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Tue, Apr. 5th, 2011, 09:31 pm
Price for trip to space drops

New price for a seat could be as low as $500,000 per person, or the price of an expensive home in the city.

After today's news from SpaceX about their new numbers for their Falcon Heavy rocket, I've crunched some quick numbers and it looks to me like you could stick a capsule the size and weight of a 737-300 (51,000 kg), which holds 150 people. Assuming a reusable capsule, the cost per person for the Falcon Heavy launch would then be about $500k.

If they get the reusable boosters worked out on the Falcon as they plan, that could offset the cost of the capsule.

Still not something most people could afford, but it is a price that a company may be willing to invest to send workers.

Mon, Feb. 21st, 2011, 07:55 pm
Fit-PC2i wireless

It looks the instructions I needed below for wireless setup were at http://wiki.debian.org/rt2870sta

I did have to blacklist the rt2800usb driver by putting "blacklist rt2800usb" in a new file at /etc/modprobe.d/rt2800usb.conf



Add a "non-free" component to /etc/apt/sources.list, for example:

# Debian Squeeze/6.0
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian squeeze main contrib non-free


Update the list of available packages and install the firmware-ralink and wireless-tools packages:

aptitude update
aptitude install firmware-ralink wireless-tools

3. If not already performed, connect the device to your system.

The necessary kernel module should be automatically loaded. If necessary, it can be manually loaded via:

modprobe rt2870sta


Verify your device has an available interface:



Raise the interface to activate the radio, for example:

ifconfig wlan0 up


Configure your wireless interface as appropriate.

Sun, Feb. 20th, 2011, 10:46 pm
FitPC2i video on Debian

Finally seem to have gotten my new fit-pc2i system to get the video drivers installed and working under Debian Squeeze thanks to a couple of different postings:

http://wiki.debian.org/IntelEmbeddedMediaGraphicsDriver provided a link to Intel's EMGD driver, which contained a Debian 6.0 driver buried inside the .exe installer that needed the wiki's instructions to compile.

This seemed to install just fine, but I couldn't get X to do anything constructive until I stumbled across the following pasted /etc/X11/xorg.conf for the fit-pc that was posted at http://pastebin.com/9TD4nbsZ. With this it all seems to have fallen into place:

Section "ServerLayout"
        Identifier     "X.org Configured"
        Screen      0  "Screen0" 0 0
        InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
        InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier  "Keyboard0"
        Driver      "kbd"
Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier  "Mouse0"
        Driver      "mouse"
        Option      "Protocol" "auto"
        Option      "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
        Option      "ZAxisMapping" "4 5 6 7"
Section "Monitor"
        Identifier   "Monitor0"
        VendorName   "Monitor Vendor"
        ModelName    "Monitor Model"
# Primary (First/only) display
Section "Device"
    Identifier "Card0"
    Driver     "emgd"
    VendorName "Intel(R) DEG"
    BoardName  "Embedded Graphics"
    BusID      "0:2:0"
    Screen      0
#    VideoRam   32768
    Option     "PcfVersion"            "1792"
    Option     "ConfigId"              "1"
    Option     "SWCursor"              "true"
    Option     "ALL/1/name"                   "fit-PC2 "
    Option     "ALL/1/General/PortOrder"      "20000"
    Option     "ALL/1/General/DisplayConfig"  "1"
    Option     "ALL/1/General/DisplayDetect"  "1"
    Option     "ALL/1/General/xVideo"         "1"
    Option     "ALL/1/General/XVideoBlend"    "0"
    Option     "ALL/1/General/DRI"            "1"
    Option     "ALL/1/Port/2/General/name"           "DVI"
    Option     "ALL/1/Port/2/General/EdidAvail"      "2"
    Option     "ALL/1/Port/2/General/EdidNotAvail"   "1"
    Option     "ALL/1/Port/2/General/Rotation"       "0"
    Option     "ALL/1/Port/2/General/Edid"           "1"
    Option     "PortDrivers"           "sdvo"
Section "Screen"
        Identifier "Screen0"
        Device     "Card0"
        Monitor    "Monitor0"
        DefaultDepth    24
        SubSection "Display"
                Depth           24
                Modes           "1920x1080"
Section "DRI"
        Group 0
        Mode 0666
Section "Extensions"
        Option  "Composite" "enable"
Section "ServerFlags"
        Option "DontZap" "false"
        Option "GlxVisuals" "all"
        Option "IgnoreABI" "true"

Sat, Jul. 25th, 2009, 08:57 pm
Finally working on some projects again

It's been a long time since I did anything electronic, but I finally sat down this weekend and got the photocell light sensor put together to control a set of motors. The point of this is so a simple robot can roll forwards until the photocell goes dark when it hits something, then it can turn and back up before continuing again.

I'm using an op-amp to detect when the light passes a threshold, and it took some playing with to get it to interface with TTL logic so I could get some inverters to provide linked Forward and Backwards signals to send to an H-Bridge to control the motors.

At first I was trying the recommended resister values between the op-amp and the inverters, but got nowhere with getting that to work, but after some experimenting I got some completely different values to work. I need to refine the circuit to get rid of both the potentiometers, but at least it works now and I can control the motor direction by shading the photocell. I'll also remove most of the indicator LEDs once I've got everything refined.


Fri, Jul. 10th, 2009, 11:18 pm
some research for a future project



1960 American women trained but then told not wanted in space.
1963 Valentina Tereshkova

.. moon landings ..

1982 Svetlana Savitskaya
1983 Sally K. Ride

1980 Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez
1980 Phạm Tuân
1983 Guion Bluford
1986 Franklin Chang-Dìaz

Thu, Oct. 23rd, 2008, 01:18 am
Zeppelin - missed it by that much.

One of the only three Zeppelins in the world right now is parked down the road in Tucson tonight and I can't justify going down to see it because I have lots of stuff at work I have to take care of tomorrow:


Sun, Oct. 19th, 2008, 03:23 am

So because my brother sent me a free trial of World of Warcraft, I gave it a try. It worked surprisingly well on my 800MHZ, 384MB RAM, 24-bit color Windows 2000 PC. It had a little trouble when I went into some of the capital cities when there were tons of players around, but otherwise worked perfectly.

I really don't want to be wasting time on WoW, so I'm not going to get a subscription. Over the last week I poked around a little at some of the other free MMORPGs, and none of them even slightly worked on my PC. Either they didn't like Windows 2000 or barfed on 24-bit color. Most of them wouldn't even tell me why they bombed out.

That's pretty pathetic programming for all these other games since WoW seems to have much higher quality game graphics and should have had much higher system requirements.

Tue, Apr. 1st, 2008, 10:45 pm
Google's joke

This would be completely awesome if it was real.

It's a pretty simple plan, and if an organization like Google.org were to organize it, I'm sure they'd get enough volunteers and donors to get something started. If they were serious about it, I'd give it time and money.

Mon, Dec. 4th, 2006, 06:50 am
Grand Challenge Fallout

Oshkosh wins contract for robotic trucks.

Although Stanley was cool, Oshkosh's TerraMax was always my favorite contestant in the DARPA Grand Challege.

Tue, Nov. 14th, 2006, 05:41 am
Not just vaporware anymore

Amazon's founder tests rocket.

I'll keep supporting Amazon.com if this is where some of their profits go.

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