A Repast to the Year!

Last Updated: 2021-12-30 05:00:00 -0600

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.

PETI, or, Dear Lord What Have I Done!?

Just a little over a year ago, I set the PETI repos to public, which at the time was a barely-functioning proof of concept that the display itself worked. My laptop, Jupiter (which is the new Corvus), had just died, and I had no real way to work on it. I even lamented at the time that “now we just have to do the entire project”.

I don’t think I quite expected to get as far with it as we did! A few weeks ago I set the version string in the main branch to “0.0.7” with the release of… well, let me just show you the changelog.

… RIGHT!? This thing’s basically a playable virtual pet already, though of course we’re far from finished and there’s still a ton of work to do before the 1.0 release minimums are met and to tidy up the technical debt I’m already accruing. There’s also a lot of documentation to do, and I’m sort of pumping my breaks to work on that. I have a bit of a treat, docs wise, to come along with the dev-kit.

Oh, and speaking of the Development Kit - I have the Rev B Rear Expansion Board PCBs in my grubby little hands and, at least dimensionally, they seem to be perfect. I’ll be conducting a live stream doing the assembly of serial number 1 of the series on Sunday, January 2nd. Sometime after that I’ll be doing a formal announce on exactly how you can get your hands on one.

Wait, where are we again?

I honestly thought it was an older change, but Arcana Labs is only as old as March or so. Granted, it’s just its old self with a fresh coat of paint, and that goes back a few years, but I had to completely rebuild the site and its underlying systems to make the change happen. Heck, I’m still working on that rebuild. Right now I’m trying to wrap my head around pagination for the blogroll page.

What’s Next?

Well, first and foremost, a ton of PETI. I’d sort of like to at least finish the firmware this year, even if I don’t actually design the production boards for the standalone pet. That’s a lot of lifting to do, and probably means the schedule of only working on the project during Monday Evening Lab Streams just isn’t sustainable. Then again, that hasn’t really been the schedule; I’ll often start implementing something on a stream, kill the bugs throughout the week, then come back the next week to show it off.

I also had to kill our first secret project, Whizzbang the Chatbot. He was… overdesigned, for what I needed him for. We’re still going to use the basic idea, but I need to find a shorter way around to it, because to me, even for the custom functions he needed, we’ve invested WAY too much effort for a wheel as thoroughly reinvented as a chat bot.

That does, however, mean new secret projects! If you’re not familiar with the way we use the term around here, the Secret Projects are a project I work on concurrently with PETI that get documented in a special section of our Discord reserved for Twitch Subs and GitHub Sponsors until they’re completed, at which point they get publically documented here on the site. I currently have two lined up: a specialist keyboard and a luggable computer built to be a sort of thin client for my workstation. There’s a third quasi-secret project that I think will actually be running concurrently to PETI development if and when I get there:

I really want to build a microcomputer (in the same philosophy as something like the old Commodore machines) around the MSP430. I think it can be done. And I think I’m about crazy enough to do it.

PETI is a major project intended to design and construct a virtual pet from Open Source Hardware and Software, and to encourage others to modify and tinker with similar projects. If you would like to support the development of this, or any of the other projects I’m working on for Arcana Labs, and you wanted to show your support financially, your best avenue is via my Github Sponsors account or by making a one-time donation to Arcana Labs via Ko-Fi.com or through other avenues detailed here. Github Sponsors also get access to a special patrons-only section of the Arcana Labs Discord Server, where we talk about the ongoing super-secret project.