Butterfly roundup request

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#1
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I've been trying to follow passionate Butterfly discussions lately, but they tend to get really off hand or sink down to some very detailed specifics of particular users' circumstances. I personally don't have any Butterflies and hardly ever will. But a friend of mine, who's absolutely new to microcontroller and any hardware stuff in general, recently bought a Butterfly...

So the question is: what to be aware of, how to avoid the hand of doom? I realize there are older versions of firmware, Dean's BUTTLOAD, something else perhaps.. But is there some kind of short non-emotional introductory summary, or a tutorial about getting started with a Butterfly?

The Dark Boxes are coming.

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Last Edited: Tue. Mar 14, 2006 - 02:17 PM
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Smiley, my post is not really symptomatic and provocative and is not a sign of panic.
It just happens so that a friend of mine is going to start with a Butterfly and I think it's pretty normal to inquiry if there are any potential problems. The power issue, for example, is very good to know. This is very much appreciated.

As for pointing fingers in directions, I can make my own personal judgements.

Thank you!

The Dark Boxes are coming.

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But you presumably have the wherewithal to ISP it back into life for him should the (unlikely) worst ever happen so he's no real need to worry has he?

But like Joe says the Butterfly still remains the perfect starting place for a home hobbyist to learn about micro programming and in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, as long as they know about the existence of freaks.net then there'll hopefully be someone to help them out anyway

For example, if anyone in the UK ever "loses" a Butterfly I'd be more than happy to sort it out for them if they don't mind being without it for a few days and posting it (I'm sure our company wouldn't mind covering the return post costs either!)

But maybe someone should suggest to Dean that his next project should be a more robust bootloader (though it sounds like the old one, that can't blitz the fuses, might already be the solution?)

Cliff

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Last Edited: Tue. Mar 14, 2006 - 02:18 PM
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I think I have all the material in the posts on the three threads. It sounds like the whole problem is unstable voltage from the coin cell when using lots of RS232, as mentioned many times long before the resent explosion.

I have several things to say about the threads but they do not belong in a TECHNICAL forum.

I meant recent! sorry

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My point was to let people sum up potential issues in a new thread: clean, to the point and free of emotion..
But the request was too early I guess :)

@Smiley: it's cool.. But how about writing a summary in the tutorials section? Even if it as short and simple as "Make sure your power source is clean and is above 2.7V", plus pointers to your Quick Start guide?

The Dark Boxes are coming.

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svofski wrote:
@Smiley: it's cool.. But how about writing a summary in the tutorials section? Even if it as short and simple as "Make sure your power source is clean and is above 2.7V", plus pointers to your Quick Start guide?

[edit] https://www.avrfreaks.net/index.p... [/edit]

Thanks,
Smiley

Last Edited: Tue. Mar 14, 2006 - 02:19 PM
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Quote:
or if you use a noisy wall wart.

I have added a 100uf cap under my butterfly...so now if
I get the problem again we will know it can occur even if
power from a wart is not interrupted. :)

:hint for newbies...if you use a walwart and a regulator to power
the butterfly please add a small capacitor (like a 100uf) at the point
where the power connects to the butterfly..this will add a bit
of ballast and smoothing for the dc.

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clawson wrote:

Quote:
But maybe someone should suggest to Dean that his next project should be a more robust bootloader.

I can't see where Dean is at fault here! For the past couple of months Dean, with his BUTTLoad project, has been making a huge contribution toward solving the problem.

My hat's off to you Dean!!!

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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I agree. Personally, I think Dean should win the grand prize for "killer app" of the year :-)

There's no place like ~/

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I did not interpret the clawson post you quote as negative...the way I interpreted it was , I think clawson was hoping maybe that IF the problem is the bootloader code itself then maybe someone as experienced as Dean with the Buttload project and the Butterfly could also help with a better bootloader in the future!!!! :)

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microcarl wrote:
clawson wrote:
Quote:
But maybe someone should suggest to Dean that his next project should be a more robust bootloader.

I can't see where Dean is at fault here! For the past couple of months Dean, with his BUTTLoad project, has been making a huge contribution toward solving the problem.

My hat's off to you Dean!!!


I think you might have misinterpreted Cliff's post, Carl. I think he meant "more robust than the one supplied with the butterfly" rather than "more robust than the one he's written already"
I think everybody's hat's off to Dean, especially clawson's. He has been encouraging and supportive of Dean throughout.
Edit: Must learn to type faster!

