Hack, Make, Teach
There are more and more people diving into hacking on knitting machines, which is really great!
It’s getting to the point where there are too many people to thank for carrying this forward, you know who you are.
But, the increasing popularity has led to some problems and frustrations for people.
Recently I discovered an old thread on a Ravelry forum about the PDDemulate.py disk emulator that I wrote. People were frustrated by problems they were having. By the time I discovered the thread, I had already been contacted by one of the people with the problem, and I discovered a bug in the emulator. It’s now fixed in the repository. But months had gone by between the forum postings and email contact. The forum thread is still out of date, because a solution has been found but that’s not indicated.
I try to be responsive to people when they have problems with the code – I help when I can and try to be up front if I’m too busy to dive in deeply or if the problems are with an environment I don’t have (I only have a KH-930, and only run the emulator under Linux). But I don’t have time to find and follow every forum where this is being discussed.
Through email from people using the software, I’m becoming aware of more people who are working on this but unaware of others doing the same thing. It feels like there’s a larger community forming around this, but it’s fragmented.
Therefore, I’d like to respectfully suggest that we centralize the resources used for these projects, so that we can help each other, and keep a record in one place of the existing knowledge. Other forums are great, and I know there are communities with forums which reach and help the people who participate in them. Those should continue of course, but for people with deeper interest it may be appropriate to point them to this blog entry.
The definitive repository for the knitting machine disk emulator and related files is here:
If you’d like to fix or improve the code, or add information about different models of knitting machine, please fork that repo and then make pull requests to have your changes incorporated.
Technical information about connecting to Brother knitting machines and about the KH-930 is here:
Discussion about the software and reverse engineering of the data formats is taking place here:
The Yahoo group and git repository are the only places that I’ll regularly follow, and try to respond to questions.
I’ll still respond to email, my email address is in the code in the repository. But I’ll probably ask you to go to the Yahoo group. Still, if you’re self conscious about the question or whatever, you can use email.
Now, let’s all make great things!
Bdale Garbee and Keith Packard are both longtime Debian Developers, and have a pile of code to their credit. They’ve presented at a number of conferences and almost always find a way to work their passion for rocketry into their presentations. They are both amateur radio operators.
At the Linux Collaborative Summit last week, I had a chance to talk with them, and the topic drifted quickly to Rocketry and Amateur Radio, and the intersection of those interests. They’ve created the TeleMetrum telemetry system, available soon from their Altus Metrum site. This is an amazing platform that has applications beyond rocketry – a GPS, accelerometer, and altimeter with a telemetry link in the 70cm amateur band. it’s all open hardware and open software.
They’re about to open shop and start selling these, and I know it’s going to be a big deal for a lot of people in Rocketry. I can also see uses for high altitude balloon launches.
I’m not into rocketry any more, and there’s no room in my hobby load for that, but I was really interested in the programmable radio chip that they are using. The same chip is used on both the rocket and for the ground station, and the ground station unit is available as the TeleDongle. The TeleDongle is a complete radio system with 10mW output on the 70 cm band, powered from a USB port. As supplied, it has code installed from Keith which makes it a virtual 38k4 serial link. With different output filter values, the chip can function over a wide range of frequencies, but it’s only certified in certain bands. I’m still digesting the data sheet, but there’s an amazing amount of functionality on the chip.
Happily, I was able to order a couple of the TeleDongles from Bdale, and I got notice today that he has shipped them. They’re set up so that you can use one as a USB adapter to program the other, making experimentation easier. I’m looking forward to experimenting with these. I’ll post the results!