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Arduino Uno and Nano I/O pin CheatSheet

Written By: Mel Lester Jr. - Jan• 02•16

Arduino compatible Uno and Nano micro controllers are my go-to development boards for electronic projects.  Except for the Nano’s smaller form factor, they have very similar specifications including 14 Digital I/O pins. The Nano, despite being more compact, has 8 Analog Input pins,  two more than the Uno’s 6.


Sparkfun Clockit Review

Written By: Mel Lester Jr. - May• 24•15

While I have been writing embedded system software and firmware for decades, only recently has an interest in actually designing and building an entire electronic project emerged.  The catalyst for this sudden fascination with the hardware side of embedded systems is my dissatisfaction with off the shelf alarm clocks and my desire to one day in the future, create the Alarm Clock of My Dreams.

Since I have little experience with hands-on electronics, initial research has included sourcing, purchasing and building a variety of Do-It-Yourself clock kits. This Memorial Day Weekend, I assembled Sparkfun’s Clockit in about 3 hours from unpacking to completion.  Did I learn anything? Yes.  Would I recommend this kit to a beginner like myself?  Read on to find out.

Assembled Sparkfun Clockit

Assembled Sparkfun Clockit


Dual Seven Segment LED Counter

Written By: Mel Lester Jr. - Apr• 25•15

A few months ago, I was so fed up with my store-bought, digital alarm clock that I decided to make the alarm clock of my dreams.


Finished proof of concept Display


Raspberry Pi Networking Cookbook: Reviewed

Written By: Mel Lester Jr. - Jan• 09•14

Raspberry Pi Networking CookbookRaspberry Pi Networking Cookbook

By: Rick Golden;

Publisher: Packt Publishing

Pub. Date: March 7, 2013

Print ISBN-13: 978-1-84969-460-5

Pages in Print Edition: 204

I am currently using the Raspberry Pi to build a number of Linux appliances for a small to medium sized business.  These appliances will be replacing some aging, power hungry, rack mounted servers.

Really Small Computers may help STEM the tide…

Written By: Mel Lester Jr. - Jan• 07•14

Not that many years ago, the amateur radio hobby inspired several generations of youngsters to learn about electronics by building  much of their equipment from kits.  When micro computers came along, these hobbyists, or HAMs, were among the first to embrace the new technology by incorporating programmable digital components into their projects.

This cross-over effect was particularly apparent in the specialty periodical business when Wayne Green, publisher of 73 magazine which catered to HAMs, began publishing computer related magazines including Kilobaud Microcomputing, 80 Micro and had a hand in the founding of Byte.  All of these print publications, which were extremely successful during the last part of the 20th Century, fell by the wayside around the Millennium.  Declining revenue from advertising and subscribers was arguably related to fewer hobbyists being interested in amateur radio and micro-computing as the disruptive rise of the Internet diverted many potential newcomers towards other interests.

Relatively recently, a perception has arisen that highly developed nations, particularly in North America and Europe, are unable to educate a sufficient number of qualified applicants to fill the demand for highly technical professions.  This shortfall is being mitigated by waves of well qualified technologists from developing and third world countries whose educational systems appear to be more effective in producing students who outperform their peers from more developed nations, including the United States.  This educational gap in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is denoted by the acronym, STEM.


EZ SSH Key Exchange

Written By: Mel Lester Jr. - Nov• 18•13

Lately, I’ve been replacing noisy, power-hungry rack mounted Solaris and Linux servers with Linux virtual machines (VMs) hosted on quiet, fan-less MAC-Mini servers that hardly draw any power or generate any heat.  The sever running this blog is an example.  I keep the latest snapshot on a USB memory stick and can easily move the VM to another host if necessary.

Still, there remains the need to automate a number of daily administrative tasks, like backups and data synchronization among the various physical and virtual servers during the off hours.  For this, I rely on the UNIX utility, cron, to schedule a series of  nightly batch shell scripts to update, compress and archive critical files or even entire file systems.  Because many of these tasks may involve several servers, a non-interactive method of account authentication has to be employed.  For this, I use SSH Key Exchange.


Disruptive Innovation at the intersection of Information and Technology

Written By: Mel Lester Jr. - Oct• 08•13

Information and Technology are two words that are frequently used together.  In the realm of Publishing, in which Information plays a major role, Technology is occasionally paired with the word “Disruptive” to form the term, “Disruptive Technology”.

oreilly.com - Your tech ebook super storeThe Internet is often perceived as a disruptive technology with respect to print periodicals, with magazine and newspaper publishers being particularly ambivalent about their role in the new digital world order.  In reality, it is not the Internet’s technology that is squeezing the advertizing dollars that are the life blood of the print periodicals, but Disruptive Innovations by on-line competitors, primarily search engines, more effectively competing for those dollars. (more…)