Four legs good, two legs bad, three legs stable.

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Here are my thoughts from the other-side-of-the-fence...

Let your friend know AHEAD OF TIME about the little programming glitch and that his BF might lock-up on him. That way he won't spend days (like I did) re-installing software, re-building cables, checking and re-checking manuals and documentation trying to figure-out where the problem originates.

My pesonal experience leads me the same conclusion as Smiley, that a weak battery is at fault. I had been programming and re-programming the problem butterflies for a few hours before the problem first appeared and at the time I was writing noise-maker programs that were surely wearing the batteries down. Upon replacing the batteries I could audibly hear the difference so the batteries were definately weak when the glitch happened.

I think it was Smiley that suggested an external batter, so that's what I did. I made a small connector from ISP port to small external 3-Volt battery-pack (going to the Vcc and GND pins) and also installed a very convenient reset button on it (between RST pin and GND/NEG post of battery). That way your friend can be sure of a good strong and clean battery supply as well a great little reset switch which he will need everytime he wants to upload a program and also when he wants to boot-start his own programs.

So that's my worthless little piece of advice, I hope it doesn't offend anyone.

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Personally, I think a good amount of confusion could be avoided if Dean backs off just a tiny bit from his incessant ads for his "one Butterfly loading another Butterfly" software.

While it may help some people who wish to accomplish that specific task, the constant references make it sound like you have to use it in order to use the Butterfly at all, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Plus, the name and icon he chose, and all the associated toilet and / or fag humor is just out of place in a forum devoted to successful professional or hobbyist use of this very neat microcontroller architecture.

Don't get me wrong, I do have some sense of humor, but it just conveys the totally wrong image when other people are looking over your shoulder.

Fact of the matter is that there are lots of great tools out there to program a Butterfly. My preference is via JTAG.

So Dean, if you must refer to this all the time, could we please have a more descriptive, and perhaps more professional name and icon? And could you please make sure that newbies don't get confused about what your program is designed for, and what the proper tools for programming are?

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I personally like the name dean has chosen and I think more than anything, the functionality of a project is much more important than the name. I don't know where you get the "fag humour" from, I really don't think it sounds good to refer to anything as "fag humour".

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John_A_Brown wrote:
microcarl wrote:
clawson wrote:
Quote:
But maybe someone should suggest to Dean that his next project should be a more robust bootloader.

I can't see where Dean is at fault here! For the past couple of months Dean, with his BUTTLoad project, has been making a huge contribution toward solving the problem.

My hat's off to you Dean!!!


I think you might have misinterpreted Cliff's post, Carl. I think he meant "more robust than the one supplied with the butterfly" rather than "more robust than the one he's written already"
I think everybody's hat's off to Dean, especially clawson's. He has been encouraging and supportive of Dean throughout.
Edit: Must learn to type faster!

John,

I have to concede!!! I mistook Clawson's statement completely.

I appologize Clawson for my un-warrented comments.

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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Dean did a good job in name choosing.......IMHO. What sticks in your head better, Butteerfly Program Loader or ButtLoad. That is what marketing is all about. Example:MP3 players...iPod is the first thing that comes to people's mind. Besides It has saved RetroDan by reviving his BFs.


My AVR Site

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Microcarl, Clawson, et al:

Thanks for the encouragement! RetroDan discovered yesterday as I was helping him that the latest ButtLoad releases are so big they no longer fit in with the honking great big Bootloder (2Kb). I'm fixing the problem along with the support for old AVRs (which I believe is corrected in my in-work version). I've been using my new JTAG ICE to program my butterflies for so long I never noticed the size overlapping the bootloader size.

As for a new bootloader, I might give it a go, although the older official one shouldn't have the locking problem. However, if I can rewrite it to be smaller, that would be a plus.

RayKAvr:

Sorry if you feel that way. I'll stop recommending ButtLoad to people if you feel it is inappropriate - and i'll even create a new avitar if you can suggest what you think is more appropriate.

Also, while ButtLoad can be used to reprogram (and thus repair) other Butterflies, it will happily program any AVR.

LCD:

Quite right. The original name was "ButtProg", but I changed to "ButtLoad" because I thought it was humerous and would stick in people's heads better. If anyone takes offense to the name feel free to call it ButtProg instead.

