Lou’s future adventures beyond the UK

It’s been too long since I’ve blogged so due to some scary and exciting future life changes I’ve decided that it’s best to get writing again.

It’s been a difficult few years in the UK and things have been slowing getting worse here. The main stream media has become more hostile to trans people and we have a TERF for an equalities minister. The community is fighting back though and hopefully things will get better eventually. So hopefully one day the UK might be a better place for trans people.

We have decided though that this is not a country we wish to live in anymore when we could be happier elsewhere. I suspect one of the things that has really changed is me and my awareness of how England feels rotten to the core and although the younger generations here give me hope it’s not somewhere I feel comfortable anymore.

On a lighter note we are currently exploring a couple of options with help from the people over at https://twitter.com/TransEmigrate, Ireland and Germany.

Germany

Germany was our original plan before the coronavirus hit the world. We had been trying to rush preperations so we could leave before we would need to get visa’s to move there (1st January 2021).

We know a little more about Germany as I’ve been posted there for work and we have been on holiday in the Berlin and Cologne area. There are lots that sound good about Germany and a few things that are a little scary for our situation and we need to research to see what the situation is especially when it comes to things like gender recognition as we have both changed our names and gender on our passports but not birth certificates.

Ireland

Ireland is something we hadn’t thought about till recently. They have self-ID so that is a massive plus for us as we could both change our legal gender easily. This is a massive plus for me as changing birth certificates is costly and bauracratic here. In the UK it may also not be possible for me to change without starting the process again (probably privately) as I believe the people who signed off my transition are no longer practicing. The only downside with Ireland will be living in a smaller country and we already find it difficult to live in rural Cambridgeshire.

Further information

I’m creating a page which will be updated as I discover more here

Adding a custom USB socket to the STM32 NUCLEO-F746

I’m currently building a design on the STM32F7 which I want to later port to a F4-NUCLEO board and eventually my own design so I want to test the USB host without the supplied electronics.

In order to do this I built a small USB breakout adapter and tried directly connecting this to 5V (for power) and PA11/PA12 (for USB).  The breakout was made by simply soldering some header pins to a USB socket.

I then attached the USB socket to CN12 as shown below.

The complete pinout for CN12 can be found here https://developer.mbed.org/platforms/ST-Nucleo-F746ZG/.

You will need to connect the pins on the usb connector as shown below:

  1. VBUS (+5v)
  2. PA11
  3. PA12
  4. GND

STM32 Nucleo boards and blackmagic probe.

I recently purchased a STM32F7 Nucleo boards to play around with Chibios.  These boards feature a integrated STlink debugger, I however do most of my development using a custom built debugger based on the blackmagic probe.  This has the advantage of being easily connectable to GDB via emulating gdbserver on it’s virtual serial port.

Unfortunately there doesn’t look like there is a documented way of connecting a 3rd party debugger to the Nucleo board but reading the schematics showed an answer in the form of the CN4 jumper block.

In order to connect a the black magic probe to the Nucleo board simply remove the jumpers from CN4 on the ST-Link .  You can then access the SWDIO pins on the main MCU as shown in the list below.

  1. SWCLK/TCK
  2. NO-CONNECT
  3. SWDO/TMS
  4. NO-CONNECT

You will also need to connect the ground pin of the blackmagic probe to a ground pin on the Nucleo board (I used one of the ground pins which have jumpers on them which are used for feet on the board.

And here is a picture of the board.

Passive POE Raspberry PI

I’be been using a Raspberry PI with a DVB-T2 card so we can stream TV to our PCs and tablets around the house.  As the PI sometimes crashes I’ve wanted to make it work with passive POE, I’ve also wanted to put it in a box.

So I’ve built a box which has a barrel connector for my POE adaptor cables.  The box also has a DC/DC converter to convert the 12V-24V I’m using in my server cabinet to the 5V required for the Raspberry PI.

As there wasn’t room in the box to have a lead going from the USB power socket on the PI i decided to feed power in via the expansion connector (i also didn’t have many spare USB cables).  Unfortunately this has the disadvantage of bypassing the poly fuse which protects the PI so I will probably add my own at a later date.

A view inside showing the DC/DC converter module.

Duna 1

So I’m currently going through my periodic phase of being addicted to KSP.  This time I’ve been using the USI Lifesupport mod ( https://github.com/BobPalmer/USI-LS/wiki ) to make things a bit challenging.  This mod requires you to keep your Kerbels supplied with food and have enough space to wander around if they are stuck somewhere for a long time.

