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It has been a while.

Still working on getting the house ready for sale as part of our pending move next year.

On the electronics front, Have been learning more bits and pieces of the C programming language and using it to create firmware for Microcontrollers and how to make them do stuff. The most recent being how to use I2C to communicate with various peripherals. Trying to connect an Arduino development board to a Cypress PLL clock generator chip.

I have been also learning about the MQTT lightweight communications protocol and how it passes messages using a broker (server) and the PUBLISH and SUBSCRIBE (client) model. That lead to investigating NODE.js and NODE-RED and how to use it to create what is referred to as IOT (Internet of Things) action models. It uses a visual programming concept of NODES (the bits and pieces of code to communicate with the various devices such as comm ports, network interfaces, timers and such) connected to other nodes creating FLOWS visually. I call it programming by LEGOS.

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A little update

In the last couple of months I have made a little progress in building my lab/workshop. I got rid of a crappile of old paperwork and made enough room to get my workbench in the old “office” space.

I have made a few purchases, the biggest of which was a Rigol DS1054Z 4 channel 50Mhz digital oscilloscope. And WOW in the last few years the price of even the test equipment technologies and what you get for your money is come way down. For $399US you get, like i said, a 4 channel 50MHz digital scope with a shitload of features. You get deep memory waveform capture so it only uses the memory needed to save an active waveform and doesn’t use memory for all the time in the middle when all there is is noise. It has a built-in hardware frequency counter, a pile of available statistics of the waveform you are looking at, software decode of serial data such as ASCII, SPI and I2C. It also has math functions that can be done on the displayed waveforms such as multiply, add, subtract and the most interesting of all… FFT. All together you get quite a lot for not much money. Something that no too many years ago would have cost in the TEN of thousands of dollars.

The other little peace of test equipment I got was a 24Mhz 2 channel arbitrary frequency generator. It can be made to generate many different waveforms at any frequency from a couple of milihertz to 24Mhz. The available software even allows you to create your own waveform in a couple of different ways. It also has a built in 100 Mhz frequency/event counter.

I have also picked up a couple of different device programmers such as for AVR and PIC devices and a generic “do it all” type programmer. As part of the learning/ relearning process I have purchased a couple of different development/prototyping boards such as a Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone Black, Arduino and a couple of the Cypress PSoc devices.

High Altitude Balloons, Microcontrollers and Radio

  • Started following the “hobby” “avocation” “science” “technology” of high altitude balloon (HAB) launching, tracking and hopefully recovery.
  • The interest in HAB lent me to find information on how to track them and the software and hardware needed. The first place to find the information you will be needing is http://www.habhub.org and click on WIKI.
  • The hardware direction brought up using low power transmitters of one of three types
    • ISM frequencies primarily in the 433 Mhz band using slow to medium speed 7 or 8 bit RTTY.
    • Long range tracking using WSPR or JT9 on HF qrp frequencies.
    • Where available using VHF APRS.
  • There are many different ways of generating the required tracking signals
    • One of the most often used is USB FSK RTTY by modulating a frequency generator such as the AD9850 with a properly programmed MCU such as an Arduino.
    • Some use Embedded Linux boards such as the Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone Black. Lots of interesting things become possible with a “full blown” computer in a small inexpensive package. The most interesting so far has been SSDV (Slow Speed Digital Video). An on board camera such as a web cam will take a photo that is then converted to a text file that is then transmitted in small packets at between 300 and 600 baud. A free windows based program that uses either a sound card or a RTL-SDR receiver looped thru the sound card can decode both the tracker telemetry data and decode the SSDV picture. Go to the habhub.org wiki and download “dl-fldigi” and check it out.
    • The next method uses standard amateur radio APRS primarily on VHF frequencies.
  • As I searched the internet for ideas on how to accomplish the tracking phase, I found an article my WB8ELK that used the Cypress Semiconductor PSoc (System on a chip) processor family to do the processing and encoding. After a little research I found that these little devices are quite an advancement in system design. They combine all the processing power of standard cores such as the venerable 8051 and the much newer Arm Cortex M0 with lots of configurable analog blocks onto one very affordable $3 to $6 dollar device. One of the most interesting features that Cypress put in these devices if the ability to use almost any pin (there are a few exceptions) for any input or output.
  • I decided that a good project to take on would be to see if I could design, build and program a complete PACKET, APRS, HF tracker with the lowest chip count and at the lowest price point that I could do. The open hardware and open software community will make this much easier then it would have been just a few years ago, many of the code functions have already been done by someone for their own projects and as part of the open community have posted it to Github or other repositories. Most of what would have to be done would be just glue it all together.

