Perodua Viva Test Drive

I had the chance to test drive a Perodua Viva yesterday. There was a campaign for the car at the canteen and the lady asked me if I wanted a test drive. Who would refuse such a request? So after ordering my lunch, I went for a short drive.




Perodua Viva

I can’t say much about the car because I only drove for a very short while. But first impressions are always very important. The model I drove was the premium 1.0 manual transmission with ABS and everything. One thing I noticed is that the car shakes a lot. There’s vibration coming up from the gear shifter when you’re driving.




Interior

The clutch is not too heavy though. It’s as light as the gas pedal so traffic jams shouldn’t be a problem. The 1.0 liter engine pumps out 45hp and 90NM of torque. Needless to say, the car wasn’t as zippy as it should be. Power steering was a good addition to the package as it makes driving around town easier. Can’t say much about the interior. It is more spacious that the previous Kancil but it is still not as wide as normal saloon cars.

If I had 43k (for a 1.0 premium model), I’ll be getting a Myvi because it’s more spacious and in my opinion, it looks better. Viva ad below:

Continue reading

Weekend at Melaka

Looks like I’ve been to Melaka quite frequently these few months. It must be the food or the lalas. Anyways, this time Ben was kind enough to drive us there and show us around Melaka (he was from there) and introduce us to the foods there, the historical sites and girls.


Freaking hot day.

Our plan was to set off from KL before 9am. Me, Alvin and Keng Hoo went with one car and parked at Cinelesiure 1U to wait for Young. Then Young came and pick us up and drove to Ben’s house at Jalan Ipoh. Then the 5 of us used Ben’s car to journey to Melaka.


Each rice balls cost RM0.30.

I didn’t bring my camera along so these are some unpublished photos from my 2006 trip to Melaka. The first place we stopped by is at the Chicken Rice Ball shop for brunch. Melaka is famous for its chicken rice balls and there are so many stalls around Melaka. My 3 trips here, I went to 3 different chicken rice balls shop and as far as I’m concerned, there’s not much difference in those 3.


Didn’t have time to visit Jonker Walk this trip though.

Later we went to Ben’s aunty’s house for a chat. Following that was a walk to A Famosa and a museum full of Melaka’s history. We climbed up St Paul’s hill to have a look at the ruins on top of it. A funny observation. Whenever there’s a well or some cavity in some ancient building, people tend to throw coins in it.

Then there was the TYT museum. We just breezed through it because it was so huge that you need at least a day to read everything there. 2 years of sejarah lesson covered in less than 2 hours. The cendol was calling anyways.


This place has the best cendol, IMHO.

And then rojak. Their rojak is interesting. They put kangkong and bean sprouts in it. It’s like eating a vegy dish with rojak sauce. Not a bad way to fill up during those afternoon breaks. If I were in Melaka I would be frequenting these places often. But then again, I don’t go eat Kolo Mee everyday in Kuching also.


This panoramic view was taken from Mahkota Hotel. Click here for larger version (1MB).

We dropped by at the newly opened (relatively new) Dataran Pahlawan which is opposite of Makhota Parade. Let’s just say visiting malls in Melaka is like staying in your hotel room at Hawaii. Next stop was Bukit Cina. It’s a graveyard on top of a hill. People enjoy jogging there in the evenings.

Then it’s time for dinner and satay celup. Most of you (my spell checker included) might be wondering what satay celup is. It’s not satay that’s celup-ed into a sauce. It’s actually food on satay sticks (some uncooked) that’s dipped into boiling hot secret peanut sauce to cook it. Here are some pictures from umami.typepad.com to illustrate my point.


Each stick is RM0.50.


Some take longer to cook than others, but overall, everything should be cooked within a minute. Word of advice. Don’t wear white.

We lined up for satay celup for almost an hour! You won’t believe the queue. But it was worth it, being able to try one of the best satay celups in town. We didn’t eat a lot, because our next stop will be the Portuguese Settlement for some seafood.

For seafood, we had lalas, some snails, they tried raw oysters, some fish and some seashell thing. It was actually quite good though the snails tasted quite bitter. I think that’s why they give us a lot of sauce to eat with.


No time for Jonker street this time.

