and the other for the 3.3V for the 74HC4050 level shifter).

IMG 0484

I used Adafruit’s ILI9431 library, a time library and so on. Mainly because this is also a calendar and it knows when day light savings time happens.

The little dots at the bottom of the display are the “extra minutes” because a word clock only works in five minute increments. The whole thing is about 4″ x 4″ x 1.5″ deep. So yeah, small. But amazingly easy to see from several feet away.

For the calendar portion, It’s leap year savvy, knows what day of the week it is and I wrote in my own scheduling routines so I know what happens on what day, based on a specific cycle. Thus you need some Julian routines, some scheduling routines and then a routine to display the clock. All in all, not that terribly difficult to do.

IMG 0487

I also put the typical “digital” clock readout on the calendar display. You know, just for nostalgia.


Apple Yosemite – Kitty Litter – er… Sandboxing

I upgraded one of the development Mac’s here at the Wanch to Apples latest OS, Yosemite (10.10). If my brain had been firing on all cylinders I’d have made darn sure that I also had a master install of Mavericks before I did so.

Yeah, well, to make a long story short, I didn’t have a Mavericks to fall back on.

And it’s not that Yosemite is actually all that bad, except for a couple of areas. Specifically display and printing are the problems.

The first issue is the display. Obviously someone at Apple loves that flat, pastel, washed out, pre-kindergarten look of the OS. I am not even a remote fan of that person(s). Matter of fact, I think I’d vote for flogging in this case. Any amount of Googling and you’ll find people evenly divided between the “love it” and “butt ugly” camp. Of which I could run for president of the latter.

It wasn’t until I happened to visit an Apple store that it suddenly made sense to me. Heck, didn’t even require a “Genius”, not that I’d actually label many of them as that. Nope, one look at the 5K display on the iMac and yep. That’s why they did it. It actually looks fairly good (still won’t give it more than that because I’m not a photo guy) and at least the writing is legible on the screen.

Here at the Wanch there are several Apple Cinema displays. Sizes range from 20″ to 30″ and those monitors have always been, quite simply, stunning. Right up to the point when you look at Yosemite on them. From that point on you swear there’s something wrong with the contrast and clarity of your rather expensive monitor.

Fear not, mere unwashed mortal, it’s a nefarious plan by Apple to encourage you to buy into their rectal…I mean Retina displays. Because we do nothing but look at glorious waterfall photos all day. There, I can remove my tongue from my cheek.

Admittedly the 5K displays look great, but at the cost of making every Cinema display look like crap. Sorry, that’s not really an acceptable trade off in my mind.

I should have seen this “hi-rez” coming judging from the iPad leap into the retina canal. But I didn’t. My dumb.

Now if some nice Apple employee has a nice shiny Mavericks install they want to get rid, do email me. I’d appreciate it. Because then I’d make a dual boot Mac.

The second area I, and apparently more than just a handful of others, have been fighting with is printing. I have a nice colour laser, Xerox 6015N, and when I try to print multiple copies or a page range I have, since I install Sam (you know that Yosemite cartoon), I get a “Job Cancelled – Filter Error”. And here I thought Windows messages were cryptic.

I contacted Xerox, was told that they don’t have a Yosemite driver, no idea when or if they will. Sure makes you all warm and fuzzy with their products. I scanned every message board I could find, looked at the console error messages. It looked like where the Xerox drivers were installed was different than what the OS wanted. Beyond, I had no clue.

Plainly the issue started with Xerox, and Apple finished it.

Tonight I was wandering the forums again, because the one Yosemite Mac I have actually did print without an error until tonight. Had to get this fixed. And then I found it. Turns out it’s Apples sandboxing. The fix is two lines in the Terminal app.

sudo sh -c 'echo "Sandboxing Off" >> /etc/cups/cups-files.conf'
sudo launchctl stop org.cups.cupsd

I immediately searched for Sandboxing and printing, came across a number of others who used “Sandboxing Relaxed”. No, I’m quite happy to be printing finally, as are a number of Kodak users from the sound of it, so Sandboxing can stay off.

If you’re a little worried about security, although I’m not sure how you can use the words “Internet” and “Security” in the same sentence, then try the “relaxed” option first. Me, I have work to do so what I don’t need is some OS getting in my way of that because “it” thinks it’s doing something useful.