FTDI chip provides really excellent USB chips, that will handle all the USB communication for you with really excellent bandwidth performance. FTDI provide an exhaustive documentation for their cross platform driver. In contrast with the VCP (Virtual Com Port) mode, the D2XX driver allows direct access to the USB device ports in a completely transparent fashion. The Windows drivers are already certified by Windows, so you can just pick your favorite chip from FTDI, and use it in your product without having to worry about time consuming driver development and certification.
All those arguments make FTDI a very good choice if you are willing to launch a cross platform USB based product as we did for ScanaPLUS. However, be warned, there is One Big Problem you will face on Linux platforms. This short post is all about this problem, and the solution we found to overcome it in a nice, transparent and beautiful way.
FTDI, D2XX and Linux: Overcoming the big problem! - [Link]
A light meter is a device that measures the intensity of light. It finds applications in schools, hospitals, production areas, passageways and more to measure and maintain proper lighting levels. It is often used by photographers to determine the proper exposure for a photograph. Today we are going to build a simple light meter using an Arduino board and a BH1750 digital light sensor. The measured lighting level or intensity is displayed on eight seven segment LED displays, in both Lux and Foot-candle units.
Building a simple digital light meter using Arduino and BH1750FVI sensor - [Link]
Displays from 4D Systems can be used even if you don´t have experience with programming of graphic displays. Let´s look at how …
No doubt, that a graphic display significantly improves a user interface of practically every product. Maybe a little less obvious is the fact, that already a relatively small display with a touch panel is able to replace many buttons, switches, potentiometers and even a keyboard.
Many designers are discouraged by a fact, that for a successful usage of graphic display, it is usually necessary to study a large documentation and it lasts a considerable time till a man reaches usable results. Then, mainly at smaller projects is the development too much time consuming, thus unprofitable.
Anyhow it may sound unbelievably, but for a successful usage of 4D Systems graphic displays, it´s not necessary to know virtually anything about the given graphic processor, about commands, …
For many applications, it´s sufficient to use the VisiGenie graphic editor, which is a part of the Workshop IDE software package (freeware). We already brought you a brief description of this editor in the article – Genially simple and fast programming of 4D Systems displays. The keystone of VisiGenie is, that literally within few minutes it enables to create menu with various buttons, potentiometers, switches, „7-segment displays“, various panel meters, pictures, video, sound, geometric shapes, …
The second basic feature of the program created in Visi Genie is, that many objects can be “binded” to each other through so called events – for example – by sliding a potentiometer, a value of a display or a panel meter can increase. At the same time it is possible to (very simply) define an event „report message“, when for example at switching on a switch (on a display), the uLCD module sends a message through a serial port. This message can then be used in a microcontroller of your device. Output of the VisiGenie is a short service program, which will be loaded to EPROM of the graphic module and the main program with data, which will be saved to a uSD card (through a reader of your PC). Inserting a uSD card into the display module we get a fully operating display in such a way as we designed it in the Visi Genie.
Graphic interface, designed by this procedure, is able to send data through a serial port into your microcontroller and also many objects can be controlled by sending simple commands into the module. Neither these commands aren´t necessary to be searched in a documentation, because the 4D Workshop contains a tool GTX – Genie Test eXecutor, able to simulate and test functionality of the programu created in VisiGenie. A great advantage is, that the GTX tool directly shows commands responding to a given activity (for example if we want to set a panel meter to a certain value, or we want to read the displayed value). Note – as the GTX tool communicates directly with a display, it is operating only if a display is connected to a PC.
The best idea about this powerful graphic SW will provide you the attached video. 4D Worshop4 IDE and user guides are free to download from the 4D Systems website. Already now, we can promise you to publish a short presentation of the graphic program creation soon.
Displays suitable even for applications, where you´d not count with a display – part 1 - [Link]
Babuino is a device as small as a flash drive, and is designed to control any electronic device through your smartphone. We have developed a software package that allows the user to take advantage of babuino without having any background knowledge of programming or electronics.
Babuino intends to interconnect the devices we use in our everyday lives.
Babuino can be connected to a USB port to allow your smartphone to behave as a keyboard or a mouse to control your computer. It’s ideal for wireless presentations, surfing the internet or watching movies from your couch, etc.
