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Pete Brown's Blog (POKE 53280,0)

Pete Brown writes on a variety of topics from XAML with the Windows Runtime (WinRT), .NET programming using C#, WPF, Microcontroller programming with .NET Microframework, .NET Gadgeteer, Windows on Devices, and even plain old C, to raising two children in the suburbs of Maryland, woodworking, CNC and generally "making physical stuff". Oh, and Pete loves retro technology, especially Commodore (C64 and C128). If the content interests you, please subscribe using the subscription link to the right of every page.

Archive for tag: Gadgets

  • LEAP Motion on Windows 8.1 for MIDI control and more

    I stopped into Best Buy yesterday and picked up something I had been considering toying with: a LEAP Motion. This is an interesting little $79 device which turns the airspace at your computer into a live space for interaction. It recognizes all ten fingers on your hands, differentiates between left and right hand, open and closed, and can read the pitch, roll, and yaw of your hand, pinc...

  • Get an AGENT Smart watch and help them get to 1MM

    If you're a Windows Phone (or iOS or Android) user and want a smart watch which you can program using .NET, then get into the AGENT watch kickstarter before it ends in just 4 days. You may know Secret Labs from their most popular NETMF product, the Netduino. I've always been a huge fan of their stuff. Community Secret labs has always made community a core part of their pr...

  • Maker Geek Roundup 017 for 1/22/2013

    The Maker Geek Roundup aggregates information of interest to makers everywhere. Topics include .NET Micro Framework, Arduino, AVR and other MCUs, CNC, 3d Printing, Robotics, Microsoft Robotics Studio, Electronics, General Maker stuff, and more. If you have something interesting you've done or have run across, or you blog regularly on the topics included here, please send me the URL and ...

  • Installing Unsigned Drivers on Windows 8 64 bit (or: how to get STM ST-Link working)

    I recently did some work on my MikroElektronika ARM development board. This was the first time I fired up the board on my Windows 8 system. Everything in the IDE worked fine until I tried to do some deploying and debugging on the board itself. It was then that I realized the board's driver wasn't correctly installed. I looked in the device manager and, sure enough, the board had the lit...

  • A MIDI clock pulse to analog sync voltage converter

    I have a few pieces of analog gear which either don't support MIDI, or simply work better with voltage control. This makes including them in a sequence difficult as timing of arpeggios or sequences will drift away from the rest of the performance. Not to mention that synchronizing them by ear is not a simple task in any case, and impossible to do in real-time if you want to adjust the t...

  • A ten-year-old’s excitement over Windows 8 and more

    My son is 6 1/2 and my daughter is 4. Today, my wife had some of my children's homeschool friends over. One of them is a 10 year old boy. He saw Windows 8 on my 6yo son's laptop upstairs and said "You have Windows 8?!?". He was very excited because he didn't have it yet himself. He started telling my son all about Windows 8 and what's coming. This is a 10 year old boy, mind you. UP...

  • Controlling a NETMF Gadgeteer Robot from a Windows 8 App

    At several recent events (VSLive Redmond, thatConference, the Heartland Developer Conference and more), I've had a neat little .NET Micro Framework robot with me. The remote control for the robot is a Windows 8 tablet running a simple Modern UI/Windows Store app I wrote in C#/XAML. The example shows both how you can use C# skills to build robots, and also how flexible the new Windows St...

  • Open Source Hardware and why you should care

    As software developers, we hear a lot about Open Source Software. I'm a big fan of OSS, and think it's one of the single most impactful things that has added to the collective knowledge of the developer community. Microsoft has several larger open source projects and software. For example, ASP.NET MVC is open source software, and the .NET Micro Framework is a full apache-license and com...

  • My new recording mic: Shure SM7B

    Over the Christmas break, I decided to replace my great Samson C01U mic with something a little more high end. Today was the first day I really got to try it out at work. Criteria I knew I wanted a new mic, but there were some specific things I was looking for. For the new one, I had the following criteria: Not a USB mic. Straight XLR Must sound good for close-talking voice o...

  • Alien Autopsy: Dissecting a Fijit Friends Sage

    I have a Fijit friend. There, I said it. I have a toy targeted to 9 year old girls. I have a toy my kids want. I have a toy I'm about to butcher in the name of …er … science. There. Doesn't she look so innocent and happy? You know, I bought this before they were a "hot toy" for Christmas 2011. If that makes me a hipster, pass the glasses. (And no, I didn't pay the outrageous p...

