I haven’t updated in several days, so I guess I should fill everyone in on what’s been going on.
A couple weeks ago, a US Army jazz band came to play in my area. I was caught off guard when a friend sent me an invitation for that evening, but I was able to get it together in time to attend. They played a lot of popular stuff, mostly to get the crowd into the music. It was great; most Japanese jazz bands are rather anemic, but these guys played and improv’d like they were having a good time, played with soul. There was a group of elementary school kids up in the top rows who absolutely loved the show. I talked to the band members afterwards and thanked them personally. Watching that show, it felt really good to be American.
I spent most of two Saturdays ago trying to get my laptop to talk to my ECU. It worked exactly once, during which time I was able to get a reasonably decent tune set up. After that it reverted to its previous behavior of shutting off 5 or 10 seconds after starting the car. Obviously I can’t really make it work unless I can get a consistent connection, so I’m borrowing computers and cables left and right to see if I can narrow the problem down. As of right now I still don’t know whether it’s a hardware or software problem (or even whether it’s a problem with my laptop or the ECU). Troubleshooting noisy electrical systems is a real pain.
So to keep myself sane, I started a new project, a digital speedometer. I bought a PIC microcontroller (16F648A if you’re curious) and have been reading through the manuals. These things have gotten a lot better; the chip I bought has a built in crystal (it used to be that you’d have to buy one separately and install it onto extra pins) along with a whole slew of features that previous generations’ chips didn’t have. I also picked up a programmer, but it when I hooked it up to my computer’s USB port it either showed up as an “Unknown device” or wouldn’t connect at all. When I opened it up to take a look, there were pieces of filed off plastic left over from the case, some of the connections weren’t properly soldered, and a few of the traces on the board were fried. Basically it looked like a refurbished part or something that some Chinese guy had built in his basement. What a piece of junk. So yesterday I rode back into Sendai, got my money back, and bought a DIY kit that requires assembly (and a separate power supply). All together it’s more expensive than the one I bought in the first place, but at least I can verify the construction myself. I was able to put it together in a couple days, and it seems to work just fine. The software is in Japanese, but I can deal with that.
And as you can see, I haven’t been able to update for about a week now. I guess my webhost disabled form POST larger than 1kb, probably for security reasons… but it kept me from posting any entries larger than a paragraph or two. But things should be on the up and up now.