Velleman EDU09 PC Oscilloscope

In my IoT endeavors, I have been learning a lot, but also finding that I need more tools.  I’ve been thinking about an oscilloscope but couldn’t really justify the cost of a desktop unit.  Then I ran across the Velleman EDU09 PC Oscilloscope Kit. I ended up getting mine from Amazon for about $52USD. 

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I was just talking with my dad and reminiscing about the Heathkit projects we built when I was a kid.  Among them , there was a multi-meter kit, and after hours of assembly, it didn’t work.  My dad says it took him some painstaking investigation before he discovered a single diode we had inserted backwards.  But you kind of expect that with a kit, and I was not disappointed this time around.  I had a great time putting the kit together, and quickly learned that my soldering skills aren’t what they used to be.  Of course when I was all done, it didn’t work.  I got up the next morning, found some solder joints I had just plain missed, and of course, found a diode (actually an LED) that I had put in backwards. After fixing the problems, my EDU09 worked great.

There are some handy downloads for you if you are going to get one yourself:

One of the first things I used it for was to visualize a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) signal from my Arduino. I wrote an arduino sketch that simply loops a PWM pin output from 0-255-0 over and over and over.  This signal is visualize by an LED getting brighter then dimmer over and over:

/*

PWMRamp - Ramps a PWM pin up and down

*/

//Output Pin (needs to be a PWM enabled pin)
int outputPin = 9;
//Min value for analogWrite
int minVal = 0;
//Max value for analogWrite
int maxVal = 255;
//Current value
int val = 0;
//Current increment
int inc = 1;
//Delay between loop iterations
int delayMs = 3;

void setup() {
  Serial.begin(9600);
  pinMode(outputPin,A0);  
}

void loop() {
  //Display the current value
  Serial.println(val);

  //Write the current value to the output pin
  analogWrite(outputPin,val);

  //Increment the value by the inc amount
  val += inc;

  //Test to see if the new value is outside the range
  if(val <= minVal || val >= maxVal)
  {
    //if so, invert the increment
    inc *= -1;
    //And clamp the value in range
    val = max(min(val,maxVal),minVal);
  }

  //Wait for the specified ms before continuing
  delay(delayMs);
}

Then I connected the EDU09 via USB to my PC, launched the EDU09 software and connected the EDU09 leads to my  circuit (black lead to ground, red lead to the PWM pin output), and watched the signal on my EDU09.

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I found that the easiest way to get the EDU09 to show the signal was to hit “Run”, then “Autoset”.  It changed the coupling to AC, so I switched it back to DC, and got a great result:

PWMOScope

If you’d like a copy of the files I used, you can GRAB THEM HERE (http://1drv.ms/1upkPpa)

DevOps with Azure and Visual Studio Online

I’m presenting at Denver Dev Day today on “DevOps with Azure and Visual Studio Online”.  If you’d like a copy of my slides, you can grab there here: http://1drv.ms/1mVXDGI

Azure Tour Overview

#BernardoFire Resources

My original post on San Diego County Fire Information Resources hasn’t been updated since October of 2010.  With today’s #BernardoFire starting to really move fast, I thought I’d add a few new resources I’ve found while researching the fire just now:

Feel free to send me links at @BretStateham

New Azure Client OS VM Images for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7

I love the awesome surprises I get in the Azure Management Portal on a regular basis!  Today’s (05/12/2014) was an awesome set of new base images for MSDN subscribers:

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Yep, you see correctly, Windows 8.1 Enterprise and Windows 7 Enterprise images, including some with Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 already installed! w00t!

I also noticed that a number of new extensions are available as well!  Including “Custom Script” and numerous “Security Extensions” with support for Microsoft Antimalware, as well as Symantec Endpoint Protection and Trend Micro Deep Security Agent.  Time to go learn more! 

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Oh, and look at these tantalizing new preview features! Azure RemoteApp and Windows Azure Files, an SMB File Share service!

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SQL Server Data Tools for SQL Server 2014 fixes SQL publish.xml “Unable to connect to target server” Errors

If you have a SQL Database project in Visual Studio 2013, with a *.publish.xml file that you are trying to use to deploy the database to a SQL Server 2014 instance, you may be receiving an error stating that the data tools are “Unable to connect to target server”:

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If that is the case, then you likely haven’t installed the updated SQL Server Data tools For SQL Server 2014

You can learn more about the SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) here: http://msdn.com/data/tools.aspx

Anyhow, The fix is easy! 

  1. From the Visual Studio 2013 menu bar, select “TOOLS” | “Extensions and Updates…”
  2. In the “Extensions and Updates” window, along the left, select “Updates” | “Product Updates” and then select the “Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Update for database tooling” update and click the “Update” button.

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  3. Follow the prompts to complete the install.  You may want to close Visual Studio 2013 while the tools update installs, and re-open Visual Studio and your project when the installation completes.

Once you have the updated tools install, you should be back in business, and your publish process should succeed!

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Hello EduCake and 86Duino!

My good friend and Windows Embedded MVP Samuel Phung with ICOP introduced me recently to the 86Duino project.  Then he showed me an ultra cool device, the EduCake!

EduCacke

I knew the minute I saw it, I had to have it!  The thing only costs appx $49US! And even though It’s only about 3”x3”x1” it still packs a punch.  It has a Vortex86ex 32bit x86 processor, so it is capable of running full operating systems like DOS, Windows, Linux, as well as 32bit RTOSes

But what is super cool is that it is fully Arduino compatible.  From a firmware, programming, and hardware perspective.  That means that you can plug Arduino compatible shields as well as run Arduino code on this device out of the box.   You can see all the nice proto board connections on top of the box in the picture above!

