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New Subsite 1088XEL.Bitsofthepast.com

I want to introduce you to an extension of the work I’ve done for the 1088XEL mini-ITX Atari.  I hope to have two builds eventually, one in the mini-ITX format and a second more advanced build of the 1088XEL based 1090XLR in a Micro-ATX case.  To that end I decided to start documenting the modification of a mini-ITX case to house the 1088XEL motherboard and accessory boards I sell.  These boards will of necessity be customized versions to better fit the particular APEX MI-008 case I’ll be using, but I hope to keep as much generic as possible.  The first few posts have already gone up on the site.  Come visit.  🙂

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Partkeepr Electronics Parts Inventory DB on PI3

A couple of years ago I got drawn into the mania surrounding the release of the then new PI3 model B.  Such a powerhouse of a computer in such a small package.  True, it couldn’t hold a candle to my main desktop pc in cpu speed, video or memory, but neither did it have a huge footprint, power appetite or  noise level.  Also about that time I graduated from just a couple three or four parts boxes to a full blown whole section of one wall lined with parts cabinets.  I was beginning to order parts for projects that I unknowingly already had in the bins.

The idea came to me that the PI3 could be used as a light weight internal parts inventory web server.  It would have the advantage of being accessible on my home network from any device connected via a browser, be on all the time and not create noise or consume lots  of power like my desktop pcs.   I had dismissed an earlier idea to use one of my NAS units to do the same due to the OS being so tightly proprietary and their cpu and memory were even less than the PI3.

At the time the PI3 was using Debian 8 Jesse as it’s main OS.  Unfortunately that release of Debian was beginning to be long in the tooth as far as what web server apps versions would run on it.  For instance PHP 7.0 had been released, but was not recommended on Jesse and there appeared to be no install package that had been released for that version of Debian.  Finally Ubuntu Mate 16.04 was released for the PI3.  Now there was a more modern version of Linux that would support the newer web server apps.

So then I went looking for an electronics parts inventory DB app.  Finally I happened upon the Partkeepr website. At that time it still hadn’t reached v1.0 yet, but I was impressed at how complete it seemed to be already.  I decided to try and get it up and running on the PI3 with the Ubuntu Mate 16.04 OS.

I began a torturous odyssey to somehow get the Partkeepr app up and running on the PI3.  Sometimes I digressed back to Debian Jesse and the older support apps, sometimes I quit the PI3 altogether and tried running a Linux machine inside VirtualBox on my backroom pc.  I got right upto the final setup screen on the Partkeepr setup app where it was trying to ‘warm up the cache’ and it would fail every time on the PI3.  Once on the virtualbox machine running Ubuntu Mate I was able to finish the setup, but that wasn’t really the way I wanted to access Partkeepr.   I would set the project aside for sometimes months at at time, but it was never completely abandoned.

Over the last year and a half Partkeepr itself has improved and added features.  It is now at version 1.3.  Also apparently I am not the only one wanting to use it on machines like the PI3.  The last time I checked the Partkeepr Wiki website there was a work around for the slow I/O issue with PI machines that caused the cache failure.  So obviously there was enough demand to support the effort to find a workaround.  Also on the Partkeepr Wiki website there is a generic Debian 9 Stretch walk through to setup Partkeepr.  Then recently the Raspberry foundation updated it’s default OS to Debian 9 Stretch.

As the first major project for the new year I decided to take up the project again.  I decided to follow as closely as possible the generic Debian 9 Stretch walk thorough, while incorporating the slow I/O fix for the PI3.  Things went rather smoothly for a change.  There were some bumps in the road, but no major roadblocks as long as I made the necessary changes for the particular setup and app versions I was using.  As I went along I kept a journal of the necessary commands and configuration settings.   If it worked, I intended to memorialize it with the intention of seeing if I could repeat the install and eliminate wasted effort for others.   I believe I was successful in both.

