Xbox + Weeder

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Xbox + Weeder

Zen Tormey
So this is more of a "just to make sure I don't blow anything up" sort of question.

I recently picked up a Weeder Digital I/O board, and have been having a lot of fun learning how to code for it and make it work for me.

One of the jobs I've given to it is to toggle the power button on my xbox, so I can turn it on/off/reboot/etc without having to walk to the server closet where it is located. (it's there so the video feed from it can be distributed throughout the house.  Control is done with the web interface (via audreys) and wireless RF xbox controllers, but that's a bit off subject).

Now, IANAEE (I am not an electrical engineer), I'm more of a software kinda guy, but I'm really enjoying learning how to work on the hardware side of things.  My ignorance in this field is my reason for the e-mail. 

The Xbox power button isn't a normal switch sort of thing.  The button just makes a momentary connection to ground.  The Xbox, upon sensing this connection will toggle the power to the unit (ie: if it's off, it will turn on, and vice-versa).

In the past I had done this with an X10 Universal Module (UM506, IIRC).  I soldered a wire to the power button on the xbox, and ran it to the UM, and another one from Ground on the Xbox power supply to the other terminal on the UM.  Set it up for momentary contact closure, and just sent the X10 signal to toggle.  This worked fine, but I'd like to move the UM to another room and use the  Weeder to control the Xbox.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the 'correct' way to do this would be to have the weeder drive a relay and hook it up the same way I had the UM hooked up, right?  Well, while dinking around with it, I found that if I connect the xbox power button to a port on the weeder (I just used "A") and send a LOW signal to it, this will activate the button (I'm guessing because the weeder is using IT'S ground, and the xbox detects that?)  the command I'm sending is ALA5000 (much less of a delay and the button wouldn't trigger).

Now since I'm not very experienced on the hardware end of things, I just wanted to make sure this wont cause any problems in the future (ie: blow stuff up).  Does anyone with knowledge of this sort of thing see any problems with hooking it up like this?

On a related note, my next project (just a learning project) is to wire the Weeder into an old NES controller and write code to drive the controller through the first few levels of Super Mario Brothers. (Seems pretty feasible from how I understand this all works).

Thanks in advance for any tips or insight!
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Re: Xbox + Weeder

David H. Lynch Jr.
Zen Tormey wrote:

>
> Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the 'correct' way to do this would
> be to have the weeder drive a relay and hook it up the same way I had the UM
> hooked up, right?  Well, while dinking around with it, I found that if I
> connect the xbox power button to a port on the weeder (I just used "A") and
> send a LOW signal to it, this will activate the button (I'm guessing because
> the weeder is using IT'S ground, and the xbox detects that?)  the command
> I'm sending is ALA5000 (much less of a delay and the button wouldn't
> trigger).
        I am not intimately familiar with the powersupply and switch of the
X-Box, but I suspect it is identical to that of an ATX powersupply.
       
        Obviously what you have done works. At a minimul the weeder ground
should be tied to the xbox ground. Better yet something should isolate
the two such as a relay - a reed relay is probably more than sufficient.
The "danger" is that you will obliterate the weeder board if the
voltages do not match or if there is a ground difference between the
equipment. Presuming you are willing to risk the weeder board - what you
have works.


>
> Now since I'm not very experienced on the hardware end of things, I just
> wanted to make sure this wont cause any problems in the future (ie: blow
> stuff up).  Does anyone with knowledge of this sort of thing see any
> problems with hooking it up like this?
        Standard ATX powersupplies never let 110v AC outside the metal
enclosure. Older powersupplies switched the AC on the outside and that
had serious implications for UL ratings on a device consumers are
expected to open (the computer). Newer ATX powersupplies turn the
powersupply on/off by grounding a signal to the powersupply. This keeps
the higher volate inside the powersuplly - and as you have seen makes
controlling it easier.
        You can not going to blow anything up - so long as you stay on the
outside of the pwoersupply.


>
> On a related note, my next project (just a learning project) is to wire the
> Weeder into an old NES controller and write code to drive the controller
> through the first few levels of Super Mario Brothers. (Seems pretty feasible
> from how I understand this all works).

        I forget the details of the weeder and I am not sure of the logic
levels on the NES. Again it will probably work by just connecting
things, but the weeder will be less likely to get damaged if it is isolated.