Ok, so that’s neat.  Arduino compatibility on an x86 processor.  But, if you take a look at these pics, you can see it isn’t short on connectivity options either:

EduCakeFront
2 USB Ports, Audio In/Out, SD Card…

 EduCakeBack
Ethernet, COM Port, and Micro USB Power. 

After Terry Myerson and Joe Belifiore’s Intel Gallileo (and yes, I ordered one of those too) demo during their April 2014 //BUILD Keynote (at about 02:03:15), and all of the buzz around “The Internet of Things”, convenient packages like the EduCake give developers unprecedented access to developing software for embedded systems and custom hardware devices using a variety of operating systems and programming languages!

Sam and ICOP are working to make purchasing the EduCake and other 86Duino products easier for customers in the US, but I was able to order one (with surprisingly fast delivery from Taiwan, it only took two days) from http://shop.dmp.com.tw/INT/products/24 .  At approximately $49US (price varies with the exchange rate), this was a steal!  I can’t wait to start eating my EduCake!

SQL Server 2014 RTM VM Images available on Azure

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If you go into the Azure Management Portal today, you can now add SQL Server 2014 RTM VM Images using the Gallery!  Check it out!

Why can’t I link my MSDN Azure Subscription to my Visual Studio Online Account?

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Because you can’t.  Sorry, I know that may seem like a harsh way to start, but I figured it might help to have clarity from the start. 

The reason you need to link an Azure subscription to a Visual Studio Online (VSO) account is so that VSO can use your Azure account’s billing mechanism to bill for additional VSO users, build minutes, or virtual user minutes that you need beyond the free users and minutes. So you can only do that with a paid Azure Subscription that has an active billing configuration.

I speak for myself here, I’m not part of the group responsible for this, but my speculation as to why you can’t do it is as follows.  If you were allowed to link your MSDN Azure subscription though, there is a built in credit in that subscription.  You would effectively be able to use your free MSDN Azure benefit to provide paid VSO access to others.  That just doesn’t make sense, using your benefit to give access to others.  So for now at least, it just isn’t allowed. 

If you want to play with Visual Studio Online paid accounts or minutes, you could create a Free Windows Azure Trial subscription, and link it to a Visual Studio Online account.  You might consider creating a special Microsoft Account (a.k.a. Live ID) just for the test, and create the test VSO and Azure subscriptions using that test Microsoft Account. 

Note, if you do go to create a new Microsoft Account for the test, it helps to do that in an “InPrivate Browsing” (Ctrl+Shift+P in Internet Explorer) or an “Incognito Window” (Ctrl+Shift+N in Chrome) window so you don’t conflict with your regular Microsoft Account. 

New Azure “Basic” Virtual Machines

Yesterday (March 31, 2014), Microsoft announced some new Azure price drops, and some new VM and storage options.  You can read the entire announcement here, and you should because there is some storage goodness, like a “Zone Reduntant Storage” (ZRS) alternative to the current “Locally Redundant Storage” (LRS) and “Geo Redundant Storage” (GRS) redundancy options.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazure/archive/2014/03/30/microsoft-azure-innovation-quality-and-price.aspx

However, there was one topic I thought might be of direct interest to developers:

New “Basic” Tier Virtual Machines

Currently, Azure VMs come in two “tiers”. The “Standard” tier has VM sizes A0-A4 (Extra Small to Extra Large), and the “Memory Intensive Instances” tier has sizes A5-A7.  In yesterday’s announcement their will be a new “Basic” tier.  These will be similar machine configurations to the “Standard” A0-A4, but the new “Basic” VMs won’t include load balancing or auto-scaling options. 

These new “Basic” VMs might be of interest to developers who are using Azure VMs for Dev/Test workloads and don’t need the load balancing and autos-caling features. These basic VMs will give developers equivalent compute capabilities at a lower cost if load balancing and auto-scaling are needed.

The new “Basic” VMs should be available starting April 3rd, 2014 and the pricing will be updated and displayed on the Virtual Machines Pricing Details page.

Windows Phone Developer “Company” Accounts and Symantec Verification

I’ve noticed an issue with my personal business’ Windows Phone Developer account lately.  Every time I sign into the dashboard, and try to submit a new app, I get the “Account Summary” page instead:

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There wasn’t any useful information on the page though that told me why I was seeing that instead of my App Submission page.  My account was current, no obvious issues, etc.

I used the “Support” link at the bottom of the Windows Phone Dev Center page, and then clicked the “Submit a support ticket” link, then filled in my issues, and click the link to Start a Live Chat…

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The support rep was very helpful, and as it turns out that since my account is a “Company” account (not an individual), it was undergoing an annual account verification with Symantec.  Microsoft uses Symantec to verify the identities of the company developer accounts.  You can learn more about that here:

Symantec Validation for Company Accounts
and
Microsoft Developer Services Identity Validation

For support from Symantec on your verification status, go to:

Microsoft Developer Identity Validation Support with Symantec (http://go.symantec.com/microsoft-chat-support)

Fill in the form there, and you can enter a live support chat with Symantec:

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I gave the Symantec rep my Windows Phone Developer Account’s Publisher Name, and they were able to find my record and work with me (which for me included them calling the phone number associated with my publisher account) to verify my information was correct.

It turns out that my account has actually been in the “verification” phase for some time, and that I just ignored the email from *@symantec.com because I don’t use any of their products.  Point being, if you have a “Company” Windows Phone Developer account, make sure to monitor that email address associated with your account for annual verification emails from Symantec.  If I was more on top of my communications, I would have caught it earlier.  I just wish the developer center page was more informative of what the problem was.

It did take about 4-5 hours after my chat with Symantec before the fix made it through, but it eventually did, and now I can submit apps!

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