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Mechanical computer part 4
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 13 August 2011 00:00
Last Updated on Saturday, 13 August 2011 14:12
Sound Card Microcontroller / PC Communication
Written by Electronics lab   
Friday, 12 August 2011 00:00

Authors: Electronics lab writes:

I developed a nifty way to send data from any microcontroller to any PC running any operating system with zero components and hardware you probably already have sitting in front of you.  Traditional interface methods (namely serial port and usb port, both have been referenced on Electronics-Lab) have drawbacks. For serial, you need a level converter IC (like a max232) and an archaic PC with a serial port, or a USB serial port adapter (many of which don’t run on Linux or newer versions of windows), and a crystal specifically chosen for transfer at a certain bit rate. FTDI makes a series of USB/serial interfaces, but they’re expensive and SMT only I don’t feel like paying even more for a breakout board just to communicate with a $1 microcontroller. Also, many ATMEL chips (most of the ATTiny series) don’t have rs232 capability built in, so you have to bit bang it in software (not fun). USB is another option, but requires a crystal and some level conversion circuitry, and isn’t supported by most small/cheap ATMEL chips. It’s built in some simple PICs (like some of the 18F series) but I don’t want to switch architecture just to send a few bytes to a PC! The V-USB project helps ATMEL chips bit-bang the USB protocol, and I’ve gotten it to work, but it’s not easy (their hello world program is hundreds of lines of code), and you have to mess with writing USB drivers or interfacing pre-made USB drivers with OS-specific solutions, it’s not fun either.

I’ve long wished there were an easier way! In this post, I demonstrate a simple way to send data from a microcontroller to a PC (and a more advanced second example showing bidirectional communication) using PC a sound card! Although the one built in most PCs would work, I decided to do it with $1.30 sound cards that are all over eBay. The chip sends pulses of data to the PC and a Python script (which can be run on virtually any OS) listens to the sound card with the pyAudio library and waits for data. When it’s received, it measures distances between pulses and dumps data values to the screen (optionally logging them to a CSV file ready for graphing by Excel or some other program).  A series of calibration pulses precede the data stream allowing the PC to adapt to incoming data at any speed (no specific clock speed or crystal is required).

Although it’s not a refined method suitable for consumer applications, it sure is a useful hack for anyone looking to quickly exchange data between a microcontroller and a PC!

Sound Card Microcontroller / PC Communication - [Link]

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 August 2011 21:39
Prototyping the Stepper Driver
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 00:00

Shawn Wallace writes:

The goal for this week is to prototype the driver circuit for the two stepper motors. Check out the Make It Last Build Series landing page for full info, prize details, and info about the first two builds in the series.

Prototyping the Stepper Driver –[Link]


Last Updated on Thursday, 11 August 2011 01:33
Vehicle road-trains: The SARTE project drives is close
Written by PCB Heaven RSS Feed   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 00:00

Authors: PCB Heaven RSS Feed

highway train

What is the SARTE project? Suppose that you are on the highway and your car is equipped with the SARTE system. Then, you find a SARTE lead truck in front of you, running at 90 mph (145 km/h). What you can do, is you can go behind the truck and enable the system. It will automatically drive your car very close to the truck, and it will follow it all the way, until you approach your destination and you decide to leave (un-dock from the SARTE). Similarly, other cars come behind yours, until a long road train with vehicles is performed. The truck is driven by a professional driver with additional training and multiple safety systems installed, such as alcohol measuring and cameras.

What's the point to all this? Well, first of all, the fuel economy and the effect on the environment. Each car slip-streams due to the car in front of it, and the first car slip streams due to the truck. The air resistance on the car that slip-streams is dramatically reduced, so it needs to provide less power to overcome this, thus it needs less fuel and provides less CO2. Moreover, the car drives itself, so you can read the newspaper, or watch tv, or work with your laptop while you're on your way... The system needs another 10 years or so to become widely available. Until then, drive safe. Visit the SARTE project website for more info.

Read more: SARTE project website

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 August 2011 01:20
PIC32 drives SID audio chip
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 00:00

Markus shared his latest SID player in the project log forum:

A SID player emulation running on a PIC32, the sound is generated by a hardware SID chip.  A great project for any one who remember the Commodore 64 sound. And there are more then a few web site to get music to play.

Read more : [link]

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 August 2011 01:09
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