Not bad for a one day trip. We actually went to more places than last time during our 2 days one night stay. I guess it’s good to travel with someone who knows the place well. But it’s always interesting to visit the unknown and just make your way around. You might not get the best of what they have, but at least you’ve tried and you get a sense of accomplishment ;) Continue reading

Web Controlled Webcam

Out of boredom, I decided to salvage some parts from my house and build a remotely controlled webcam. It’s a webcam connected to a stepper motor that’s connected to a motor driver IC that’s connected to my computer’s parallel port. So using my computer, I can command the camera to pan around. But that’s not enough. I wanted a camera that you can control using any computer or pda or device that’s connected to the net. And this was how I made it.


Obviously a big table is not enough to contain my messiness.

Just a run through of the various pieces of hardware show in the picture above. A computer power supply supplies the stable 5v to power the L293D IC and the stepper motor. The L293D receives input from the parallel port and drives the stepper motor accordingly. I have written special batch files to send the proper signals to the parallel port to drive the stepper motor. A stepper motor (especially a bipolar one) is a pain to drive. They require a specific sequence to make it rotate in the direction you want it to.

Click here for more information on driving stepper motors with the L293D.


This project uses just one IC: the L293D.

The L293D was chosen because it was perfect to drive bipolar stepper motors. And since the current rating was higher than what I needed, and I had some spares lying around, it was the best solution to my problem. It does get quite hot after a while if you keep the stepper “latched”. Thus, there’s a special script that “releases” the stepper motor so the IC won’t have to constantly drive it. It’s more of a precaution than a necessity because the L293D can easily handle the current the stepper motor takes.


Got this from a broken printer. I have 2 of these. If I had more powerful stepper drivers, I would drive them at 12v for some shaft breaking torque.

The stepper motor is a bipolar type. It has 4 wires coming out from it. It’s more difficult to drive bipolar stepper motors because you need to REVERSE the current during the sequence. You don’t need to do that with unipolar stepper motors.


I superglued the plastic “IC holder” to the gear of the stepper motor and tied the camera to it. Then I taped the stepper motor to a sealed lead acid battery (selected for its weight). Very fast and dirty way of building a motorized camera mount.


The circuit I’m using. I modified it from one of the schematics found here: http://www.seattlerobotics.org/encoder/may98/steppers.html

You need to connect only pin 2, 3, 4, 5 and ground to the circuit. The software will take care of the sequence needed to drive the stepper motor. You can download my customized software from here. The software is modified from winportcontrolajax.zip which can be downloaded from http://www.epanorama.net/circuits/parallel_output.html


Pryme

To use the software, you need another 2 additional pieces of software. First, you’ll need Pryme which is a software that will automatically take a picture using your webcam at specific intervals. Next, you’ll need Abyss web server and also php support. The links are below:

Download Abyss web server.

Do this after installing Abyss:
Adding PHP support to Abyss web server.

Download Pryme.

Once you get everything installed, you need to put the files in camcontrol.zip to the “htdocs” directory in you Abyss installation. And you need to configure Pryme to save the pictures into “htdocs” (or the same directory as where you put the files in camcontrol.zip) using the filename “image.jpg”


Once you get everything configured, you should see this page. Buttons are self-explanatory. “Release stepper motor” will cut current to the stepper motor. Image will be updated once every 2 seconds. It’s recommended that you use Pryme to take pictures every second so there won’t be a sharing violation (i.e. browser trying to read the image file while Pryme tries to replace it with a newer one).

And the best thing is, if you configured your router correctly, you should be able to access this from anywhere in the world. I’ve volunteers (some have been forced though) from Nilai and one all the way from London! And it works! It was just amazing. A click of a button from halfway around the world can move a camera connected to a PC in Malaysia.


Wanna see who’s in your room when you’re at Starbucks? No problem!

Of course, this is just a proof of concept. You can virtually control anything with your parallel port with the right hardware. Maybe you want to turn on the lights at your home when you’re on vacation to give the thieves (or neighbors) the false impression that you’re at home. Or you can use it to drive your car if you have a wifi enabled PC in your car. The possibilities are endless. Go play! Continue reading

Play the Mafia Game

“Mafia (also called Werewolf or Village) is a group role playing game of strategy, survival, and the ability to spot a fraud. The imaginary setting is a small village where the local townspeople and Mafia are in an all out battle for survival.

There are numerous variations of the game. The version described here requires a deck of cards and works best with between twelve and twenty four players. ”

I played this game before and it’s very very addictive. One of the reasons is because it’s a team based game and you really enjoy the suspense of the game. Try it out and you’ll know what I mean. Full instructions here. Continue reading