Mcu category

Making A Pickit 3 Clone

Make Your Own Pic Programmer and Debugger. by reviahh @

After using the Microchip tools to program and debug the projects I work on, I wondered about creating my own programming/debugging module that I could put on my own boards – just like Microchip does with their starter kits and such. As I became more interested in that idea, I began to search the web to see if anyone else had already done something similar. Initially, I found lots of posts regarding the 2nd version of the Pickit – the Pickit 2, but not as much regarding the latest version – the Pickit 3 – which is what I need to program the 32 bit pic processors that I am using.

Making A Pickit 3 Clone – [Link]

Open Board for 3D Gesture Control, Motion Capturing, Tracking and Robotics

Next Industries show off The Tactigon: the perfect link between humans or objects and the digital world, with its IMU 3D features, environmental sensors and Bluetooth 4.0 technology.

The Tactigon is a unique platform, programmable with Arduino IDE and expandable with GPS, LoRa or SIGFOX communication add on; it’s made for unlimited applications both in the industrial  and in the consumer IoT worlds.  Action, gesture, motion, and  robots can be kept under control through a  wearable,  small but powerful electronic board. It is small, rectangular, with a lot of sensors inside, wireless, low power consumption and also wearable. With the above mentioned six features, this device is the perfect tool to test ideas and bring projects to life. The Tactigon measures linear and angular motion through 3 axis gyroscope and 3 axis accelerometer; an extra 3 axis magnetic sensor is included to provide more precision. Environmental sensors are on board, so temperature and barometric pressure data recording can be easily provided, like also out of the box communication through low energy Bluetooth 4.0, and optional available GPS, SIGFOX and LoRa.

Open Board for 3D Gesture Control, Motion Capturing, Tracking and Robotics – [Link]

Turn Your Fidget Spinner Into A Vision Display

Fidget spinner became a popular toy earlier in 2017. Most of us have one or at least have tried it. Consists of a bearing surrounded by a three-lobed flat structure, it can spin along its axis with a little effort.

Makers and hardware hackers always try to employ different tools to make innovative ideas. Some of those makers hacked a fidget spinner to display custom text while it is rotating. The concept is using a vector of LEDs and turn them on and off at each degree according to the required text. Then, when it rotates very fast our eyes will see the full text as it is displayed together.

At this project on HackadaySean Hodgins created a fidget-shape PCB that fits into the spinner. It consists of an 8-LED vector, a 32-bit microcontroller, an 8-bit shift register, and other electronics parts. It is powered by three 3.6 LiPo cell batteries and can be connected with PC through a micro USB connector.

Component needed for this project:

The total cost is about $20 for all parts, and here is the bill of materials. Also the design of the fidget is available for 3D printing for both the body and the caps. In addition, the microcontroller can be programmed simply with Arduino IDE.

Since this project is fully open source, all resources and files are available for download. The github repository includes the CAD files, firmware code and libraries, PCB design, and some pictures.

Although it is a brilliant project, similar projects had been developed before and had started  funding campaigns. But unfortunately, they weren’t successful and didn’t reach their fund goal.

Finally, if you like this idea you can make it by yourself with the help of this video, which describes how to make it and how it works:

Arduino PICO, The Tiny Arduino-Compatible Board

MellBell, the Canadian-based hardware and electronics company, has launched their first product: Arduino PICO!

At first, the company says that Arduino PICO is the smallest Arduino compatible board ever, since it is 0.6″ x 0.6″ inch sized (~15mm squared). This tiny fully-fledged arduino-compatible board has a Leonardo-compatible 16MHz ATMEGA32U4 chip and a micro-USB port. The main cause of building PICO was to have a really small brain to use in many application with worrying about size or allocated space.

PICO’s Technical Specifications

The 16MHz ATMEGA32U4 integrates 2.5KB SRAM and 32KB flash, 4KB of which the bootloader uses. The 1.1-gram PICO has 8x digital I/O pins, 3x analog inputs, a PWM channel, and a reset button. In addition, the board has a 7-12V power with 5V operating voltage, where each I/O pin uses 40mA. It is worth to mention that PICO is competing with 12 x 12mm, $18 µduino, which similarly offers an Arduino Leonardo compatible ATMEGA32U4 MCU and which is smaller in size.

Moreover, MellBell provides an aluminum version that comes with the same ATMEGA32u4 core processor. With an Aluminum not regular fiber-glass, this makes PICO more reliable for overheated applications and environments.

Arduino PICO is now live on a Kickstarter campaign that two days ago had achieved its goal! Fortunately, there is still a chance until 17 Aug 2017 to pre-order one of PICO’s packages. You can get your early bird PICO for CA$18 ($14) and Aluminum edition for CA$32($25). Also, there is a special edition that includes  Aluminium PICO, four colored PICOs,  PICO joystick shield, micro drone kit, PICO solar station,  dual PICO board,  micro li-ion battery, PICO starter kit,  MiniMega board and finally a special “THANK YOU” video for CA$ 960 ($765).

