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?
Continue reading ‘Distributed Control and Sensing with USB’
Published December 27, 2016
CNC , Hardware , Tools
Tags: Hardware, Tools
A while back I bought an Neje DK-8-KZ 1W laser engraver. It was on sale, and I was curious about it. At only 1W (1000 mW) I knew I wasn’t going to be cutting anything except paper with it, but I was looking for another way to create engraved labeling on plastic enclosures. Well, it can do that, with some limitations, and it works pretty well on wood, but my biggest aggravation has been just getting it to actually put the engraving where I want it to go, and also deal with the automatic scaling it employs.
Continue reading ‘1000 mW Laser Engraver’
Published December 4, 2016
Arduino , Electronics
Tags: Hardware, Projects
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.
Continue reading ‘Clever Arduino Case’
The ESR electronics Tricorder, Part 1
In this article I describe the beginnings of a device that I like to think of as a Tricorder for electronics. This is the first of a three part series in what will (hopefully) be the start of a series of articles that describe ways to use Arduino boards and AVR microcontrollers to build useful, low-cost test, measurement, and control devices.
For additional details and definitions be sure to check out my books “Practical Electronics: Components and Techniques” and “Arduino: A Technical Reference“. Both are available from O’Reilly, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and numerous other places where fine books are sold.
Continue reading ‘New series: Arduino Test Equipment’