Android phone as an alarm clock

My son wanted to get an alarm clock for his room which preferably plays MP3s. MP3 players are surprisingly expensive at 40 CHF for a 4 GiB model so I picked up a used Moto E 2nd gen phone for 35 GBP, loaded a stripped down version of Lineage OS on it, and designed a 3D printed a stand: I’m quite happy with how it turned out. The phone is just an alarm clock and MP3 player as the other apps are either not installed or (like the Play Store) behind Lineage’s protected app feature.

ST Link v2 clone as a dev board

I got distracted and had a hack on using a STL Link v2 clone as a development board. There’s a lot to like: A Cortex-M3 STM32F103C8T processor with 64 KiB of flash and 20 KiB of RAM 4 I/O lines and a LED to blink Decent support in STM32duino with a DFU bootloader Comes in a case and plugs directly into a USB port ~$2/each The I/O is strange and limited but it’s enough to drive a RGB LED via PWM, drive a 40 RGB LED pHAT over SPI, and drive a 320x240 LCD over fast bitbanged SPI.

SDHC over SPI performance

I’m hacking on adding SDHC over SPI block device support to the Zephyr Project RTOS. I’m currently getting 224 KiB/s on an Arduino Zero with a 4 MHz bus and 1 KiB read size, which is an OK-ish 46 % of the top bus capacity. Here’s where the time goes: 4550 us - total time to read 2x 512 byte blocks from the card 80 us - time spent in ELM FS (impressive!

The many different CRC16-CCITTs

I’m hacking on adding Arduino Zero support to the Zephyr Project at the moment. I had a look at speeding up crc16_ccitt() but ran into a problem: there’s so many variants of CRC16-CCITT to choose from! Zephyr uses CRC-16/AUG-CCITT which is equivalent to CRC-16/CCITT-FALSE with two zero bytes prepended. The effective seed is 0x1d0f and test vector output is 0xe5cc. Mynewt uses CRC-16/XMODEM. The seed is 0 and test vector output is 0x31c3.

OpenOCD with the ST-Link v2

There is an issue when trying to program a SAMD21 like in the Arduino Zero using OpenOCD with a ST-Link v2 which gives errors like this: ** Programming Started ** auto erase enabled Info : SAMD MCU: SAMD21E18A (256KB Flash, 32KB RAM) Error: Failed to erase row containing 00000000 Error: SAMD: failed to erase sector 0 Error: failed erasing sectors 0 to 0 The issue is that NVMCTRL_CTRLA is a half-word register and the ST-Link v2 emulates the half word write using two single byte writes.


In follow up to my build, I’ve always wanted to design PCB and try my hand at SMD soldering. I normally use veroboard on a 0.1” pitch but the time to cut and solder wires makes for a slow build. Here’s the result: It has: An AT91SAMD21E18 (256 KiB flash, 32 pins, 0.8 mm pitch) USB, regulator, Cortex SWD debug header, LED, and pullups on I2C Footprint for a RFM69CW radio Adafruit Feather form factor Two layer PCB with 0603 passives The soldering turned out well.


It gets warm and humid here in the summer and feels too dry in the winter. To measure this I built up two MySensors Sensebender Micro boards and designed a 3D printed a case to go with them: The holes in the case are to save on print time and let the air flow. The battery is far oversized and probably self discharges faster than the board draws current. I ended up using a Raspberry Pi Zero with a RFM69HW as the gateway.

Adventures in making PCBs

As part of adding MySensors based sensors around the house, I want to make an integrated version of the Sensebender Micro upgraded with a SAMD21 and a RFM69HCW radio. I’ve never had much success with making PCBs at home, so I thought I’d give it another try and record the experiments. Try 1: HP M252dw, laminator @ 10 mm, 4 times through, Migros-brand T-Shirt transfer paper. Some transfer but lots left behind. on IPFS

The short story is that this blog is now available on IPFS at and This is done by generating the blog a second time with ipfs/ as the basepath, changing to relative links, and then adding and updating the name as part of the buildbot script. Hugo has relative and canonical link support but it seems inconsistent, and it’s hard to resist a sed script… I quite like how you can map ownership across DNS and IPFS using a TXT record.

Raspberry Pi Zero boot speed

I enjoy working on embedded systems, but there’s a significant amount of work you have to do in getting the platform ready before getting to the more interesting business logic. The Raspberry Pi Zero W solves most of these problems: it’s small, has decent I/O, a decent price ($10 + $6 for storage + $4 for shipping) and runs full Linux so I can use my current language of choice.