I now have a functioning Partkeepr installation on my PI3 machine.  I have no illusions on the speed of this installation.  After all it’s on a PI3, but since I’m the only user and my parts inventory is somewhat under the 1000 number, it should work just fine.  I wouldn’t advise trying to use the PI3 for other server functions.  The instructions I am providing assume that the Partkeepr host is the only one on the PI3.  If you want to use and add additional virtual hosts on the PI3, I suppose you can, but I have no clue what changes need to be done to the instructions I provide to allow that.  This only gets you to the first login to the Partkeepr server.  You still need to configure parts location and part categories, before you can actually begin to enter your parts.   This web page gives you basic overall info on how to do that, starting on page two of the article.  For other info, remember Google is your friend.

Now I’ve had some experience in Linux from years and years ago, but I’m mainly a Windows person.  More so now that I find I don’t remember things as easily as I did in my youth.  🙂  So I have to warn you that even the simplified instruction I give you assume that you have some experience with Linux/PI3/CLI/Networking and computers in general.   If you don’t feel comfortable with the instructions, get a hold of a friend or someone who owes you that does have that level of experience and can do it for you.  One final caveat, this instruction assumes a US-Central Timezone installation.  You will have to make the necessary changes in the localization section of the PI3 for your country, keyboard and timezone settings.

 

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Why………?

 

I don’t usually comment on current events.  Usually because it’s all about politics and everyone has an opinion, good bad or indifferent.   But why?

Why Charlottesville? Why New Town? Why London…. Why Paris…… Why Syria?  Why all the other mass killings in the last century?  Why?

Different races, different politics, different political systems, different continents.  The one thing in common is that men and women and children are being killed for no other reason than that they are there and available to be used by their murderers to further their own agenda.  Has life become so cheap now, that it is a disposable commodity?

Why….?

 

 

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Restocked, reloaded and something…… something else…..

Well……  I’ve been restocking pcbs and some parts.  Mostly parts that I have to order on Ebay and get from China.  Those typically take upto three weeks to arrive.  Other parts that I can get state-side within a week I’ll wait until I have an order in.  Still have a couple of boards to come in.  Namely the final board I need for the RD Eprom burner board kit.  Should have that by the end of the week though.

The 1090XLR project is in full swing.  I’ve got a website and forum up for it at this address. 

The one thing I’ve been planning has not happened yet.  I was planning to start the new year with a website redesign.  Hasn’t happened yet as you can tell.  I’m still working on it.  A little at a time.  I might have it done for Jan 1 2018.  🙂

 

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Yesterday, website nuked by mistake…..

It was bound to happen at some point.   No person is perfect.  In fact most people would agree that if they do most things half right most of the time they are satisfied in their perfection.  Well… I guess I am satisfied.  🙂

I was in the process of trying to add additional features for the 1090XLR project to the domain when I veered off course and started doing clean up from past mistakes.  I had some orphaned databases and folders that were left over.  The orphaned databases were easy to deal with.  But then I discovered a scripted uninstall app in the Cpanel of the website domain manager.  It was listing several lingering breadcrumbs to failed or abandoned projects.  So happy that I had an easier way to clean the site up, I started selecting the orphaned breadcrumbs for deletion/uninstalling.  Only the listing was slow in updating and in the process I selected the active app for deletion.   WTF???!!!

Four hours later I finally had a functioning website back.  Fortunately I had done a brute force backup of the website, late last November and so I was able to use it to get back up.   So right after I finish writing this post, I plan to make a backup both on the domain and off-site.  I really did have other things to do yesterday and I don’t want to repeat this.  Especially since there are so many other things to only get half right most of the time.  🙂

 

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2nd Massive Earthquake to hit Oklahoma

I don’t normally post off topic, but Oklahoma just suffered it’s second massive earthquake in less than six years.  ……well massive by Oklahoma standards.  Preliminary 5.6.

I was on my workbench when a minor tremor began.  I thought at first that my cat had headbutted my leg.  He’s prone to do that when I’m ignoring him and I was.   He weights at least 12 pounds, so yes he can make the chair shake when he does that.  But the tremor continued and when I looked up he was in the doorway of the room, coming into the room, no where near my leg.  Then the tremor got rougher and I began to hear things in the kitchen rattling.   My magnifying lamp began to sway in time.  My lcd monitor tipped forward and then back.  Suddenly there was a sharp jolt, a rolling sensation and then a smaller jolt.   My cat jumped,  spun around and dug his claws in for a hasty retreat from the room.  I knew then what it was.

