Category: Electronic Projects


UltraCheap GPS Units

Recently Chris Nickerson (@indi303) tweeted a really inexpensive GPS tracking unit from Tiger Direct. The unit was regularly ~$120USD on sale for ~ $15. I immediately ordered 3 of them, but had them shipped elsewhere so it took a while for me to get them. I should also mention that I tried to look them up today, and the product is unavailable on both the US and CAN TigerDirect websites, so I assume it was a clearance sale. Anyways, I took one of the units apart to see what kind of deal I ended up getting. Click through to see the details.

Continue reading

Advertisements

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have written code to read a ProxPoint Plus 6800 RFID Reader (Clock & Data output model) from HID. This is going to be a very long post, so click through to read it all.

Continue reading

**UPDATE: Lauszus has updated the library to work with the Panasonic and JVC Protocols. See the link to his version in the comments below. Big thanks to him for sharing 🙂

Here is the Arduino IR library with working Panasonic protocol support that people have been asking about. I have also included a very basic sketch that will send the “Power” code to turn the TV on/off. Please be VERY AWARE that this is the OLD Panasonic protocol that has been implemented. That’s the reason the video uses my crappy 20″ TV instead of my new bigscreen. I may decide to implement the new protocol one day, but I just have too much on the go right now to pull it off. Enjoy!

Well, I was super-excited to be part of the ThinkHaus great global hackerspace challenge, and right as it was kicking off my father ended up in ICU @ the hospital. I have been spending most of my free time there with my family, but have found a few hrs. to work on the GGHSC. Our project is basically a homebrew PLC that any dummy can program. Think snap-circuits meets legos. Pre-build modules can be snapped together and programmed through a touchscreen HMI with very basic logic (ie: digital output 1 [wired to heater] turns on when analog input 1 is less than 70 deg. C). Of course things won’t be named “digital output 1” but instead would be “heater ON output” and analog input 1 would be named “room temperature,” or whatever the user deems appropriate as a name. Since it’s to benefit education we’re also comming up with an entire curriculum for the project as well as documentation/etc.

My part in this is obviously VERY limited due to my current situation, but I was to be responsible for coding the base unit as well as the touchscreen HMI. Since I had already ordered the 4dsystems uLCD-32PT(GFX) module from sparkfun I decided to play with it and load sample code and start working on the HMI whenever I have time. I got sample code loaded and everything was cool until I tried to use the SD card. As soon as I tried to use it I was getting “Disk not mounted” and “unable to mount” or “Card OUT” depending on which sample program I ran. My card was 4gb, but was formatted for fat16 anyway and should have worked. As I pulled the card in and out while running the USDTEST sample program I noticed that the text on the screen quickly flickered to “Card IN” and back. I found that if I held the card @ just the right spot it would stay @ card IN. The problem was that I cheaped out and bought the least expensive piece of trash uSD card I could possibly find. It seems that the pads on it did not line up properly with the pins in the display module. As soon as I took a SanDisk uSD card it worked like a charm. I just wanted to post this b/c there seem to be several ppl. on the forums complaining that their SD cards don’t work despite being properly formatted. I tried to post to the 4dsystems forum but they require not only email validation, but subsequent manual approval of the account. I’m not exactly what you’d call a patient person, so hopefully when somebody searches for solutions ot this problem they’ll stumble upon this. That’s all for now, but I’ll be sure to post updates when I get cool touchscreen stuffs working 😀

Cheers!

I’m just posting this since the post about my Arduino + MAX-7456 board still seems to be getting a fair bit of attention. I gathered up the code linked to in my original blog post and have uploaded a .zip with the library files as well as a test sketch that uses it. I haven’t taken a close look at this code in a long time, and I never did get around to fixing it like I wanted to. Since I’ve abandoned the Arduino in favor of the Rabbit for my access system solution it became apparent that this wasn’t something I was going to pursue anymore, but I figured I’d release what I did mash together for what it’s worth. It’s a pretty sloppy implementation as I just wanted to test proof-of-concept code to get it working quickly. It works by passing a massive array to a function (1 element for each character location available w/ the MAX-7456, don’t recall what that is right now). I had originally intended to modify the code so that it could work with the string library, keep track of it’s current position and allow a “MoveToLocation(int x)” type procedure to clean stuff up, so feel free to go ahead and do that and share it with everybody 😀

NOTE: Those of you interested in PAL: Go to my original blog post (link above) and look at the code linked. You will see a crapload of DEFINE blocks that are enclosed in comments. One set of comments contains a set of variables used for PAL, the other for NTSC. IIRC you can simply swap the values for PAL to replace the NTSC values in the library and it should work just fine. I think a few little things change, like # of chars that will fit on the screen, so you might have to play with that a bit, but it should be pretty straightforward.

Cheers!

Well, I’m all settled in to the new place and I was able to reconnect w/ the Think|Haus hackerspace. Some of the members there are entering a team in Maker Faire’s upcoming Power Racing Series. Essentially it’s a bunch of grown people who take old children’s Power Wheels toys and modify them with larger DC motors. Although not an official team member I have begun assisting with the design and production of the motor controller circuit. For obvious reasons I’m not going to be posting any specifics or schematics until after the contest, but it’s shaping up to be a really fun project just to goof around with. More details available on the official Think|Haus site. It feels good to be back 😀

Cheers!

Well, I’ve gotten my spectrophotometer working. In all honesty I took a couple of lazy days and hadn’t looked at it, but once I got it open it only took me a few mins to notice a broken wire. Soldered it, close it and bingo 😀 Sadly I didn’t have the forethought to ask for a cuvette or any spare standards when I got the unit, so I have no way to properly calibrate it, but I’m going to keep my eyes open for any that I can pick up on the cheap… not that I really have much use for a spectrophotometer anyway… 🙂

I have also been inspired by Ripspinner for my next project and have decided to revisit the Emotiv EPOC headset. FWIW Rip has also begun to create a TF2 mod for the EPOC headset. I haven’t had time to check it out yet, but I’m curious and plan to do so in the next little bit. Anyways, I have ordered some parts from Hong Kong, which will probably take a while to get here, but once they do the rest of it shouldn’t take me long to assemble. Stay tuned, I promise it’ll be shocking 😀

Cheers!

My Spectrophotometer

For my next project I have decided to take a look at a broken spectrophotometer to see if I can get it working properly. At this point I’m not even exactly sure what’s wrong with it, but I’m going to start taking it apart and will post on my progress. I would also like to take a moment to thank Dr. Rolfe and Fiona of Mohawk College and Dr. Singh of McMaster University for kindly letting me have a bunch of stuff they were going to throw in the trash, including this unit :D.

Cheers!

I have finally gotten around to re-writing some of my old code and re-recording a proper demo of controlling physical objects using thoughts by interfacing an EEG headset with an Arduino. While this technology is interesting and exciting, before anyone sees this as an endorsement for this particular EEG headset, I strongly recommend reading my full review of the device below. Those of you who have no interest in purchasing such a device can simply enjoy the show :D.

Continue reading

As an update to my previous post, my IR setup is tested and working just fine. The library from Ken Shirriff’s blog worked great. I had to do some tweaking to get the Panasonic protocol working which took a bit of time because I had to go through all of the code to debug and find the problems, but it certainly paid off in the end. Range is currently limited (~10ft.) but I’m going to be adding a transistor to my final design so that I can boost output to the IR LED. Next step is to hook it up to my EEG so that I can turn my TV on/off by thought alone. Stay tuned, I should have a video of it ready any day now 😀

Cheers!