- Dean :twisted:

EDIT: Fag humour?! :shock:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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RayKAvr wrote:
Personally, I think a good amount of confusion could be avoided if Dean backs off just a tiny bit from his incessant ads for his "one Butterfly loading another Butterfly" software.

While it may help some people who wish to accomplish that specific task, the constant references make it sound like you have to use it in order to use the Butterfly at all, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Plus, the name and icon he chose, and all the associated toilet and / or fag humor is just out of place in a forum devoted to successful professional or hobbyist use of this very neat microcontroller architecture.

Don't get me wrong, I do have some sense of humor, but it just conveys the totally wrong image when other people are looking over your shoulder.

Fact of the matter is that there are lots of great tools out there to program a Butterfly. My preference is via JTAG.

So Dean, if you must refer to this all the time, could we please have a more descriptive, and perhaps more professional name and icon? And could you please make sure that newbies don't get confused about what your program is designed for, and what the proper tools for programming are?

@Ray

If this forum were to be "as dry" (pro) as you suggests , then it would be unbearable to be here. You express your selve as if you speak on the behalf of more people

Quote:
could we please have
.
Who are they ???.

So far i have only seen people supporting Dean , and i must admit i have contributed to the "bad..bad humour" , so maybe im not acting professional. But it has been educational and fun to be a member here ,and i do hope it will continue this way.

If i need some humourless time , then i'll just read the datasheet.

/Bingo

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I actually like humour, however he may have a point. I've removed my avitar as you can see pending redesign into something less offensive. I must say i'm still at a loss as to what exactly about my project leads to "fag humour". Rear-related humour I DO see though...

And yes, thanks for all the support thus-far. I just found my first post before on the 7th of December, concering what would become Buttload :D.

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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Hey dean :)

Don't stress out about the buttload avatar....
Maybe find a cuter butt though...I was getting kind of
tired of seeing that manakin butt :)

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I shall refrain from postulating that we use your rear instead :D.

BUTT seriously, if you think you can make a better one, i'd love to see it!

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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I'm all for BUTTLOAD. Please no name changes, although a less ancient-greek-themed avatar is welcome. There's nothing "fag" in a butt per se. I won't quote a quite appropriate Tiger Lillies song here, but one has to confess -- if you don't have one, it feels like a mistake :D

Regarding the topic though, thank you everybody. Responses in this thread finally made Butterfly-related things clear to me.

The Dark Boxes are coming.

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The Buttload name is cool...and must remain.

I tried to find a better pic for you but...
It is very hard to find a butt pic that works
for this and is also not offensive in some way!?!

Maybe no butt pic at all ...just make a cool
avatar with two words...one above the other

BUTT
LOAD

Maybe make it an animated gif that changes
colors...like a blinking neon sign or something.

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I was just thinking of a hilarious avitar for me....How to Solder....as an animated gif. I'm going to start working on it tommorow as is is 2:40 AM here and I *should* be getting some sleep.....

EDIT:EDIT2:Edited as it might have ben 'ofensive' to some people


My AVR Site

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Quote:
Maybe make it an animated gif that changes
colors...like a blinking neon sign or something.

There are not many things in this world that are more offensive than blinking animated gifs.

Butt is such an idiosyncratic piece of body, it doesn't have to be shown in its entirety. A couple of curved lines may succeed, but it matters what curves those are, choose wisely.

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The Dark Boxes are coming.

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bluegoo wrote:
I did not interpret the clawson post you quote as negative...the way I interpreted it was , I think clawson was hoping maybe that IF the problem is the bootloader code itself then maybe someone as experienced as Dean with the Buttload project and the Butterfly could also help with a better bootloader in the future!!!! :)

Indeed, I think Carl misunderstood my post (EDIT: Just read further through this thread - no problem Carl!). Dean is the world renowned King of the Butterfly and was recently asking "what do I next now that Buttload is working well?". My suggestion to him is that the world and its wife would thank anybody who took the time out to develop a non locking bootloader for the Butterfly but, as I said, maybe the old version that didn't contain lockbit code to be used is the simplest solution? (so that let's Dean off the hook!).

