Fun with the canoe

Mirella and me started a new hobby after we could borrow the kayaks from a friend in Peru. He even helped us buy cheap Peruvian kayaks that we brought home in our camper. These kayaks are sit on top‘s. The kind that they rent to tourists. They are easy to operate and easy to climb back on top after you fell into the water. You can even carry sleeping bags or a small child with it. With the children growing, we thought about buying a Canoe. In Switzerland that type of boat is actually called “Kanadier”, while Kanu is a different type. Last year we had a good opportunity to buy a used one on a camp side in Austria. I didn’t even know that there are so light ones in this size. It offers room for three people and a lot of baggage, and it’s easy to carry around alone as well at putting it on the roof of our camper which is at 2.75 meters. It’s a sandwich construction with PE in the middle and glass fibre on the hull. A short while ago I had some fun trying to get back in from the water. It’s not as easy as with the sit on top kayaks.

cmake with MSVC

I have used cmake for a couple of years with my hobby projects, and I love it. It is a cross platform meta build system. Like with Qt, people tend to first think that “cross platform” is the main feature. But like with Qt it’s actually one great feature amongst many others. It brings so many advantages that I can’t even list them all here.  Since last week, we also use it for PointLine at work. While the process is straightforward on linux, there are some things worth mentioning when using it on Windows.

Finding External libraries

Cmake has lots of finder scripts for commonly used libraries, and they work great in most cases. But we want to have multiple versions of the same libraries side by side, and depending on the version of PointLine we develop for, use the appropriate versions of the libraries. To be precise, not just the libraries, but also the headers and debug symbols need to be present in different versions. And we want to be able to debug different versions of our product using different versions of the libraries, simultaneously on the same machine. Continue reading “cmake with MSVC”

software defined radio on the cheap with a DVB stick

I think I first learned about software defined radio a few years ago on the chaosradio podcast. I was totally excited about the idea, and immediately installed gnuradio not only on my computers, but at times also on the smartphone. The USRP has been on my wishlist ever since. That’s the hardware device most commonly used with gnuradio. The downside was the price tag. While the approx $ 1’000 are not much compared to commercial solutions, it was too much for just another project to toy around, and I didn’t have an idea for a project where I must have one so far.

Then in last February (2012), I read on a blog post that was probably linked from hacker news that somebody found out that a cheap DVB tuner USB stick could be used as an SDR receiver. That was exactly what I’ve been waiting for the past few years, except that a device with TX would be even cooler. Immediately I went to the local electronics shops with a compatibility list. But in most shops they had no clue, and they couldn’t even find out what chipset was in the devices they sold. In a more professional shop they tried to find out the chipset, and they had a device that looked very similar to one on the compatibility list. But it didn’t work. So, I ordered one directly from china. It took almost two months to get here, but then it took another two month before I really started experimenting with it beyond checking if I could sample something to the harddisk. Here is some background information. Continue reading “software defined radio on the cheap with a DVB stick”

The cheapest netbook

When I read this blog post telling that there are netbooks available from china for $65, where it is possible to install a proper linux distro, I knew I must have one. Yes, the specs are lowest end, but even more so is the price. It has a WonderMedia 8650 system on a chip. That’s an ARM CPU running at 800 MHz with 256MB RAM. These chips are normally used for low end tablets, and you see that with other things. The netbook has a 7 inch screen with 800*480 pixels and runs Android 2.2. So the device could be described as a tablet with a keyboard, touchpad, wifi, ethernet and three USB host ports, but no touchscreen, accelerometer, GPS, camera nor bluetooth.

From AliExpress, I ordered a device that seemed to be the same as mentioned in the blog. Continue reading “The cheapest netbook”