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Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

New Partner and Distributor – The Pi Hut

Friday, January 25th, 2013

ThePiHutLogo

I wanted to let everyone know that we have a new partner and distributor, The Pi Hut. I’m really excited about this new partnership. The Pi Hut is one of the most popular online stores for raspberry pi accessories, and Flirc is now part of their offerings.

Flirc is one of the best accessories for raspberry pi users looking for a great media center solution, and we have big plans for the little embedded system.

On another exciting note, and no coincidence, the command line utility for flirc has been ported to run on Raspberry Pi, and should be available for download soon.

 

 

Updates Soon

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Wanted to give a quick updated where things are progressing.

I’ve started on firmware development and spent a good amount of time on sleep detection, in fact most of my time. I have something up and running and it seems to be semi decent, but unfortunately if this doesn’t work, a hardware change may be necessary. I’m using a soft USB stack and because of this, the firmware is extremely timing sensitive. In order to do sleep detection, I need CPU cycles, which effect USB performance. Because of the uncertainty in this solution, the feature will be disabled by default, and will need be enabled via the Graphical User Interface or command line.

I’ve improved a number of features inside the firmware. I’ve changed the way it operates so the GUI and command line no longer need a second thread. This was critical as I will be publishing the API soon as well.

Iv’e also enabled error detection to prevent ghost signals. This is also disabled by default. The reason being that the logitech harmony remote only sends one signal at a time. This is going to lead to a lot of confusion should someone be trying to pair their remote and they have to press each button twice. I’ll look into this and see if I can make a workaround.

I’m still trying to figure out how to make a signed driver, that’s been a royal pain and I’m sorry there is no better solution yet. I actually have a bid on rent-a-coder, hopefully I’ll get something soon.

Orders placed are also going to start going out this week as more inventory arrives. If you haven’t received yours yet, keep an eye on your email. You should get an email notification.

The build system has taken great shape. I’ve got the GUI partially in there too, which is huge being that it’s written all in QT and they generally don’t like when you don’t use their makefile.

Here is what’s going to be in the next beta release

* Noise detection/prevention
* Sleep detection updates
* Long press detection (apple remote)
* Sticky Key issues (you will be able to modify settings via the GUI)
* GUI visual feedback for recorded buttons
* Better Windows 8 Support
* (MAYBE) Media Key Support on Windows 8 and OSX

There is a lot there, so this will definitely be beta and only available to forum members.No ETA, hopefully in a couple weeks. I’ve made great headway.

Happy New Years everyone.

 

Announcing Njoy Digital, Our New Partner

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

I’m so pleased to announce that we’re partnering with Njoy Digital in Europe. Njoy Digital offers a number of amazing products and I am happy to be a part of their product portfolio. This will help with European distribution and dreadful 4-8 week ship times. They currently have limited stock, so get them while you can.

I’m also evaluating some of their amazing products hoping to offer those to US costumers as well. The flirc store will be expanding in the next few months so stay tuned for some neat personal and partner additions.

Here is a list of our Partners

Direct Link to Flirc on Njoy Digital.

Update and Progress

Monday, November 26th, 2012

I failed to update the blog these past couple of weeks and I apologize for that. I thought I would at the very least give a brief update of progress.

Things are going very well and I’ve made tremendous  improvements to the build system. I’ve pretty much solved all technical hurdles I was struggling with and have it about 85% complete. It’s sustainable, scalable, and will allow me to cross build, deploy, and solve all my shared library issues. I have static analyzers as part of the build system and many many more improvements.

I’m at the point now where I can start ripping apart the code and improving on it. It was absolutely necessary that I fixed the build system before continuing development. My git repository was an absolute cluttered and broken mess with branches going no where.

All this time I’ve been mapping out how to restructure the firmware. My goal is to have major releases by the end of the month of both the firmware and the GUI.

I’m also completely out of inventory. I have a sample test batch coming wednesday which took the manufacturers way to long to make. Should those be good, the first 100 pre-orders will go out immediately and I will start the next major build.

On a separate note, does anyone use twitter anymore? I occasionally get new followers and am curious if people actually like twitter as a line of communication. Let me know in the comments. I haven’t used it in quite a while.

Software Progress

Monday, November 5th, 2012

As promised, I wanted to give everyone an update.

Not a big one today, I’m still working on the software build system, which isn’t done. Getting stuck on a technical problem, I took a break from that and am working on firmware development.

I’m re-structuring all my code so I can solve these bugs with sleep, sticky buttons, and long presses. I’ve begun strengthening my algorithm to better support other remotes and so you don’t have to record keys twice with the RC6 protocol. I’ve also completely revamped things a bit so the firmware works differently. Previously, the firmware would set an interrupt  back to the host on the event of a button being recorded. Anyone familiar with libusb, set_interrupt(), this function blocking. Which means that in order to write the host side software, I needed a separate thread to wait in set_interrupt. This isn’t good and made my API terrible, confusing, and easy to get wrong when I release the software.

Now, the flirc firmware uses a state machine for recording. The host PC can ask flirc the current ‘state’ in a polled mode, which means that I don’t need a separate thread.

This doesn’t mean much for customers other than it’s the beginning of me getting back into firmware development. For developers looking to integrate flirc into products, this actually means a lot.

I’ve also begun working on something ultra cool, and I’ve got some of that up and running. Hopefully I can make an announcement in a couple of weeks.

