May 042016


If you’ve just installed the Arduino IDE on Ubuntu, you’ve likely encountered an error similar to the one above the first time you tried to upload a sketch to your board. The error that I specifically get reads:

avrdude: ser_open(): can't open device "/dev/tty/ACMO": Permission denied
ioctl("TIOCMGET"): Inappropriate ioctl for device
Problem uploading to board. ...

I got this error today while doing a fresh install of Arduino 1.6.8 on Ubuntu 15.10, aka Wily Werewolf, but I’ve also run into it on previous Ubuntu versions as well. As I suspect this is not the last time I’ll encounter it, I figure I should write up the solution here instead of having to hunt it down again the next time it stumps me.
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Jul 132015

littleBits Arduino with Extra I/O HeadersIn keeping in line with their KISS philosophy, the littleBits Arduino module does not offer (easy) access to the full range of analog and digital I/O options that can be found on regular Arduino boards like the Arduino Uno. As a matter of fact, the littleBits Arduino only provides 3 bitSnap inputs and 3 bitSnap outputs if you intend on staying entirely within the littleBits ecosystem. Another difference is that unlike regular Arduino boards, the littleBits version uses its micro USB port for programming only. Power for the module must be supplied via one of the bitSnap inputs.

If you want to use your own sensors or actuators and you don’t have a Perf Module or Proto Module, or if the bitSnap inputs (or outputs as the case may be) are all full, hope is not lost. littleBits recognized that many users would need more I/O and all it takes is a little bit (no pun intended) of soldering.

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May 092015
littleBits Arduino Coding Kit

littleBits Arduino Coding Kit

So I honestly haven’t even had the chance to build a littleBits circuit more complicated than a battery, single dimmer and LED yet, but as soon as I unboxed the cloudBit Starter Kit, I knew I wanted more.

As an Arduino addict, grabbing the Arduino Coding Kit at a 60% discount seemed like a no-brainer. So just a few hours after returning home with my first littleBits kit, I was headed back out the door to grab a second.

I panicked on the short car trip to the store that they may have already sold the last one from the shelf. I’ve gotten burnt that way already as I try to balance my needs/desires against the current discount level during RadioShack’s clearance.

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Apr 212015

RadioShack Clearance ItemsAfter RadioShack filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the store in town and the few others nearby were among the lucky 1,740 of 4,000 nationwide chosen to live on, albeit as Sprint-RadioShack hybrid stores.

Say what you will about RadioShack’s business missteps over the last few decades, but I was happy for these stores. RadioShack’s employees often find themselves the butt of jokes and scorn regarding corporate decisions out of their control, but to a person, every employee that I’ve dealt with has been helpful, knowledgable, and sincere. I was glad that they would be keeping their jobs. Continue reading »

Nov 082014

Arduino Yun Box

I’ve had my eye on the Arduino Yun since it came out, but between an Uno, a Duemilanove, and a handful of shields, I always had something to play with and hadn’t run into any limitations that justified picking one up at the expense of some other shiny, new toy. Last week, however, a perfect storm of in-store sale and promotional coupons at RadioShack, put the Yun at a price I just couldn’t say no to.

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Oct 162014

Giant ZRK PiecesI finally found time to dig into that big cardboard box we hauled back with us after a visit to my parent’s house earlier this year. I had some difficulty convincing my wife that it was worth the valuable space in Carson McSteem, our trusty Tucson. However, I knew that it was full of toys from a childhood that I am now more than 3 decades removed from so it was important to me. I had to find a way. I surmised it would be a non-starter to suggest leaving our daughter behind, and I do believe she was considering leaving the dog, but all of those years of Tetris playing finally proved to be useful, and we were able to make it all fit.

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