Connected to the USB OTG port of your mobile, it allows you to control your phone from your PC which makes it possible to chat on the smartphone as you work without having to touch it, with the convenience of a regular keyboard and mouse.
There is no need to configure anything or install any additional software.
Babuino is an Open Source and Open Hardware project and the device is an arduino compatible board with integrated bluetooth, meaning that enthusiasts can use it as the basis for their own projects involving the control of electronic devices from their smartphones.
The use of Babuino is not restricted to being a keyboard or a mouse, babuino can be used as a webcam, a sound card or any other USB device that receives the data from a smartphone.
Babuino: Connecting smartphones to digital devices - [Link]
Quantitative electrochemical biosensor capable of being read out using low-cost consumer electronics.
The e-Gnosis Sensor http://marblar.com/challenge/egnosis-chip, developed in Prof Mino Green’s lab in London, is a bit like a blood glucose sensor on steroids. It can detect a huge range of substances in parallel using simple electrochemical readouts. What’s also neat: The device is based on a small, inexpensive chip that can communicate through a smart phone or tablet. Given its features it has a huge amount of potential, so Marblar is running a competition to find the best applications for the device.
Marblar is a web-based platform that creates competitions around emerging technologies for its community to crowdsource market applications. The e-Gnosis Chip was launched two weeks ago and already has 33 potential market applications exploiting the unique features. The winner will take the $750 cash prize and other rewards. To check out these ideas and get involved, head on over to Marblar, http://marblar.com/challenge/egnosis-chip.
e-Gnosis chip - [Link]
The Imec and Holst Centre has presented a large-area, fully organic photodetector array fabricated on a flexible substrate. The spectral sensitivity of the sensor array makes it suitable for x-ray imaging applications.
The very high absorption coefficient of organic semiconductors allow extremely thin active layers (10 to 50 nm) to be used, and the low processing temperature allows these layers to be deposited on foils. As a result, organic sensors can be more robust and lighter than their conventional counterparts, and conformal coating of substrates with any desired shape is possible. A wide range of available organic molecules also allows the properties of the active layer to be tailored to applications requiring specific spectral sensitivity ranges. [via]
A Really Flexible X-ray Sensor - [Link]
If you follow our PyroElectro articles, then you likely read about our construction and review of Club Jameco’s 8x8x8 LED Cube kit. Well we’re at it again, taking a look through a different kit, the Arduino Waveform Generator Shield. This shield provides an all-in-one DIY style function generator for low frequencies and the best part is you get to build it yourself!
In this article we will go through the process of building this Arduino Waveform Generator Shield whilst simultaneously reviewing the bugs and features found during the construction and usage. This article will focus mainly on the hardware side of things since the firmware was pre-written for the Arduino.
Arduino Waveform Generator - [Link]
by Publitek European Editors:
Near-Field Communication (NFC) is an evolution of radio frequency identification (RFID) tag technology that allows objects to respond to the tap of a mobile device. Although the tags are being used for making payments from a wireless bank card or a mobile phone, there are many more applications. NFC takes the identification and low cost capabilities of RFID and extends them with processing and authentication within the NFC tag. This transforms the already dynamic mobile user experience in a way that enables the “Internet of Things”. Tags in “smart posters” or location based check-in signs, games or media content on a friends’ tablet, and ticketing or payment terminal contactless readers can now interact with your mobile device in a secure yet simple way. NFC technology is even being used in secure access systems to replace locks and to provide information on the label of a wine bottle.
Getting Started With NFC - [Link]
Battery capacity is doubling every ten years. According to this statement, we may have to wait another ten years to see a functional quadrocopter capable of carrying a human being. The drones of today are very popular and versatile, but the duration of their batteries is limited and cannot carry much weight.
Not willing to wait for decent batteries the three Czechoslovakian companies Duratec, Technodat and Evektor (no, not Elektor) have teamed up to design a flying bicycle that is weighing only 95 kg (without the cyclist or should we say pilot?). We do not understand very well why this has to be in the shape of a bike, because its maneuverability on the ground seems quite debatable.
The Flying Bicycle - [Link]