This morning I decided its about time I learn how to use the UART hardware in most PIC microcontrollers. I started off with a USB-RS-232 converter that I got for US$3 from DealExtreme. There are a few reasons why I used a converter, firstly being because my main PC no longer has an RS-232 port since its old tech, but also because I thought it’d be alot neater for my projects to have a USB connection and it means I can interface with TTL signal levels (0-5v) instead of the RS-232 standards -12v – +12v which would have added complications, but we’ll get back to that just now…
Learning Serial Communication - [Link]
MikroElektronika has just released EasyPIC v7, a latest edition to its successful EasyPIC series development boards for PIC microcontrollers. [via]
This is a very special day for us. We are excited and honored to present you with the new version of our famous brand – EasyPIC v7 is here!
We’ve asked ourselves what can we do to improve such an amazing board as EasyPIC6, and even if it seemed like a tough assignment, we have done some outstanding interventions in design and functionality, and made a new board no one can stay indifferent to.
For the first time in EasyPIC’s almost 10-year history, we’ve grouped PORT headers, LEDs and Buttons in an Input-Output groups, thus making them easier to use than ever before. We’ve equipped the boards with tri-state DIP switches, so placing pull-up or pull-down jumpers to desired pins is now just a matter of pushing the switch.
MikroElektronika releases EasyPIC v7 - [Link]
Embedded Lab has just posted a tutorial on how to use the mikroElektronika’s GLCD bitmap editor tool to convert a monochromatic bit map (BMP) image file into a data array so that it could be displayed on a graphics LCD using a microcontroller. The GLCD bitmap editor tool is embedded into mikroElektronika’s compilers and can generate a code equivalent of a BMP image, which can be easily inserted into the microcontroller’s source program.
Converting bitmap image files to GLCD data array - [Link]
The VCNL4000 sensor is a nice way to add a small-distance proximity sensor to your microcontroller project. For longer distances (in the range of cm, you can use a SHARP IR distance sensor, but those are only good if the object is over 10 cm away. The VCNL4000 is designed for much shorter distances, no more than 200mm (about 7.5″) and under our experimentation we found it worked best at distances of about 10-150mm. It would be good for say detecting when a hand moved nearby, or before a robot smacks into a wall. The sensor also has an ambient light sensor built in.
VCNL4000 Proximity/Light sensor - [Link]
Professor Mark Csele writes:
When your hobby is collecting old computers (including a few 6800 processors on old arcade machines), a logic analyzer proves invaluable to diagnose a multitiude of problems. This particular project is a blend of hardware, both discrete logic and microcontrollers, and software in both assembly code and C++. The actual analyzer was inspired from the original article “High Speed Logic Analyzer for Windows 95″ appearing in Circuit Cellar Dec. 97 pp. 46 by Francis Deck. The basic system uses a special FIFO chip (7204) which is dual-ported to store logic-state samples which are transferred into a PC and displayed using a Win-32 front-end. The original analyzer hardware, built back in 1998, featured a front-end written in BASIC however there are many shortcomings to this approach and the system ‘hangs’ if an invalid trigger channel is selected. In this updated project (now over twelve years old and updated many times), a multi-threaded Win-32 front-end was written allowing good user control of the hardware. The system shown here features a 50MS/s sample rate, 4K sample depth, a trigger system to start sampling on a rising or falling edge on any particular channel, 3.3V and 5V logic family compatibility, and a high-speed USB interface.
USB Logic Analyzer IV - [Link]
There are any number of projects for which it would be handy to animate LEDs from a PC. Not a microcontroller, but a full-on PC. Media — music and video — are a natural for PCs, and tools like Max/MSP and Processing are a natural for creating media-based software sketches. (We use “PC” here in the generic “personal computer” sense, not in opposition to Mac; Using a combination of Processing and Arduino, everything shown here runs as well on Mac or Linux as it does on a Windows system!)
As a first demonstration, we’ll build a simple “Ambilight ” clone. Ambilight is a feature of some Philips televisions that projects colored light onto the wall behind the display , synchronized with the content on the screen to create an immersive effect. The authentic Philips system is well-integrated into the TV and works from any video source. Our facsimile, being computer-driven, works specifically with media content from your PC. This means its perfect for watching Youtube, TV or Movies on your PC or playing games!
Adalight – Make your own DIY Arduino-powered ambient “Ambilight”-like lighting rig - [Link]
Put a voltage meter anywhere with this very handy display. These are often used by RC hobbyists for keeping track of batteries but we thought it would be great on a breadboard or enclosure.
Simply connect the red wire to the positive supply, and black to negative ground. The display has a microcontroller that will read the voltage, compare it to a stable reference and display the voltage with 0.1V precision on a 3-digit 7-segment display. It works from 3.2V up to 30V so it will be good for nearly any electronic project! The meter draws 3-4mA to power the microcontroller and display. This particular LED display is a nice vivid green, which we found very readable. Mounting tabs make this module easy to attach to any box or plate. [via]
Mini Volt Meter - [Link]
This articles describes about making a general purpose I/O board that is easy to construct and is very useful for rapid prototyping of microcontroller-based projects. The board basically contains the most frequently used I/O devices and peripherals such as LCD, EEPROM, tact switches, LEDs, buzzer, etc. All the necessary pins of the devices on the board are accessible through female headers that allows easy connection of the board to a breadboard circuit or other development boards using male jumper wires.
Experimenter’s I/O board - [Link]
Breadboards are a great tool for designing and testing electronics circuits. Here Embedded Lab suggest some plug-in modules that would make your breadboarding life easier. These modules serve very common functions but their use will not only reduces the number of wire connections on breadboard, but also expedite your prototyping and makes debugging of the circuit easier.
Breadboard modules for rapid prototyping of microcontroller projects - [Link]
The keyboard is the most common way for humans to input information into a computer. It has been around since before computers were main-stream and everyone was still using typewriters. Because of this prevalence in society, it’s important that we understand how to interface to the basic PS/2 keyboard.
This article will describe and show you an example of how to create a system capable of interacting with a keyboard in order to understand what keys have been pressed. The example system will be built on a breadboard using a PIC microcontroller to communicate with the keyboard and display output.
PS/2 Keyboard Interface - [Link]