April News

I've got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out

   Against the Wind, written by Bob Seger
Copyright © 1980 by Gear Publishing Co

Digital Signage

A number of ARM based tablet reference designs have been announced recently. We have been following the Freescale i.MX6 and the Samsung Exynos quad cores. Freescale has a few reference platforms, with a rather interesting one listed on their news feed — UDOO on Kickstarter. For the Samsung quadcore, see www.hardkernel.com. These are sub $200 boards with all the connectors.

We have work that has pushed out the digital signage for the next couple of months, but this and LED lighting are not areas that are going away.

SolidWorks Course

We attended the SolidWorks Foundation Training course at Solidtec in Adelaide. The five day course was split over two weeks due to public holidays. The pace was fast with good notes, plus pointers to resources for training videos.

Comparing available PDF documentation for electronic CAD packages to SolidWorks gives the uneasy feeling that Dassault Systems intentionally give out very little to keep their resellers and training agents happy. From a software developer's perspective, the interfaces, configuration files and templates are scattered far and wide, but it is a huge package with lots of legacy from having digested smaller players acquired along the way. There are APIs and an Excel interface for dimensions and various tables, which we will look into sometime.

Right now, we are at the bottom of a steep learning curve and climbing out very slowly.

Tales from the Sea

The weather has started to get a little colder in Adelaide in the evenings. This month we made the first wood fire a little past mid month. Not sure compared to last year, but seems to be drier with El Nino predicted to visit. Maybe that desalination plant was not such a bad idea after all.

The beaches along South Australia have seen a lot of dead fish and a few penguins in March, plus a large batch on Good Friday. Lack of oxygen and an algae bloom were suspected, but penguins and dolphins don't have gills. A report1 mentioned dead dolphins (23 in recent weeks across the state). We walk the dog along the beach at Moana and Maslin, a few minutes from McLaren Vale, and took these photos. There were hundred of them all along the beach.

Dead fish at Maslin beach

The good, the bad and the ugly. Dead fish along Maslin Beach — 23rd March

According to the local newspaper, a team has been setup to investigate, but already ruled out any fault with the desalination plant. The desal plant outlet is over a kilometer out to sea, but not that far from Maslin or Hallett Cover where a dead dolphin was found (at each beach).

Rest of April

We received a ST Micro evaluation board from a South African customer for a high-volume product. They are busy filing patents.

Guess which direction we might take for the next couple of months?

The Rowley Associated toolchain was happy with the board, so development will go ahead on the Apple server with the Rowley compiler and CrossConnect JTAG debugger. (Rowley also recognises the Link/V2 debugger on the board).

ST Discovery board

ST Microelectronics STM32L-Discovery Board

1  “More dead dolphins wash up”, Heather Kennett, Southern Times Messenger, 17th Apr, 2013, pg 24