So, when all’s said and done, yesterday was a good day.

Not only did I manage to resurrect Diane’s laptop, but an HP printer came up on ‘FreeCycle’ -an ‘old’ HP LaserJet 2100M that was being ‘retired’ because the owner had bought himself a shiny new colour laser to replace it.  I’ve had experience of these printers, and apart from the odd paper jam, I’ve never had one go down on me.  The only thing was, I was very late in seeing it -it’d been posted for at least a couple of hours.  It had to have gone.

Still, undeterred, I sent in a reply saying that our project would really love it, and gave this web address as an example of what we do, but all the while aware that in all probability, it had long gone.

Several hours later -about 8.00pm last night, I got a call on my phone from the printer’s owner.  Did I want it?

Does The Pope wear a pointy hat in the woods?

The absolute kicker was that the chap said he’d bring it round to my flat!  So, a half hour later, and we’re now the proud owners of an HP printer.

The only slight downside is that it has no USB connection, but a quick look at, and sure enough they sell a USB to parallel connector.  Its on order!

Comms away!

Comms away!

On the right here you can see the latest board I’m building.  As I’ve wittered on about before, this board will effectively replace the PIC programming board I’ve been using.  If you click a couple of times on the photo, you will hopefully see the circuitry I’ve soldered above the big PIC.  These five transistors, associated diodes, resistors and a green LED are the programming bit which ‘glue’ the PIC to my PC.  They provide all the comms between the two.

So last night, Diane was here, and we were just ‘winding down’ from the day’s excitement, and I thought I’d finish this board off while we were talking -just the regulator and the 9-pin serial socket -that’s the plug on the end of the short length of wire to the left of the photo.

Diane was in the kitchen doing something or other, so I thought I’d just plug it in, just for the look of the thing, and maybe see which bits of it didn’t work.

I popped a PIC16F887 in, plugged the board in, checked for smoke, then loaded up the various programs to run it all.

No smoke, but the green LED was lit.  …So far so good…

I then tried to load up a PIC program in the programmer, and…

It loaded fine.

This was extraordinarily good.  Normally, if you forget to even switch the programmer into ‘program’ mode (…thats the switch on the black flying leads to the right of the photo…), it will bleat at you.

So I hit the ‘Program!’ button.

And it only programmed perfectly!

A real and proper; ‘Whose Cat!!??’ moment.

Diane came rushing from the kitchen.  ‘Whats wrong!?’ she exclaimed.

‘It only works!!!‘  I was dumb-founded.  Gob-smacked.  This little circuit that I’ve been putting off building for days because it was such a ‘toughie’ had just worked the first time.  Those five transistors may not look like much, but trust me in this, building analogue electronics on ‘Veroboard’ is no walk in the park.  Digital’s easy by comparison.

So, I’ll carry on with the rest of it.  By tomorrow I want this circuit to be doing what the previous one does -monitoring and controlling, but with the added Party-Bonus in that I don’t have to take the PIC in and out of the board to be able to program it.

Yes.  Definitely a good day.