Dec 062014
 
Tiva LCD

Tiva LCD

This posting is all about getting a quick FreeRTOS project running on a Tiva Launchpad with Texas Instruments IDE Code Composer Studio (CCS).  As a more interesting example application, the code below builds on the FreeRTOS demo code that comes with CCS.  The code below is a complete example that drives a character mode LCD using a i2c backpack.  The i2c backpack interface makes it easy (for hardware anyway) to connect a simple LCD display to the Tiva Launchpad.  Just two signal wires, plus power and ground, is all that is needed to interface a LCD which normally requires four data plus two control signals.  The i2c backpack has a serial shift register that connects to the LCD.  The backpack also has a transistor that allows control over the back-light LED.  The backpack can be had for as little as $2 bucks (free shipping – of course) direct from China!  Here is a link for the modules I used.

Programming the TI Tiva Launchpad with Energia is easy, quick, and fun.  However, I’ve found building large application with Energia can be a challenge.  First, using only printf statements for debugging can only get you so far.  Second, the editor in the IDE (integrated development environment) lacks the ability to jump around large projects that have lots and lots of files.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Energia for what it is – an awesome Ardiuno for TI Launchpads.  It’s just not designed for large projects and that’s just fine.  It’s awesome and really helps getting up and running on TI micros within a quick minute. Continue reading »

Nov 192014
 
No_Spam

No_Spam

Hay Sapmmers! Listen up, it will do you NO good to try and use this site as a launch pad for your crappy junk. I personally review and approve every single comment on this site. Of which, I maybe get one a week. So, go somewhere else cause your wasting your time on this tiny little web site.

 Posted by at 8:15 am  Tagged with:

Nov 092014
 
ESP8266 Protoboard

ESP8266 Protoboard

Working with the new $4 dollar ESP8266 WiFi module can be a challenge.  I wrote a Instructable recently to help – below is a copy of that Instructable.

The new sub $4 dollar ESP8266 WiFi module makes inexpensive IoT way more possible and easy for mere mortals like me. In fact, I just did a search on AliExpress.com and I found the same module for $3.25 (free shipping, but of course) in quantities of one. How I can have one of these modules shipped from the other side of the earth right to my door for $3.25 is still a mystery to me. Anyway…

In a nutshell, the ESP8266 module is a super inexpensive (note, I did not say cheap because they seem really good) WiFi module for embedded apps. It appears the module has an ARM micro that is re-programmable and there are a lot of folks gaga over that.

Continue reading »

Nov 042014
 
ESP8266 RFID

ESP8266 RFID

Inexpensive RFID Control for Hacker-Spaces

OK, I’m like everyone else as I’m totally gaga over the new ESP8266 WiFi module which cost under $5 bucks.  These little modules got me thinking of all the cool stuff that can be done with an embedded WiFi module.  Top of my list is an inexpensive RFID Control module for my favorite hacker-space i3Detroit.org.  Over the coming weeks I’m hoping to make a wireless RFID control module that will control access to equipment at the hacker-space.  So, read on for all the sweet little details.

Continue reading »

Oct 202014
 
Point Cloud Thumbnail

Point Cloud Thumbnail

This was kinda cool – the animated GIF shows the results of my first point cloud of an Eagle on the backside of a US quarter! The cloud was created by using the HAAS VF-3 at i3Detroit and an old laser sensor I’ve had for decades.  The laser sensor I used is a “LM100 Laser Analog Sensor” from NAiS with a part number of ANL175A.  The sensor is rather old – the sensor manufacture date says “June 1992″.  The sensor has an output of zero to 10 Vdc and a range of 75mm (just under 3 inches).  The results so far seem poor at best.  The problem, I’m guessing, is that I’m asking the laser sensor to measure beyond its capability.  Another problem was the laser orientation to the scan direction.  Well, at least that’s what I’m guessing today – see pictures below for more.

Continue reading »


Aug 262014
 
Ultrasonic Sensor Circuit

Ultrasonic Sensor Circuit

Whoops…

I goofed in my original series of posting concerning the ultrasonic IO circuit.  The circuit is used to interface automotive ultrasonic sensors.  The circuit allows transmitting and receiving signals.  I’m not sure what was going on in the original posting but the circuit I showed was terribly wrong.  It was over four years ago when I posted the original so I’m not sure what I was thinking back then.  Anyway, the image at right shows what I think is the correct circuit.  Luckily, I was able to pull out the original proto board I built from four years ago.  Cause I never throw anything away!

Just in case, below are a bunch of pictures I took of the board.  I’ve tried to take a bunch of pictures so you too can reverse engineer my old working circuit.  The pictures show both the front and backside of the board in high resolution.

