About two months ago, Atmel announced a smart new set of AVR development boards, the XPlained series. One of these boards (which I’ve just recently purchased for $30) boasts a shiny new AVR XMega microcontroller. What? An XMega you say? Why yes, haven’t you heard? Come now, they’ve been around for fully three years at this point. Well, don’t worry if this is fresh news, you’re not alone. For some reason, adoption of the powerful new XMega MCU has been slow amongst hobbyists.
Explaining the XMega XPlained (Dev. Board) – [Link]
A competition is running on element14 community. The “Summer of Design” competition revolves around programming an accelerometer and MCU based development board to find an innovative application.
We are giving away 100 free XL_Star boards to the first 100 entrants to the competition, and offering up a prize bundle as follows:
- -A trip to a Freescale Competency Centre
- -CadSoft EAGLE licenses (either for the individual, or a whole department if they are a student)
- -£250 Farnell/Newark vouchers
- -Inclusion in our “road-tests”
The competition is open to anyone over the age of 18 and runs until September.
Summer of Design competition – see your design excel, win amazing prizes! – [Link]
One of the basic aspects of robotics involves being able to control any type of locomotion. Motor control, through digital electronics, has become widely regarded as an accurate and well developed area and while many mysteries still remain, an equal number of motor control methods exist. The most simple of which is known as the H-Bridge.
SN754410 Dual Motor Control – [Link]
Arduino Simulator – [Link]
This Arduino Simulator app gives the user the freedom to work without the basic setup of hardware and software. It is designed to be used by beginners and also, experienced developers, who want to quickly develop Arduino projects.
The developer can make the necessary changes in the code – delay, pin number, and state – 0 (low) 1 (high) – and check it immediately. The app shows the breadboard, complete with 14 LED pins.
You can drag and place the wires in the correct positions to connect to Arduino. If the wires are placed according to the code, then it will show the expected results. Once satisfied, you can save it and email it. The code can be copied and used in an actual project just as easily.
This app is an easy way to work through Arduino projects. With customisable codes, and a simple to use interface, this Arduino Simulator app from Schogini Systems is a convenient app for Arduino developers.
Arduino Simulator – [Link]
Clever! – [via]
A big issue in setting up satellite communications networks is the antennas – it takes time to set them up. In the wake of a big disaster cell networks can be damaged when the towers fall and take months to repair. For television crews and military units carrying a rigid satellite antenna can be a serious logistical problem, as even a metre-sized dish is quite heavy and difficult to transport.
Enter GATR Technologies, which has designed an inflatable 1.2-metre satellite antenna that can fit into a backpack and be carried by a single person. The company’s antenna looks something like a beach ball. It is a double-layered sphere with one layer a nylon mesh and the other made from sail material. The antenna is in the centre.
Inflatable antenna you can stick in your backpack – [Link]
Choosing USB Pin Voltages for iPhones and iPads @ Voltaic Systems [via]
We continually make minor tweaks to the USB output of our batteries to make sure we charge as many devices as possible. We pay particular attention to Apple products and now, with the introduction of the iPad, it has become slightly more complicated to have a one size fits all solution. This post tells you the Voltage on each pin of our USB batteries, which is hopefully useful if you’re trying to make your own USB charger. There are lots of different threads Apple charging, but we’re going to focus here on USB pin Voltages as this was the variable we were adjusting in this round of production.
Choosing USB Pin Voltages for iPhones and iPads – [Link]
This tutorial is for our new BMP085 Barometric Pressure sensor. We show how to wire it up to your microcontroller, read the current pressure and temperature from the chip. We also show how to calculate altitude and weather-corrected altitude.
The BMP085 is a basic sensor that is designed specifically for measuring barometric pressure (it also does temperature measurement on the side to help). It’s one of the few sensors that does this measurement, and its fairly low cost so you’ll see it used a lot. You may be wondering why someone would want to measure atmospheric pressure, but its actually really useful for two things. One is to measure altitude. As we travel from below sea level to a high mountain, the air pressure decreases. That means that if we measure the pressure we can determine our altitude – handy when we don’t want the expense or size of a GPS unit. Secondly, atmospheric pressure can be used as a predictor of weather which is why weathercasters often talk about “pressure systems”
BMP085 Sensor Tutorial – [Link]
Tic Tac Touch @ The Custom Geek… [via]
OK, so I haven’t posted in a while because I have been working on some bigger projects, but yesterday, I took a two hour break and made a 2 player tic tac toe game. I did this with an Arduino and a 2.8″ touchshield from Adafruit.com. It’s pretty basic tic tac toe, and has score tracking, game logic (you can’t go twice in a row, and telling you if you win), and the ability to consume a chunk of time playing tic tac toe with my son. Below is the code, feel free to hack modify etc. If you play against a smart person (or yourself), you will have lots of Mosfet eye games!
Tic Tac Touch – [Link]