The physical Martian clock… I have to come up with a better name for it than that. PiMars! Yup, I like that. The PiMars clock was up and running and displaying data at a crucial time. It was just a couple of hours before the end of the day at the InSight location, and as luck would have it, I had it display time at that place.
A few hours later I noticed the clock was still saying it was (mission) sol 569, despite the fact that it was after midnight there and into a new sol. Checking the website clocks revealed the same issue. Checking the code I could see there was a narrow window when this error could be observed - as soon as AMT ticked over to the next sol, the error would be resolved and therefore hidden. Ok, it was a 9 hour window, but how often do you think I spend 9 hrs staring at that part of the Mars Weather page?
Anyway, it's fixed now in the Mars Weather page and PiMars.
Speaking of PiMars, I have now fixed the issue where the screen is mega-bright (thanks to the Pi forums and Dougie Lawson). The screen default brightness level is 255, and I've found 75 is quite bright enough thank you. Not only does it stop the clock illuminating the entire village in a bat-signal sort of way, it'll stop the backlight burning out so quickly.
Having given the project a name, I've also decided to make the code publicly available as a zip file (or possibly a GiT repository).
I'm also thinking of adding a motion detector to it - where the camera would normally go - so the program can wake the screen up when people are moving around in the room. At other times, the screen will go to sleep. It won't extend the screen's lifetime because it is still 'on', but the backlight will be off and that's the most likely part of it to fail first. The backlight is rated at 50k hours, so I'm guessing I'll have a bit of use out of before I need to order a new one.
I noticed there was a lot of activity on the countdown page, so thought I'd better check, and lo and behold, NASA have pushed the launch date back again. This time it's at the end of July, which only leaves a 2 week launch period, so they're looking at extending that. Naturally, I've updated the clock to reflect the new first launch opportunity.
You'd think with all the daily updates I get from NASA in my mailbox that somewhere along the line they'd have mentioned pushing the launch back. Ho-hum.
I have Pi Zero knocking around and was looking at some of the Zero projects people have done to see if I could get inspired. The only one that really appeals to me is the phone. I just know I'd end up turning it into a brick, but how cool is that? Making your own mobile phone?
The big problem that I see is that an awful lot of projects require the use of a 3D printer. Reinforced cardboard I might be able to manage… Still, I don't have a project yet, so I'll deal with that problem when it is time to.