>
> Thanks in advance for any tips or insight!
>

        I am a software guy too. Actually my degree is in Architecture -
Buildings. I took CS and CSE courses to bring up my GPA. Much of my
early programming efforts was directed at the practice of architecture.
I wrote CAD systems before there was an AUtodesk. I had to learn about
hardware, because there were no displays - I had to use an DAC to drive
an oscilliscope, and a chart recorder. Also when I started running my
business on computers, if you needed a Hard disk, you had to write your
own drivers. If you wanted a network you had to write your own.
        Now I write software for Automated Warehouses, and embedded systems and
anything else I can get paid for.



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RE: Xbox + Weeder

Jim Serack
In reply to this post by Zen Tormey
Message
Zen,
 
I am an electrical engineer and yes you should be concerned about the direct connection. I would personally not do that - since you really don't have an understanding of the circuits you are interfacing (Xbox is likely 3.3V logic, when you are not pulling it down - i.e. sending a 1 you are likely powering some chips protection device with the 5V you are sending - I'm not sure - you would need to get or reverse engineer a circuit diagram). If the power is off in one device or other you could ruin it.
 
The safer approach would be to use some kind of isolation circuit between the two systems like your earlier set-up with the relay contacts. There are non-relay approaches as well.
 
If you can share a common ground between the two systems. (check by checking if either or both circuits have their ground isolated from the mains ground, or both are actually grounded) The you can use an "open collector" buffer that just shares ground and "open collector" pin which you would connect to your xbox switch - the otherside to your logic board. The main drawback is a risk of a ground loop between the systems (likely minor - but can introduce noise into sound systems). The simplest circuit is an NPN transistor, collector to the switch through some resistor (maybe 1Kohm, emitter to the common ground, and base to the weeder board through a 10Kohm resistor) Note it will be inverting - 1 = pressing the XBOX switch.
 
The robust approach would be to use an photo transistor output optoisolator (http://www.fairchildsemi.com/ds/H1%2FH11A617B.pdf or similar) ~ $1.30 at your local electronics store. One side is an LED which you would hook up to your I/O board through a resistor- just like an LED, the other side is a transistor you connect to your control switch like in the description above. The advantage is 1500V isolation between the two circuits - which makes it safe for your project. That is approach I would take with the game button controllers as well.
 
I hope that helps.
 
Jim
 
 
 
 
 -----Original Message-----
From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Zen Tormey
Sent: February 3, 2006 11:28 AM
To: [hidden email]
Subject: [MH] Xbox + Weeder

So this is more of a "just to make sure I don't blow anything up" sort of question.

I recently picked up a Weeder Digital I/O board, and have been having a lot of fun learning how to code for it and make it work for me.

One of the jobs I've given to it is to toggle the power button on my xbox, so I can turn it on/off/reboot/etc without having to walk to the server closet where it is located. (it's there so the video feed from it can be distributed throughout the house.  Control is done with the web interface (via audreys) and wireless RF xbox controllers, but that's a bit off subject).

Now, IANAEE (I am not an electrical engineer), I'm more of a software kinda guy, but I'm really enjoying learning how to work on the hardware side of things.  My ignorance in this field is my reason for the e-mail. 

The Xbox power button isn't a normal switch sort of thing.  The button just makes a momentary connection to ground.  The Xbox, upon sensing this connection will toggle the power to the unit (ie: if it's off, it will turn on, and vice-versa).

In the past I had done this with an X10 Universal Module (UM506, IIRC).  I soldered a wire to the power button on the xbox, and ran it to the UM, and another one from Ground on the Xbox power supply to the other terminal on the UM.  Set it up for momentary contact closure, and just sent the X10 signal to toggle.  This worked fine, but I'd like to move the UM to another room and use the  Weeder to control the Xbox.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the 'correct' way to do this would be to have the weeder drive a relay and hook it up the same way I had the UM hooked up, right?  Well, while dinking around with it, I found that if I connect the xbox power button to a port on the weeder (I just used "A") and send a LOW signal to it, this will activate the button (I'm guessing because the weeder is using IT'S ground, and the xbox detects that?)  the command I'm sending is ALA5000 (much less of a delay and the button wouldn't trigger).

Now since I'm not very experienced on the hardware end of things, I just wanted to make sure this wont cause any problems in the future (ie: blow stuff up).  Does anyone with knowledge of this sort of thing see any problems with hooking it up like this?

On a related note, my next project (just a learning project) is to wire the Weeder into an old NES controller and write code to drive the controller through the first few levels of Super Mario Brothers. (Seems pretty feasible from how I understand this all works).

