Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ya gotta start somewhere

and this is where it is at.

Mostly at test, this post, to see what it looks like in real life. The title of the blog? Just an illusion? Well, may be life is, like Ray Davies said oh so many years ago.

Hopefully we'll be using this blog on our travels through Arizona, starting February 3rd, 2006. We'll fly into Las Vegas, will stay one nite in one of Las Vegas' most glamorous locations (Motel 6 of course), then we'll drive on to Arizona the next day. Where exactly we will go, who knows.

I'd also like to use this blog to report on some of the projects I'm working on. My devious thinking is that it might keep me more motivated to get going and then to complete them. Currently, I'm working on a 1-wire project to report on the efficiency of my ClimateMaster geothermal furnace. It seems to work fine allright, it's just that I'm nosy and would like to know exactly how fine. So I got myself a LinkTH from www.ibuttonlink.com, along with some of their MultiSensors. After I received it, I plugged the LinkTH into the serial port of my PC, then cobbled together a small application in Visual FoxPro 9.0 (not that version 5.0 wouldn't work just fine too). So far, this application gives commands to the LinkTH to report the sensors data, then parses this data, stores it into a table and publishes the results for the last 24 hours to the web at http://harmony.anikast.ca.

My other project I hope to be using in Arizona has to do with GPS: I plan to log the GPS data using my notebook, then create a KML file every day, publish this here, so you can follow our travels using Google Earth. For this, I got myself a Holux GPS unit, and wrote an application in Visual FoxPro to store the data. I got a little carried away there, it uses speech synthesization to announce the coordinates every 30 seconds, along with speed. It also plots the current position on a map, and at the same time draws a graph of the speed and the actual distance travelled, using a freeware ActiveX control.

One of my design goals throughout all this is to spend as few dollars as possible in coming up with the final result. As someone I know remarked quite a few years ago now, anybody can buy something with money, it's a sport to get it for free. Not that I'm into stealing anybody's software, it has to be published, or already included with some other software, otherwise I'll write it myself. Since I'm fairly good at hacking with Visual FoxPro, I'll use it as my tool of choice.