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Monday, 26 April 2010

Back in business

It took a couple of days to sort out the hardware problems that hit me last week.

It seems that the CPU in my workstation has fried itself. I think I know why, and I'm hoping that a new CPU will fix the problem.

At one point it looked as if two servers had also failed, but it turned out to be a problem with my aged UPS. I had to do a bit of re-cabling but both servers are ok.

I removed the hard drive from the workstation and mounted it in one of the servers. All the data was there, which was a relief. The drive was reasonably well backed up but I would have lost a day's work - annoying rather than catastrophic. As it is I've lost nothing.

I am using my Toshiba laptop as a temporary replacement. Its major disadvantages are that it's a Windows 7 machine and has no parallel port.

I got back to Arduino development on Thursday; on Friday the USB to TTL cable arrived from Oomlout, and I now have my Veroduino working. I'll write about that soon. Meanwhile, I'd like to give due credit to the UK suppliers I've been using for components.

Bitsbox supply a good range of useful components, and provide a fast mail-order service. They charge a flat rate of £1.50 for postage and packing within the UK, which is great value. I've placed several orders with them; everything has turned up in the next day's post.

.:Oomlout:. (link to UK company) specialise in Arduino and Arduino-related bits. Their excellent ARDX starter kit is a great way to learn about Arduino fast.

Oomlout are committed to open source; all their board layouts, manuals, guides and programs are downloadable and published under a creative commons license.

I've only dealt with the UK subsidiary. Oomlout's parent company is based in Vancouver and supplies the North American market. Oomlout offer great technology, good value and fast service. My Veroduino is based on their Arduino-compatible component bundle.

I still use my local Maplin shop for common components that I need right away. Maplin also offer a mail-order service, but their postage and packing charges are quite high. If I need to order specialised components I normally buy from Farnell who offer keen prices and a very broad product range. Farnell now own CADSoft, developers of the widely-used Eagle PCB layout package.