Main

March 17, 2006

Electrical

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The majority of the electrical work for this project was comprised of linear amplifier circuits to drive the DC motors. Each of the two motors had the following circuits created:

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The V_in signal came from the PC/104 stack analog outputs driven from the computational model. The motors were each driven usen +/- 15V, but the stack could only output +/- 9V. Therefore, to push 9V up to the 15V source, the multiplier 5/3 (1.667) was chosen to push the limits. This would give us ultimate torque and speed.

The solenoids were also driven with a similar amplifier, though they only needed 12V.

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March 16, 2006

Cuecats

The barcode scanning of the playing cards was carried out through the use of a readily available device known as a "cuecat." These devices, created by Digital Convergence and manufactured by Radio Shack, could scan UPC-A and Barcode39 numerical values and (originally) output an encrypted source to proprietary software. Nowadays, however, it is more common to find cuecats already "hacked" than not in order to disable the encryption and simply output ASCII keyboard codes. Therefore, scanning a UPC or Barcode39 font "types" its real value to the computer it is plugged in to.

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Due to the limitations of xPC Target, we were forced to use the PS/2 keyboard input on a seperate computer than our PC/104 stack. By opening notepad and begining our card dealing procedures, we could view the output of the barcode reading.

Cuecat History

The :CueCat was a barcode scanner manufactured by vendors of RadioShack Corporation in the early 2000's. The product and associated intellectual property would instantly and directly link product UPC, EAN, ISBN as well as the unique :CRQ Cue codes to their appropriate web sites. Usually these were to links buried deeply within a site which could be further targeted demographically or geographically. The unique Cue code The unique Cue codes were placed within traditional media content and some advertisements in publications like Wired Magazine, Forbes and its specialty magazines, Parade Magazine and several daily newspapers. Product Cues were also placed in many catalogs to facilitate instant e-commerce shopping and the automation of wish lists. As you can imagine, this technology could eliminate search with "laser beam" accuracy.

The "tethered" Cue:Cat was just the beginning of the story. Portable scanners like the one manufactured by Cross as a pen, and a keychain scanner were ultimately cost-reduced and readied for deployment. This "store and forward" or "bookmark life" concept was just beginning as the dot-com crash and advertising money around it started to crumble. Today, everyone with a mobile camera phone has the potential to read barcodes, thus negating the need for a separate scanning device that DigitalConvergnce had produced to achieve the ultimate goal of linking the physical world to virtual space.

UPC Code Since January of 2002, the database servers which provided this machine-readable code to Internet URL linking are no longer in operation. The desktop client, which requires a registration code, is no longer supported, nor can these codes be generated for the Windows PC or Apple OS-X software.

The weak encryption from the Cue Cat, put in place to protect the company under DCMA laws, can be circumvented via instructions that can be found on the Internet. Many third party book, CD, DVD, video game and other media home inventory and web applications can even accept the obfuscated output and convert it to the original code format. If you are looking for the rare USB or popular PS/2 keyboard wedge CueCat, they can be found inexpensively through many websites online.