The Versatile Arduino Nano

I’m currently stuck at home with some kind of respiratory crud that seems to be going around (and watching my symptoms to make sure it doesn’t evolve into pneumonia), so I decided to sort through some of the stuff in my various parts organizers. To my surprise I discovered that I’ve managed to accumulate about 20 Arduino Nano PCBs. I guess I keep on ordering them thinking I’m running low when I’m really not.

In an earlier article I had written that the Nano was an Arduino product that didn’t suffer from an oddball pin layout. Something like an Uno, which is probably what most people think of when they hear the word “Arduino” is a nice little PCB, but it has a goofy gap between the socket headers on one side that precludes using a standard 0.1″ perfboard to assemble an ad-hoc shield. The Nano, on the other hand, has a physical footprint that is almost, but not quite, equivalent to a 30-pin DIP. It is also a lot smaller than an Uno or other full-size Arduino, and it has the same MCU.

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Microcontroller Modules

This article is about is packaging a microcontroller project, and why it’s such a struggle to get something that looks halfway presentable. You can buy cheap, well-made PCBs and components from a multitude of sources, but when it comes to putting it all into a box (or on a panel, or wherever), things can get ugly. Literally. Even if the project does turn out nicely, there’s a lot of work involved getting it there. There has to be a better way.

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The ESR electronics Tricorder: Update

The Arduino ESR project is moving along, albeit a little slowly. The miniature OLED displays finally showed up,  and I have to admit, I really like them. A lot. I’ve come up with a concept that will use the small OLED as a dynamic menu, with corresponding pushbuttons to move and select options.

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Buying from China: Lost in translation


I’ve been buying stuff from China for a long time, and for a long time it was a pleasant experience. Sure, the items purchased might take a while to arrive, but they always arrived. I was never disappointed or surprised. But lately things seem to have changed.

(post updated 5 Feb 2017)

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A Box of C.H.I.P. SBC (and a DIP, too)

When I last showed what was going on with my new CHIP SBC it was rather crude. Well, since then I’ve put it into a plastic enclosure, along with a power switch, voltage regulator, a USB hub, and a 32GB flash memory plug-in. I’m still using the VGA board with this iteration. For the next time around I will use the HDMI board, since the mini-monitor I found will accept either. Here is what it looks like:

20170129_144252

The monitor is something I found on eBay, and for about $25 more than what I paid for the one without a case. Oh well, live and learn. It is a 10.1″ diagonal screen with a 1280 x 800 display. I found mine on eBay, but I’ve recently seen where Walmart (!) is selling these for about $105, which is more than what I paid for mine but still not too bad.

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Why open source software (FOSS) struggles for acceptance

I like open source stuff, for a variety of reasons. I like the philosophy behind it, and I like the idea of many eyes and many hands working together to create better things. While I do understand that there are situations where open source is not appropriate, such as with the proprietary things I work on in my day job, I also believe that there are many cases where open source is not only appropriate, but necessary.

Software is a case in point for open source. With open source software there is less likelihood that someone will slip a nefarious backdoor into an application, and the overall “attack surface” (as the security folks call it) is much smaller than with closed applications. Free open-source software (FOSS) also has the benefit of multiple eyes reviewing it, finding bugs, suggesting (or creating) improvements, and serving as inspiration for other projects. But there are two problems with open-source software that I believe will be fatal in the long run: The documentation sucks, and the attitude of some of the people who write FOSS does nothing to help the cause. I believe that these two things are closely related.

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The ESR electronics Tricorder: Update

In case anyone is wondering, the ESR project isn’t dead, I’m just waiting for some small OLED displays to show up. I ordered these a while back (in December), and they have yet to arrive. The plan is to use some of the empty space on the front panel next to the display already slated to go there. Here’s what it looks like:

oled_disp_crop

It has a 128 x 32 display space with an I2C interface. You can find this OLED display on eBay, and they go for around $4 each.

It was originally slated to arrive by the 3rd of January, and the tracking info says it’s supposed to show up today, so we’ll see.

 


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Little Buddy

An awesome little friend

Jordi the Sheltie passed away in 2008 at the ripe old age of 14. He was the most awesome dog I've ever known.