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.
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
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!
For those who know me, beer isn’t just about the drinking. It’s also about the brewing. I’ve casually brewed beer for years, only getting serious with my own setup a year ago. However brewing in front of a stove can be annoying especially when trying to brew 2 different batches at once. To make the experience better, I created a system that meets the following goals:
A pair of electric kettles based on the system that The Electric Brewery creates, running off a dryer outlet.
Variable power set with a knob, similar to a stovetop interface
The ability to shut one side off for only brewing one batch
Kettles that unplug from the system as to not disturb the other batch
Running off a microcontroller that allows for future design improvements
A quick and easy design, enabling fast development and implementation
I’ve got the entire system up and running, and it works great! I’ve already brewed one batch and I have plans for friends to come over this weekend to continue the fun. I’ve posted all of the design files at Element14, including a BOM (Bill of Materials) so anyone else can build, enjoy, and improve upon the system. Here’s a video of me showing it in operation: