Vintage Downloadables

This dusty little corner in the back of the store is for documents (mostly geeky stuff) that provide details about the projects of yesteryear. This includes software listings and schematics, design documentation, and how-to material. In all cases, you will be given a non-expiring download code that will let you fetch the file at your leisure from the e-junkie servers.

SEXBAR, a Serial Crossbar Network – $5.00 → Add to Cart

This covers one of the most useful spinoffs of Microship development: the serial crossbar network. Presenting a command-line interface on one end and a matrix of DB-9 connectors on the other, the Sexbar eliminates the nightmares of random RS-232 connections… swapping pins 2 and 3, fiddling with gender changers, and assembling chains of cables to get something to work. If the plugs fit and the baud rates match, any two devices will talk — it even figures out which pins transmit and which receive, then connects them accordingly! This scalable design provides 31 channels, and up to four simultaneous bidirectional connections can exist among any of them.

Of course, this is a 17-year-old design, and there are much sexier ways to move serial data around these days. But if you have a lot of vanilla retro RS-232 devices and need random peer-to-peer interconnections, this works well.

This 1-megabyte, 40-page PDF includes schematics, FORTH code for an embedded 68HC11 controller, and enough design theory to port it to another platform if you wish. There is an introduction to the Sexbar design if you want to check it out before committing to the PDF.

WANDER Field Data Collection Software – $20.00 → Add to Cart

The WANDER system is a spinoff of the Microship project, developed for the National Science Foundation’s “Wireless Field Test” in 2002. We installed Linux on an Octagon PC-500 single-board computer, and packaged it in a Pelican case along with GPS, power management tools, LCD/Keypad, and basic I/O… and it can talk via LAN or Globalstar satellite phone at 9600 baud. You can read all about it in our Embedded Linux Journal article.

This 110-page PDF is the complete WANDER software package (other than what’s in the Linux distro, of course!). Mostly written in Perl by Ned Konz, it includes all data collection code, GPS sentence parsing, Berkeley DB interface, channel management, a simple graphing package, Webmin front-end cgi scripts, database export tools including satellite email, local UI management, and the C program for a PIC-based solar power and battery management system that even schedules the Linux board. All this is well-commented and tested code; if you’re designing a system that even slightly overlaps WANDER, then this will pay for itself.

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