Computational neuroscience class

This year didn’t start out so great for my online classes. I signed up and started a bunch, but quit all but one so far. Some were not as interesting as I thought, some didn’t contain enough new stuff or the material covered was too different from what I expected. I just couldn’t motivate myself to invest the time and effort to complete them. Maybe it’s not as exciting as it was for the first few classes or maybe these teachers are just trying out a new channel and are not as determined and enthusiastic about this new form of education. For me personally, the first MOOC that I completed, the introduction to AI is still the best.

Finally I found a class that I was keen enough to complete. That was about computational neuroscience. I read some books about neurology before, and was familiar with the basic structure of neurons and synapses as well as with some neuro transmitters such as GABA. But the details about ion channels and their detailed behaviour was new to me. The calculations with the spike voltages and spike triggered averages were very interesting. They highlighted to me just how simplified the common perceptron neural network models are. The second part of the class that was more about the application of the insight from the biological neuroscience into artificial intelligence and machine learning was more familiar and partly repetition.

AtTiny Advent Wreath

An advent wreath in late spring, you ask? Yes, the timing is a bit off, and that’s not just because the coldest spring in ages has not finished yet. While browsing for the topic of my last post, I discovered a nice little one-evening-project: Geeky advent from tinkerlog.
I had all the required parts here, so I just gave it a try. The adaptation from the AtTiny13 to an AtTiny45 was straight forward. But finding the right threshold value for the ambient light sensor was a bit trickier. Especially, as the ADC didn’t work at first. That was probably a difference between the two AtTiny’s. But once I configured the ADC properly for the AtTiny45, I flashed it a couple of times with different values, and turned the room light on an off, until I had a good threshold value.
It’s interesting how the flickering is done with the random values and the manual PWM. And especially, how one of the LED’s is used to sense the ambient light was intriguing. To save battery power during the day, it goes to sleep and waits for the watchdog timer to wake it up. It then senses the ambient light. If it is bright, it goes straight back to sleep. If it’s dark, it lights up the LED’s. Going through the four modes for the four weeks of advent is done by resetting, or just quickly disconnecting the power from the battery.

But now I look forward for the summer to come, before we can put the mini advent wreath to use…

As my modified code is so similar to the original, it’s not really worth to create a project on github. So, I just pasted the code below.

Continue reading “AtTiny Advent Wreath”

AtMega breadboard header

A while ago, I ordered some AtTiny breadboard headers from tinkerlog.com. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any boards for AtMega’s left. The ones for the AtTiny’s are very handy, and I used them whenever prototyping something with an AtTiny. In fact, I used it almost whenever flashing an AtTiny. Many times I wished I had one of these tiny boards for the AtMega’s and at some point I even forgot that they existed. Often times I just included in ICSP header on the stripboard.

Last week I thought I must have such a board for the AtMega’s as well, and created one with a bit of stripboard. The wiring is not pretty, but the device works well, and is a real help when prototyping.

Fritzing layout on github