I recently got my hands on a Cypress Pioneer Kit powered by a PSoC4 4200 microcontroller. A neat $25 prototyping/tinkering board, to be sure. But before I start building a project with it, I simply had to check the programmable analog specs! See what I found by reading my latest Element14 Article:
Last month I lost what could have been a beautiful night laying out a PCB while at a secluded cottage because Google Drive didn’t sync a couple of my board files. I switched to Microsoft Skydrive for my cloud-based storage since Windows Mesh worked so well for me over the years before it was discontinued. At the same time, I also created my ownCloud data storage server by using my Raspberry Pi and an external 2TB drive. I think the future will have most technically-apt people hosting their own data as cost goes down and privacy concerns go up. Here’s to hoping that I can eventually transition all service-based services to my own servers soon. Below is a link to an article I wrote on Element14 detailing the build — check it out!
Want to give some Texas Instruments MSP430 firmware to a friend who doesn’t have an IDE like CCS or IAR installed? All they need is a Binary file you create, an MSP430 Launchpad, and a small program called LITE FET-Pro430.
If you’re trying to update firmware without being there in the flesh, this is a great way to have someone else lend a hand by programming it. The article linked below will be a big help for both the engineer and the person that needs to program the chip.
Check out my article and video on Element 14!
I, like most EE’s love LEDs. They are such a great solution to lighting since they get away from the idea that something must be inefficiently burned (filament on incandescent), or nasty chemicals used (Mercury in CFLs) in order to generate lighting. And although no reasonably-priced lighting solution can come close to the human appeal of an instant-on, ambiance-creating, warm ‘soft white’ bulb, the efficiency-crazed side of me draws me to the new technology.
I got a few LED bulbs from Newegg last month and posted a tear-down on the Lighting blog of Element14 which shows the construction to be pretty solid. Sadly, the performance still isn’t there and I’d even prefer my CFL’s turn-on-delay and color to the new LED, but at $5 a pop, who’s complaining?
Read the full article HERE!
Yesterday Chris Gammell pointed me in the direction of the Analog Devices AD5520, which is pretty close to an entire analog design for a Source Measure Unit in a single chip. And while it’s totally different from a complete instrument, I thought it would be interesting to compare some specs. To see how it performs relative to Keithley’s 2401 SourceMeter and Nation Instruments’ PXIe-4140 Source Measure module, I did some calculations and made a chart over at Element14. Obviously analog engineering is far from in danger, but still the specs are pretty impressive.
Young Circuit Designs has long been a supporter of RePlay For Kids, a Cleveland, OH based charity that modifies mainstream toys for children with disabilities. Since many electronic toys utilize activation switches that require a level of dexterity that not all children have, Replay modifies the toy to add a more accessible switch in parallel. This not only provides local organizations with toys for disabled kids at no cost, but the toys are not limited to the few that are specifically designed for special needs use. A child can have the same popular “Tickle Me Elmo” toy that other kids rave about thanks to Replay’s customization.
Recently, YCD helped develop a universal switch controller to expand the number of toys that can be modified. While not a complex project, this simple device is intended to be a starting point for exploring how microcontrollers might help the cause. Here are the requirements for this first run of prototypes:
- Small size (~1 sqin.).
- Single Input, 8 outputs.
- Outputs are high or low true, depending on where wires are plugged in.
- Low power consumption for battery-powered toys.
- Can operate from 3-9V input power.
- Control of switches can be customized by loading different firmware
We posted all design files on the RePlay website for anyone that might want to recreate or build on the work. Currently the boards and firmware are being tested, so keep an eye on the ReePlay site for updates!
I recently got my hands on a Raspberry Pi with the goal of writing an article on how suitable the platform is for an education program like BlueStamp Engineering. However once I got rolling, I simply had to make something of my own. I’m not very experienced with Linux, Apache, or Python so I thought a simple project would be a great way to get the ball rolling on all three.
My wife and I recently adopted Penny, a wonderful dog from the Denver Dumb Friends League shelter. She’s been a dream in terms of behavior and disposition, however as dads everywhere say, “A dog is a huge responsibility.” I often have meetings and need to leave her in her kennel while I’m gone. My wife may want to know how quickly she has to come home to prevent Penny from being locked in her kennel for too long, and sometimes I turn my phone off for meetings. The solution? An automated web page that records the status of the kennel, and if closed, when the door was closed.
- Use the Raspberry Pi running the ‘Raspian’ OS to automatically sense a switch on the dog kennel door.
- Use a Python script to read the switch and write the status to an HTML file.
- Run an Apacahe Server on the Pi to make the HTML file.
- Setup port forwarding on my home router to allow other networks to see the html file.
- Use the simplest method to get something running quickly.
The project went really well! I am lucky enough to me a member of Denver’s hackerspace, Denhac, where I tinkered with things and learned from some experienced folks on the weekly Tuesday night hangout. I had some problems with the IP address of the system, but after a restart the issue seemed to go away.
Here is the python script and some notes I took along the way to help anyone looking to recreate my work: raspberrypidogdoorprogram
I took the server down for a few reasons: First, I don’t understand network security enough, and I’ve read that the setup I used isn’t very secure when forwarding ports from the outside world. And second, I get curious occasionally and prefer to have the system on my desk for more tinkering. Finally, the wife seemed to think that this is like taking a sledge hammer solution to a thumb tack problem, which is probably true. But it’s still cool that it works!