Microcontroller Programming Issues

February 11, 2017

Bugs in software are bad, bugs in hardware are even worse, but inconsistent results are what makes it a total nightmare. Not my first post on crazy voodoo wasting precious time, I previously approached a similar issue here, so you can call this article “voodoo reloaded” without being far from the truth. Because sometimes those devices we spend so many hours to build – using the best of our logic…

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Easy PCB Manufacturing

January 26, 2017

For a maker, there’s now no excuse in not using his/her creativity to the maximum extent. All the tools are readily available, you just need to think of what you want to do and shape that will into something real. Electronics industry now offers everything from advanced microcontrollers to low power radios, various sensors, displays, a multitude of module of all kinds and also pcb manufacturing. Take the latter as…

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Gerber Viewer

January 10, 2017

You designed your new PCB board and you’re sure it’s all perfect, but some mistakes can go unnoticed resulting in wasted time and money. This is why it is important to test your new design before submitting it for production. I use software that visualises the Gerber files directly, so I can see exactly that the factory will receive for manufacturing. Let’s just take an example, the PCB files for…

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Introduction to CC2541

October 3, 2016

Exploring the versatile AVR microcontrollers or the powerful STM32 counterparts were amazing experiences which resulted in interesting projects, many of them presented on this blog. For a hardware designer, the multitude of options can be overwhelming and this is a good thing. In regards to BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) applications, TI’s CC254X solutions are appealing to say the least. “The CC2541 is a power-optimized true system-on-chip (SoC) solution for both…

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Sharp GP2Y1051 dust sensor

April 15, 2016

The previous Sharp GP2Y1010 dust sensor was already a successful optoelectronic product due to its small factor, simplicity and low cost. The 1051 update comes with some important improvements to make this an even better product, while using the exact same enclosure shape and size. The connector It’s the same 6 pin connector, but the pins are reassigned due to the new functionality: This new model makes using the sensor…

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LoRaWAN, RN2483 and BME680

March 26, 2016

Some of the best moments are those when exciting technologies come together to create even greater products or results. This is such an example. Taking advantage of the latest IoT advancements, the LoRaWAN is a network protocol intended for wireless battery operated Things. Geographic areas ranging from the size of a city to the size of an entire country can be covered with just a few LoRa base stations, finally…

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Full metal Delta 3D Printer

January 26, 2016

Finding the right 3D printer is not an easy task, considering the many options on the market. Many sellers claim unprecedented innovation, when instead all they offer is just another open source design at inflated prices. I knew I wanted a delta design, and a robust frame to better control vibrations, preferably metal. For the rest the more hackable the platform it was, the better. I opted for the one…

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Featured by Atmel

November 7, 2015

Trained as a software developer I’ve been active in the field doing mostly mobile apps since 2003. My first contact with microcontrollers came later, in 2009, and I still remember how exciting it was to see the tiny silicon piece run some code. That was the Atmega8 made by Atmel, and the first app was blinking a few LEDs with a simple software loop and a delay. Amazed by the…

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City Air Quality

November 5, 2015

Introduction Environmental surveillance is a big thing. Important for our health, but also resource consuming when it comes to designing a system that works. I started with the first unit to monitor background radiation back in 2012, pushed that to global scale with the uRADMonitor project for most of 2014, then approached the air pollution problem with the uRADMonitor-D for half of 2015. And this is just the beginning. To…

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DIY Geiger Counter Kit 1.1

October 4, 2015

This is an Open Source Digital Radiation Dosimeter, that can be used both as a portable detector, but also as a monitoring station to upload readings to the uRADMonitor network. This project is an update to the previous Geiger Counter Kit 1.0. When used as a portable detector, readings are displayed on the LCD. There is also a speaker that beeps on radiation events or is used to sound an…

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Tube: SBM-20M Small Geiger Muller

October 4, 2015

Pictures: Details: Compact Geiger Muller tube, the SBM-20M shows an excellent sensitivity for its small size. It was designed for hard beta and gamma radiation, and the particular tubes in my photos above are new generation tubes, manufactured in 2012. This is similar to the SBM-20-1, but smaller. Notes on sensitivity: The sensitivity of this tube is comparable with the SI-29BG and the SBT-9. Its small size makes it ideal…

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Magnetic gyroscope levitation

September 19, 2015

In the magnetic gyroscope levitation, a magnet is levitated via magnetic forces above another magnet, and stabilised by gyroscopic effect due to a spin that is neither too fast, nor too slow.

