How to create custom partitions on a usb key (boot key) on Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 does not allow you to create a custom partition size on a USB key (needed for some netbooks to boot from USB key).

    1. Open Elevated Command Prompt
    2. Run diskpart
    3. Type Rescan
    4. Type “list disk” to show all disks.
    5. Type the disk that you want to partition (in my case partition “4”). Make sure you select the right disk or your will delete your data with no prompts).

Enter these commands (note my custom partition size if 3072, change to your custom size).


Create Part Primary size=3072



Format fs=fat32 quick Label=”Boot”

Create part primary


Format fs=fat32 quick Label=”Deploy”


Tips on soldering circuits on strip vero boards (part 1)

Tips on soldering circuits on strip vero boards (part 1).

1. Have a final circuit design (prototype on a large breadboard first with all sensors etc).
2. Print the final circuit design (both sides).
3. Have a cut list.
4. Test cutting strips and cross strip joining with solder or wire.
5. Solder least expensive parts first.
6. Solder shortest parts second.
7. Consider a complete arduino as a base ($40) compared to the time building a $30 system from scratch. Pros and cons of custom over standard shields.

More tips to come.

My first standalone ATmega328P/arduino breadboard

Having played with a Freetronics TwentyTen for a while I now want to build my own ATmega328P MCU powered devices running from batteries as cost affective as possible.

I followed this guide and ordered the parts for 2x solo units. I ordered the ATmega328P MCU etc from


Maybe I should have ordered this one from freetronics. The label on the freetronics chip would be handy.


This was the result of replicating the standalone arduino system on a breadboard.

The breadboard wire kit did not have a lot of red and black wires so please forgive the crazy colours. I did not have a momentary switch so I got creative with two vertical wires.


One stumbling block was how do I program my arduino (as I did not have a stand alone programmer). I tried removing the existing chip from the Freetronics TwentyTen but it would not budge. I tried with more force but the chip would not budge. On closer inspection I could not see if the chip was soldered into the DIP socket (Googling did not say if it was or not). I considered de soldering the square style dip socket and replace it with a round style dip socket that uses less force. But luckily I decided to gently lever up the chip on both sides with a flat screwdriver and bingo, the chip popped out.


Programming Considerations.

The chip that came in the Freetronics TwentyTen needs to be programmed as:

      • Board: Arduino Nano w/ATmega328
      • Programmer: AVR ISP


The ATmega328P MCU chip that came from Willtronics needs to be programmed as:

    • Board: Arduino Uno
    • Programmer: AVR ISP


The Result


Where to Next

Moving from a large breadboard down to a permanent circuit soldered to a board and actually driving sensors etc.


Virtual COM Port (drivers) not installing via IDE on Windows 8.1

I recently performed a clean install to Windows 8.1 and found that there was no COM port driver loaded for my ATmega328P Microcontroller (TwentyTen Arduino compatible) from Freetronics when installing the 1.0.5 IDE.


I read the getting started guide.pdf at freetronics with no luck. Opening the device manager and automatically searching for driver does not work on Windows 8.1.

A quick google revealed this virtual com port driver that is WHQL certified for Windows 8.1


Freetronics Temperature and Humidity Sensor (DHT22)

The Sensor

Today I plugged in my new DHT22 temperature and Humidity sensor (buy here).



  • -4°C to +125°C temperature range with +/-0.5°C accuracy
  • 0-100% relative humidity with 2-5% accuracy
  • 0.5Hz sample rate (one sample every 2 seconds)
  • 3 to 5V operation
  • Power consumption just 4.3mA during reads, even less when idle
  • Blue power LED
  • Dimensions: 31(W) x 23(H) x 4(D)mm

The Wiring

  • VIN: Connect to 5V on your microcontroller.
  • DATA: Connect to a digital I/O line on your microcontroller (e.g Pin 13).
  • GND: Connect to GND (0V) on your microcontroller.

The Code


    #define DHTPIN 13
    #define DHTTYPE DHT22


    void setup()

    void loop()
    float h = dht.readHumidity();
    float t = dht.readTemperature();

    if (isnan(t) || isnan(h))
    Serial.println("Error reading DHT!");
    Serial.print("Humidity: ");
    Serial.print("Temp: ");

The Results

Values before and after breathing into the sensor.



I was saving the DHT driver files (DHT.h) to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Arduino\libraries\DHT” and not “%UserProfile%\My Documents\Arduino\libraries”. This is common knowledge but no one says this here, here or here.

Home Security Ardrino Project

A few years back at AgQuip retailers were flogging $400+ sensors for farm driveways to detect and notify property owners of activity across certain points. Thse days $400 can buy you a lot more automation.

Watching NYCCNC Youtube channel video that involved lasers to count things gave me an idea. Why not use the same near invisible low powered lasers to create an invisible beam across many areas like a driveway or back door. An Ardrino can easily poll these lasers well over 1 million times a second. Using two laser beams a few centimetres apart would allow you to predict the number, direction and potentially the size of the object(s) passing through. If different height lasers (with a magnetic sensor) were setup you could predict animals (kangaroos, echidnas) kids, adults, cars or trucks.

Once an object has been triggered why not activate a $30 raspberry pi camera or another camera and start capturing and uploading offsite. Notification triggers could be sent (SMS, Tweets, Emails etc via a central Raspberry Pi computer).


Parts would be inexpensive and trivial to setup.