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From 2013 to 2014

Added by jcw over 3 years ago

Well, 2013 has been quite a year. Some say it’s a lost year for technology, but from my perspective, I couldn’t disagree more. Never before has there been so much progress on the open source physical computing front. Lots of interesting projects on KickStarter and numerous blogs around the world. Not to mention the immense momentum and progress in hardware chip technology. Never before has so much of all this come in reach of beginner and advanced amateurs and hobbyists alike. I wish there were 100 hours in a day - I’d easily fill them all up!

Speaking of which: it’s been a while since I’ve reported on what I’m doing here at JeeLabs. Almost three months in fact, since my last post on the daily weblog at http://jeelabs.org/.

Reading back that last post, I now realise that it would be easy to misread it as a goodbye note, and I very much apologise for that, because this was not my intention at all. I’ve been more busy working on software and hardware for the JeeNode world than ever before, in fact. I just haven’t been chronicling my adventures in public - which is definitely a double-edged sword.

I started writing a long post about these past months and the future, but after letting it rest for a few days, I threw it away again. This is not the time to write about what is in progress, at least not in such detail.

So here’s the new TL;DR version:

  • A driver for the new RFM69CW modules is being re-written from scratch to support these new modules in “RF12-compatibility mode”. This means new nodes with that radio will be able to inter-operate with all the exiting nodes out there based on the RFM12B and the RF12 driver, without change.

  • I have reverse-engineered a driver for the RFM12B to make it run in the other direction, i.e. sending and receiving packets from an RFM69 module running in its native mode, with hardware buffering and CRC generation.

  • JeeBoot has almost reached the point where it can be deployed on standard JeeNodes with ATmega328’s. This is not so much about the boot loader code, which has been running here for over a year now, but about the entire process of node discovery, pairing (assigning node ID’s), and managing software uploads and revisions for an entire network of nodes. After a couple of false starts I now have a simple “JeeBoot server” running on node.js which drives a standard JeeNode/JeeLink running the RF12demo sketch and turns it into a boot server. It’s really fascinating to be able to re-flash all the nodes remotely and robustly, and to see them all come back to life with their new sketches.

As you can see, my focus has been on 100% backwards compatibility, to make sure that all existing nodes can be mixed and matched with new nodes based on the RFM69 modules. I really hate obsolescence, especially when the current stuff is all working so well. It looks like everything I was aiming for is indeed feasible, and that new RF69 nodes will work with existing nodes and servers (including HouseMon) without change, while still providing an upgrade path to a future driver + protocol “flip” to the more advanced native RF69 packet mode later on.

There is a lot more going on here, such as a first start with The Jee Book and a few prototypes for new tiny JeeNode hardware boards, but it’s still a bit too early to go into more details.

Nothing new will be released in the few days that remain of 2013, but I expect many of the software developments described above to be ready in January, and with a bit of luck also new hardware boards in February or March. I don’t want to repeat the experience of the JeeNode Micro, which came out with several silly revisions, just because that one was rushed a bit too much. New hardware will be ready when it’s ready, no sooner.

I wish everyone a very creative and fulfilling 2014, with lots of physical computing explorations and tons of wireless packets doing their sensing and controlling in and around the house.

-jcw


Replies (9)

RE: From 2013 to 2014 - Added by Mars over 3 years ago

Great jcw to read this again.

But is it an (stupid) idea to write something like this on the daily blog, to counter the ‘feeling’ that it was some sort of goodbye note?

RE: From 2013 to 2014 - Added by tankslappa over 3 years ago

Oooh, sneaking out an almost blog post into the forum… Tut tut ;-)

Happy new year JCW and everyone!

I think I’ve finally got my lack of laptop situation resolved, so will hopefully be burning the midnight oil at the kitchen table with a pile of “idiota” (as the missus likes to call them) at my side.

RE: From 2013 to 2014 - Added by JohnO over 3 years ago

I’m pleased you have sorted out your laptop situation and hopeful you will be able to spend more time with us.

RE: From 2013 to 2014 - Added by tankslappa over 3 years ago

Nice to be missed ;-)
I’ll try to keep sticking my head round the door.

Any outstanding requests? Nobody wants the GLCD library rotated 90 degrees I hope!

RE: From 2013 to 2014 - Added by JohnO over 3 years ago

I’m fine with the GLCD library - how about a project to design and build an electrical storm detector. Direction, distance, energy maybe even add a thunder detector.

RE: From 2013 to 2014 - Added by JohnO over 3 years ago

Hi @jcw, I have seen a lot going on with HouseMon and its good to see you having fun. I wondered how your activity with:

A driver for the new RFM69CW modules is being re-written from scratch to support these new modules in “RF12-compatibility mode”. This means new nodes with that radio will be able to inter-operate with all the exiting nodes out there based on the RFM12B and the RF12 driver, without change.

is progressing and if you have a view on when there might be something for us to look at.

Only if its fun!

RE: From 2013 to 2014 - Added by jcw over 3 years ago

Right now, I’m trying to get the basis for a new JeeBoot server off the ground.
Massive rewrite of the underlying core, but going fairly well wo far.
That’s already the third radical overhaul in a few years.

I still intend to have a working RF69-in-RF12-compat-mode driver for ATmega out before the end of this month.
But there are really two avenues going on in parallel here: JeeBoot on both sides, and RFM69CW support.
I know… it’s a long wait. Will report on this forum as soon as something practical emerges.

RE: From 2013 to 2014 - Added by glt over 3 years ago

Awesome! JeeBoot sounds like a domotic walhalla!

RE: From 2013 to 2014 - Added by jcw over 3 years ago

> I still intend to have a working RF69-in-RF12-compat-mode driver for ATmega out before the end of this month.

I’m sorry, but that won’t happen - not in the coming hours, that is.

Been burning a lot of my time on the HouseMon & JeeBoot side of things lately. It’s all related, as I really want to make sure that both RF12 and RF69 style wireless networks will work well in this context. But as a result, I haven’t gotten the RF69-in-RF12-compat-mode driver into a state which I can release yet.

I’ll try to make it happen one week from now. No promises, but I do want to see this through sooner rather than later: being able to use a couple of new nodes in an existing network is quite useful for me as well, so it’s also all about serving my own interests.

-jcw

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