Ben Lipkowitz

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ben lipkowitz <fenn [@]> to Marcin Jakubowski <>, date Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 5:46 PM subject Re: thin client EMC

hide details 5:46 PM (20 hours ago)


On Thu, 6 Mar 2008, Marcin Jakubowski wrote:

> Hello Ben, > > Thanks for the excellent recommendation. Please send me a Netier or two. Let > me know if you need some cash. We're cash poor, we do everything on > donations, and we are working hard on a fundraising mechanism for the open > source product development consortium that we are proposing. It's starting > to move forward.

It keeps your technology appropriate, at least. I'm cash poor too, but stuff's just going to sit in the basement anyway.

> I read your blurb on USB compact flash. Can I just boot off that? I have a 1 > Gig card.

USB isn't compact flash...? You would need an adapter from CF card to ribbon cable connector, but I can supply the cable if I can find it. I haven't tested booting off USB yet, and there is a chance even if booting works that it will interfere with realtime stuff.

> I'd like to ask you, in case it's tricky to get all the right parts working, > to send me a package with all the necessary components, and I'll gladly pay > you for the pieces.

I dont have "all the pieces". I wish I could send a turn-key three axis servo system, but I'm just not there yet. An iso image to run on a thin client hasn't been put together yet either. A really lightweight emc2-compatible-out-of-the-box linux distro would certainly be welcomed by the emc community, but for now we'll have to slog through setting up a stock Debian net-boot image and then adding the emc2 packages to it.

> We will be utilizing the torch table to do a second prototype of the CEB > machine. We will be using the CEB machine to build our open source product > devevlopment facilities. We aim to start building in the beginning of May. > We have all this development work to be done by that time, so we need to > move fast.

I hope I'm not just getting in the way then; you might be better off with a desktop and steppers, and fix it later if you dont like it.

Your vision is really cool; high-tech self sufficiency is something I've been thinking about for years but never manage to get anything done. It started with tesla turbines and then a scratch-built metal lathe:

> If you can jumpstart me in the right direction with the thin client, I'd > appreciate it greatly. Please let me know what I should read, and if you can > point me to a procedure, that would be great. Tell me more about the servos.

read this for starters: (not exciting, how to set up PXE net-boot)

I think our emails passed like trains in the night. In any case, the servo drive is a simple h-bridge and encoder counter, which talks to a chip which talks to the parport. If I only had two or three axes then this would be "easy" to interface directly to the parallel port, but with six or seven axes things look a little different.

here is my wiki page with some chicken scratch:

> What do you do for a living? We're doing this open source product thing full > time.

I'm supposed to be developing this into an online business, sold as a kit: but keeping focused is difficult when working alone. I end up spending a lot of time in #emc on It will be "open source" but I'm not sure that public domain is the best way to do it.

I just read "the four hour workweek" - perhaps it could help you to refine your business plans. Yes it reads like an infomercial, but there is a lot of good advice regarding "time management" = making money without spending all day doing it, how to not babysit people, and how to take advantage of modern tools like google adwords. Understanding how things are done in "the real world" (where your target audience is non-geeks) can help to clarify what is good and what is bad about it. Maybe it's no big deal if you already know this stuff, but they sure don't teach it in school.

I've done some linux system administration (perl and mysql hell) but it doesn't really pay the bills. I'm thinking about joining Neil Gershenfeld's fab-lab group but so far I've been too chicken to ask.