Give some knowledge away!

Teaching my son.

I bought my son a electronics snap kit about 2 years ago, and quickly completed some projects that were in the included book. This was fun for us, a good start, but there was more. I began teaching him about series and parallel circuits, passive components, and different types of sensors. I then said, “Without looking at the book, build a flashlight. OK, good, now build a fan with a switchable light. OK, now build a…”           Continue reading

Get on board! (breadboard that is)

So, you have just made an awesome gadget using an Arduino. You love it. OH! wait, you just got another idea for a different great project! But then.. you have to take your old one apart.. Is there a way to have more than one Arduino project without having more than one Arduino?

Yes, by putting you project on a bread board, you can accomplish this task, as well as saving some coin and earning the bragging rights of building it yourself. The video above explains about how to do that. An Atmel ATmega328 IC will serve you greatly. All that is needed is the ATmega IC and a few external components, a crystal, a few ceramic caps, and an FTDI Friend or FTDI Cable interface.

The purpose of doing this is so you can develop more than one project at a time without having to buy additional Arduino’s, and the second is to test a circuit for production. Remember, and Arduino has a lot of handy circuitry on it that you might not want on your project. For example, you might not need power switching, ICSP header, or FTDI/8U2 circuitry. Transferring your project to a breadboard will allow you to see how your project will run with the ‘bare essentials’.

The circuit is surprisingly simple, so if you haven’t tried it, build a stand alone project. Adafruit even has great Arduino stickers so you can quickly and easily identify the pins. Below is a pin reference image. Happy building, it’s a lot of fun! Continue reading

A Quick Word About Arduino Pins (ATmega168/328)

I recently received an email with a good question about pin usage on an ATmega328, and wanted to do a recap as well as offer a little worksheet that I use. I always use a standalone 328 vs dedicating a full Arduino in my project, it’s very economical, so pin assignments in the project are important.

Digital pins, or pins 0-13 on the Arduino are capable of input (detecting a high or low value) or output in a high or low state.

Analog input pins (A0 – A5) can also serve as input or output pins. These pins can also measure, in 1,024 steps, voltage applied to them. This is an invaluable function for measuring temperature, light, audio, or anything else that you need more than an off or on reading. These pins may also be referred to as pins 14-19.

Special pins to note: Pins 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, & 11 are capable of PWM output. Pins 0 and 1 are serial in and out. Pins 11, 12, & 13 are MISO, MOSI, and SCK respectively.

Often, when I do a project involving some LED’s, temp sensors, an LCD screen, buttons, and whatever else I can manage to hook up to it, I need to keep track of what pins I’m using for what function. I made a simple spreadsheet that has all the pins, there function, I/O checkbox, special functions, and DIP package assignments. This is a great tool to take a look at what I/O’s are being used for what, and I often use it to see if I can combine or move pins around to get the most out of my project. You can download it below in Numbers, Excel, or interactive PDF format. Excel does not support checkboxes, so the fields have been replaced with true and false. You can download the PDF if you wish, it has the text fields as well as the checkboxes. Below is also a link to the handy image on the top of this post. 🙂

Numbers File (Mac)

Excel File (Windows)

PDF File

168/328 Pin Image (PNG)

Quietish Ray Gun

Hi everyone! I had an idea a while ago to modify this toy ray gun my kids have. The problem you ask? Noise. Too much noise. The bribe? more blinky in exchange for less noise. Here I will take a toy noise gun, upgrade the lighting, reduce the noise, and save parental brain cells! It’s a win win operation. So why the motivation to do this today? Because I gave it back to them this morning..

Arduino sketch here

Eagle file here

Schematic PDF here (if you don’t have Eagle)

The DSO Nano v2 Pocket Oscilloscope Explained

Hi everybody! I have had a few request for information about the small portable pocket scope I’m using in a few of my videos, so I’m going to share it with you. In this video, I’ll walk you through installing the BenF Firmware as well take you through the menu structure and functions of the device. Seeed Studio did a fantastic job with this little device, it really is an awesome portable tool. Compared to the stock firmware, the BenF firmware has better navigation, features, and the SD card features work a lot smoother.

The Nano (DSO Nano v2) is a great tool for a great price! You can get them for under $100, they come with a case, 2 sets of probes, a stand, and it’s open source!

Below is the feature summary from the manual and the links to the scope product page, firmware manual, firmware and firmware install tool.

*UPDATE: Adafruit now sells this scope! 🙂
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