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29 May 2012

Modkit Micro is a graphical programming environment for microcontrollers.  Microcontrollers allow programmers and engineers to add behaviors to everyday objects and electronic gadgets.  We created Modkit Micro to bring the world of microcontroller programming to the masses.

Modkit Micro helps almost anyone to make almost anything smarter through a simple, yet powerful visual programming interface.  Modkit Micro is based on years of research at the MIT Media Lab including the popular Scratch project, so it will look familiar to the over 1 million kids and novice programmers who have already been introduced to Scratch.

Modkit Micro: The Easiest Way to Program Microcontrollers - [Link]

9 May 2012

The PIC24F “KL” family is Microchip’s lowest cost 16‑bit PIC® microcontroller (MCU) family. It combines the advantages of low cost, eXtreme low power and low pin count for the most cost sensitive applications. These devices feature the 16-bit performance of Microchip’s PIC24 core architecture and a cost effective peripheral set and memory mix.

These devices are designed to execute code with as little current consumption as possible. They are ideal for applications on a strict power budget, including battery powered applications. Microchip’s nanoWatt XLP technology allows the PIC24F “KL” family to achieve typical sleep currents of 30 nA at 25ºC, and typical run mode current consumption of 150 μA/MHz at 1.8V.

BUDGET µC WITH XLP – PIC24F “KL” Microcontroller Family - [Link]

9 May 2012

embedded-lab.com writes:

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]

3 May 2012

techarts writes:

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]

24 Apr 2012

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]

23 Apr 2012

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]

20 Apr 2012

Menno posts several alternatives to using pin headers for programming microcontrollers. Most use spring loaded pogo-pins make contact with the programming signal pads. Check out more pictures on his Flickr page.  [via]

Alternatives to programming through a pin header - [Link]

20 Apr 2012

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.

SAM3 family

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]

16 Apr 2012

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]

16 Apr 2012

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]





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