Long list for electronics workbench

  • Oscilloscopes
    • Analog (2 channel 50 Mhz)
    • Digital (start with USB type Linkinstruments MSO19)
  • Multimeters with temperture probes
  • Power Supplies
  • Solder Station
  • Low power Microscope
  • Jewlers Lope
  • Good Lighting
  • Qinsi QS-5100 Reflow or Toaster Oven (home modified)
  • Solder Paste for SMD devices
  • Small totes for projects and cables
  • Parts bins for small parts
  • Screws, Nuts, Washers, Standoffs (metal and nylon)
  • Small gauge wire multiple colors
  • Proto board…Solderless and soldered
  • Pickit2 Pic programmer, FDTI programmer
  • Modeino(Lowpowerlabs.com), Teensy(pjrc.com), etc boards
  • Other Modeino boards, other Teensy adapter boards(audio)
  • Grove for Raspberry Pi, LCD displays, Buck power modules

Household “not so much electronic” projects

  • Clear out Storage Locker
  • Install another Orbit sprinkler timer for back yard
  • Install replacement valve for flowerbed zone drip system
  • Modify sprinkler zone to add drip heads alone side of house and extend to along back fence.
  • Find locations of other zones in back yard.
  • Repair end of zone in front yard near front window.
  • Add two more zone valves to manifold for tree and additional front yard drip zone.
  • Install Microwave under cabinet and ruff in temporary power.
  • TV and Directv connection for Teddie.
  • Check out Dlink powerline ethernet extenders for TV multimedia use.
    • May use for Teddies Directv extention?
    • If powerline extenders don’t work then pull CAT5 around house to Office.

Updated list of electronics projects

  • Event checkpoint logging and communication Android App
    • SMS, EMAIL and PACKET method to master control point
  • Household data and control management system (connect all devices..if this, then that)
    • So far I have Raspberry Pi as master controller connected by USB to a LInkit One board for SMS, Local Wifi, and Bluetooth. Also connected via USB is an Arduino type board (lowpowerlabs.com moteino with 433 Mhz module) topped with a Bridgeduino and various transmitters and receivers to control consumer devices.
  • Put together amateur radio packet go kit (maybe using Baofeng portable radios)
  • Clean up space in “office room” for electronics workbench by making space in garage for junk boxes.
  • Get matching bookcase for “computer room” so unmatched bookcase can go in “office”.
  • Equip above workbench with some test equipment and other needful things.
  • Make PC board with 555 watchdog timer, 24VAC input to xxVDC using DC buck (mini version) and Moteuino Module.
  • Make PC board for components to modify USB fob for VOIP. http://docs.allstarlink.org
  • Update Bridgeduino PC board with thru hole regulator and capacitors, add OLED display, reorient how some modules line up on board. New versions using other processor modules (Moteino, Teensy). Send a couple of copies to originator.
  • Work on HOLIDAY lights project(diychristmas.com)
  • Improve and simplify RF direction finding equipment. Using PA8W and PI4WAG as basis.
    • PC board antennas, Microprocessor as antenna switch at hub, Switched CAP or DSP filters.
    • Use Teensy 3.1 processor and Audio board with DSP software.
    • Sync antenna switch with pulses from main controller…Higher voltage pulse to reset to #1, transission to switch to next.

Blog | Hackaday | Fresh hacks every day | Page 4

Blog | Hackaday | Fresh hacks every day | Page 4.

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