  • Building a MIDI Thru Box Part 7: Multiplexing Buttons with the Netduino

    I'm working on the user interface for my MIDI Thru Box, and will need some number of buttons on the front panel. I'm not sure how many yet, but it'll be at least four and maybe as many as eight. The thing is, I didn't want to use up eight IO ports on the Netduino just for handling buttons. A button is essentially a 1 bit value; it's either on or off. For the other installments in th...

  • Fun maker projects on my long-term backlog

    In addition to all the programming projects I have in my backlog, plus things like migrating my website to a new provider (and finishing migrating the old irritatedvowel hobby pages), I have a number of fun maker-type projects I want to work on in the near (and distant) future. In most cases, the projects would require learning something very new - that's the appeal. If I can't learn so...

  • Building a MIDI Thru Box Part 6: Rear Panel Cutouts and Board Mounting

    Today I spent a little time at the drill press in my shed, and made a huge mess with aluminum and cutting fluid. Before you read on, here are the other installments in this series. You may wish to look them over first. Part 1: Initial Circuit Design and Prototyping (also includes parts list and info about the rack case) Part 2: PCB Layout and Manufacturing Part 3: Manufa...

  • My .NET Rocks Interview

    Last month, I got to sit down and record a great interview with Carl and Richard of .NET Rocks. I had a great time chatting with them about everything from Silverlight and WPF to the Commodore 64 to the .NET Micro Framework, MIDI and manufacturing your own circuit board. Carl and Richard talk to Pete Brown from Microsoft about the cool things he's working on, including building a Co...

  • The Menchville High School FIRST Robotics Team

    While at MADExpo last week, I interviewed several members of the Menchville High School Robotics team. They brought their awesome robot to demo, and explained how the team and the program works. MADExpo 2011 Menchville Robotics Team I wish we had this when I was in high school! Of course, they'd have had to be steam powered back then ;)

  • Building a MIDI Thru Box Part 5: Circuit Board Assembly and Final Parts List

    The custom circuit board arrived from PCB-POOL while I was away at MADExpo. Of course, I couldn't wait to put it together. In this part of the series, I'll assemble the circuit board. For information on the previous steps, and more photos, please see these blog posts Part 1: Initial Circuit Design and Prototyping (also includes parts list and info about the rack case) Part 2: ...

  • Building a MIDI Thru Box Part 4: PCB Manufacturing WIP Update: Surface Finish

    Today, I received another update on the manufacturing process. The earlier update today was named "UV Curing" and arrived at 10am this one is named "Surface finishing" and arrived at 1pm (eastern). The update was sent by email as well as made available on their site, as it was previously. For information on previous steps, please see these blog posts: Part 1: Initial Circuit Design...

  • Building a MIDI Thru Box Part 3: PCB Manufacturing WIP Update

    Here's a brief update on the PCB manufacturing process for my MIDI Thru Box. For more information, see Part 1: Initial Circuit Design and Prototyping Part 2: PCB Layout and Manufacturing When I checked the site the other day, it said that the board had passed all checks and was in production. Interestingly enough, they also tell you who processed your order and wh...

  • Building a MIDI Thru Box Part 2: Manufacturing a PCB

    In part 2 in this series, I look at what it takes to design and manufacture a board (or, at least, to send one away for third-party manufacturing). For more background information on the project, see Part 1. Disclaimer. I'm new to electronics. Very new. Like, no background in the theory at all. I'm learning this stuff on the fly. If something I've done doesn't look like a best prac...

  • Hordes of USB Devices. Maybe too many USB devices

    I had to replace a bad USB hub over the weekend (I replaced both with two identical powered hubs), and ended up doing some USB troubleshooting at the same time. As you probably know, not all USB ports are created equal, and some things (like my Novation X-Station and my Samson C01U) are both very picky about where they're plugged in. In any case, I mentioned on twitter that I thou...

  • The Two OWI Robot Arm Kits Compared

    I like gadgets - not normal gadgets like iPods and Zunes and smartphones (although I have my pile there). I like things like robots and robot arms and synthesizers and DIY synth kits and synth kits based on classic Commodore chips, and Netduino and FEZ .NET Micro Framework boards and more. Well, you get the picture. I've always thought robotic arms were very cool to play with, and m...

  • My Synthesizer Wishlist

    I noodle around with synthesizers a lot. I like to create sounds, tweak a bit, pretend I have some talent etc. :) My influences are Tomita, Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, the C64 Remix Community, the Dr. Who Remix Community, the Myst Soundtrack by Robyn Miller, Daft Punk, Moonove, Juno Reactor, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Pitch Black, Synaesthesia, Kraftwerk, Wizzy Noise, Vangelis, Pet...