Lab Update: Q3 2022

Last Updated: 2022-08-21 07:30:00 -0500

It’s been quite a while since the last time I provided an update on any of the active and upcoming projects at Arcana Labs, and part of that is the busy summer. We’re going to have a quick little chat here about projects like the Model 2, PETI, Illuminated Arcana, livestreams, and even a new project.

Model 2: When’s the Final Writeup Coming?

So the Arcana Labs Model 2 - the keyboard that’s been the subject of the last several blog posts - is still partially incomplete. I need to order new Rotary Encoders that will actually fit, solder them in, adjust the firmware to suit, and order a replacement back panel. The thing is, and this will become a theme throughout this post, I’m not sure when it will be financially viable again to have parts manufactured or do a digikey order; I tend to do that sort of thing out of a hobby budget I no longer have, which means it will likely have to wait for the next bonus cycle at work; sometime around Christmas. Assuming I don’t need that for something else.

I’m therefore shelving the final project page for the Model 2 until I can get the last bits of it together, but don’t worry; the project’s not forgotten about and I know (mostly) how to go about solving the problems it still has, so it’s just a matter of resourcing. Hardware projects can get spendy!

PETI: What’s up with our favourite Virtual Pet?

Last anyone heard of PETI, back at the beginning of the summer, the release of the development kits was “weeks away”, and I “just had to solve the issue with the power management unit”. I even froze firmware development specifically to work on the PMU problem. Since then, I took delivery of the wrong PM ICs, meaning that, while I could get a rough proof of concept of the idea, I couldn’t actually solve the PMU problems. As I talked about above, I’m having a hard time pulling together the dosh for a digikey order to re-order the correct modules. I’ve been sick, and some mission-critical equipment needed replacing. That’s about blown the hobby budget for the foreseeable future.

So what I’m doing with PETI is this:

  • The PETI Development Kit (and accompanying service manual) project is going to the back burner, for an indefinite period of time, funding-depending. I have a mostly-working prototype of the development kit that serves my needs for testing and future development. Perfecting the dev kit can take a similar priority to developing the final toy design.
  • The firmware will be “unfrozen”, and I will no longer leave us stuck on version 0.1.0 waiting for the dev kits.

Importantly, at least to my mind, I’m thinking of bringing back the weekly development streams, starting this Tuesday, August 23, at 2200 UTC. In a way that pleases me as it means I’ll get better usage out of that custom extension I wrote for the logic analyzer, and we can do screen-capture of the device and watch things come together in real time. I’m hoping it’ll be fun. Even if I don’t keep up on the streams though, we’ll keep working on the firmware.

Illuminated Arcana

The Illuminated Arcana CTF has been a rampaging meh. While the platform service is about as reliable as anything else hosted on Corvus, we never did get a reliable uptime out of the main torrent seeder for the boxes themselves because of the nature of how I was hosting it, and most of the participants did not hang around to seed.

With the increasing difficulty of keeping Corvus alive and the looming possibility of having to migrate off of it and into the cloud, taken together with the fact that not a single IA flag has been claimed by any of the participants in the CTF, I am planning to shut the service down. I’ll leave it online until September 30, 2022, and I’ll be retaining the DB and relevant challenge artifacts so that I can maybe relaunch it later.

This also means that I won’t even be touching the creation of the next challenge VM for what I would hope would be obvious reasons, and that alone should save us a fair jag of time.

A New Project?

With the Model 2 more or less complete, word in the discord is that it’s time to start the next secret project! As I did with the model 2, I’ll even leak what it will be: I intend to create a toy programming language called Goetic Vitromancy. If you want to get access to secret project notes trhough our discord, rather than the after-action report, you’ll have to join up to support the lab, either through a twitch subscription, our new patreon, or as a GitHub Sponsor.

The goal of the language, broadly speaking, is to have an “interpre-pilable” object-oriented language a bit like a sugared-up python, so we’ll be looking at things like an import system, interpretation, and compilation, with an ultimate goal of having the compiler support MSP430 assembly language for reasons that will eventually seem much more rediculous than the first blush.

If you wanted to show your support financially, for free tools and toys like Pyminder, Tapestry, and PETI, your best avenue is via my Github Sponsors account or by making a one-time donation to Arcana Labs via or through other avenues detailed here. Supporters also get access to a special patrons-only section of the Arcana Labs Discord Server, where we talk about the ongoing and upcoming super-secret project.