Archive for the 'Arduino' Category

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.

Continue reading ‘The Versatile Arduino Nano’

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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.

Continue reading ‘The ESR electronics Tricorder: Update’

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.

 

Distributed Control and Sensing with USB

Distributed I/O systems are a key element in many industrial processing settings, distributed environmental controls for buildings of all sizes, vehicles large and small, scientific research settings like large telescopes and particle accelerators, and in laboratories with equipment connected to a central data collection and processing system. Multiple microcontrollers units (MCUs) provide the sensing and control to automate systems for improved efficiency, better data collection, and enhanced safety. Without MCUs, modern life as we know it could not exist.

There are multiple ways to connect an MCU-based device to a host computer system, ranging from industrial serial interface protocols like RS-485, CAN, or ProfiBus, to conventional Ethernet or wireless protocols. USB is also a possibility, but it seems to be largely confined to small-scale and consumer type applications. But does USB have what it takes to be used for applications other than just connecting a printer to your PC? Can it be used to collect data from an automated test system, or control the various components in an industrial process?

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Ardunio Programming: C++ and Embedded Systems

Ideally we would use assembly language to wring the last drop of performance from small microcontrollers, and at one time that really was the only way to do it. But assembly language programming is tedious and error-prone, and if I never have to wrestle with another assembly language program that would be fine with me.

With the advent of C, things got a lot easier in the embedded systems world. As its creators stated, C is essentially a close relative of an assembler, rather like a macro assembler (there’s a good Google/Wikipedia topic, if you don’t know what a macro assembler is). A C program can be compiled into very tight and efficient code, with an almost one-to-one correspondence to the underlying assembly language that the compiler generates.

But times change, and things are extended, improved, and expanded, and thus C++ arose from C. Over time C++ has become one of the dominant languages in programming, but there are challenges when attempting to use it with a microcontroller. Continue reading ‘Ardunio Programming: C++ and Embedded Systems’

Clever Arduino Case

One of the challenges that seem to keep coming up when working with an Arduino is where to put it so that it won’t get banged up on the workbench or tossed off the dining room table to make space for dinner. I’ve written about using wood, and my books give examples of various types of enclosures (everything from PVC tubing to pro-grade test instrument enclosures), but what other options are available? Is there an off-the-shelf solution? Turns out there is, if you have an R2 or R3 type Uno (or Duemilanove), and best of all it’s inexpensive.

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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.