Monthly Archives: September 2009

Just because something is hidden doesn’t mean no-one can find it

I had a bit of a surprise when looking at the traffic logs for the new Super Transcribe website. The site has been online for a few months but until now, it only showed a blank home page. I had not announced it or promoted it in any way.

I noticed that some web crawler had not only found the site but found my source code repository and people have been downloading the source to this app before it has even been released! I’m going to have to put up some security on that!

Some Small Website Improvements for

Looking at the RS232 Bit Rate Converter website, I thought it needed more documentation so potential customers can find out more about the product before committing to buy one.

So I now have an FAQ and I added more details to the user manual, more than doubling it’s length. The user manual is now available in PDF format and also HTML for reading online.

I was also considering setting up a blog on the Serial Gadget website but I found a neater solution. By using a PHP RSS reader, I can automatically find any articles I write on Silicon Sparrow blog (such as this one) which are relevant to the Serial Gadget website and summarize them on a “News” page on That’s one less blog I need to manage.

Having a News page is also good for customers as they can see that the site is still being updated and is not one of the many zombie dead abandoned sites which abound on the global internet.

Incremental Improvements

Boards boards boards!

Boards boards boards!

I’ve been working on a few things to improve the RS232 Bit Rate Converter. Here’s my new revision 3 circuit board.

There are some extra capacitors to smooth out a little noise I was getting in the serial data stream and I have also outsourced the machining of the end panels.

The changes are to eliminate some pain for me since I am still hand-assembling these things. I’d love to get the volume up so I could outsource the whole manufacturing process but for a niche product like this, who knows if the volume will ever become that great.

I got a new batch of boards pressed with the additional capacitors included in the layout. I have been patching them onto the revision 2 board but it is a fiddly operation, much nicer to have it baked into the design.

I have also found a more efficient power regulator which can accept an input of up to 15V. This is in response to a very common user request for the device to run off 12V. It seems a lot of people have been using them in the automotive sphere.

Now my biggest problem is lead time on parts, I still have two weeks to wait for some chips I ordered a month ago and my stock is running low.