Software Engineer,  been writing code for almost 30 years.  I enjoy tinkering with writing software that interfaces with hardware.  I enjoy electronics, CNC, robotics and most things technical.

I post projects on Hack A Day and Instructables as well as my blog.

If you need anything or want to ask any questions, just ask.



// ————————————————————————————–
Old C programmers never die, they just get a new function pointer.
…”It began upon the following occasion: It is allowed on all hands, that the primitive way of breaking eggs before we eat them, was upon the larger end: but his present Majesty’s grandfather, while he was a boy, going to eat an egg, and breaking it according to the ancient practice, happened to cut one of his fingers. Whereupon the Emperor his father published an edict, commanding all his subjects, upon great penalties, to break the smaller end of their eggs.”  Jonathan Swift



  1. MB Wood
    October 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Hello again,
    You helped me a couple of weeks ago w/ Make: Robotics kit on @ your instructables post. Anyway, I am now having some issue with getting any sketch to upload, w/ a consistent error of: avrdude: stk500_getsync() : not in sync: resp=0x30 . It does it on both boards (now the proud owner of 2), so I’m fairly sure it is a software problem but I am so not an expert.
    Nonetheless, to quote a well used and time honored phrase:
    “Help me Obi Wan…”

    • October 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      This is a common error and there may be several issues causing the problem.

      Were you ever able to upload your program to the Arduino? If not check to make sure you have installed the USB drivers, or you may have re-install the USB drivers again. Here is a link: http://arduino.cc/en/Guide/Windows

      The other possible option is that you are selecting the wrong COM Port. Load the IDE, plug in your Arduino and select the Tools->Port menu and make sure the correct port is selected.

      In one of my published tutorials I explain how to see what the correct COM port is.

      Try rebooting you computer and re-loading the Arduino IDE again.

      Try pressing the re-set button on the Arduino just before you attempt to upload your script.

      If none of these items work, then it is possible that your bootloader has become corrupted on the Arduino. No big deal. This happens to me all of the time. You are going to need to pick up an ISP programmer to burn the bootloader back on your arduino. Here is a link http://www.adafruit.com/products/46. Very cheap and if you are going to get into programming Arduino projects, you will need one. $22.00, best money spent.

      Adafruit has a great tutorial on how to setup and program your arduino with a new boot loader.

      Get yourself a free copy of Evernote and start taking notes. This will become a valuable resource and can be accessed from any computer connected to the internet.

      Good Luck and enjoy the ride, it is a fun one.


  2. MB Wood
    October 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Thank you very much once again 🙂

  3. MB Wood
    October 4, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Well apparently I’ve crashed them. Have ordered the bootloader you recommended (and a couple of other goodies;), but also [this](http://www.adafruit.com/products/123) just to get me up & running until I get the loader built (I’m assuming that will work? ) .

  4. October 4, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Yes, it is always a good idea to purchase extra chips in case you fry one. When you get the ISP programmer you can purchase the blank chips and burn the boot loader yourself.

    You can the purchase chips from any of the parts houses such as Mouser, Digi-Key, Jameco. Also check out ATMEL, they make the chip for the Arduino. You can order free samples of the 328P chip.

    Pick up a static mat, ground it to a close electrical outlet, plug plate screw. micro-controllers are sensitive to static discharge (ESD).

    Always ground yourself and work on your static mat.

    Always store your chips and components in static bags.



  5. MB Wood
    October 4, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    I really appreciate your help. Lots.
    I am aware of esd. It doesn’t matter with today’s digital radiography, but 10 years ago, we would see esd as an artifact on xrays. Under a little bit of magnification, they’re cool looking, like lightning.
    Some years back, I was building my own pcb’s (very amateurish guitar effects) and learned about it then also.

