Ada Lovelace Day

Indeed, today is Ada Lovelace Day. If you haven’t already, go show some appreciation. If you already have, do it again!

Not sure what the day is about? Check out

So who is your inspiration? As the day is about showing your appreciation and showing support for women in science, technology, engineering and all the other related fields, I’d write a blog explaining why the named few are awesome. However, partly because I’m lazy, and partly because my brain is fried today, I’ve decided to keep it simple and just list them with a sentence or two explaining why.

In no particular order;

  • Mel – A science, a geek and just plane awesome.
  • Kitty – Crazy geologist with a dinosaur. What more can be said?
  • Radina – Brilliant computer scientist, even if its denied!
  • Limor – For showing theres no limits in what can be done, as demonstrated by adafruit industries.
  • Emma – Despite what may be claimed, she is still great at what she does.
  • Hayley – Great science writer, one of the people behind Geek Pop.
  • Steph – Not strictly a scientist, but wishes she was. Good enough for me! Oh and she remembers a biology course, thats enough 😉

This list is by no means complete as there are just so many names that could go on it. In any case <3 to them all!

Blogs! Science! Science Blogs!

So after this weekends MakerFaireUK and the associated Virtual Treasure Hunt, a few blogs and sites have shown up that are worthy checking out:

Any other sites you think should be on there? Comment and they may be added!

Highlights of the MakerFaire include: all of it.


So this coming weekend (13/14th March) is MakerFaire UK in Newcastle as part of the Newcastle Science Fest. So who is going? What are you looking forward to the most?

If you are reading this after the event, what did you enjoy the most?

New Stuff!…?

Its taken a while, but I’ve finally got round to designing my first PCB specifically for public consumption.

It is a very simple design, but I’ve not seen anything similar recently. While working with I2C devices I’ve found a need for a simple bus board, specifically for prototyping as some times breadboards just arn’t big enough. For this reason, hopefully rather soon a new board may be available (Maybe even a kit type affair). Leave a comment if you are interested and tell your friends! More details to follow.

In the event of breakage…

Don’t panic.

You can always throw some parts from Sparkfun at the problem. True fact!

While designing and building a project I have been working with I2C, a lovely protocol, works wonders. If only I can say the same about the LCD. While the other components on this months favourite bus are working wonders, the LCD is not. Even after several  months the cause of the issue is still not known. The current guess is magic  mixed with a bad address and a broken part. This in itself is not such an issue until the manufacturer is mentioned.

Normally I won’t mention manufacturers for anything other than to praise them, but on this case I’ll make a minor exception. After having enough of trying to solve the problem, Data-Modul were contacted and the response was honestly shocking. The first email was just plain ignored, not even so much as an automated response. The second email did get a response, although it did not help. Sure a relevant PDF was attached, but nothing else was despite what they claimed. Thinking it was a simple mistake, a reply was sent. This was around 2 weeks ago and there is still no reply. I can understand a lack of a response if say the emails were highly offensive, but no. This was a nice product support query that could lead to further sales (Thats if the product ever goes any where, but that is a story for another time) yet there is nothing. Highly disappointing.

Mean while back in to the main point. After the failure of the LCD, guess who should come to the rescue? Thats right a part from the lovely Sparkfun which I had handy. Just goes to show that once in a while small companies with custom built adapters are better than large corporations.

Gits, projects

We’ve all seen the blogs and news articles and have no doubt been told about open source projects by some other means, but how many of you have felt you didn’t quite have the skill to contribute to one?

Partly due to a series of amazing issues (thanks to a couple of libraries, and time), I have scrapped some existing code for a project and started it again, this time with an open source twist. The idea itself is very basic, a java MPG calculator. If you are an experienced java programmer you may feel this could take no time at all to do, and you could be right. Less experienced programmers however may not think this. For this reason, I am making the project open to provide people with the chance to work on a simple tool and to get very basic experience of version control (in this case git is being used).

Want to contribute or know someone who might? Get in touch here or via the project repository at


This morning the new part of  Eldon Square opened. From the short time I spent there, I’ve came to two conclusions. One, the selection of stores is good (New Apple store ftw). Two, while the event organisation itself was good from what I saw, the big let down was the safety marshals/security. While such an event does require such security, I’m of the opinion that it helps if they talk to each other. At one point shortly after the opening, the genius decision was made to allow people from the queue into the new area,  mean while as soon as some of these people got half way into the area, another marshal decided to send them back. Now, bearing in mind there was potentially 1000+ people there, how is it sensible to to be directing crowds at each other in an already busy space?

Anyway, enough of that minor rant and onto another one in the form of a very short letter.

Dear shipping companies,

While I appreciate that you normally get my packages to me on time (all be it when I’m not there), I do think it would help if I knew when this time was going to be. I mean come on, I have a “tracking” number (or atleast thats what the seller claimed it was) so why on earth do all of you reject it? I know for a fact the sender uses only the major couriers, so whats the deal? Fix it plzkthxbai.

Stats! Everyone loves some stats once in a while. I’m sure all you non existent readers will know this isn’t exactly the most popular blog out there (and I’ll stick with that until someone proves me wrong) so heres one or two unexpected places that have showed up:

  • Moscow
  • Padova
  • Buckeburg

Till next time, sleep tight etc etc


In case you missed it, the new Arduino IDE (0018) is out. Get it here as usual!


A much delayed post here (Mostly thanks to current unnamed projects ;)), but after a minor prompt from the folks over at Maplins, heres a few images of a couple of minor projects and maybe a sneak preview of another.

I2C Breakout board

EAGLE File image for the hopefully soon to be PCB version.

Of course, there is always the spinoff of the altoids tin extractor. Also featured is a mini part built 74HC595 adapter and button, the chip and perf board both from maplin.

A rather interesting shot of the 595 in action in the early testing stages.

Of course, there is always a sneak preview of upcoming projects. Half these parts came from Maplin, the rest from a few other places.

Still not enough for you?

How about this just to be sure!

Till next time, don’t burn your fingers 😉


10 February 2010 09:00 ,
Blogger mikeynma said…

Glad we prompted you to update! Keep it updated and let us know when you have finished any!


10 February 2010 09:24 ,
Blogger JohnT said…
I shall do!
For the most part, they are close to done, a prototype of the I2C board was finished and working (and then promptly lost under a stack of packages and other parts). The rest I expect to have done rather soon!

Thanks for the comment, it may actually be the first on here which is a nice surprise!

Books! Guides! Catalogues! More!

So being inspired by the Make Toolbox features (Make Toolbox: Maker sartorial, part 2 and similar) and a couple of other things (Like the usual hunt for gifts), I started wondering what was considered the essential books, guides, catalogues and other technical material were for tinkerers, hobbyists (and whoever else is interested). We all know about the Pocket Ref (Amazon: Thomas J. Glover) and of course the material mentioned in the Make blog entries on the subject (here, here and here), but what what else is there?

This is where you come in, please leave any suggestions in a comment (Bonus points if any UK catalogues appear aside from the major ones e.g. Farnell, Digikey, Maplin).

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