Check out the campaign video:

16X2 LCD Shield with LMD18201 Motor Driver


LCD is very important part of many DIY and industrial projects. The 16X2 LCD shield has been designed to develop LCD related projects using 28-40 Pin Pic development board or DSpic development board, along with LCD this shield includes LMD18201 DC Motor driver , 2 Trimmer potentiometer and 4 tact switches with jumpers. Jumpers can be used to connect switches to pre decided port pins or remove jumpers and connect switches to any port pin using female to female wire harness, LCD pins and H-Bridge signal inputs are open ended male header connector and can be hooked to any port pin with the help of female to female wire harness. This is a very useful shield to develop timer, measurements, dc motor driver with display, DC motor pump controller, automatic irrigation system and many more projects.

16X2 LCD Shield with LMD18201 Motor Driver – [Link]

STM32 Arduino compatible board

@ build an alternative board to Arduino using STM 32 series of mcus.

We love the Arduino board and it’s prototyping platform . It makes the complete prototyping process smooth and enjoying with the help of it’s add on such as Arduino IDE and a huge community support.But sooner or later you will find that the specifications provided by the arduino boards is not enough . And then the problem arises about which board should we use so that our desires are fulfilled.Also How easy is to use a non arduino board . After a good research I found that the STM 32 is perfect fit.

STM32 Arduino compatible board – [Link]

Are Today’s MCUs Overdesigned? A Research Team Has The Answer

MCUs are called microcontrollers because they embed a CPU, memory and I/O units in one package. Apparently, today’s MCUs are full of peripherals and in most cases they are not used in the application, and from an engineering point of view this is a waste of money and energy, but on the other hand, for developers and consumers it’s about programmability and flexibility.

Rakesh Kumar a University of Illinois electrical and computer engineering professor and John Sartori a University of Minnesota assistant professor tried to prove that processors are overdesigned for most applications.

Kumar and his colleagues did 15 ordinary MCU applications using openMSP430 microcontroller with bare metal and RTOS approach (both are tested in their study). Surprisingly, the results showed that all of these applications needed no more than 60 percent of the gates. Therefore, smaller MCUs can be used (cheaper and less power consuming). As stated by Sartori, “a lot of logic that can be completely eliminated, and the software still works perfectly”.

Bespoke Processor research results
Image courtesy by: University of Illinois/ACM

In the image above the analysis of unused gates for two applications: Interpolation FIR filter and Scrambled Interpolation FIR. The red dots are the used gates and gray ones are the not used ones.

The research team called the optimum MCU the “Bespoke Processor”, and described the process “like a black box. Input the app, and it outputs the processor design.” says Kumar.

Source: IEEE Spectrum

Solr: Digital Wrist Watch Calculates time from Sun Position

Time can be calculated using the azimuth of the sun (aka solar time). Based on this idea, Tinkerman has built an unusual project called Solr. The concept is to translate the position of the sun into time presented on a vintage display. This new digital watch is freak enough to work only with a battery and the sun. The battery is needed to power the electronic parts and the sun is needed to calibrate the shadow of a screw with a reference line to calculate the time digitally using a digital compass.

Solr watch in action

The PCB has a white line and all you have to do is to align the shadow of the screw to it. The science behind this project rely on the fact that a change of 1 degree in longitude equals to 4 minutes. So, as the day is passing the orientation you need to follow to make the shadow align with the white line increases and therefore the time can be calculated. HMC5883L ( 3-axis digital magnetometer) is used to determine the orientation. This chunk of code in Solr’s repo makes the method used to calculate the time very clear.

The firmware (written in Arduino C) behind this project has three main tasks:

  1. Calibrating the HMC5883L, and the calibration procedure is explained in the HMC5883L datasheet.
  2. Calculate the time according to the bearing of the circuit.
  3. Display on HP QDSP-6064 display.

HP QDSP-6064 display

The PCB is assembled using the assembling service (PCBA) from Seeedstudio and designed using Eagle CAD. You can download the source files from here.



Breadboard Friendly ATTiny85

Chris @ build his own Attiny85 board:

 The modularity of Arduinos is great, but after playing with them for a year or so, I wanted to start building things that needed a little more integration. I also wanted to design the components and programming around the actual controller I’d be using. So, I decided to start by building a small breadboard friendly ATTiny85.

Breadboard Friendly ATTiny85  – [Link]

Inteligent Power Module (IPM) Board for Brushless Motors

Intelligent Power Module (IPM) board has been designed using FSBS5CH60 IC from Fairchild, which provides a fully-featured, high-performance inverter output stage for AC Induction, BLDC, and PMSM motors. These modules integrate optimized gate drive of the built-in IGBTs to minimize EMI and losses, while also providing multiple on-module protection features including under-voltage lockouts, over-current shutdown, and fault reporting. The built-in, high-speed HVIC requires only a single supply voltage and translates the incoming logic-level gate inputs to the high-voltage, high-current drive signals required to properly drive the module’s internal IGBTs. Separate negative IGBT terminals are connected to shunt resistor to provide the current feedback to the micro-controller. This IPM module helps to develop lots of power applications and also can be used as H-Bridge for brushed DC motor. The module is manly helps to drive Hall sensor based or encoder based motors, it doesn’t support FOC algorithm, FOC based IPM board is under development and will be publish soon.

Inteligent Power Module (IPM) Board for Brushless Motors – [Link]