I haven't looked at it myself but in the current one I can't help wondering if a small mod to the existing bootloader code that added another level of protection to the lock bit setting code might be the answer. Have the code keep another global variable and have an added sequence to set this in one place before the set bits code is called and then the set bit code checks this before continuing. If the routine was called inadvertently from another place as a result of running wild during brownout or whatever then hopefully that extra flag would not also be set at that time and the dangerous operation wouldn't be performed. Then again, if the rogue jump is to the point at which this setting routine is called it might just jump into the added code that set the flag - so it probably needs some additional design work!

Cliff

Last Edited: Wed. Mar 1, 2006 - 11:31 AM
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RayKAvr wrote:
Personally, I think a good amount of confusion could be avoided if Dean backs off just a tiny bit from his incessant ads for his "one Butterfly loading another Butterfly" software.

Just to put the record straight on this one but I think you'll find that most of the "ads" for Buttload aren't posted by Dean but by ME as I have the chronological advantage of being awake when the majority of European and US posters are awake and posting problems while Australia remains in darkness. For a lot of people a Butterfly+Buttload IS the answer to their problems if they need a well designed, cheap and readily available ISP solution to dig a "lost" AVR out of the mire. And I'll continue to suggest it I'm afraid because I STILL think it's one of the most useful Academy projects ever posted. One of the beauties of Buttload is that it can give you a completely standalone ISP solution so if you have some weather monitoring device out in the field (and I mean a big green field!) you don't even need to take a laptop along to repair its programming just a little device you can slip into your pocket.

( And personally I think Dean's previous Avatar and the name "buttload" are great but thankfully I was blessed with a sense of humour ;) )

Cliff

Last Edited: Wed. Mar 1, 2006 - 11:41 AM
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Has anyone written a Butterfly LCD driver in C before, apart from the one used in the Butterfly app code? In order to cut down on ButtLoad's size, I just rewrote the basic driver (good for displaying scrolling or static strings stored in flash or SRAM only, plus adjusting the contrast). It's smaller, nicer, and above all a lot faster. My code processes the string as much as possible before storing it into buffers, so that the LCD interrupt only has to do minimal processing to display it (scrolling or otherwise). It's not polished yet, but in the end it should be a suitable replacement.

Cliff, "King of the Butterfly?" I don't think so - i've just got more free time than the average bloke!

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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abcminiuser wrote:
Cliff, "King of the Butterfly?" I don't think so - i've just got more free time than the average bloke!

Ah but also probably more experience of programming most of the available peripherals on a Butterfly than most people too?

Cliff

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abcminiuser wrote:
I shall refrain from postulating that we use your rear instead :D.

BUTT seriously, if you think you can make a better one, i'd love to see it!

- Dean :twisted:

Well let's see, a few quick google searches........

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RayKAvr wrote:
Personally, I think a good amount of confusion could be avoided if Dean backs off just a tiny bit from his incessant ads for his "one Butterfly loading another Butterfly" software.

Dean's posts are not 'ads' - his project is free and every post I've read has being part of technical exchanges on the project - exactly what we do here.

RayKAvr wrote:

Plus, the name and icon he chose, and all the associated toilet and / or fag humor is just out of place in a forum devoted to successful professional or hobbyist use of this very neat microcontroller architecture. Don't get me wrong, I do have some sense of humor, but it just conveys the totally wrong image when other people are looking over your shoulder.

I'm a sucessful professional AND a hobbyist and >I< think Dean's humor is slicker than snot on a banna peel.

RayKAvr wrote:

Fact of the matter is that there are lots of great tools out there to program a Butterfly. My preference is via JTAG.

Goody, goody... mine isn't.

RayKAvr wrote:

So Dean, if you must refer to this all the time, could we please have a more descriptive, and perhaps more professional name and icon? And could you please make sure that newbies don't get confused about what your program is designed for, and what the proper tools for programming are?

There is no way to keep newbies from getting confused. Anymore than you can keep a baby from shitting his pants.

Dean is doing something amazing here and should be encouraged. I'd be delighted to see a dozen more enthusiasts doing similar projects.

It is really a shame that Dean has allowed one person to affect him as much as seems to have happened on this thread. Personally, if I don't get slammed at least once a day, I figure I'm not trying hard enough. I hope Dean can adopt more of this kind of attitude since critics are everywhere and will suck you like a hemophiliac vampire until you are as dry as dust, or humorless as at least one unnamed folk here.

Smiley

Last Edited: Wed. Mar 1, 2006 - 06:10 PM
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I can also offer a Stork butt from an animation I made long ago. Completely royalty-free.

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The Dark Boxes are coming.

