LabNotes for This Project
23 May 2023
Today we’ll talk about something changing around the lab, dive fairly deep in to the state of our currently-flagship project, PETI, and drill down into some side projects for the back half of the year. We start in with bad news and then it just gets better and better as you go, so tear the proverbial bandage off under the cut.
29 Nov 2022
Last week in our quarterly update post I mentioned implementing a Mersenne Twister for PETI. This was a bald-faced lie, made possible by not consulting my notes. A Mersenne Twister would have been much more effective than the Linear Congruential Generator I implemented instead. I want to talk about how we got there, as well as what is wrong with it.
15 Mar 2022
One of the great truisms of making things (the precise definitions of ‘making’ and ‘things’ being surprisingly flexible) is that there’s always room for a nice side project, and since the last update on PETI, that’s exactly what I’ve been working on. A short time ago I acquired a Saleae Logic 8 USB Logic Analyzer, and while it’s sort of pushing the envelope of what a logic analyzer is used for, I decided to take the opportunity to stretch its functionality into a sorely needed utility - video capture for PETI’s main display over USB.
03 Mar 2022
Was there a firmware update to PETI? I must have done a refactor of the Display driver code. It’s sort of a tradition at this point, but to be fair it’s not the totality of the 0.1.0 firmware update. Let’s see what’s new.
11 Feb 2022
It’s not necessarily what you’d expect me to be working on in the weeks immediately following getting my hands on the prototypes of the rear expansion board, but it turns out that implementing at least a proof-of-concept version of the alert drivers took about four hours, and I’m ready to move on to something that was done wrong the last time it was implemented; the display refactor. Click through to the full article for some details.
16 Jan 2022
Members of the
30 Dec 2021
#PETI channel on the Arcana Labs Discord Server may have already known this, but late last year I developed a plan to sell a small number of PETI Development Kits early. The plan was to have my prototype of the Rear Expansion Board milled, then either assemble or package them as kits together with the necessary components, TI Launchpad for MSP430FR5994, and other accessory boards. The idea was that if I sold the small number of extras I would have from that particular PCBWay order, it would help defray costs going into the last little streth of development.
The categorization features of the site sort of discourage it, but I thought I might go ahead and put together a sort of year-end megapost and just recap everything. Everything. Because why not? Jump through the cut and we’ll take a stroll down past and future a bit here.
01 Dec 2021
What’s it been, the better part of a month? Three weeks? Time flies. A lot has happened around the lab in those three weeks: PETI got a new version, I broke some stuff, and I fixed some stuff. Hop in to see the full update.
10 Nov 2021
Considering I called this punch during the previous update, it should come as no real surprise to anyone that the most recent release of PETI code, v 0.0.5, is mostly about menus. Indeed, you could even go so far as to call it as the Menu Update. In this update, we’ve added the custom menu that displays the pet’s current status, as well as the all-important text menu generator, which will let us avoid making too many more special-purpose menus.
31 Oct 2021
Last Time Around, we talked a little bit about the hardware backplane and audio. Spoiler alert: that is now a solved problem. While PETI itself doesn’t use it, I’ve proofed the timing circuit and I’ll be ordering those boards eventually, which will be a good time to talk about that a bit more and implement it into the PETI software itself. Instead, I’ve been putting work into solving a problem with the main menu screen: drawing the icon-based main game menu, released as PETI firmware v 0.0.4.
14 Sep 2021
As you probably recall from the previous update, the last little push for the PETI development kit is the “back board”, an extra expansion on the existing dev kit that will add key functionality like the battery pack to the device. One such feature is the ability to do auditory alters via a small speaker. In the true spirit of known and unknown unknowns, I went 100% Dunning-Kreuger and decided that this would be relatively trivial, and since it was the part of the back circuit I understood the least, it would be the first part of the board I would proof the concept of.
27 Aug 2021
Wasn’t there an update for Tapestry coming out this month? Weren’t you going to keep working on PETI? Did anything get done at the labs, come to think of it? Actually, yeah. Lots of things have happened. Let’s talk about those.
27 Jul 2021
Circumstance and mood have conspired to make this, the final week of July, on of two periods of paid leave from work which I’ll be able to take this summer. As a result, I spent monday night and a good chunk of yesterday updating and recompiling PETI’s firmware. Last night I published this firmware update’s source [here (permalink)] as the 0.0.3 release. This version adds a new demo functionality, replacing the old demo with a menu which allows you to cycle through the various forms PETI can take, and view all four of their currently-supported animations: idle, face right, face left, and eating. I’ll go back through and add support for the sleeping animation at around the same time I add sleeping into the game.
11 Jun 2021
PETI has a text-based interface; I think I’ve said that enough times by now for everyone to have it burned into their brain, but in case I haven’t - almost everything PETI can display on its screen is functionally text, in that it is comprised of cells of a given size (8 by 8, 8 by 12, or 16 by 16 pixels), and the display library treats each row of such cells as a string of text, referencing a font to determine which pixels to turn on or off depending on the size needed. This places some constraints and labouriousness on managing the display which I want to talk about today, because it’s what I’ve been working on.
13 May 2021
While calling it an operating system is overstating the complexity involved dramatically, the fact remains that I have had a very productive week in that the two most convoluted portions of the PETI firmware is now in place - the two systems which manage the central game state object and decide what is drawn on the screen and when. Step on through and we’ll talk about how that was done, and the pitfalls I found along the way.
04 May 2021
24 hours ago, I was absolutely certain I had attained a dubious electrical engineering right of passage, and blown up my first development board. I was certain of this because I had tested it extensively. Twelve hours ago, I learned I was wrong.
22 Apr 2021
It’s been a while since I’ve done an update on PETI, the implemented-in-hardware virtual pet I’ve been designing, and that’s true for a very good reason: I’ve taken and killed it, stone dead.
02 Oct 2020
Last time we talked about PETI, I spent a few hundred words bloviating over getting trapped in a state of not having an ISR to handle an Interrupt that I couldn’t resolve because it didn’t occur during debugging, and thus couldn’t be identified. To be honest, I still haven’t identified the relevant interrupt. What I did do, though, was heavily troubleshoot my SPI_WriteLine function, resolving whatever issue was raising the interrupt in the process, so close enough.
15 Sep 2020
Over the last two weeks (read: about half a dozen lab hours) I’ve manage to break my stalemate on PETI. For those keeping track, I have been fiendishly attempting to not have to engineer a display driver by instead porting a display driver so badly that I’ve rewritten much of its functionality essentially from scratch.