Mollymawk tests

Yes, I am alive. I know I haven’t posted anything in three years. There are many reasons behind this, but I will leave this for another time.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got into this aviation thing back in 2015. Since then, I have taken it further and completed a commercial pilot’s license with multiple engine and instrument ratings, and some other stuff. What does this all mean? I can now fly the big birds for money if an operator decides to hire me. But to the big question, how do you get an operator to hire you?

It is not a simple task, you have to submit countless applications and be prepared to never hear back from anyone. They say there is a pilot shortage, hmm…? If you are lucky you might be called to an assessment. What? You don’t know what an assessment is? Don’t worry I got you covered.

In the aviation industry assessments are what jobs interviews are in any other field of work. But since pilots are rich, (we are rich right? somebody please confirm?) assessments have to be complicated money and time consuming processes. I was partially lucky and got called to an assessment for an operator called SunExpress. Spoiler alert: I didn’t get the job. I have nothing but good things to say about SunExpress. They are very professional in what they are doing and have high standards for their pilots. The reason I didn’t succeed in my assessment is purely my own fault.

It basically works like this: You get a phone call which is some kind of unofficial first interview. If they are happy with you after the phone call you get invited to do an online ITEP English proficiency test. If you pass the ITEP test you get invited to do some psychometric tests at SunExpress’ own premises. If you pass the psychometric tests you get invited to do a simulator test flying a full motion Boeing 737-800 simulator. The simulator was a lot of fun to fly but this is as far as I got. If you unlike me pass the simulator test, you get invited to a formal interview and if you pass the interview you get the job! Phew…

Boeing 737-800 Simulator
Boeing 737-800 Full Motion Simulator

So what are the psychometric tests? They are the Mollymawk psychometric tests, also used by other operators like CargoLux and Pegasus Airlines. They are split in two categories: skill tests and aptitude tests. The skill tests test your knowledge in math, science and English. Those were the easy ones for me. The aptitude tests test your memory, orientation skills and ability to multitask, divided in three computer “games” named “Working Memory”, “Spatial Orientation” and “Time Sharing”.

In order to do the Mollymawk tests you have to purchase two packages, one for the skill and one for the aptitude tests. Each package costs 150€ and if you fail one subject or game in one package you have to re-purchase the whole package to do the failed test again. The first time I did the Mollymawk tests I passed the skill tests but failed the aptitude tests, thus I had to re-purchase the aptitudes package in order to do the tests a second time. Luckily the second time I passed. You only get one second chance. In total I spent 450€, not counting travel expenses, as a part of what essentially is a job interview for a job that I didn’t get.

I felt that more practice would give me a better chance to pass the aptitude tests on the first go. The aptitude tests are essentially a form of primitive computer games. When you purchase the aptitudes package they give you 10 practice runs in each game, which you can play at home. They argue that the learning curve is logarithmic, and that after 10 practice runs you have asymptotically reached your optimum ability in playing the games, but I doubt that. As anyone knows, practice makes perfect. So I decided to code my own version of the games and help other pilots truly reach the optimum before they do the final tests.

I have created a website for Mollymawk test practice, where I have implemented my own version of the Mollymawk games. A user can register an account and purchase one of the three time limited packages for playing the games. The games may be played unlimited times!

I have also implemented an interface for the users to track their progress as they are getting better:

You may ask, why do I ask for money and not put it out for free if I truly care about the other pilots? Well, somehow I have to make back the money I lost on my earlier “job interviews”. After-all pilots are rich, right? We rich guys, right? We have no problems paying 19€ instead of 150€ for doing the tests a second time?

Anyhow, if you are a pilot and in need of my services I truly hope I helped and wish you the best of luck!

And remember, when in doubt go around! (preferably above 1000 feet GND in IMC, unlike me).

Dirty Filthy PCBs

I just received 10 PCBs that ordered from dirtypcbs.com a couple of weeks ago. I have to say that the quality is amazing. For $14 they are not dirty at all! The lack gold plated pads, unlike PCBs from OSHpark, but if that is none of your concerns then it’s a go! I don’t claim that OSHpark is obsolete now, but for simple prototyping when you want to be allowed to make mistakes, dirtypcbs are filthy enough to allow you to do that.

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Mooltipass compile and flash guide for MacOSX

Mooltipass

Mooltipass is an open source offline password keeper that started off at Hackaday as an idea from Mathieu Stephan. I am one of the few lucky beta-testers and as such I would like to explain in this guide how to compile and flash its firmware from source. This guide is written for Mac OSX 10.9.

1. First of all: I DO NOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY IF YOUR MOOLTIPASS AND/OR DVD PLAYER EXPLODES AND/OR YOUR WIFE DUMPS YOU! FOLLOW THIS GUIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK, IT REPRESENTS THE UNOFFICIAL VIEW OF THE VOICES IN MY HEAD.

