If you are looking for new an innovative ways to monitor the state of your build, you need look no further than Kohsuke Kawaguchi’s blog
. In this entry, Kohsuke shows how he has built an orb whose color reflects the current state of his build process.
Kohsuke got the idea when is ran across the ambient orb
. The makers of the orb had all the technical details needed to make your own orb online. Not put off by his self admitted limited knowledge of electronics, Kohsuke collected (with a little help from his friends) all of the bits need to put his orb together.
there are a few pre-defined "class" of USB devices (like mouse, keyboard, etc), and one of them is called "communication device class" (CDC). This is a fairly well supported type of devices on Windows and Linux, and from those operating systems, CDC devices will look like serial ports, so programming PC side is really easy, and you can even do that in Java.
Based on his discovery that community support for the PIC chip is very robust, he decided to use that technology. He was delighted to discover the USB Bit Whacker
, the PIC chip on a board with a USB port.
When it came to hooking it up to a computer, Kohsuke was a bit more confident in his programming abilities. However, programming the PIC device required him to do some learning. Fortunately there is a lot of online help for the PIC and that help includes lots of code that has been shared. This helped Kohsuke learn how to program the new device very quickly.
Kohsuke's efforts has produced a very innovative view of his teams build process. In doing so he has created a device that could even be used in a number of other applications (ever miss a skype call because you didn't hear it ring?).
includes may snapshots of the work and even a youtube video of the finished products. That alone makes his blog worth visiting.