Welcome to the Cold Front.

The is a personal web page where I write about various projects and anything else that interests me. I registered this domain on a cold rainy day in the fall of 2006, mainly because I liked the name.

Some of the content here is a kind of old. Sometimes it's because I get to a good stopping point in whatever I happen to be working on. Sometimes it's because I move on to another project.


05-29-24: Added one big project and one small project. I also re-arranged the site in order to move the older projects, out of the way, into an "Old Projects" section. The small project is actually one from about a year ago where I modified a power station so that it would have a longer lasting battery. The bigger project is v3 of my car computer. This one had numerous starts and stops along the way. I thought that the software work that I did back in late 2019 / early 2020 was mostly complete. Finally in 2024 after being without a car computer for over two years, I decided to finish it up. The software still needed a lot of work, and I ended up using completely different hardware than I originally planned on.

04-21-24: Performed the annual weather archive maintenance. Deleted hundreds of pages of spam from the forum. The forum hasn't been used in a number of years, and spam is becomming a big headache. It may be going away soon.

03-17-22: Performed some much-overdue maintenance on the weather archive.

12-20-21: KGG95 is back on the air. Switched the weather radio stream back to the way it was.

12-18-21: KGG95 has been off the air since the storms rolled through on December 15th. As of now it's still off the air. I have power back, and started streaming again, but it'll be WJX86, out of La Crosse, for the time being. Since that transmiter is further way, the sound quality won't be as good.

03-30-21: The embedded weather radio player quit working when I switched the site over to https. Turns out that modern browsers block http content when viewing https sites. Fixed it by sending an https stream to wxradio.org and using that, instead.

12-28-19: Added a "LTO battery" section where I documented my recent LTO (Lithium Titanate) battery project.

10-02-18: Added GPSim, a program that emulates a Logitech Precision Gamepad, connected to a Hobbytronics USB host board. Added a pre-configured virtual machine for VCC to the download page. Cleaned up and updated the software and download pages. Updated (and added missing sections to) the "Car Computer V2" page.

09-28-18: VCC 3.0 has been added to the download page. This version supports a 10-button USB game controller connected to a Hobbytronics USB host controller board. It also has a menu-based configuration program, and has been updated to be compatible with MPXPlay v1.62.

07-09-18: Turns out that my LCD emulator program, LcdEm, didn't work on my current system. Found myself replacing the serial library in a program that I hadn't touched in 14 years! The program now works in Windows 8.1 and is compatible with com0com. It probably still works on older versions of Windows. (haven't made any changes that should make it not-compatible, but I don't have a good way to test right now)

04-15-18: Lately, I've been working on fixing up some old Radio Shack speakers. Added a "Speaker Projects" section and posted a write-up of a refoam / repair job that I performed recently on a pair of Realistic Nova-18's. I'm currently working on fixing a pair of Optimus 660's. I'll post a write-up of that, too, once I finish the project.

03-10-18: Began streaming to Broadcastify.com. Hopefully this will allow my weather radio stream to reach more people. If nothing else it'll serve as a backup stream. I've been streaming to Crushed Box / noaaweatherradio.org for over a year now and will contunue to do so. In the past, I used a bitrate of 16 Kbps, and a sampling rate of 11025 Hz. While it's not required, noaaweatherradio.org strongly recommends streaming at 32 Kbps. I recently bumped up the bitrate to 32 Kbps and increased the sampling rate to 22050 Hz, mainly to get a better quality rating on that site. The sound quality difference is slight, but nothing major. It definitely doesn't sound twice as good as it was before.

10-12-17: The PC that generates the weather radio stream and the S.A.M.E. messages is old and has been getting less and less reliable as time passes. I plan to spend the weekend rebuilding this PC. Because of that the weather radio stream will be offline for a period of time, this weekend.