Until next week…

 

 

Signed Windows Driver and Updates

Monday, October 29th, 2012

With the release of windows 8, there is an issue with the Flirc drivers because they weren’t signed. Windows 8 doesn’t allow installation of unsigned drivers enforcing you to basically turn all signature recognition off. Although, it just asked me if I wanted to ‘install the driver anyways’, but nonetheless, plenty of people wrote in here.

I created signed drivers and attached them to the bottom of the forum.

I’ll make these official as soon as I get a tad bit of feedback, but they will be incorporated into the installer so you wont have to manually do an installation through device manager.

On the software front I’m still cleaning up, re-vamping my build system. Today I got working a tool called NSIS on OSX. That creates an installer for windows. Why is that awesome? From my new build system and on my mac, not only will everything get compiled and updated, but I will be able to cross compile a windows executable and then even make the installer. I don’t need windows anymore to do any development or deployment, just test.

The hardware front is going smoothly too. I updated the boards to help with yield, as I previously mentioned in my last blog entry. I’m expecting 100 sample boards to get back to test soon.

I mentioned I would follow up with how I planned on improving yield, so I’ll share that as well when I get some more time.

I’m going to make a huge effort to update the blog once a week. I want to do a better job of letting everyone know that I’m still working extremely hard on making this product perfect.

Passed Both FCC/CE Certifications

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Thought I would share the exciting news that I’ve passed American, European, Australia, and New Zealand certification testing. I’m legally allowed to sell in those areas, and open communication to distributors.

Everything went great, and I passed without a hitch. Here is a neat picture of the first stage of the testing, it’s called an Anechoic Chamber.

They have a very large expensive antenna pointed at flirc. The antenna rotates and also moves up and down. The table the laptop is sitting on, also rotates. They measure with the antenna any emitting frequency spikes on a spectrum analyzer, and compare that against a maximum allowance. I’ll post a picture of what that chart looks like. The emissions from the setup has to be less than a certain amount across all frequencies.

Another test was called immunity, which meant that I had to withstand a shock of up to 6kV. Luckily, the device is well insulated, and there were no sparks, so I passed.

Logistics Update and Cheaper Shipping Option Available

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Admittedly, I’ve been horrible recently with both communication and development. However, that’s not to say I’m still not putting my heart into the project, I just haven’t done as much as I wanted to do on the firmware/GUI side. I am working endlessly behind the scenes trying to slim down on the cost, manufacturing, and distribution side.

I found a programming house called A&J Programming. It’s in San Jose, which is great, because it’s local. They specialize in programming parts. I used them for this most recent build, and I’m pretty excited I don’t have to manually program 2000 parts. Although, Eric and I (mostly Eric) worked extremely hard on making a programming fixture. It works great, but when the demand increased a bit, I was absolutely miserable.

For the shipping, I’ve done a number of things to help get orders out. I recently found a company called shipstation, which has been my saving grace. I use an e-commerce store called lemonstand, and while they nailed product management and selling online, they haven’t figured out how to handle getting your actual products out. I had to manually go to the USPS website for each order. I’m sorry for my language, but the USPS website is shit. It’s slow, they don’t support non-standard characters, so for people in Sweden, I couldn’t have any characters like: ö . If the order did contain any of these characters, I had to manually go through each field and change them. My life was miserable and most of the labels created through their own website was missing tracking bar codes. Every time I would make a trip to the post office, I’d get asked, “why did you remove the bar code”. Yes USPS employee, I went out of my way to remove to remove the $@^%ing bar code…

Shipstation imports all your orders, allows you to batch create shipping labels, they work with label printers, and automatically updates your orders in lemonstand. I was so happy with the purchase, I left them a very deserving review.

The best thing about shipstation, is they allow me to batch create ‘first class postage’ labels. In the store live for the past few weeks, is an alternative shipping method which is much cheaper, and doesn’t seem to be any slower. This was by far the biggest complaint, and well deserving being that shipping was over half the cost of the product. I’m really ecstatic about it.

As far as distribution, it’s an entirely different game. For me to find distributors, I need to have FCC/CE certification. While this isn’t a big deal, it’s expensive. However, I’m happy to say that I’m doing it now.  In a few weeks, once that it is done, I’ll push inventory to a few distributors where shipping options will be even better for customers. If anyone is interested in becoming a distributor, please e-mail me.

We have made improvements on the GUI and firmware side, which we will hopefully polish off and push soon. I know I have completely dropped the ball on promised features. Between my full time job, working on flirc, taking care of my family, I don’t take a moment of rest, seven days a week.

A Special Honor

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

This past week has been incredible. Flirc was featured on the front page of xbmc.org with an article written by a truly exceptional and good hearted person, Chris aka (Pseudo7). What an exceptional honor it was to be featured on the front page of the very product flirc was created for, and by a person who has been extremely supportive, helpful, and ambitious in helping with my mission statement. I’m forever grateful, and glad to have made a great friend in such a unique way.

The popularity of the article has helped spread the work. It was the first time anything has ever been written about Flirc.  It’s been a huge kicker as I realized we were very unprepared for the increase in demand. We’re still trying to catch up but this has really kicked me into gear to figure out how to handle shipping. I’ll most likely also be decreasing the shipping costs as well with other alternatives. Which will be great for international shipments.

Another surprise which will be included in all new orders is the new packaging. This has been in the works for a while, and it was worth the wait.

What does this actually do to the product? Nothing. This is the same hardware and firmware, but merely symbolizes the culmination and completion of a product that I have been working so hard on for 3 years.

Media Keys – Beta Firmware Released

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Here it is for the testing:

http://forum.flirc.tv/index.php?/topic/98-beta-release/

Please post in the forums to report feedback.