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uCHobby Has a Google+ Page.

Google+

Not much there right now, but it is a start.

Posted in Electronics Links, uC Hobby Site.

Replacing delay() in Arduino Sketches – IsTime() to the rescue!

TipsGraphicThe problem with delay() is that your code is stuck waiting for the time to elapse. What if you wanted to do something more in that time? There are places where you don’t need to do anything with your processor resource but more often then not, you need to be doing something useful. The IsTime() function introduced lets you use all that time to do more things.

This is the first of two related articles. First we discuss the limitations associated with using delay() type functions and introduces the IsTime() solution. The second article will introduce the PolledTimer library which simplifies things even more.

Continued…

Posted in Arduino, Discovering, Hacks, Ideas, Microcontroller, Projects, Tips.

Site Update – Things are Changing

UCHobbyLogoChipOnlyHappy New Year!  I hope you call can keep your New Year’s resolutions. One of mine is to get back to blogging at uCHobby. I have been doing lots of projects but just don’t find the time to blog. There are so many things to distract me…

We have moved the site to a Linux server with help from Eric Wolf. The new server should improve performance while at the same time helping with cost. Eric is a Linux wizard so it was painless. Thank you Eric!

Eric blogs about his projects at: ”The Ramblings of a Crazy Man

As always, leave a comment with any suggestions. I do have a backlog of articles, some that I need to write and a few that were submitted.

Posted in uC Hobby Site.

BahBots Controller from Wright Hobbies

Cool new microcontroller board available from Wright Hobbies. The BahBots controller has its own web site, includes a microSD card slot and XBee headers. It uses the ATMega1284P which has 128K of program space, 16K RAM and 4K EEProm. This is a big step up from the typical Arduino.

The BahBots controller does not have USB but it will soon have an Arduino boot loader and should work with the Arduino environment. It’s not going to take shield boards but it is packed with IO and the price is right at about $35. Read more of the specifications over at the BahBots site or at Wright Hobbies.

I’ve just got started playing with this board. Using AVR Studio and an ICSP rather then the Arduino tools. I will try the Arduino environment when they are ready to support it. I’m impressed with the value and performance of this robotics targeted board. I’m sure you will see future articles here using the BahBots controller.

Anyone out there herd of or using this board?

Posted in Uncategorized.

Linux Code to ring the hacked doorbell

CodeChunkGraphic

After hacking the doorbell I did some code to make it ring and flash.

I’m new to software development on Linux. Doing my work in Eclipse with CDT has been fun so far.

Probably the hardest thing for me was figuring out that my printer port card not on a standard I/O address.

Parallel ports are going away on modern PCs but they are still easy to find in PCI interface cards.

I purchased mine from Wright Hobbies a good while ago.

I did a quick look and found a lot for $10, some including 2 serial ports.

Continued…

Posted in Uncategorized.

Made an Alert Box from a scrounged Doorbell

Doorbell Mod - Full Guts

Doing some clean up around the house I found an old wireless doorbell but not the remote to activate it. I started to toss this in the trash. Rather then throw it away I decided to turn it into an alert box for connection to an Arduino or maybe my PC to alert me when something needed my attention. Here is the result, an awesome sounding bell and a very bright LED, driven by two power MOSFETS. Just about anything can drive the signals to make a bell or flash a bright red LED.

The enamel coated, transformer wires come from the bell ringing solenoids. Only one is used. The way this doorbell was setup, one coil would ring both bells and one would ring just the longer bell. I intended to remove the shorter bell so I only connected the coil for the long bell.

A power N-Channel MOSFET controlled from a digital output drives the gate to turn on the FET which pulls down on the coil to ring the bell.

Doorbell Mod - Red Alert LED

A second FET pulls down the return on a high brightness LED. You can easily see the LED though the plastic cover. You might see this LED from the Moon if it were not covered.  This is a 1 Watt LED I got some time ago, it is one of the few parts that was not scrounged here.

The MOSFETS were new as well. I tried to use one I had scrounged but it required too much gate to source voltage and I ended up blowing it.

 

Doorbell Mod - Beauty Shot

Here is the finished box. The wires coming out of the side are currently connected to my Umbuntu box. I have some custom software that I’m working on. it rings the bell or flashes the LED. I’m thinking of connecting this to IRC to let me know when someone mentions my nick (uCHobby). But I need to learn a but more about Linux software development first. It could also be driven by an Arduino. I might wire this up to my front panel project which will use an Arduino to control switches, lights, meters etc…

Posted in Uncategorized.

$7 Microcontroller Evaluation Board

STMicroelectronics is working hard to gain ground in the microcontroller market. The STM8S-Discovery kit cost  $7 and features a small 8Bit MCU with I/O, a capacitive touch button, USB interfacing and Debugging support built into a detachable module. The attached debugging module can be broken off and reused. Development tool are free and provide full source level (sing step etc) debugging.ST-Diagram

We purchased two of these kits from Mouser Electronics for $7/each. I have not yet installed all the development tools but the board looks very easy to use.

Have any of you played with this? Seems like a great way to get started with Microcontroller hobbies. Might not be as easy as the Arduino but at under $10 it could be an inexpensive way to start. Comments?

A good bit on information and a video can be found at the STM8S-Discovery kit website.

Posted in Development Tools, Discovering, Electronics Links, Microcontroller, Parts.

Quick Work Bench

DSC_1768 Two plastic shelf kits from Lowe’s assemble into a 24 inch (2 foot) deep, 9 foot long standing work bench. The link above is not exactly the model displayed in the picture. These shelf units are available in different sizes and styles for $40-$80 each. While assembly the two shelf units stop when you are around waist high, 3 of 5 levels. With the left over’s, make a third short shelf and a double high self for the center section. Continued…

Posted in Discovering, Hacks, Ideas, Parts, Projects, Scrounging, Scrounging Parts, Workshop Tips, Workshop Tools.

Repurpose a Solar Garden Light

DSC_1753 This solar garden/path light was found at Target for $3! Nothing special about path lights, and the low price is no surprise in our times but this item looks very interesting for home projects. Instead of the fancy curved “good looking” enclosures it’s a simple cube. Very easy to reuse this enclosure. Reuse the enclosure, rip out the guts and build something cool. Use the Led, Battery, and the stake part to mount and power your latest creation. These kinds of things inspire me. I am compelled to find something interesting to do with it.
More details after the jump…  Share your ideas in the comments

 

Continued…

Posted in Discovering, Hacks, Ideas, Projects, Scrounging, Scrounging Parts.

Site Update

MySQL problem
Just a quick note about the uCHobby web site. We have been having some trouble with our database server not starting as a service. If you see a database error when visiting please try again later. I can manually start the MySQL DB so the site will return. We should have this issue sorted soon.

Giveaway Program Ends. 
We are discontinuing the giveaway program. It was great fun to give away parts to hobbyist but I want to put more focus on my own projects for awhile. I have gotten lazy, using submissions rather then projects of my own. 

We enjoyed the giveaway program and it may return in the future.

There are lots of places to publish hobby projects compared to when we started the giveaway program. Let us know when you publish a home project. I hope to have a short post now and then with links to interesting projects around the web.

Future Articles
Expect to see some more interesting microcontroller projects here in the near future. I am playing with an all terrain robot project, more audio developments, new breadboard adaptor designs, and Android software development.

Go learn something, have fun, and share! Let us know how your doing.

Posted in Projects, uC Hobby Site.