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Wireless Sensor Soup | Print |
Blog - Zigbee
Written by Akiba   
Monday, 03 March 2008

With so many wireless sensor network protocols vying for world domination, I thought I would write a brief survey of the ones that are currently standardized or in the standardization process. Come with me and join in on the fun...

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Zigbee Gas Valve - Attaches to Cock | Print |
Blog - Zigbee
Written by Akiba   
Sunday, 02 March 2008

I was just going through the paraphernalia I acquired from the Zigbee Open House in Tokyo when I came upon this little gem. Now, I think a Zigbee gas valve is an interesting product, but is it just me or does the installation description sound a little erotic?

Image

 Just what I need to control the gas coming out of my cock!

 
Zigbee Alliance Aiming at IPv6 Support | Print |
Blog - Zigbee
Written by Akiba   
Saturday, 01 March 2008

The Zigbee Alliance announced that they're forming an "Internet Solutions Initiative" to investigate ways of integrating IP networking into Zigbee. Translation: They're forming a new IP6 group.

Looks like they've taken notice of the work thats going on over at 6LowPAN and Adam Dunkel's Contiki/uIP project . Anyone thats familiar with the Zigbee spec knows that its almost a one to one correspondence with TCP/IP. The Zigbee NWK layer is analogous to the IP layer, the NWK routing protocol, AODV, is analogous to IP's RIP or OSPF, and the Zigbee Application Framework is analogous to the TCP layer (without the TCP state machine and the weird sequence space thing). Zigbee has endpoints, TCP has ports. Zigbee has endpoint grouping, TCP has port binding. The list goes on and on.

One of the main benefits of Zigbee is that the protocol is designed for operation over wireless networks and was basically designed to fit 802.15.4. 6LowPAN on the other hand is doing double-back-handsprings-with-a-twist to get IPv6 to fit into the 802.15.4 frames.

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CC2520: TI's Successor to the CC2420 - A Detailed Review | Print |
Blog - Zigbee
Written by Akiba   
Saturday, 01 March 2008

Texas Instruments just did a press release announcing their CC2520. As some of you know, I'm using an AVR+CC2420 as my main platform, from which I'm going to branch off to other combinations. So when I heard that the CC2520 was out, I took some time to check out the datasheet to see what kind of benefit it bestows on the user versus the CC2420.

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Zigbee Open House Tokyo | Print |
Blog - Zigbee
Written by Akiba   
Thursday, 28 February 2008

Just got back from the Zigbee Open House in Tokyo.  Overall, it was pretty interesting, although I'm proud that I was one of the few people that weren't sleeping in the audience by the end. There are a lot of things going on inside the Zigbee group and some of them are pretty exciting. Too bad that it takes a few thousand dollars to become a member.

One of the more interesting topics were the application profiles that are currently being worked on. This hasn't received a lot of press lately, but when it was explained, it sounded very interesting. The Tokyo powerpoints aren't up yet, but you can find the same PPTs here . In a nutshell, the current application profiles, either available or in progress are:

  • Home Automation
  • Commercial Building Automation
  • Advanced Metering and Infrastructure
  • Personal, Home, and Hospital Care
  • Wireless Sensor Applications

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Obsolete Technical Skills | Print |
Blog - Embedded
Written by Akiba   
Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Someone posted a link recently on Slashdot entitled "Obsolete Technical Skills", one of which was assembly language programming. Actually, I'd have to agree that its obsolete to program in assembly language, in every industry except embedded. Also obsolete is trying to fit your code into less than 64K of memory or trying to get your program to run on 2K RAM, in every industry except embedded. Why do we need to struggle with these issues? Because the universal design principle of embedded engineering is:

Design it to be as cheap as possible and still be functional

I like to call this the "Cheapskate Postulate" and this is universal in almost any manufacturing industry. This means that if you can use a $1 8-bit 8051 instead of $10 32-bit ARM, then you should do it. 

And what's the best way to reduce your code size and RAM usage, hence minimizing cost? And the best way to improve performance when you have to use a slower processor? Hint: NOP, JMP, JNE. 

 The second best way to reduce your code size and improve your performance is to write your software in C. I'm not sure if anyone's ever tried to write a Java OS, but I'm sure it'll be slow as shit.

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My Water Broke... | Print |
Blog - Misc
Written by Akiba   
Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Yes you heard right. My water broke.

I woke up this morning and had absolutely no running water. I'm not the most hygienic person in the world, but I do like to brush my teeth and take a shower in the mornings. For some reason, this has totally messed up my schedule and I can't even concentrate on writing any code because of it. So if anyone wants to foil my plans for the day and screw up my productivity, you can just sneak up to my apartment and turn off the water main.

Anyways, it should be on in a few hours. Ahhh...the fun of not being able to wash your hands after taking the dump that you wish you could if you had running water. 

 
Zigbee ... The Problem Child with the Funny Name? | Print |
Blog - Zigbee
Written by Akiba   
Monday, 25 February 2008

 

One of the dev managers at Farnell, a chip distributor in Europe, posted this article on Electronics Weekly titled "Zigbee - Problem Child or Future Success". In it, he discusses the problems that are facing the Zigbee standard, and some of the advantages about it as well.

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Interview with GreenPeak CEO | Print |
Blog - Zigbee
Written by Akiba   
Monday, 25 February 2008

There's an interesting company called Greenpeak that makes 802.15.4 radios and modules. One of their main focuses is on using their radios with energy harvesting methods rather than traditional batteries. Energy harvesting is where you take energy from the environment rather than using stored energy, a la batteries. Some examples are solar, wind, wave, or vibration powered modules.

This gives an interesting spin on wireless sensor networking because you can dramatically increase the useful life of a node if you can integrate some method to harvest energy from the immediate environment so as not to use the battery. This would be an ideal situation for networks that are remotely located, ie on a volcano.

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