Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I finished up my bachelors degree in Electronics Engineering at ITT in Tucson, June of 2006.
My final project, along with Tom Gross and Ronald Trinh, was an under water vehicle.

The construction of the frame was made from PVC pipe from the local hardware store, and the pressure chamber was made from a small Pelican case. Being a single hinge with clip lock, the pressure chamber was only good for less than 50 feet of depth, but good enough for a proof of concept.

Mounted in the case were all the electronics, as well as a small pinhole camera. Power and control signals were fed into the case via an umbilical cord, made from cat-5 cable. Two pairs of wire were used for power (one pair serving as +, one as -). One pair of wire was used for RS232 communications. Finally, one pair of wire brought back the video signal to a small LCD display.

The PCB carried a 5-volt linear regulator, as well as a pic16f877 micro-controller from Microchip Technologies. This chip had simple firmware written in PicBasic. The firmware handled all the communications via RS-232 to a laptop. In addition, using a simple state machine, it switched on the various motors of the ROV, via a standard power transistor.

The motors that moved the ROV around were bilge pumps made by Rule. All wires going into the Pelican case were first glued into a short piece of tubing with pvc caulking. Next, the wires were passed through a hose barb mounted in the case, and the tubing slipped over the barb, forming a water tight seal. Finally the wires could be connected to the PCB using screw terminals mounted to the board.

Since finishing the project, I have had a lot of time to consider all the improvements that could be made. In addition, I have joined and followed the discussions on a home-built ROV group. As such, I have been planning and am now in the circuit design and PCB layout stages of a new ROV, which will rival many commercial units, yet offer the electronics package at a price in which many can afford. My plan is to target small agencies that may be strapped for cash, in wetland areas. Agencies such as search and rescue, police departments, wildlife and fisheries, and emergency response units need small portable ROVs to work in rivers and lakes, which are of of low cost, as well as being easy to maintain. However they still need many of the same features of the mid-class inspection ROVs.

I will be making future posts as the project develops.

The original ITT-ROV project can be found here:

The posts have also been added to THIS blog. You can find them simply by clicking the ROV link on the left.

Unlock Codes ?

The following service claims to provide unlock codes for Sony phones, including the walkman series:


Has anyone tried with success?

Hacking on the Sony Walkman Cell Phone

When I first came to Japan, I signed up for service with AU, and picked up the Sony Erricson W42S Walkman phone. It was fantastic: it played music with ease, had a great screen for video, was simple and compact, and styling superb.

My only problem with it was the software. Sony and AU both enjoy making users go through all sorts of hoops in order to protect their IP, such that it makes the product nearly useless. Complicating the matter was the fact that the software was only available in Japanese. It drove me nuts. AU's software in particular was so bad, that it would even refuse to install on Windows unless it was a Japanese version.

I HAD to gain access to all those cool features, for which I fell in love with the phone in the first place. So I set out on several adventures in 'bypassing' certain basic procedures apparently designed to confuse people. Few of these jobs could technically be called "hacking." Most of them were simply discovering how to get around stupid measures taken by both companies designed to confuse people, such as switching your international settings in Windows to temporarily allow installing the software, or dropping files into hidden folders on the memory stick in order to get your own movies to play without paying extra for additional software.

I figured that if I were having trouble with the phone, than surely many other foreign customers were in the same boat. Sure enough, with a little bit of advertising on the various cell-phone fan sites, people starting asking me lots of questions. So, in a way, I became an unofficial English help line troubleshooter for AU and Sony.

The results of which are cataloged in the following blogs:

The posts have also been merged with THIS blog. You can find them by clicking the related links on the left.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

AU moves on to LismoPort

AU will no longer support AU Music Port. They have moved on to new software, named Lismo Port (presumably enhancing their tie-in with the Lismo online media service).

I have yet to play with it, other than to attempt an installation. Bad news, it absolutely refuses to install on a non Japanese OS (not even with the trickery involved to install AMP). So I will have to play around with this more. Honestly, I am very likely going to move on to a different phone set anyway. The 42/52 Walkman phones are getting old.

Anyway, since AMP is no longer available on the AU site (nor the USB drivers?) I have put up a page on my own site to hold old CD versions of the software. I don't take any responsibility for a broken system if you choose to upgrade from the old (ca 2006) CD versions.

You can find them at: