Seven segment LED displays are a very popular mean of displaying numerical information and finds application in front panel display boards of microwave ovens, washers and dryers, digital clocks, frequency counters, and many other gadgets. Compared to the LCD displays, the seven segment LED displays are brighter and provide a far viewing distance and a wide viewing angle. However, the downside is they are resource-hungry. It requires at least 12 I/O pins of a microcontroller to drive a standard 4-digit seven segment LED module. Consequently, their use with low pin-count microcontrollers (such as PIC12F series) is not practically feasible. Here’s a solution for that. The following 4-digit seven segment LED module features a serial interface that requires only 3 I/O pins of a microcontroller and provides full control of all digits and decimal points .
Serial four digit 7-segment LED display module - [Link]
They say you are only as good as your tools. This is a statement I can vouch for, as better tools can make the difference between a sleek and well designed prototype and a rats nest covered breadboard. Unfortunately as an electronic hobbyist you don’t always have the budget of a big tech company at your disposal. But hey, that’s what DIY projects are for!
Starting off as a hobbyist or even small tech company designing and building electronics you will soon learn that most of the fun IC or MCU chips are either cheaper in, or only available in, surface mount form, and fancy reflow ovens are expensive. But a soldering oven isn’t much different from a toaster oven– the only difference is the accuracy and temperature settings.
That is why I’m going to show you how to build your very own Soldering Reflow Oven for under $100 from an old/new standard toaster oven, thermocouple and a microcontroller.
DIY Soldering Reflow Oven - [Link]
Solutions Cubed, LLC writes:
In a generic electronic system there are some inputs that are controlled by the end user. These inputs are read by electronics and acted upon by using outputs. The inputs can come from a myriad of sources: buttons, switches, sensors, relays, and communication devices, to name a few. In certain environments and situations, these input signals can pose a threat to the electronics reading them – especially if those electronics are designed without thought of protection. One such environment is the world of industrial electronics.
An important aspect of designs for this environment is interfacing sensitive electronics with inputs coming from the harsh conditions of a factory floor. Usually, inputs are read by some sort of intelligent processor such as a microcontroller, FPGA, or state machine. In cases like these, it is imperative to protect the processor from the inputs, while still providing a usable signal for the processor to read.
Protecting Inputs in Digital Electronics - [Link]
Very cheap low-speed dual channel PC/USB oscilloscope with STM32 (STM32F103C8T6) microcontroller
Miniscope v2c is a very simple USB interface for low-speed oscilloscope/recorder capable with continuous sampling and streaming to PC at 2×300 kSps speed. It is stripped down from switchable analog amplifier that version v2b had, but it is using small single-side PCB that would be easy to make with toner transfer method and parts should cost less than $10 total.
Miniscope v2c – Cheap low-speed dual channel USB oscilloscope with STM32 - [Link]
The Atmel® SAM3 family of ARM® Cortex™-M3 Flash-based microcontrollers (MCU) is expanding with 40 new devices in the mix that provide more memory options and more connectivity. With this high-performance, highly integrated and power-efficient portfolio, you’ll find just the right devices to meet your unique design requirements.
A powerful new family of microcontrollers from Atmel with Cortex™ M3 cores (rev 2.0). The new microcontrollers are energy efficient and the supply voltages range from 1.62 to 3.6 V. They are designed to make circuit board layouts simpler and keep system costs low. The circuits have a broad selection of interfaces and support Atmel’s touch control system, QTouch.
SAM3N – (Entry point) Entry-level model to ARM Cortex M3 technology with a 3-layer bus (AHB), 10 DMA channels and clock frequencies up to 48 MHz. UART, SPI and I2C interfaces. Pin-to-pin compatible with the SAM7S and SAM3S series. Up to 79 I/Os, 48-/64-/100-pin packages.
SAM3S – (General purpose) Mid-range model with a 4-layer bus, 21 DMA channels and clock frequencies up to 64 MHz. Full-speed (FS) USB, high-speed SD/SDIO/MMC plus USART and SPI. Pin-to-pin compatible with SAM7S. Up to 79 I/Os, 48-/64-/100-pin packages.
SAM3U – (High-speed) Fast 100 Mbps microcontroller for more advanced applications with complex communications. 5-layer bus, 22 DMA channels and clock frequencies up to 96 MHz. 480 Mbps high-speed USB, high-speed SD/SDIO/MMC plus USART and SPI. Up to 96 I/Os, 100-/144-pin packages.
SAM3 family – NEW 32-bit ARM Microcontroller - [Link]
Every once in a while something comes along that changes the way you look at things. A project posted last week by Dmitry Grinberg was such a thing for me. The project in itself is already pretty strange: porting a 32-bit operating system (OS) to an 8-bit microcontroller lacking most of the features needed to actually run the OS. Why would you want to run Linux on an AVR? “Because you can”, would answer George Obama (or was it Barack Mallory?) and now also Dmitry. Yes, apparently you can (I didn’t try it myself), it only takes two hours to boot Linux on the AVR, with an effective clock speed of a dazzling 6.5 kHz. It is fun as in academic demonstration.
Yet for me this demonstration, working or not, useful or not, shows more. Emulating one platform on another more powerful platform is common practice these days, but I had never thought about doing the opposite. Emulating a 32-bit ARM processor on an 8-bit microcontroller is actually quite a cool idea. Maybe Dmitry is not the first to have done this, I don’t know, but it is an excellent example of thinking the other way around, outside the box. The result may be useless for now, but who knows what one day may come from this? [via]
Run 32-bit Linux on an 8-bit MCU - [Link]
The SimpleLink GPS CC4000 family of drop-in GPS modules from Texas Instruments were designed to simplify the addition of GPS functionality to products. They feature a hardware controlled push-to-fix function; simply switch on the general-purpose I/O (GPIO) line to receive standard NMEA strings containing location, time and velocity information. The modules can be used with any microcontroller or microprocessor and feature a sub-100-mm² form factor.
The modules provide better than 2.5 meter accuracy and pulse-per-second output functions to enable precise location and timing. The “watchful-eye” feature optimizes device memory utilization by automatically reusing previously decoded satellite information to deliver ultra-fast time to first fix (TTFF) and minimize overall system power consumption. The key features of the new modules are code size requirement less than 1% of competitive GPS solutions, maximum memory requirement of 1 KB RAM and 1.5 KB flash for slim driver, NMEA protocol support, 35 s autonomous cold-start TTFF under open-sky signal conditions, approximately 1 s autonomous hot-start TTFF under open-sky signal condition, and timing accuracy better than 100 ns. [via]
Drop-in GPS modules make localisation easy - [Link]
This how-to takes you through all the steps of making your own arduino on a perfboard or perfduino! Arduino microcontrollers are great for learning about physical computing and are very useful for rapid prototyping. Arduino’s simple programming language makes it a favorite of hobbyists and diy-ers around the world. Because arduino boards range in price from 30 to 70 dollars, it can be very cost effective to make your own. This lets you customize the layout of the board and brings down the cost so you can embed your perfduino in a final iteration project without losing your precious professionally made arduino board you had to wait so long for by the mailbox. The perfduino in this tutorial is designed to closely mimic the original arduino functionality without any specific project layout in mind.
Perfduino: Build Your Own Arduino Microcontroller! - [Link]
Derek Wolfe writes:
This is an all-in-one module for Atmel ATtiny24/44/84 8-bit microcontrollers and all necessary components to run them. Having a microcontroller module is nice because it reduces the amount of redundant design in projects using microcontrollers. You only need to provide 5V power and connect to the I/O lines to make a prototype microcontroller circuit. This design easily connects to a breadboard or a subcircuit with header pins and can also be wired directly for a permanent installation. Subcircuit design is greatly simplified by a modular approach because there are no traces blocking the way to the microcontroller pins. All traces on the microcontroller module are essentially on a different level making connections much easier.
ATtiny24/44/84 Mini Board - [Link]