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In the land of the sheep…

I wrote this post while in New Zealand but never posted it, now I’m at I have time to finish it up.

Well its been a long time since I have posted on my blog. As I lasted mentioned I now work at Google, which has been going well but keeping me fairly busy. For the last month (October, 2009) I have been back in Mountain View, California. While I was there for mainly work purposes, I did get the chance to go to both the Summer of Code Mentor Summit and the GitTogether. Both where a lot of fun but tiering.

It was good to see the BZFlag guys again – they even had cool t-shirts this year. Not as cool as our Thousand Parsec shirts, however. 🙂 I was finally able to meet kblin who I had know through the WorldForge project for many years. As always he looked nothing like I expected.

At the GitTogther I was mainly interested in trying to make git usable with large media repositories. This is one area which Subversion still has an advantage. After much discussion we came up with a solution to the problem which I gave a short presentation.

It also gave me a chance to catch up with the Open Source Progams Office. It was great to catch up with Leslie Hawthorn and her fabulous crew.

No sooner had I gotten back from the states, I headed of to New Zealand. Lee Begg who I also first met through the WorldForge project and was the co-founder of the Thousand Parsec project, is getting married and I will be a grooms man.

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CFXS free at last!

Those who either know me personally, or have read more of my blog might remember my final year honours project. The project was to build a budget 8 line USB channel bank. Originally, I had hope to commercialise the project, the prospects looks good until two competing products where released into the market for only a slightly higher cost point. I had always hoped to make the system a piece of open hardware, but both the Uni rules and trying to commercialise it had made that difficult.

As a strange coincidence, David Rowe, a guy doing open source embedded Asterisk hardware, lives less then 15 minutes walk from my home. His main motivation behind this open hardware is to try and bring technology to the developing world in a way which empowers them instead of making them dependent on external supplies. We got chatting at a local LinuxSA meeting and he was partly inspired by my device to start the $10 ATA project. (David also has a bunch of other cool projects like his own electric car and trying to go off the grid).

Sometime during that, I removed the access controls on the subversion repository that I had used for the CFXS so that David could look at it. It turns out though, that I never told anyone else! So that is the main aim of this post, to tell you all where you can get a copy of source files for my honours project.

The subversion repository is located at the following url You can check it out using the following subversion command,

svn co cfxs

So why not check it out and build your own? I have some left over components which I’m happy to dole out if you agree to actually use them in a useful way. Just send me an email.

David (hopefully I’m not putting words in his mouth here) is hoping that we can use this device in combination with the OLPC XO laptop to bring telephony to a whole village. The mesh networking wireless would be ideal for doing VOIP, while my 8 port CFXS device and some very cheap handsets can give a bunch of people “real” phones. The system can also be made very low power as both the OLPC and the CFXS device can be in power down modes while nothing is happening.

So I guess we will see what happens in the near future, it seems like it’s an exciting area of FOSS to be involved in. Sadly, I don’t have much time to work on any of this.

I’m free!

I have been meaning to post here for quite a while but have been busy doing nothing.

As anyone who chats on IRC with me knows, I got my “Eligible to Graduate” letter from my University. This means that as of the 31st of July I will officially have both a “Bachelor of Engineering (Information Technology and Telecommunications)” and a “Bachelor of Arts” in Philosophy. I’ve been studying at Uni for 5+1/2 years, so I will be glad to finally leave. The last 6 months of Uni have been the most enjoyable because I have spent most of the time working on my Honours project, I did pretty well (ended up with 94% which is a High Distinction).

I’ve been working on a little contract that I picked up off the Linux Australia jobs list. Sadly it’s not open source, but it should tide me over for about a month. I badly need to update my Resume as I haven’t needed it for about 4 years.

I’m still yet to calculate the numbers to work out if going commercial with my Honours project is going to be worth pursuing. David Rowie has been giving me some advice and templates to work with. He has been working embedded Asterisk which is very cool.

My Honours Project – All done!

Well, as of Wednesday I have completed my Honours project. On Wednesday I gave my final presentation for the project and it went really well (at least for me). It is a great relief to have finally “finished” something which I have been working on for a good 10 months of my life.  I have spent the last couple of days recovering.

The day was way more stressful then it needed to be. I needed quite a bit of time to setup for my presentation (I need to setup 8 telephones at various locations and get the power supply and such working. However, the room I had been scheduled to give my presentation room which was being used all morning. It then took us ages to find a room which I could use, we ended up using the student study room.

The demonstration worked pretty well. I had two problems, but neither of them where significant or really noticed by the moderator or supervisor.

My documentation turned out pretty good too. I was required to produce two documents, the first was a “ Final Report” which covered what I actually did. The second was as a “Technical Document“, my supervisor suggested I do this in the form of a data sheet for my project. I’ve attached both the documents here for people to have a look over.

So where do I go from here? Most people just stop once they had done their final project. The University has some strange rules about collaboration on Honours projects, so I wasn’t able to do this project as an piece of Open Source Hardware. Now however that restriction has been lifted, over the next couple of months I hope to move it all to Open Source.

It also turns out that a guy working on embedded Asterisk lives just around the corner from me. I invited him along to my presentation and he is now helping me pursue getting this device on to the market.

At the current price point, it looks likes is it possible to do the 8 FXS channel USB device for around $US 300. Hopefully, we can get this down even lower, ultimately my end target is for it to be half that price. If you are interested in the device (either as a developer or as an end user) I would love to hear from you.

Almost there..

Well, I’ve almost finished my Honours project, less then a week left until it’s done. I have been working on this project officially for almost a year now, however it’s original inception occurred about 2 and a half years ago.

For those who don’t know, my project is to build a budget 8 line computer to telephone interface. My hope was to eventually be able to sell the device for $US 150, allowing somebody to interface a whole house cheaply. The design is nothing more then a glorified ADC/DAC device – the computer its connected to does all the work.

I have built a prototype board which is working a lot better then expected, you can see it below. I will however be glad when I can get back to just working on the board instead of writing all this documentation. Anyway, I should get back to it.

CFXS Try2 PCB Board