Power in the future!?

I had written a comment on a MOOC just now but I feel quite attached to it and it would be a shame not to share these concepts here.
It was part of a discussion of technology in mains power and its future. There’s a few concepts which I mention which I think people may like to discuss further so tell me what you think, here’s it copied and pasted below:
“I think it may be a thing that the frequency of AC is likely to change. We have power at 50Hz AC but switching frequencies of a few thousand Hz can be more efficient when transforming, and they need smaller transformers too. Switch mode power supplies are why we rarely see those chunky charges and adaptors anymore. As we find a lot of things using switch mode power supplies, to produce lower dc voltages, we might find it helpful to have most of the components integrated into the plug socket and the device sending information back to the socket telling it how much voltage it needs.
I’d be very happy to not have to carry around as chunky a charger we have to now.
As for wireless electricity, I think it’s incredibly wasteful. A lot is wasted in heat and the power drops when moving coils a short distance away. I think we’re sticking with wired until technology gets better.
Maybe the answer to wireless power is light. Specifically infra red light focused onto a sort of solar panel on the device. Using infra red will stop us from getting blinded by the extra energy about.”

Tell me what you think about any of the points, and if you have ideas for the future of mains please share them.

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Finally got the touchscreen shield to work

st7783 TFTtouchscreen

I recently bought a 2.8″ lcd tft touchscreen shield off ebay. I was tempted by the incredible value of the thing, it only cost a fiver and I assumed it must have been based on one of the many existing touch screen shields on the market and be easy to get it set up and running on my Arduino Uno. It was more of an adventure than I had anticipated and I thought it’d be nice, to anyone still scratching their heads over a similar problem, that I outline some of the things I’d found helpful.

My shield was made by a company which had stuck the website, http://www.mcufriend.com on the back of the board. There I had found a download page which had a couple of .rar compressed files that supposedly had the libraries needed to run the shield. Unfortunately, not only the files are not easily extractable on linux systems, when I found a windows computer to extract it, it popped up an error that the file was corrupted.

I though I’d check the blog listed on the bottom of the download page, where there was an altered TFTLCD library to try out. There was a helpful little snippet of code which had helped identify the screen type. These shields could be made with a range of different screens, which are not completely compatible with each other. Running the example found in this library the screen displayed something, but not the right thing. The graphics test had lines drawn staggered when they shouldn’t have been, and a brief yellow box was filled with lines that looked out of place. Adding the snippet of code I spotted the serial monitor told me the screen was not recognised as the ili9325 it was expecting, but it did end up spitting out the numbers 7783. I had the data sheet for the other screen type, the ST7781, open on a tab and figured it was part of the same family.

Searching it in google I came across a thread on arduino forums http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?PHPSESSID=19kd4ik981bc12rs105dhpdlr5&topic=223769.15 which had a compressed library half way down the page st7783.zip. Extracting this to my arduino library folder, I felt was closer to getting the screen working correctly.

I had a look at some of the examples but disappointingly got the same irregular behaviour. I had a feeling it was a by-product of how the arduino IDE looks for included libraries. I had a TFTLCD folder in my libraries folder already which had previously not worked. I decided to replace the files within that folder with the new ones of the same name found in the st7783 folder. Uploading the tftpaint example to the UNO showed the display I had been looking for all along.

If you had an error saying the Point class doesn’t exist, you might have the adafruit version of the TouchScreen library, which has the class as TSPoint instead. Try change it in the sketch and see if that works. The touch pad was rotated 180 degrees from the display so adding tft.setRotation(2); in the setup before tft.initDisplay(); will line the two up again.

Hope these tips helps you when using this shield! Leave a comment if you like and I’ll see if I can help.

Multitouch processing sketches in browser

I found my way back to the studio sketchpad website today, and came across a simple sketch which I had made a while back. I had originally made it for the iPhone, but now I have an Android phone and was wondering if it still worked. All it does is take a number of touch points on the screen then draws a circle at the point with a particular colour corresponding to the number of touch points. The first finger would be red, the next yellow then green, blue and purple. Follow the link with your mobile phone and have a scribble; http://studio.sketchpad.cc/sp/pad/view/ro.9IElcoyTysAMg/rev.900

No joy for IDE

Yesterday I finally heard back for an opportunity to study a course that I felt could take my life in a fun and interesting direction. Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) is a course that is run by the Royal College of Arts (RCA) and Imperial College London that gets together clever thinkers from many different fields to dream up and make amazing products that can change the future of the world. As you might have already guessed from the title of this post, I didn’t get the reply I had hoped for. They did however say that I have been put on the reserve list, but it’s hard to tell whether that could amount to anything.

Those that see me often, would know I have been growing my beard for a while. Well you guys will be amazed to see me next, as I’ve cut it off. Yep, My chin is bald. It a bit of a silly thing, but I don’t think I’m the only one to do it; when something doesn’t quite go your way, and I feel like you need a little wake up and a change of direction, I change my look a bit. I don’t quite know why I make such a connection with my look and my life, but I do. I’m brought back to the interview when I was asked “If you don’t get into the course, what will you do?”, and I answered, ” I’ll carry on making things and hope people will notice I make awesome stuff”. I do make some interesting things, but I not very good at sitting down and writing about them.

So that will be my change, I make more of an effort to update you guys on my little projects, the places I go and other things I think you might find interesting. How else will the world find out about this stuff!?

Firstly sorry about being a bit rubbish on uploading content, I need to get back in the habit of writing about what I’m up to. Anyway, I recorded this video a while back and didn’t upload it because my breathing was too loud (I found a way to get rid of it, so don’t turn up your volume to hear my hypnotic sounds). Enough for my insecurities, this is a demonstration of a really cool way of doing the famous iodine clock experiment. One of the chemicals (sodium thiosulphate) in this version of the iodine clock experiment can determine the time it takes for the solution to magically turn dark. So by adding a slightly different amount of it to each test tube, then mixing the two at the same time, the test tubes turn dark in a predictable order. The video is quite long so I don’t mind you skipping to about 5 min in. Enjoy!