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Yihua 858D Hot air rework station

September 19, 2015

I tried, but there was no way to properly solder the BME280 tiny sensor using the soldering iron alone. After destroying one sensor and almost damaging the PCB, it was clear I needed a hot air station for my work on the uRADMonitor-D project. I opted for the 858D, also reviewed on Dave’s EEVBlog. It’s my first time using a hot air station and the BME280 is really a very…

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The finalists

August 24, 2015

There was a tough road to get the 3x Portable Environmental Monitor beta prototypes to the Hackaday Headquarters in time, but the effort was worth it! With today’s official announcement, the project has advanced to Finalist in the Best Product competition, and to Semifinalist in the Hackaday Prize 2015 competition. Last year it was a thrill as well, with the uRADMonitor-A advancing to Semifinals. With this previous project spread all…

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Post Beta hardware iteration

August 23, 2015

For the Portable Environmental Monitor beta release, both the project summary and the system design document presented some of the things to improve next. The first PCB was fine, but there was a linear regulator wasting power, that had to be replaced. Also, new ideas needed more hardware changes. Here is another hardware iteration to implement all that. The new changes include: – power efficient Lithium battery voltage converter, using…

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Portable Environmental Monitor

August 12, 2015

The portable environmental monitor addresses pollution, the kind that we are unable to see but directly affects our health and causes life threatening diseases. Airborne toxic chemicals, radioactive dust and radioactive radon are correlated with cases of pulmonary cancer. Since our biological senses can do little to warn us of such possible dangers, the plan was to design the Portable environmental monitor as a first line detection and warning system….

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The first prototype

August 7, 2015

It’s been a crazy run, trying to make this happen. After less then one month I now have the first functional hardware iteration or the first prototype. The Portable Environmental Monitor has been brought to life! All that’s left is finalising the enclosure (it will be a nice rugged aluminium enclosure, small enough to fit the palm of the hand, despite the many sensors packed inside) and the software (both…

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A true hacker makes his own PCBs

August 6, 2015

A true hacker makes his own PCBs. Dual layer. And in the kitchen. Why so? Because doing them as DIY and not paying lots of money to some greedy company is some kind of hack. And if it wasn’t for all the issues I had with the Portable Environmental monitor along the road, I could have used the nice OSHPark voucher I won on Hackaday (Thanks again guys!). But I’ve…

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Resistive touchscreen

August 6, 2015

A complicated project July was a tough month, and August is no different. Due to some components arriving late, I’ve only been able to start my work on the Hackaday.io project with considerable delay. So I had to catch up with everything and squeeze the entire development work for this complex project in a month’s timeframe. But the plan was solid and seemed doable … unless Murphy’s laws of chaos…

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Tube: SBT-9 End Window Geiger tube

July 29, 2015

Pictures: This is a rare Geiger Muller tube with a mica end window that allows it to detect alpha, beta and gamma radiation. It is a good substitute for the LND712 (both pictured above) where a multi-radiatin type detector is required, yet its low availability makes it problematic for any developing project (see uRADMonitor-D). This source indicates the SBT-9 was used in Russian spacecraft: “Vernov and his associates frequently used…

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ESP8266 Troubleshooting

July 29, 2015

I got a few esp8266 modules back in 2014, shortly after they’ve been announced on HackaDay. I didn’t have much time for them, being caught with other projects, up until recently when the portable environmental monitor project needed a versatile wireless communication mechanism, low powered and if possible at a decent price. The esp8266 seemed the best candidate, but like with everything in life where nothing comes free, getting it…

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ILI9341 touchscreen LCD Library

July 23, 2015

I got a few QVGA LCD’s with resistive touchscreen for an ongoing project. All that was left to do was putting the driver code together. The LCD code part was very much similar to my previous work on the ILI9163 but this time I went for faster SPI communication (also due to the bigger resolution). The microcontroller – an Atmega128 – uses normal SPI transfer and the external quartz crystal…

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Tube: LND-712 End Window Alpha-Beta-Gamma Detector

July 5, 2015

Pictures: An excellent miniature mica window Geiger tube, suitable for detecting Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation. As of 2015, it was selected for the uRADMonitor D series of radiation detectors. Details: Halogen quenched Geiger Muller tube, with a Mica end window making it suitable for detecting alpha beta and gamma radiation. Notes on sensitivity: The sensitivity of this miniature Geiger tube is amazing, placing it closeto the larger SBM-20. Most…

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Digital bench power supply

April 8, 2015

As a follow up to one of my earlier projects, the Variable regulated power supply, initially designed to deliver 0..30Volts at up to 10Amps, I have decided it was time for an upgrade. I kept the enclosure and the nice 250W toroidal transformer, and am reshaping everything as a new digital power supply with regulated voltage and current, short circuit protection, lcd display, buzzer for various alarms, temperature sensor on…

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Serial Digital to Analog converter (serial DAC)

April 8, 2015

Introduction We’re used to Analog to Digital converters (ADC) in a variety of applications such as voltmeters, thermometers or various other sensors. Their purpose is translating a given signal to a numeric representation. To handle numeric data, we encode it in digital, meaning all content is expressed by sequences of 0 and 1. A set of data is said to be continuous if the elements belonging to the set can…

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Comparison of dosimeters

April 3, 2015

Like with all measurements, it will be very hard to find two different devices indicating the same readings, especially when we demand increased precision. We now know that there are no such things as absolute time, absolute space, there are no synchronous clocks. It is the same with the absolute measurements, and in some cases it’s becoming more relevant to observe the change: if we see increasing values, we know…

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DIY Dosimeter Geiger Counter KIT1.0

March 8, 2015

Note: there is a newer version of this project, KIT1.1, see it here If I was to give this project a version number, the closest match would be the uRADMonitor model B. Finally an open source compact radiation dosimeter, that has an LCD and thus allows mobile use, but also comes with an Ethernet adapter so it can do radiation monitoring (uRADMonitor compatible). Yet, this is not quite the uRADMonitor…

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