Sorry if my original crappy circuit goofed anyone!  Oh, and thanks goes to Sebastian for pointing out my blunder.  Hope this new circuit diagram helps.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:20 pm
Mar 072014
 
CC2538 Dev Kit

CC2538 Dev Kit

I’m a gonna get serious about this whole IoT!  To that end, I just bought myself a brand new CC2538 development kit from Texas Instruments.  Yeah, it was $300 bucks, which hurt, but since I’m using a bunch of modules from China I wanted some rock solid hardware to compare against.  Plus, the “SmartRF06″ board has a bunch of goodies like a graphic LCD.  For $300 bucks, the kit contains: 2x SmartRF06 boards, 2x CC2538EM radio modules, and 1x CC2531 USB dongle.

Note, the CC2538EM radio module plugs onto the SmartRF06 board.  In other words, the SmartRF06 board is a mother board for the CC2538DK radio module.  The SmartRF06 board has a graphic LCD, a couple buttons, some colored LEDs, and a light sensor.  The USB stick is still using the old CC2531 radio chip which is based on the CC2530.

Continue reading »

Feb 152014
 
CC2530 Radio Module

CC2530 Radio Module

I’m starting a new series of postings that will cover the TI CC2530 IEEE 802.15.4 single chip radio using Contiki OS.  Step #1, get some hardware to play with.  The picture at right shows a $10 dollar radio module which I purchased from AliExpress.  Actually, to get the $10 dollar price, the lot size was for four radios which made the sell price $40 bucks (with free shipping from China).  Each radio module includes a TI CC2530F256 radio / micro from TI where the “F256″ means the chip has 256k of flash space.  Great deal!

I also ordered a dev kit for $27 bucks (again, free shipping) from AliExpress at the same time.  The dev kit, visible in the following picture, is really a product from Waveshare Electronics.  Note, the picture shows a bunch of other stuff too.  The $27 dollar kit (also available on Amazon for $30 bucks) has one ZB500 mother board, one CC2530 daughter card radio, a little whip antenna, and some old-ball “AT45DBXX DataFlash” board which I have no idea about.  Oh, and they also include a homemade CD-Rom with a bunch of software thrown on.  The most interesting being a cracked version of the IAR compiler.  Yeah, I tried it and it worked perfectly.  However, I can’t bring myself to use a cracked piece of software like that even if it is valued at over $3,000 bucks.  Besides, if I used cracked software I wouldn’t be able to share source code with all of you!  Luckily, the Contiki OS is all setup for the CC2530 radio.  The current version, Contiki 2.7 download, includes a compiler that handles the CC2530 chip just fine.  More on that later!

Continue reading »


Dec 232013
 
D Cell NiMH Battery

D Cell NiMH Battery

Seems like 12V lead-acid batteries never last very long as scooter batteries!  My one year old scooter already has a set of batteries that won’t last more than 1/2 a mile.  Compared to 6 miles when the batteries were new.  Buying another set of crappy lead-acid batteries was not very appealing.

The remained of this post details my attempt to build a 36V / 10aH replacement battery pack for my scooter.  Two things to know.  One, this is an expensive option when compared to simply buying replacement lead-acid batteries.  Second, this is an experiment on my part – I make no claim I know what I’m doing here.  Your mileage may vary big time!

About cost, a 12V / 10aH battery cost $16 on Amazon.  My scooter uses three of these batteries in series to develop the 36 volts needed.  So, three replacement batteries would cost $48 bucks.  Compare that to $233 dollars for 32 D Cell NiMH batteries!  Yep, that’s around $7.25 per one D cell NiMH battery.  Each D cell is nominal at 1.2 volts at 10aH.  So, 32 cells taken together generate 38.4 volts (at 10aH).  Oh, and you need a special smart charger for the NiMH batteries too.  Can NOT simply use the standard scooter charger that came with the scooter since it was designed for lead-acid.  Here is a link to the $50 dollar charger I bought.  Bottom line, lead-acid replacements cost around $50 bucks and a complete NiMH replacement cost around $285.  Almost six times more expensive for NiMH!  Ouch.  Well, since my son plans to ride the scooter to school every day I kinda, sorta, might be able to justify the expense.  He rides two miles each way five days a week recharging each evening.  We’ll see if the NiMH batteries are more durable.

Read on for a how-to for lead-acid to NiMH conversion…

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:34 pm
Aug 142013
 
BeagleBone Black

BeagleBone Black

My first impression of the BeagleBone Black was not good!

My problem with my new BeagleBone Black (known hence as BBB) was due to the default operating software, called Angstrom, loaded on the eMMC 2GB flash.  I’m sure the Angstrom distribution has some merits – but I’m an old man who is hesitant to learn yet more stuff when not absolutely necessary.  I almost gave up on the BBB after attempting to get Python / PyGame installed and running on the Angstrom distribution.  Just on a whim, I started the process of building up a micro SD-Card with the Ubuntu distribution.  Not sure why, but it seems to be called Ubuntu Raring.  Oh, and the GUI stuff is done with LXDE (which stands for “Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment”) instead of heavyweight Gnome.

The rest of this post is just my abbreviated notes / steps on bring up the BBB with Ubuntu / LXDE.

Read on for more details…

Continue reading »

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