Prototype 2 (or 3?)

It's much the same as the last one, only better soldered.
It's much the same as the last one, only better soldered.

Having waited for the Tirna Electronics to mount the one-wire controller chips from Maxim I've inserted their chip into the circuit and was more confident that it's my dodgy code that's the problem reading the one-wire network, so I got back into the code and now have it working, a set of code for searching and manipulating a 1-Wire network via IC2 and a DS2482-100 One Wire Controller... the next step is to swap in a DS2482-800 and try and read multiple inputs.

View article on website

published 2008.05.13

Lots of Bits

Lots of Parts - or toys as my partner calls them
Lots of Parts - or toys as my partner calls them

Wow, loads of stuff just arrived for me for building the controllers: Here's what came from where:

A couple more Arduino Boards and some spare ATMega processor chips from

I've got a programmer for the ATMega processors from ebay seller Sure Electronics in china: £15+shipping vs £100 in the UK. I hope it works...

The Maxim One-Wire controller ships have been soldered onto mounting boards [incredibly quickly] by Tirna Electronics

There is some more RAM for the MacBook from Offtek

A nice box mounting USB connector from Maplin

And the start stop switches which Andreas sourced from I don't know where.

View article on website

published 2008.05.08

Application Design

I've come up with a final application design I'm happy with and confident will work. Now to start implementing it all.

There will be numerous components in the system, and it's a pretty loose description, but it will do the job.

Data Collector

This will be based in the collector box, running a piece of software on an Arduino base ATMEGA Micro Controller. The program will check for presses of the start button, signalling a listener application on the connected MacBook that the mapping has started. It will then wait for the stop button to be pressed, and collect the data from across the 8 wire networks it can be attached to, and transmit that information to the main computer along with a stop signal.

Listener Application

This will be a background application on the MacBook, which will listen for signals for the data controller. Upon a 'start' it will create a new mapping, and grab co-ordinates for the floats location from the GPS device connected to the macbook, as well as logging the start time and creating a unique ID for the map. When the stop signal is recieved it will log the information gather from the various circuits into a database.

As we won't have a 'live' internet connection on the float this application will also listen for an active internet connection and upon receipt start synchronising data with he primary server were the website lives, uploading new maps and downloading any data that's changed on the website.

Display Application

This will be an application that will run on the laptop on the float, and also on the website for the project. It will work slightly differently for each context, but visually will be mostly identical. It will display the latest map available, as well as allowing exploration of the maps and augmentation of the data collected.

Web Synchronisation

This will be a backend application that will be triggered by the listener application, and handle the details of synchronising data with the main server.

View article on website

published 2008.04.29

Another Prototype

Fortunately you can't see my bad soldering...
Fortunately you can't see my bad soldering...

i've been playing around building the next prototype for capturing the data from the network. I started playing with the 1 wire libraries that are available for the Arduino, but wasn't getting very far with them, and I'm still somewhat wary of the bit banging approach this takes. If my electronics/physics wasn't quite so rusty I may be more confident.

To that end I've taken on board a different challenging task. I soldered one of the very small surface mount packaged DS2482-100 that Maxim sent me as a sample onto a mounting board from eP board. The soldering is not a task for the feint hearted, and I hope it works. The trouble is that I'm not sure whether it's my dodgy soldering, or something else, which is preventing me from talking to the chip.

I guess I'll just have to carry on getting my head round the [url=²C
I²C and one-wire protocols, in the hope that I can be sure it's one thing. An interesting and challenging task.

The reason I've opted for this route is that I can use the Arduino to control start/stop signals, light a status LED, and collect and send data to our MacBook. Finally I intend to swap out the DS2482-100 for a DS2482-800 in the final build to allow up to 8 one-wire networks, for better contextualising the data we gather.

View article on website

published 2008.04.29

Spider Map

Having met up with Andreas and Kathrin we've solidified more how the mapping language will work, and I can see it coming together in my head as a technical and software implementation.

Kathrin has produced a layered spider map showing the various parts of the mapping process and how they all fit together physically, this is also going to be used to work out the breadth of the language and the various parts that will need to be made.

Mapping Areas
The mapping will be broken down into three basic areas, a 'Portrait' which provides some background about the person being mapped, their links to the Folkestone Triennial, which may reflect any involvement with the triennial, and finally there reasons they are interested in the Triennial. On the right is the collector device we are going to use to trigger the collection

This shows how the language will be split up into groups of 'storage signs' and 'collector signs'. The storage signs will be used to hold numerous 'clip on' signs that are used to represent parts of our mapping language. Each storage sign will cover a context, for instance location, or artworks at the triennial.

Here we see the collector signs in place

Storage Areas
How items are grouped in the storage areas. The storage area provides an implied context for each clip-on.