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Or, here's another flying butt

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I bet the front side of that huge butt owner is not as cute as this :)

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The Dark Boxes are coming.

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Dean, thanks for the avatar and also thanks for all your contributions. I'm looking forward to the improved LCD software, when polished.

I think it's great to let people know about all the improvements.

For newbies it is also important to know what the officially recommended tools are, to get a reference point on where to start or what to fall back on if enhancements aren't suitable for their environment.

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Don't forget to get the book "C Programming for Microcontrollers"

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What if your an ASM progammer?

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Gosh Ollie, I think I will read that book on C. Ok Stanley. Ollie? Yes Stanley. Have you ever thought about branching out a bit, to widen your knowledge in the embedded field? Stanley! If I told you once, I've told you a million times, C is a passing phase! I'm staying with ASM! Oh, ok Ollie. Well, see you later then.

Life is for learning! It's almost funny how we keep getting the same lessons over and over again until we learn them.

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I have contracted with Dean to assist me in the development of my product. I just can't believe my good fortune in finding someone so passionate about learning and doing!

@Dean: If you do nothing, there will never be topics written on what you have done!

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Thanks for the very kinds words all. I've worked hard, and the ego boosts help me greatly!

The ButtLoad name is staying, however if RayKAvr can design me a ButtLoad-related avitar which he deems is more appropriate i'd be happy to use that. Failing that, it's back to my greek-themed one i'm afraid. I'll put a bow-tie on it if you think it'll be better :D.

Zoom, nice new avitar. Yes, it's scary but i'm already moving onto a commercial project (albeit a small part of it, i'm not THAT good yet!) with Zoom as my dictator/sensei/boss. Neat!

Controversy is good - it gets people talking about it. Viral marketing!

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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zoomcityzoom wrote:
Gosh Ollie, I think I will read that book on C. Ok Stanley. Ollie? Yes Stanley. Have you ever thought about branching out a bit, to widen your knowledge in the embedded field? Stanley! If I told you once, I've told you a million times, C is a passing phase! I'm staying with ASM! Oh, ok Ollie. Well, see you later then.

Life is for learning! It's almost funny how we keep getting the same lessons over and over again until we learn them.

Please, no need to try and insult me like that in public. I'm sorry, I just come from another era when real men didn't eat quiche and real programmers did it is ASM and wouldn't be caught dead programming in lower case. I know that makes me a dinosaur of a bygone era.

I've used C many times over the years and just think that counting braces and looking for null pointers is a pain in the ButtLoad. For me C is far too cryptic and I have trouble even understanding my own code after a few weeks. I like assembler and prefer to use it by personal choice as a hobby, so please, I don't want to spark any flamewars, I was just curioius as to if there was a good book/source for those of us stupid enough to want to bit-diddle with an AVR in Assember.

TTFN

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Let me tell you folks...

I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have lived here for 11 years. I feel like I live on an island over here. I have been looking, for all of those 11 years, for someone who could participate in my hobby at even the entry level. There just isn't anyone around here that I know of that is even remotely interested in electronics, let allone embedded controls.

I wouldn't know how to contain myself if there was someone of Deans caliper who lived around here. Lets face it! Dean is only 17 years old and he is pretty much out-shining most of us that have been "tinkering" with this stuff for many years. And Gwen and LCDAVR4me aren't far behind him!

Is it just jeoulesy on the part of some or pregidous, I don't know.

Dean, Gwen, LCDAVR4me, you are our future. Give it your all and DON'T let the ney-sayers discourage you from your asperations. There are plenty of people that will go out of their way to discourage you! But too, there are even more that will go out of their way to encourage you, as well. Stick with the winners - those who will build you up, and stay away from those who will make every attempt to tear you down!

I see nothing wrong with your avitar, the name BUTTload, or your sense of humor. It's a bit refreshing, actually.

Thanks for being so willing to give of yourself with your time and your labor in an effort to help the newbe, the ignorant, and less gifted. You are to be commended and you do command my respect!

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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@microcarl: I sure wouldn't mind having you for a neighbor! Let me know if you ever have plans to relocate to Spokane, WA. I'll help pack and drive the truck.

