Tales along the way in my quest to Integrate Everything.

Winter Theme

With all the snow we’ve been having, it seemed only fitting to update the theme of this blog. The background picture is a shot I took of an accumulation of snow built up on the fence in my back yard one bright, sunny morning. I thought it looked rather pretty, and the snow has the effect, by design, of blending into the background, making it appear as though this web site is buried in it. I suppose in some ways, it is. Let me know what you think of the new layout; this is a theme I’ve wanted to use for some time, but it required some modification before it suited the nature of this page.

I’ve been working feverishly on the code development of Buscom, which is already working as a simple connector module, allowing direct communication to and from serial, IP and pipe-connected devices and services and Venturii Decider. Now it is also learning to speak Modbus, and there is more in store in the coming days!

The VDAC MID-1 Rev 2.2 is nearing completion, and I have only a few more touchups to do on the PCB design before I submit this third round of prototypes to fab. I’ve picked up a nice little rework station since assembling the last prototypes so I am hoping these next ones can be done a lot smoother. Better yet, it would be awesome if we could get them done by the Pick ‘n Place machine! Unfortunately I may not be able to wait that long.

The latest module coming to Venturii is perhaps one of the most versatile ones created to date! Venturii BusCom is a connector module for talking to any device, program or system that can communicate over a Serial connection (RS-232, RS-485, RS-422, TTL, etc.), an IP connection (TCP Client, TCP Server, UDP Client, UDP Server) or a Unix pipe. This module will basically open up Venturii to countless device types and systems, allowing data to be exchanged in both directions with them. Stay tuned!

It looks like I may have jumped the gun in announcing that the Shapeoko was operational again. It turns out that while it was visible on the USB bus again, it was still not fully functional, or even partially functional for that matter. Carbide Motion would “Connect” to the Shapeoko again, but within seconds it would display an unhappy “Cutter is not responding” message and return to the screen asking you to connect the cutter. I did some reading on this and it appears that it has to do with the 16U2 not being able to communicate with the 328P, and since the 328p was also just replaced and re-flashed with the same results, it is apparent there is yet other un-diagnosed damage or failure on the circuit board.

At this point, I believe we will start looking into alternate options for a controller / driver board for the Shapeoko. I’d like to get something that will let me use it with EMC2, and there would be an appeal to having both the Shapeoko and the laser using the same driving hardware and software. I’d also like to have manual jog controls available for positioning the router. Using a mouse on the laptop is difficult at worst and slow at best when you have to constantly divert your attention back and forth between the screen and the router.

If anyone has some suggestions for a good controller to drive the Shapeoko (and possibly also a laser) I’d be all ears. Sign up and leave a comment below.

After killing it, replacing the Atmega 16U2 IC and re-flashing it, our Shapeoko 3 Driver Board Registers on the USB Bus

After killing it, replacing the Atmega 16U2 IC and re-flashing it, our Shapeoko 3 Driver Board Registers on the USB Bus


A few weeks ago while cutting out some wooden letters for one of my Wife’s Christmas present projects, our Shapeoko died. The machine itself appeared to be OK, but it disappeared off the USB bus, and was never seen or heard from again. I tested the traces on the board, and verified pin to pin continuity between the USB connector and the Atmega 16U2 IC, which it’s driver board uses instead of an FTDI or similar USB to TTL Serial converter. Normally when you plug in any USB device to a Linux computer, you see [something] in the dmesg output – even if it has no drivers for the device and in many cases even when the device does not even work. (I recently ran into a case where a USB device kept complaining that it was “unable to enumerate USB device” – but the kernel was still aware of its’ presence on the bus.) In this case, plugging in our Shapoko yielded nothing. Not even the awareness of something drawing power off the port.


I traced out the pins, made sure the zeners weren’t bridged, and I could connect to the 16U2 via the ICSP header (in fact, I was able to save the binary program from it along with all it’s fuse bits!) However, despite all this, it simply did not work. This evening Jeremie replaced the 16U2 with a new one that arrived today from Digikey, I re-loaded the binary programs from the old chip into the new one and voila: The screen shot you see above! Now all I need to do is re-assemble the machine and test it with a real live cut, but that should be peanuts at this stage now that it is alive and well again.


I just love fixing things!