Thanks in advance for any tips or insight!
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Re: Xbox + Weeder

Zen Tormey
Jim,

Thanks for the advice!  The optoisolator looks like my best bet.  I unfortunately don't have a local electronics store (small town wisconsin, yay) - or even a local computer store or book store.. or music store.. you get the point ;)  (I'd like to take this chance to give a big thank you to Wal Mart for shutting down all of the local business in my hometown!)

eh.. sorry for the tangent.  I'm sure I can find what I need online through digikey or elsewhere.  In the meantime, I've disconnected the wire from the weeder and put it back on the universal module.  I guess I didn't fully think through everything I was doing at the moment, was just happy to be making stuff work ;)

Thanks for the warning and advice, have a great weekend!
Zen

On 2/3/06, Jim Serack <[hidden email]> wrote:
Zen,
 
I am an electrical engineer and yes you should be concerned about the direct connection. I would personally not do that - since you really don't have an understanding of the circuits you are interfacing (Xbox is likely 3.3V logic, when you are not pulling it down - i.e. sending a 1 you are likely powering some chips protection device with the 5V you are sending - I'm not sure - you would need to get or reverse engineer a circuit diagram). If the power is off in one device or other you could ruin it.
 
The safer approach would be to use some kind of isolation circuit between the two systems like your earlier set-up with the relay contacts. There are non-relay approaches as well.
 
If you can share a common ground between the two systems. (check by checking if either or both circuits have their ground isolated from the mains ground, or both are actually grounded) The you can use an "open collector" buffer that just shares ground and "open collector" pin which you would connect to your xbox switch - the otherside to your logic board. The main drawback is a risk of a ground loop between the systems (likely minor - but can introduce noise into sound systems). The simplest circuit is an NPN transistor, collector to the switch through some resistor (maybe 1Kohm, emitter to the common ground, and base to the weeder board through a 10Kohm resistor) Note it will be inverting - 1 = pressing the XBOX switch.
 
The robust approach would be to use an photo transistor output optoisolator (<a href="http://www.fairchildsemi.com/ds/H1%2FH11A617B.pdf" target="_blank" onclick="return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)">http://www.fairchildsemi.com/ds/H1%2FH11A617B.pdf) or similar) ~ $1.30 at your local electronics store. One side is an LED which you would hook up to your I/O board through a resistor- just like an LED, the other side is a transistor you connect to your control switch like in the description above. The advantage is 1500V isolation between the two circuits - which makes it safe for your project. That is approach I would take with the game button controllers as well.
 
I hope that helps.
 
Jim
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Re: Xbox + Weeder

David H. Lynch Jr.
Zen Tormey wrote:

> Jim,
>
> Thanks for the advice!  The optoisolator looks like my best bet.  I
> unfortunately don't have a local electronics store (small town wisconsin,
> yay) - or even a local computer store or book store.. or music store.. you
> get the point ;)  (I'd like to take this chance to give a big thank you to
> Wal Mart for shutting down all of the local business in my hometown!)
>
> eh.. sorry for the tangent.  I'm sure I can find what I need online through
> digikey or elsewhere.  In the meantime, I've disconnected the wire from the
> weeder and put it back on the universal module.  I guess I didn't fully
> think through everything I was doing at the moment, was just happy to be
> making stuff work ;)
>
> Thanks for the warning and advice, have a great weekend!
> Zen

        Jim's advice was good advice - but you aren't going to blow anything
up. The most likely problem will be damaging either the weeder or the
x-box and my money is on killing the output on the weeder.

        It is likely the universal module you have uses a small relay for
isolation.
        Another source of electronic hardware is cheap commecial widgets. You
can buy a cheap electronic theromostat for less than $10 and it has a
reed relay that will switch the 24vac most hvac systems use. That is
more than sufficient for the xbox. $10 is expensive for a reed relay,
but if you do not have a local radio shack and you need one NOW, it
could be very reasonable.


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RE: Xbox + Weeder

Jim Serack
David,

You are most likely right about the blow-up bit - I took that to mean ruin
as opposed to smoke and small bits of circuitry flying through the air...

Jim

-----Original Message-----
From: [hidden email]
[mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of David H.
Lynch Jr.
Sent: January 29, 2006 1:07 AM
To: [hidden email]
Subject: Re: [MH] Xbox + Weeder


Zen Tormey wrote:

> Jim,
>
> Thanks for the advice!  The optoisolator looks like my best bet.  I
> unfortunately don't have a local electronics store (small town
> wisconsin,
> yay) - or even a local computer store or book store.. or music store.. you
> get the point ;)  (I'd like to take this chance to give a big thank you to
> Wal Mart for shutting down all of the local business in my hometown!)
>
> eh.. sorry for the tangent.  I'm sure I can find what I need online
> through digikey or elsewhere.  In the meantime, I've disconnected the
> wire from the weeder and put it back on the universal module.  I guess
> I didn't fully think through everything I was doing at the moment, was
> just happy to be making stuff work ;)
>
> Thanks for the warning and advice, have a great weekend!
> Zen

        Jim's advice was good advice - but you aren't going to blow anything
up. The most likely problem will be damaging either the weeder or the x-box
and my money is on killing the output on the weeder.