02-22-17: Noticed that my weather radio stream wasn't working anymore. Did some research and found that the Weather Underground weather radio streaming service is gone, and it looks like it's not coming back. While my web host doesn't prohibit streaming, they don't have an Icecast server for me to use. Running this site on a VPS would be overkill, to say the least. I can't stream it myself. My lowly DSL line could would be completely swamped on a severe weather day. Found discussion on www.wxforum.net. From what I can gather, Crushed Box Software has a NOAA Weather Radio app that relied on the streams from Weather Underground. In an effort to keep their app going, they created an Icecast server of their own. I switched over to their server, and will continue use it, unless/until I find a compelling reason to do otherwise. Note: the S.A.M.E. messages and weather warnings on my weather radio page will continue to work, the way they always did, since they're generated locally and don't require an Icecast server in order to work.

02-21-17: The battery in my Minuteman Pro700LCD UPS died the other day. UPS batteries normally last about 2-3 years. Mine died after 2 years. Searched the Internet for a decent writeup and didn't find one, so I posted one here. Removed my old Boot CD page. The info might have been useful, when I wrote it (back in 2003), but it's useless today. If case anyone needs a good Windows-based boot disc, here is one that I use and recommend.

01-09-17: Spent the last month getting the site ready to be moved to a new webhost. The hardest part was getting the weather warnings to work properly. Up till now, I had been self-hosting on a local PC. That PC will continue to generate the S.A.M.E messages / warnings, and the weather radio audio, it just won't have port 80 open to the world. Made the final cut-over today.

12-11-16: The weather pages will be down for a while today. I'm in the process of recovering them from a backup.

04-19-16: The embedded audio player on the weather radio page quit working. This is due to changes on the Weather Underground site. Unlike the issue in October 2014, there is no easy fix. Ultimately I ended up replacing it with JPlayer.

06-19-15: Installed the replacement weather radio. Organized the weather warning archives.

06-11-15: The weather radio stream was silent. Turns out that the weather radio quit working. Borrowed the weather radio from my bedroom to get the stream working again. The forum was dead too. Fixed a database error which was keeping the forum from working. Updated the forum software.

10-09-14: Fixed the embedded player on the weather radio page.

10-07-14: Weather Underground fixed their problems a few days after my last posting. The embedded player on my weather radio page doesn't work right now, but I plan on fixing it soon.

09-20-14: The weather radio stream is down. This time the problem is on Weather Underground's system.

02-17-14: Back online, after a 4-day ISP outage.

01-05-14: Re-enabled the forum. I had it offline for a while, until I had the chance to spend some more time dealing with spam issues.

12-21-13: De-spammed the forum.

07-23-13: Fixed some bugs in my S.A.M.E. parsing program.

06-27-12: The KGG95 weather radio transmitter is working again. Changed the weather radio stream back to the way it was.

06-27-12: Weather radio transmitter KGG95 is off the air. Temporarily streaming WXJ86 La Crosse instead. Since WXJ86 is much further away, the audio quality won't be as good.

04-27-12: Update the weather radio page.

02-06-12: Update the weather radio page.

06-01-11: Fixed garbled audio on the weather radio stream.

05-14-11: Found and fixed a really nasty software conflict which was causing the forum to hang whenever someone attempted to post a message.

05-12-11: Had to reinstall everything after upgrading the motherboard on the server. The server was down for about a day. I'll work out any issues I find during the next couple of days.

09-23-10: The weather radio stream had turned to static, due to a quirk/bug with my weather radio. Ended up having to power-cycle the weather radio, to bring the weather radio stream back to life.

06-18-10: The KGG95 weather radio transmitter is working again. Changed the weather radio stream back to the way it was.

06-17-10: Weather radio transmitter KGG95 is off the air. Temporarily streaming WXJ86 La Crosse instead. Since WXJ86 is much further away, the audio quality isn't the best.

03-27-10: The new forum is up and running. On the old forum, the "profanity filter" was the only spam-blocking tool available. I had a pretty decent list of prescription drugs in there. Still, you can only beat a dead horse for so long. The new forum software gives me a number of options that I never had before. While it did take a bit of manual intervention, I was able to convert all of the old messages from "Discusware" to the new "Simple Machines" forum.