@RetroDan! Sorrrry. Maybe it's tied to the smelling smoke thing. Many times, I'll either read something or look at something and interpret what's there differently than most other people would. For instance, I walk up to a door that has a PUSH sign stuck to the glass but facing into the building. I just don't know what to do. Sometimes I'll stand there and try to picture the solution but more often than not, it's just faster to do the old push-then-pull maneuver. I always get the door open, but might be on the second try. This was a real problem at school. Most of my learning was done at home in my lab, office, workshop, or on the job. That's another story though. I'll also have to tell the one about being lost in a cave (the section of cave was called the "Devils Pinch" for almost three days.) So, I reread your post and the post that you were responding to. And now I see perfectly well, what you were asking for. :oops: Please accept my apology.

However, your whole era thing is BS. All of the REAL men and women were trying to develop an alternative to ASM. Just think about where computing would be today if ASM was the only choice for creating computer programs. Let's get real. OTOH, it's your hobby. Cool, ASM rocks! I really get a kick out of programming the ARM in ASM.

-Tom

Last Edited: Thu. Mar 2, 2006 - 06:54 AM
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Thanks Microcarl, very uplifting. We do our best to not make our generation look like a bunch of lazy slackers. That reminds me, I need to to my Chemisty homework.... :D.

I think i'll restore my avitar to its former (debatable) glory.

EDIT: Question removed, solved (I think)

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

Last Edited: Thu. Mar 2, 2006 - 06:16 AM
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zoomcityzoom wrote:

Quote:
@microcarl: I sure wouldn't mind having you for a neighbor! Let me know if you ever have plans to relocate to Spokane, WA. I'll help pack and drive the truck.

I have a son in the U.S. army up at Ft. Lewis, WA. He's been trying to get me to move up there. I have been to WA once and I didn't want to leave. I'd go but, job and house payments just won't let that happen right now.

You could always move down here! Smiley's even close by - about 200 miles, I think.

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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My wife's family live an Cleveland and have always wanted us to move there. Once I get this business up and running with a profit, with how I've structured things, it wont really make any difference where we are. As long as I have an Internet connection and a cell phone, it's business as usual.

I want to live next to Smiley too! Maybe we could start a AVRFreaks Intentional Living Community! We could support the spouses, kid's and grandkids off of profit from our joint products. Does that sound right?

Tom

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Thanks for the kind words Carl. :)

>sigh< No one else lives in the Big Easy here but me :(
(If I'm wrong SPEAK UP!!!)>/sigh<


My AVR Site

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zoomcityzoom wrote:

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I want to live next to Smiley too! Maybe we could start a AVRFreaks Intentional Living Community! We could support the spouses, kid's and grandkids off of profit from our joint products. Does that sound right?

Come on down! We could make a fortune together...

LCD,

I will always support young people making an effort to be the best that they possibly can be...

You could always move up here too!

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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The only depressing thing is that LCD, Gwen, and Dean are all younger than my youngest, and added all together still don't add up to me, I think :shock:

For what it's worth, at their age, or somewhat younger, I was introduced to electronics by my late godfather (let me make you an offer...) when we built a cat's whisker radio - genuine ship's crystal, with switch selected spare. With yards and yards of aeriel wire it did very well at picking up Radio 4.

From there I ended up joining the BBC as an engineering trainee. We were taught electronics and broadcast engineering, and the only bit of microprocessor instruction occurred *after* the final exam. The session was not well attended... but I asked for a micro course, and when it didn't happen I taught myself and ended up designing several micro-based projects, some of which ran unchanged and unbroken for fifteen years. (When I did finally get the micro course I'd been promised, I wrote a dissassembler while the rest of the class were still thinking about 'this is the LD instruction' and when one of the instructors went sick the next day I ended up as a temporary unpaid instructor :))

From there I have had a number of other engineering jobs in the BBC - including engineer in charge at a local radio station - and eventually arrived in the World Service, where I was responsible for maintenance of sixty-odd overseas sites - and I would be expected to get out there and fix it, whatever the fault was... Lizard in your sound desk? Certainly sir...

My last job in the BBC was as a project manager, mostly building overseas TV and Radio studios, right up to when they sold me to Siemens.

And all this from a passing interest in a lump of galena...

I think what I'm trying to say here is - like Carl says - is that all the youngsters need is that first flicker of interest, and the support from people like us who have been there and done it and generally managed to survive the experience. Any help I can give is theirs... People like LCD and Dean and Gwen are the people who will be designing the tools and toys we'll be using in our dotage - let's help them to get it right!

Neil

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