A representation of the clip-ons. These will be small versions of the storage signs, but each will have it's own icon representing it's purpose in the mapping. There are going to be a lot of these.

View article on website

published 2008.04.03 Mail Problems

You may have noticed some intermittent email access for the last few hours. This is due to a mail server at Demon Internet which is attempting to deliver the same message over and over again, tying up all of the server resources.

I have contacted both Demon and the originator of the email message (which is not spam) and neither of them have been helpful in resolving the issue as yet, Demon saying it's the customers problem - and the customer must log a problem with Demon - and their customer has not yet responded to my email, and I've been unable to track them down on the phone.

So, in the meantime, I've had to block all mail from Demon Internet, until such time as I can be sure the problem is cleared. This may be for up to 48 hours. Allowing all this mail from Demon will mean the server is likely to fall over, or other mail will failed to be delivered, and so this is the best course of action.

I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but unfortunately it's outside of my control. I will continue to try and resolve the issue with the other parties.

published 2007.04.30

Further Outages - This time a network issue

Availability of the server was a bit poor yesterday due to a network failure at our ISP's datacenter, BlueSquare... details from my ISP below:

Sorry for any inconvenience this caused. I'm speaking to my ISP how they can improve their redundancy.

The connectivity to this server was only lost to the UK for the majority of the time, with network peering from the US (and thus Asia and Australia) and Europe remaining OK.


Dear customer,

Today we experienced an issue with BlueSquare's primary fibre link - a
break in the fibre was detected at the Telehouse (East) datacentre in

Traffic is currently being routed through BlueSquare's secondary fibre
link, whilst engineers work on repairing the primary fibre.

During this time, however, there was significant packet-loss due to the
third fibre connection between Telehouse (East) and Telecity (HEX). This
is what caused the majority of the outage that customers, PoundHost, and
other providers in BlueSquare experienced this afternoon.

At this time, traffic is still being routed through the secondary
connection, although extensive work is being spent to bring the primary
connection back in service.

Let me reiterate that this issue is not directly related to PoundHost -
we are one of a handful of providers at BlueSquare affected by this outage.

We will send out a more detailed announcement once we are confident that
service will no longer be affected.

Many thanks for your support and patience during this time.

Update: 03/02/2007 10:51 and this just in... a further explanation:

Further to the two e-mails sent yesterday, I can now confirm further details of yesterdays issues.

The main cause of the outage for PoundHost, and the outage suffered by other ISPs located in BlueSquare, was due to their fibre provider, TeliaSonera, *disconnecting* the wrong fibre when testing another customer's link, due to them mis-labeling the fibre in their London datacentre suite (Telehouse East).

As per yesterdays email, our second diverse fibre, which was working fine, was down for general maintenance due to router and switch software upgrades which we were carrying out. When the primary fibre went down, we bought our second fibre up as quickly as possible, however due to the maintenance we were doing the connection caused packetloss and routing from some ISP's but not others.
We have now fully completed our maintenance on this fibre overnight, so in the event of any further issues on the primary fibre we can easily route over the second diverse fibre without the issues experienced yesterday afternoon.

Some customers have mentioned that contacting us via phone was difficult, this is due to our phone system being VoIP (voice over IP) based, so the bad connection meant we had troubles hearing customers, and in some cases no phones at all. I have this morning ordered 4 BT lines to replace the VoIP system to be installed within the next 14 days direct into our support office using the existing numbers, to avoid this happening in the future.

Following customer feedback, we have now setup a new NOC (Network Operations Centre) status page, which we will be finishing and launching on Tuesday to keep customers updated should there ever be any network issues in the future. This will allow you to get a quick glance status, and updates such as these on the website. We will email you on Tuesday once this site is completed with more details.

Again, we apologise for any inconvenience caused yesterday. It's an unfortunate chain of events that we already have systems and links in place to deal with (this kind of fibre break), but as with all things in life when you need it, it's the one time it isn't available, in our case the second fibre being down for our own internal maintenance. For reference, our two diverse fibres are called 'THE' and 'TCX' which you will see in any 'trace routes' you complete, depending on the routing destination.

published 2007.02.03

Mail Outage : Update

After a night of hacking around and some hair-raising and hair-pulling moments I've done a full upgrade of the operating system on the server, to try and resolved some dependency issues in some of the Libraries. This has left a few other things out of shape, which I'm in the process of trying to sort out. Hopefully this will all be back up and running in a few hours (and then I can get some sleep!)

Sorry for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience.

published 2007.02.01

Mail Outage

Well, I can't mail you :-(

We're having some problems with mail running through at the moment due to a flakey SSL library causing problems with POP3 mail checking. I'm doing some heavy emergency upgrades to try and (hopefuly) get everything back into sync asap.

published 2007.01.31
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