    • October 4, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Very cool about ESD on xrays. I follow a lot of people in the DIY, electronics field today, Not sure if you have seen this, I do not she is making them anymore. But very cool looking guitar effects unit. http://www.frantone.com/. Also might as well get you hooked on this as well. check out http://hackaday.com/. Also I have made the switch to TI ms430 line of micro-controllers, half the price of an Arduino and 16 bits instead of 8 bits. Check out http://43oh.com/. Arduino is still cool and I still do stuff with them but I also like the msp430 line and the Tiva -C line of 32 bit ARM processors. Each launchpad board goes for $12.95 each. Not bad for 16 or 32 bits of processing. Not trying to get you to switch, just letting you know what is out there. Arduino and their IDE programming environment is still pretty cool.



  6. MB Wood
    October 5, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Thanks for that info. I’ve no problem with different avenues. So, I’m guessing the “TI” is Texas Instruments? Are they still putting the little outline of Texas on their IC’s? Because I want that. Sentimental reasons.

    • October 5, 2014 at 1:12 am

      Yes, TI is Texas Instruments. They make some great products. There boards are called LaunchPads and the “Shields” are called Booster Packs.

      Yes, TI logo is still there. They have a new logo for the LaunchPad, a Rocket. Thanks so much for the donation, my wife is always on me for purchasing way too much goodies. This goes a long way towards funding my tinkering.

      I will send you some images of some of the TI stuff. You need to head over to https://estore.ti.com/. Also create yourself a login to TI.COM. For a large company they sure make the extra effort to support their product line for the DIY community. I just love their documentation.

      I am a recent convert and I am loving TI’s great support.

      Thanks Again


      • Soy Lent
        October 6, 2014 at 7:11 pm


  7. MB Wood
    October 12, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Howdy again,

    So, I built the bootloader, but it doesn’t work at all, as in, the green led fails to light. Checked all solder joints-good constructs, no bridges. Checked the resistors, diodes, & caps with a multi meter and they appear to be okay. I know nothing of probing chips and laugh any anemic attempt at such, and so thus refrain.
    In other news…
    I am guessing that my avrdude problem is maybe a port problem, and I have been searching all through this old XP driven laptop that I’m using for all this, and I cannot find anywhere how to manage the ports. I have driven myself just shy of insane looking for it.
    As it happens, I’m getting a new computer at the end of the week. I hope that takes care of it.
    Again, any ideas are greatly appreciated.

    • October 12, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      Hello, Yes Arduino IDE is suppose to work with Windows XP: http://arduino.cc/en/guide/windows

      I would wait until you get your new computer and try again with avrdude.

      Also, make sure you inserted the chip the right way, Also connecting the ribbon cable ends can be confusing, Double check you have pin one correctly connected at both ends. I have had problems with this one. Check the documentation to make sure you have the power jumper in the correct location.

      Make sure that when you soldered the through hole leads that you did not short out any near pins to each other. Turn the board upside down and place your multimeter on ohms and set up the mode so that when the leads are connected you hear a beep. then tough each solder point and make sure that the leads are not shorted. Since you are my age, pick up a set of magnifier lens or a lamp with a magnifier built in. I picked up mine are Harbor Freight for really cheap.

      I have included some links that might be of some help. You really need the usbTinyISP working so I would work with Adafruit forum to work that out. They are a big help.





      Post a question on the forum:


      Have you ever been able to down load a program to your ardunio?

      This is the toughest part of working with Microcontrollers, Learning how to setup the com ports and getting the Arduino to communicate to the computer. Luckily there a lot of articles that assist in troubleshooting the problem.

      Let me know Sometimes you may have to completely reset the com port to get it to work. Refer to the link on how to check in the device manager that the Arduino usb drivers are setup correctly.

      Keep me posted.



  8. MB Wood
    October 13, 2014 at 1:21 am

    So, yeah I’ve got a lighted, magnifying glass on an articulated arm, soldered the board using it. I checked, double, triple, ocd-with-two-magnifying-glasses checked :\ .
    Everything was working fine until a week ago. Was getting ready to jump off into some intermediate stuff with neo-pixels & other blinky goodness, but was thwarted by some dude with avr.
    I will look at the links provided. Thank you!

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