Initial Thoughts: Arduino Opta

Arduino have announced a new micro PLC, the Opta, and while some details are unclear, it seems like a pretty neat product. Here are my initial thoughts:

Partnership with FinderDigital I/O uses 0-10VDC, not “standard” 24VDCHow will programming support for IEC 61131-3 PLC languages work? Via existing IDE?
DIN rail mountAnalogue inputs use 0-10VDC, not “standard” 4-20mACan programming be done over Ethernet?
IEC 61131-3 PLC language supportI/O expansion options?
Beefy relay outputs with dedicated commons
Modbus-TCP and Modbus-RTU support
Input power supply is 12-24VDC
-20 °C to +50 °C temperature operating range

I’m hoping to buy one.

Apple 27” Thunderbolt Display

My Apple 27” Thunderbolt Display was flickering on and off intermittently (running on my M1 MacBook Air via a Apple USB C/Thunderbolt Adapter). Turns out it was the integrated Thunderbolt cable – I’ve connected it using a seperate cable and it now works perfectly (the display has a separate Thunderbolt port you can use).

Eventually I may try to replace the cable properly but it’s a fairly involved job… (thanks Apple!).

Dusting off my Apple IIc

Snow White 🙂

I have a pair of Apple IIc units (with matching power bricks), an Apple IIc monitor (complete with stand), an external Apple IIc floppy drive and an Apple IIc mouse (in original box no less).

In some brief testing, everything apart from one of the Apple IIc units worked perfectly (including both power bricks). This includes all of the 5 1/4 inch floppy disks I tried!

As you can see from the following photographs, the monitor is still crisp and bright. Not bad for around 38 years old!

With any luck, repairing the other Apple IIc unit shouldn’t be too hard. Everything is intact and present and there are no signs of damage.

Turns out my working Apple IIc is an ”original” ROM version.
Mouse IIc
System Utilities Version 1.0 (1984!).
Cool keys (that need more cleaning)

Review: Birders (film) on Netflix

I stumbled across this film via a Facebook post and watched it during lunch and on the bus home from work (it’s only 37 minutes long). It provides interesting insight into the birding on either side of the US/Mexico border, an area I knew very little about. A bonus is the wonderful cinematography (in particular the incredible raptor scenes). It’s a niche topic but I highly recommend the film.

July 2021 Birding Update

An overnight twitch with two friends to Credo Station yielded two new birds for me:

Good views of Ground Cuckoo-shrike and Zebra Finches also which was nice. These two additions take my Australian life list to 358 and my Western Australian life list to 295. Photographs from the trip are on my Flickr site.

A trip down memory lane – the Commodore 64

The first computer we had when I was growing up was a Commodore 64. We had it in the late 80s/early 90s – when it was old but not yet retro cool. It was my introduction to computing and I have fond memories. We had a tape drive, joysticks and the paddle/wheel controllers. Some of our favourite games were Wizard of Wor, Lemans (top down car racing game with the paddles), The Last Ninja and Impossible Mission. A few years later it was relegated to storage as a Window 95 486 PC and a Macintosh IIci took it’s place (we didn’t miss the tape drive and it’s propensity to find errors 30+ minutes into loading a game).

Fast forward a few decades and, thanks to John, I am now the proud owner of a Commodore 64C. John also hooked me up with a modernised power supply, joystick, S-video cable and a 1MB (!) cartridge full of programs. I’m using an S-video to VGA adapter to drive an old 17 inch LCD. Graphics isn’t perfect – I’ll be trying another old LCD soon.

Commodore 64C goodness

Loading up the 1MB cartridge and there is Wizard of Wor!

An instant hit with my youngest two!

There is currently a battle going on to see who can get the highest score…

Apple Newton MessagePad (OMP) Repairs

In an effort to scale back my collection, I have been going through my Apple Newtons. I have 4 OMPs (Original MessagePads) – two are dead completely and two are exhibiting the glitches expected from bad capacitors.

The OMP stash (battery leakage occurred prior to me acquiring them)

After watching the following excellent YouTube video I decided to tackle the recapping myself.

Stay tuned for progress updates!