The current mission which i’m working on is Duna 1, my first mission to Duna (KSP equivalent of mars).

 

Our brave kerbals posing for a photo on Duna in front of a NuLander 1c lander.

Flying the Grob 103a

On Sunday my usual glider the ASK21 wasn’t available so I flew the clubs Grob for the first time.  This was interesting as the Grob is a lot less forgiving of uncoordinated (flying without using the rudder correctly) flight then the ASK-21.  It really highlighted that I’ve started to develop a habit where the first thing I drop in high concentration situations is my rudder control.

Even though my rudder control caused me lot’s of problem I still covered quite a lot flying the Grob.  The aircraft is much less placid then the ASK21 which was really interesting when I practised stalling it.  I found it to have a much more obvious buffeting which was interesting.

A Grob 103 similar to the one we have out our club.

I also made lots of progress with taking of on the winch which was welcome as I haven’t been able to practice this for a few weeks due to the club winch being out of action.  The highlight being my first couple of launches where I correctly flew the whole of the launch on my own!

Outside of real world aviation I’ve also bought some new Saitek rudder pedal’s for my PC.  I think having pedals is even more important when you fly real aircraft as well as simulators and will hopefully get me more into the habit of using the rudder more when I fly in real life.  I’ve also been playing around with trying to stall and spin various aircraft in X-Plane and DCS.  It’s been particularly interesting with DCS’ F86 as this really shows up the affects of high G on stalling speed.   While stalling the F86 I managed to get it to stall where the wing drops and it goest into a dive.  Recovering from this was really difficult and I crashed the aircraft into the ground quite a few times.

IMG_20151026_214019

 

 

Learning to Fly


So after a work trip to a local gliding club I ended up enjoying it so much I decided to learn to fly gliders.  It’s been going really well for the last couple of months and last Sunday I did my first landing with me operating all the controls (my instructors have been using the airbrake to control the descent rate for my earlier landings).  I’ve also been experimenting with recording my flight logs so I can see where I’ve been flying and generally get a better idea of how to improve my circuits (basically the path you have to fly to perform a landing).  So after using a program called gpsvisualizer I made a track of my last flight on Sunday.

Untitled

I also took a picture of the instrument panel on one of the clubs ASK21’s that I fly:

DSC_0028_no_id

As you can see there’s a lot less instruments then you see on powered aircraft.  We also have a device call a variometer instead of a vertical speed indicator.  The variometer is designed to show if you are climbing or sinking due to atmospheric effects such as thermals.  The other instrument that is rarer is the G meter which is one with the 3 dials next to the altimeter.  This is needed as most gliders are certified for acrobatic flight and I’ve already experienced pulling about 3Gs from flying a fast turn when we had some altitude to burn off.

 

Terraria: I have a space gun and it’s mine all mine!

So I’ve finally defeated the Eye of Cthulu in Terraria and I’m now starting to be a lot stronger. I also used explosives to destroy a couple of shadow orbs and caused a meteor to crash (which I mined). So I now have a space gun and better armor. Now the next step will be trying to kill the eater of worlds.

I have a space gun!
I have a space gun!

All the demon forges!
All the demon forges!

Crossing the corruption made easy.
Crossing the corruption made easy.

Socket coding in Android

So I’ve recently been playing about with Android for ‘Not So Super Secret Startup Idea’ and needed some code to communicate data such as Phone Calls/Text messages and other things from my phone to another device using TCP/IP. This is a bit harder on Android then it is on a PC as Android is bassed on apps having something called Activities and Services.
An Activity is the part of the Application which handles user input and can be destroyed at any time by the OS. This makes it pretty much useless for running anything which will communicate with the outside world without user intervention.
The other part part of an Android app is called a service which can be used to perform tasks in the background, process events from Activities, etc.
So what I currently have is an Android app which has a Service to handle TCP/IP communications from a telnet client on a PC. The service will also send data such as GPS location, phone calls and text messages (currently work in progress) over the socket to the PC.
One problem with the default TCP/IP functions is that they block (do not return until the right amount of data is received). I choose to use threads to handle blocking I/O and post Intents (a form of IPC) to the main activity to update it’s UI.
There is however one problem with using Threads in that when the Service is stopped there is no clean way to Kill a thread. This can be gotten around by closing the socket and setting a variable inside the threads main loop to tell it that it needs to shutdown cleanly.
So here’s some quick and dirty code which output’s GPS location and the phone no. of any calls received to a socket:

GPSTest