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ROS powered 'weapon of mass distraction' unveiled

Published: 22nd Feb 2007, 21:21:41 | Permalink | Printable

Your very own desktop launchpad

USB missile launcherRISC OS officially joined an ARMs race this week with the release of a new USB driver. Taking aim at a gap in the market, Dave Higton launched some open source software to control a missile firing gadget, pictured, with the Castle and Simtec USB stacks.

Armed with Dave's software, desktop generals can swivel their arsenal in all manner of directions before unleashing a wave of plastic hellfire on an unsuspecting enemy.

His work was expected to be a blast on Saturday's South West show, where it was set to be a sure fire success with punters - although it's understood the code didn't take-off with A9home users as it doesn't at present work with the ARM9-powered computer.

Dave said: "You can have hours of fun, and keep marauders away from your geek den. Yes, the ARMs race ratchets up another notch - you can have your own weapons of mass distraction.

"The application allows you to aim the launcher to left, right, up, down, and the diagonals too, and finally fire the three missiles."

The project quickly rocketed in popularity this weekend, and proved to be 'da bomb' with some fellow programmers. Developer Rik Griffin declared the driver as "the most important RISC OS software release so far this year." [That's enough damn puns - Ed]


USB missile driver website

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That looks like fun, if there is enough people you could have mini wars.

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 22/2/07 10:31PM
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Well this is enough to send the H&S people not to mention the PC police in to a real tizzy.

Might just be worth it to see how far you can get in the european court of human rights when they either ban you from using it or try to sack you for having to much fun at work.

Well done Dave but I hope that the rival camps in RISCOS don't start their own USB missile war at the SW show.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 22/2/07 11:05PM
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Fantastic! I have one of these - given at Christmas from a work colleague - so now to be able to run it from my RISC machine is just perfect!!!

 is a RISC OS UserRickCB on 23/2/07 9:54AM
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In reply to: bluenose


We could have a missile war at the Wakefield Show I suppose, the battle between the Iyonix and A9home, which fires better!! :-)

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 23/2/07 12:52PM
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In Reply to Wakeman

Even better involve a PC and MAC and you could re-live the "smash a PC" event in a previous Acorn show.

Might really bring a new meaning to OS wars. RISCOS6, RISCOS5, XP/Vista,Jaguar?

Perhaps 20p a go to charity would be a good cause.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 23/2/07 1:16PM
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Just read that again, wasn't trying suggest we actually smash something but you could do something along the lines of battleships or just have a who fires the furthest event.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 23/2/07 1:20PM
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is there an api for this, or did you reverse engineer the commands or something, if so is there source?

i was thinking of writing a linux driver/web frontend and strap a webcam/laser pointer onto it to annoy my cats (and film them!)

do you think the device would cope with any additional weight - i.e. remove the missile bit and add a philips webcam?

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 23/2/07 1:51PM
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In reply to wakeman:

Is there room for a 'arena' style area? If so hows this for an idea. Contestants have three missles each, they have to unpack, set up, load the software and fire there three missles at the target. Points could be awarded for quickest firing of all 3 missles, accuracy, and special bonus points if they actually manage to break something with the missle. :)

Although liability insurance might be a problem....

 is a RISC OS UserCol1 on 23/2/07 1:53PM
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I think about your idea and others suggested. Might have been more easy at the old venue I suspect.

But as you say liability insurance and risk assesments are now big headaches.....

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 23/2/07 2:56PM
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In reply to simo:

The app is in interpreted BBC BASIC, so you have the source, and I released it under the GPL.

I didn't reverse engineer the protocol; other people did, the code is out there to be Googled for. I used the information but not directly anyone's code. One of the earlier programmers did write an app with a TCP/IP interface so it can be controlled remotely.

You would not be the first by any means to mount a webcam on one.


 is a RISC OS Userdavehigton on 23/2/07 7:42PM
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I've had a call from CJE to tell me that it doesn't work on an A9, unfortunately. However, they are examining the possibility of lending me an A9 so I can make it work.


 is a RISC OS Userdavehigton on 23/2/07 7:44PM
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davehighton: yeah after a quick Google I found a C implementation and a Python one, and people have mounted webcams with motion-detection as well, jees you can never beat these FOSS guys to the punch!

Got one ordered from netpcdirect.co.uk (as they stock Xbox USB cables too) and you can get them from scan.co.uk and play.com amongst others for around 25ukp, M&S don't seem to stock them anymore.

Just looked and you can get them from directusbstore.co.uk - bloody good dealers they are, and they have a lovely USB->RS232 cable that works with Linux.

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 23/2/07 9:20PM
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In reply to simo:

(Please check the spelling of my name)

I've got a USB-RS232 adaptor recently, with an FTDI chip. Is that what you're looking at? Having got into the detail of the protocol, it's apparent that there are several FTDI chips with slightly different flavours of the protocol. The info I have comes from the Linux people.

 is a RISC OS Userdavehigton on 23/2/07 11:04PM
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davehigton - sorry about the name, typing too quickly.

yes the usb/rs232 cable is the AUM100 with FTDI chipset, they work a treat for lom/console access on sun/cisco kit, not tried them on modems.

dmesg from fedora 5 (6 works too) gives:

usb 4-2: new full speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 5 usb 4-2: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice ftdi_sio 4-2:1.0: FTDI USB Serial Device converter detected drivers/usb/serial/ftdi_sio.c: Detected FT232BM usb 4-2: FTDI USB Serial Device converter now attached to ttyUSB0

i wonder if these would work on the iyonix/a9 - or do they still have serial ports?

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 24/2/07 12:17AM
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In reply to simo:

My work so far has been on the Iyonix. I am aware of other work done on the Simtec stack for an FTDI device. In any case, I see no reason why the FTDI devices shouldn't work on all the implementations of both RISC OS USB stacks. Parameters are set via control transfers, which clearly have to work on every stack. Data are transferred via bulk transfers, which both stacks support quite well. The Iyonix does have two serial ports, but there are some problems.

 is a RISC OS Userdavehigton on 24/2/07 8:25PM
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