2. Second, get the required tools. If you don’t already have MacPorts, download and install it from their website.

3. Once this is done, install git, binutils, gcc, avr-gcc, avr-libc and dfu-programmer from MacPorts. Just a note: I already had xcode installed on my mac, so this did it for me. If you install all of these tools and still have problems at compiling, try installing the Command Line Tools.

sudo port install git binutils gcc48 avr-gcc avr-libc dfu-programmer

4. Get the latest source code from github:

git clone https://github.com/limpkin/mooltipass.git

5. Define that you are a beta-tester ;) and compile the source code:

cd mooltipass/source_code
sed -i "" "s/XXXXXXX/BETATESTERS_SETUP/" src/defines.h
make

6. Set your mooltipass in DFU mode:

  1. Disconnect your mooltipass (if connected).
  2. Insert your smartcard upside down, with the chip-side up.
  3. Connect your mooltipass.

7. Flash your newly compiled firmware:

sudo dfu-programmer atmega32u4 erase
sudo dfu-programmer atmega32u4 flash mooltipass.hex

8. Disconnect your mooltipass, remove the smartcard, connect your mooltipass and insert the smart card.

9. Profit?

WiFi Thermal Printer with Arduino

I have been working on a wireless thermal printer for an application that I have in mind.

The system is composed by the following parts:

The WiFi shield uses the SPI bus which leaves the serial port free for the printer. In the video below you can see a simple example of Internet-to-Printer connectivity. The system, as a standalone system with no connection to a PC, is started up and it pings Google. When a successful ping response has been received it prints the letter “P” with the printer. More information could have been printed here, but since I use an Arduino Diecimila with very little memory, the program just fits on the microcontroller as it is.


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DIY Cellphone, Part 2

The last couple of days I have been trying to put my cellphone together. Using soldering paste with lead requires good ventilation. The fumes are poisonous and you shouldn’t breathe them. That’s why I had a big fan by my side. Your friends are; soldering paste, flux for the hard ones, a soldering iron, a tweezer and patience.

I discovered that I didn’t receive the correct LiPo charger and I haven’t been able to power the phone in order to program and use it. I have contacted the supplier (Electrokit) and I am sure the they will find and ship the correct one. Still I have to wait over the weekend before I can use my phone, which is not fun =(

Here are some pictures from the soldering procedure:

DIY Cellphone, Part 1

I believe in a society like today we need to have better control over our communications. Today’s smartphones have been accused of being devices of mass surveillance. Therefore I have decided to build my own cellphone. I found this guide on the internetz, which describes an open source cellphone platform based on a GSM module and an AVR microcontroller. I selected it as a starting point of my cellphone. It will most certainly receive software updates from me (I want snake!), and probably even hardware updates in the future. Yes I know, GSM is not secure at all, and it is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, but I still prefer the man-in-the-middle over nsa-over-the-internetz.

Enough jabber for now, let’s get to the fun part! So far I have received all the needed components from the Bill of Materials (BOM) for the LCD version of the phone, besides the PAS414HR-VA5R SuperCap, which has been discontinued. Since the proposed replacement part isn’t good enough, I managed to find some left over PAS414HR-VG1 at Farnell and ordered a few of those instead. It will take some scratching and soldering to fit it on the PCB but it’s values are the correct ones. Since I am living in Sweden, I had to find alternative suppliers for my materials (Electrokit for some electronics, In-Time for the antennas, Farnell for the SuperCaps), and some had to be ordered from DigiKey anyway. Try to keep your parts ordered from DigiKey below your country’s import tax threshold, otherwise you might end up paying import taxes like me, which is not fun.

Here is a picture of the PCBs from OSH Park, which are of excellent quality. More will come once I receive the SuperCaps and start soldering the cellphone.

Cellphone PCBs from OSH Park.

Cellphone PCBs from OSH Park.

Master’s Thesis: Improved traffic safety by wireless vehicular communication

I have recently completed, presented, defended and passed my master’s thesis project. It was a great experience which I believe has the potential of preventing traffic accidents and saving human lives. Bellow you can read the abstract and if you are interested you may download the whole report here:

Abstract

In tomorrow’s vehicle industry vehicles will have the ability to communicate and cooperate with each other in order to avoid collisions and provide useful information to each other. However, for this cooperation to be possible all vehicles will have to be equipped with compatible wireless 802.11p modules that implement the ITS-G5 standard. During the implementation phase of the system there will be plenty of older vehicles without such equipment.

This thesis addresses this problem by developing the hardware and software for a road side unit called Drive ITS. It consists of a universal medium range radar that detects older vehicles, a 802.11p modem that forwards their position and speed vectors to newer vehicles and an embedded system that utilizes and integrates those two parts.

The hardware for the embedded system is divided in two main parts; a microcontroller board and a single-board microcomputer. The software is written in two programming languages; C++ for the microcontroller and Java for the microcomputer.

Tests have been performed by comparing Drive ITS results to results from other vehicles that already implement the ITS-G5 standard and it has been confirmed that the system works as it was intended to.

This solution will prevent potential accidents of newer ITS-G5 vehicles with older ordinary vehicles thus saving human lives.

Master Thesis Prototype

Currently I am doing my Master Thesis at the Department of Electrical and Information Technology, Lund University. In this project we are aiming to demonstrate a new concept for improving traffic safety using wireless communication between vehicles.

This image is a sneak peak into our second prototype. Can you guess what the lower part is? The final report will be published here in the middle of June.

Prototype