In the rest of the house I could hear things shifting and falling.   The trailer continued to rattle and quiver for a couple of minutes longer, but the main quake was over.

It’s been nearly two hours now.  There seems to have been a couple of minor tremors since, but it maybe just my nerves.  Reports are slowly coming in.  Some damage in Pawnee, but so far no injuries.  It appears that the epicenter was close to the town, just like the first one that hit very close to the city of Prague Ok in 2011.

No damage at my house, my cane fell down in the living room.  Mostly jangled nerves seems to be the only real damage.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

I’m thinking about changing my avatar.  I used to think tornadoes were the norm.  Now it’s getting to be earthquakes.

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Sad Day: The HAG is dead, RIP

I grew up listening to this man. I know it’s not hip anymore, and it was a different era then, but there are days now I turn off the tv and radio and fire up my old record changer and crank the volume up. Ole Possum, Buck and his buckaroos, Whispering Bill, the Man in Black and the rest of them are alive again and in their prime.

So few are left alive now. Fewer now. Something undefinable is being lost and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But at least we still have the music and the memories for awhile yet.

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Wizztronic 256k Memory Board Cease and Desist request

XF551s

I have been sent a cease and desist request from a Steve Cohen.  He is claiming he owns the copywrite on the Wizztronics 256k memory upgrade boards for Atari 800XLs and that he has licensed the rights to an unnamed third party.   He is demanding I discontinue offering my reimaged boards for sale immediately.

While I have no way to know if this is true, it doesn’t matter.  I am in no position financially to resist.  I have taken the product from my website.  I will still offer the memory chips necessary to actually upgrade the memory until my stock is exhausted.   Also I will offer the additional three chips necessary to upgrade the version of the board for the newer Antic to work with the older Antic (CO12296) until the stock is exhausted.

I wish I could say I made any money on this, but I didn’t.  The items did not sell very well.  I still have 75% of the boards made.   Still it wasn’t my intention to make money anyway.   From all appearances this board appeared to be abandonware.    I didn’t want it to only be available to a few collectors and a museum or two.

This Steve Cohen should get with this third party he claims has licensed the rights and find out why the product is not being actively produced and supported.    The only other place I ever found original boards was Best Electronics.  This was about five years ago now.  At that time I was told I had purchased the last one in stock and the owner did not expect to recieve any more stock as the item was no longer being made.  This may have changed, but I don’t see the item on Best website for sale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today 20 years ago

Years ago I was thinking about doing some pyrography on guitars.  So I went into Photoshop and started playing around with bits and pieces of photos I had scanned/copied from the net,  just trying to get an idea of how to position and manipulate images.  I came up with a few designs that I liked.   I actually had a Johnny Cash tribute design that I took to Nashville to have a guitar maker put on a custom tele I had bought off Ebay.  It came out okay and I still have the guitar, but the interest kind of cooled and I never did much more with the ideas.

One other design that I came up with was another tribute.  This time to a horrific event in my adopted home town of Oklahoma City.  I was away in the Navy at the time, but I can still remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as the radio reports started filtering into the shop where I was working.  I saw it mirrored in the faces of my co workers as they too listened to the shop radio and heard the news reports over the next few days.

No one I knew directly was hurt or killed, but the senseless slaughter of so many by a man who had worn the same mantle of military service as I had left it’s mark on me just the same.

Today is a day to remember,

OKCMemorialSwampAshRearRoutedTele copy

and to never forget.

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New projects and ideas

Well…..   the new year is nearly two months old now.  I’ve been in my new house for a little over three months.  Things are beginning to settle into a routine.  Things are becoming comfortable. 🙂

I am toying with several ideas for my next projects.  They seem to be a split between electronics and 3d design/print.  I suppose I’ll add to and edit this list some.  But for now….

Electronics                  3d design/print

[row] [column size=”1/2″] Reimaged SDX cart, Pass Through Cart  [/column] [column size=”1/2″] SIO Connector, Atari 8bit cartridge shell, 1050 Front Bezel [/column] [/row]