Saturday, 5 March 2011


It's time to be a little mysterious...

We're working on a brand new project; well two really, but both leading to a really cool new set of products. Can't say much about them, other than them being a fraction of the cost of the big industry player's products, and being accessible to pretty much anyone.

I'll let the title be a clue... When the project starts getting a little more vocal, we'll be posting lots to the project's blog.

On a side note, can't wait until September, and the new fibre being pulled in! Whoot!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


If getting the latest issue of Wired through the post yesterday wasn't the highlight of the week, then getting the latest issue of Make definitely is!

A couple of fun bits and pieces I sniped on eBay have been turning up too, so it's probably time I actually start writing up a few projects, taking pictures and filming things breaking...

Wireless Sensor Networks and Safety

Not quite the sexiest of topics, but an interesting one nonetheless. My work finds me at current designing and architecting conventional albeit highly reliable and fail-safe (literal failure of anything results in electrical and physical isolation/safety states) cabled systems. A combination of both electrical and pneumatic actuation, coupled with two and three wire sensors.

A feature of all these systems, as hinted at, is the necessity of safe failing design. To ensure that the failure of a sensor, cable, relay, contactor or controller results in a safety state, rather than a potentially lethal state. A prime example, is to energise-to-run, and close-to-permit. Translating this to wireless sensors and actuators proves a little more challenging.

My underlying concern is always with a software failure within the wireless stack or within the gateway controller. With most wireless being ZigBee based, at some point a software stack that's less than bullet-proof will be involved with processing the data.

Yes, everything has a mode of failure. It's a given. But some things have significantly high numbers of modes of failure. Anything with code is a prime example of the latter. So, rule one would be to reduce the criticality of the modes of failure - prepare for the worst, so ensure the modes of failure give you an appropriate feedback, rather than false feedback.

I'll expand more on safe design a little later, but this really just scratches the surface and introduces Wireless I/O for some interesting projects to come...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

New Month, New Style

Well, it's March already, and so to make up for a distinct lack of chat, a new styling will make do. Both "Shot by" and "Made by" receive the new design, with newcomer "Loved by McCoy" to follow with a lighter version of the theme. To begin, the only distinction between the sites will be their backgrounds, but I'm sure they'll be tweaked adequately in time.

Anyhow, back to work.