        It is likely the universal module you have uses a small relay for
isolation.
        Another source of electronic hardware is cheap commecial widgets.
You can buy a cheap electronic theromostat for less than $10 and it has a
reed relay that will switch the 24vac most hvac systems use. That is more
than sufficient for the xbox. $10 is expensive for a reed relay, but if you
do not have a local radio shack and you need one NOW, it could be very
reasonable.


-------------------------------------------------------
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RE: Xbox + Weeder

Jim Serack
David,

Sorry - I somehow deleted the last part of my last post. I also find that
pile of electronics junk that "you don't throw out because you just might
use it again" is a good source of components (at even less than $10 :) -
such as those 1200 Baud modems we all have laying around - some nice relays
in there... And as you have already noted a trip to Wal-Mart with an eye to
cannibalize something is another source ... (make sure you buy it first!)

Jim

-----Original Message-----
From: [hidden email]
[mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Jim
Serack
Sent: February 3, 2006 10:41 PM
To: [hidden email]
Subject: RE: [MH] Xbox + Weeder


David,

You are most likely right about the blow-up bit - I took that to mean ruin
as opposed to smoke and small bits of circuitry flying through the air...

Jim

-----Original Message-----
From: [hidden email]
[mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of David H.
Lynch Jr.
Sent: January 29, 2006 1:07 AM
To: [hidden email]
Subject: Re: [MH] Xbox + Weeder


Zen Tormey wrote:

> Jim,
>
> Thanks for the advice!  The optoisolator looks like my best bet.  I
> unfortunately don't have a local electronics store (small town
> wisconsin,
> yay) - or even a local computer store or book store.. or music store.. you
> get the point ;)  (I'd like to take this chance to give a big thank you to
> Wal Mart for shutting down all of the local business in my hometown!)
>
> eh.. sorry for the tangent.  I'm sure I can find what I need online
> through digikey or elsewhere.  In the meantime, I've disconnected the
> wire from the weeder and put it back on the universal module.  I guess
> I didn't fully think through everything I was doing at the moment, was
> just happy to be making stuff work ;)
>
> Thanks for the warning and advice, have a great weekend!
> Zen

        Jim's advice was good advice - but you aren't going to blow anything
up. The most likely problem will be damaging either the weeder or the x-box
and my money is on killing the output on the weeder.

        It is likely the universal module you have uses a small relay for
isolation.
        Another source of electronic hardware is cheap commecial widgets.
You can buy a cheap electronic theromostat for less than $10 and it has a
reed relay that will switch the 24vac most hvac systems use. That is more
than sufficient for the xbox. $10 is expensive for a reed relay, but if you
do not have a local radio shack and you need one NOW, it could be very
reasonable.


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Re: Xbox + Weeder

David H. Lynch Jr.

I actually take apart old electronics gear just for fun. I keep a stack
of old PC Power supplies (as well as many other items) arround and
periodicall attack them with a soldering iron. I pretend that I am doing
it to salvage parts - and I do frequently use the parts, but in reality
I find tearing them apart soothing.

I also learned long ago that computers do not respect you unless you can
wave a soldering iron in front of them and threaten to dismember them
circuit by circuit - they know when you are lying, so it is important
that they are sure that you can and will carry out the threat.

Jim Serack wrote:

>David,
>
>Sorry - I somehow deleted the last part of my last post. I also find that
>pile of electronics junk that "you don't throw out because you just might
>use it again" is a good source of components (at even less than $10 :) -
>such as those 1200 Baud modems we all have laying around - some nice relays
>in there... And as you have already noted a trip to Wal-Mart with an eye to
>cannibalize something is another source ... (make sure you buy it first!)
>
>Jim
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: [hidden email]
>[mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Jim
>Serack
>Sent: February 3, 2006 10:41 PM
>To: [hidden email]
>Subject: RE: [MH] Xbox + Weeder
>
>
>David,
>
>You are most likely right about the blow-up bit - I took that to mean ruin
>as opposed to smoke and small bits of circuitry flying through the air...
>
>Jim
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: [hidden email]
>[mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of David H.
>Lynch Jr.
>Sent: January 29, 2006 1:07 AM
>To: [hidden email]
>Subject: Re: [MH] Xbox + Weeder
>
>
>Zen Tormey wrote:
>  
>
>>Jim,
>>
>>Thanks for the advice!  The optoisolator looks like my best bet.  I
>>unfortunately don't have a local electronics store (small town
>>wisconsin,
>>yay) - or even a local computer store or book store.. or music store.. you
>>get the point ;)  (I'd like to take this chance to give a big thank you to
>>Wal Mart for shutting down all of the local business in my hometown!)
>>
>>eh.. sorry for the tangent.  I'm sure I can find what I need online
>>through digikey or elsewhere.  In the meantime, I've disconnected the
>>wire from the weeder and put it back on the universal module.  I guess
>>I didn't fully think through everything I was doing at the moment, was
>>just happy to be making stuff work ;)
>>
>>Thanks for the warning and advice, have a great weekend!
>>Zen
>>    
>>
>
> Jim's advice was good advice - but you aren't going to blow anything
>up. The most likely problem will be damaging either the weeder or the x-box
>and my money is on killing the output on the weeder.
>
> It is likely the universal module you have uses a small relay for
>isolation.
> Another source of electronic hardware is cheap commecial widgets.
>You can buy a cheap electronic theromostat for less than $10 and it has a
>reed relay that will switch the 24vac most hvac systems use. That is more
>than sufficient for the xbox. $10 is expensive for a reed relay, but if you
>do not have a local radio shack and you need one NOW, it could be very
>reasonable.
>
>
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>This SF.net email is sponsored by: Splunk Inc. Do you grep through log files
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>http://sourceforge.net/mail/?group_id=1365
>
>
>
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>
>
>
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>
>  
>

--
Dave Lynch DLA Systems
Software Development:       Embedded Linux
717.627.3770 [hidden email] http://www.dlasys.net:8888



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Re: Xbox + Weeder

David H. Lynch Jr.
In reply to this post by Jim Serack


There is an amazing amount that violates best practices that frequently
just works.

I do a reasonable amount of electronic design using a rough
understanding of general principles with a complete disregard for proper
grounding, impedance matching, isolation and voltages levels.

Presuming that you are NOT dealing with equipment that in some what
poses a health hazard - such as a ground fault, and you are NOT making
something to be mass produced in the thousands, and you can afford to
occasionally melt something down, or obliterate an interface, and you
are careful about not putting something that might overheat too close to
something that might catch fire, then it is amazing what actually works
and how much you can get away with.

I have also blown up my fair share of things so I tend to take "blow up"
fairly literally. But Zen may not want to risk his weeder board driving
the power supply on signal directly.

Jim Serack wrote:

>David,
>
>You are most likely right about the blow-up bit - I took that to mean ruin
>as opposed to smoke and small bits of circuitry flying through the air...
>
>Jim
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: [hidden email]
>[mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of David H.
>Lynch Jr.
>Sent: January 29, 2006 1:07 AM
>To: [hidden email]
>Subject: Re: [MH] Xbox + Weeder
>
>
>Zen Tormey wrote:
>  
>
>>Jim,
>>
>>Thanks for the advice!  The optoisolator looks like my best bet.  I
>>unfortunately don't have a local electronics store (small town
>>wisconsin,
>>yay) - or even a local computer store or book store.. or music store.. you
>>get the point ;)  (I'd like to take this chance to give a big thank you to
>>Wal Mart for shutting down all of the local business in my hometown!)
>>
>>eh.. sorry for the tangent.  I'm sure I can find what I need online
>>through digikey or elsewhere.  In the meantime, I've disconnected the
>>wire from the weeder and put it back on the universal module.  I guess
>>I didn't fully think through everything I was doing at the moment, was
>>just happy to be making stuff work ;)
>>
>>Thanks for the warning and advice, have a great weekend!
>>Zen
>>    
>>
>
> Jim's advice was good advice - but you aren't going to blow anything
>up. The most likely problem will be damaging either the weeder or the x-box
>and my money is on killing the output on the weeder.
>
> It is likely the universal module you have uses a small relay for
>isolation.
> Another source of electronic hardware is cheap commecial widgets.
>You can buy a cheap electronic theromostat for less than $10 and it has a
>reed relay that will switch the 24vac most hvac systems use. That is more
>than sufficient for the xbox. $10 is expensive for a reed relay, but if you
>do not have a local radio shack and you need one NOW, it could be very
>reasonable.
>
>
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>  
>

--
Dave Lynch DLA Systems
Software Development:       Embedded Linux
717.627.3770 [hidden email] http://www.dlasys.net:8888



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