03-22-10: Spambots have been hitting the forum at an ever-increasing rate. Becuase of this I had to temporarily disable posting in the forum. The forum will be back, once I find a more permanent solution to this problem. Since Discusware hasn't been actively developed for quite some time, I'll probably have to switch forum software too.

10-12-09: Updated the "Car Computer V2" section.

09-13-09: Making slow but steady progress on the car-computer project. Updated the "Car Computer V2" page.

06-13-09: Starting a new car-computer project, to replace the one that I built back in 2001.

02-11-09: Added a "weather radio" page to the site. About two weeks ago I bought another weather radio, plugged it into the computer's sound card, and began streaming the KGG95 broadcast to Weather Underground. On my weather radio page, there's an audio player that plays the Weather Underground stream, and table of recent S.A.M.E. messages. So after two years, thecoldfront.com finally has a weather-related page. Imagine that!

08-25-08: Fixed a minor bug in the VDIPTSR example program.

08-23-08: I finally found a way to get a USB gamepad working, in DOS. DOS doesn't come with a USB stack, but Vinculum's VDIP module does. I connected the VDIP module to a level converter, then connected the level converter to a serial port. From there, it's just a matter of sending and receiving data over the serial port. For more information, click on the "DOS USB Gamepad" link.

12-16-07: VCC 2.3 has been added to the download page. This version fixes a bug in the serial port initialization routine, fixes a problem with the track number display when used with MPXPlay 1.54 and later, and includes a better spectrum analyzer display routine.

12-31-06: Cut-over to the new domain and new webpages is planned for tomorrow.

10-31-06: I registered "thecoldfront.com" about a month ago. While it doesn't reflect the content of this site, I like the name, and it's easy to remember. Currently, I'm working on rewriting the web pages. When they're ready, "The Cold Front" will be born, and "Techworld" will be retired. Most of the old content will be transferred to the new site, along with a few updates here and there.

11-27-05: VCC 2.2 has been added to the download page. This version fixes a directory browsing bug and fixes some stability issues in the TSR.

10-08-05: Server died again. Restored from a backup, yet again. I think I've found the source of the data corruption. If it dies again, I'll transfer the site over to the old server.

10-05-05: The server was down for over two days, thanks to some massive data corruption. Restored the server using a recent backup image.

03-11-05: There will be some downtime this weekend, as I move everything over to a different server.

01-12-05: Fixed a couple of minor errors in the Win95b Boot CD documentation.

08-09-04: Added a link to Matthias's MpXT/MPXPlay installation guide.

08-01-04: Had some server issues over the weekend. Should be fixed now.

04-02-04: Posted VCC 2.12 and MpXT 1.49 Beta2 on the download page.

02-03-04: Expect a couple hours of downtime, this evening, when I replace server's hard drive.

01-28-04: Switched over to the new server. The discussion board has been turned back on. Everything *should* work.

01-24-04: Expect some downtime this weekend (minutes not hours) while I work on moving things to a different server.

01-15-04: The MpXT 1.49 Beta 1 is available on the download page.

01-03-04: Made some changes, in an effort to make this site a little more useful. Added a "Docs" section with a Windows 95b boot CD how-to, a link to the future MpXT software project, renamed the topic groups in the discussion forum, added screen shots for LcdEm, and even updated the "Links" page. VCC 2.11 and RealScan 0.96 are available on the download page. VCC 2.11 passes "-in 4" to MPXPlay. Newer releases of MPXPlay need the extra command parameter to tell it to give textfile-based track naming priority over ID3 tag track naming. RealScan 0.96 fixes a minor display glitch which occurs when using an LCD character display connected to COM2.

01-01-04: LcdEm beta 2 has been posted on the download page. In beta 2, the video performance has been improved considerably.

Last Update: 4-21-2024