• Simple AVR Bootloader tutorial
  • RAK831 LoRaWAN Gateway
  • High Voltage inverter KIT
  • RN2483 / RN2903 Firmware upgrade guide
  • Simple IOT temperature sensor

Simple AVR Bootloader tutorial

I’ve used AVR microcontrollers both for hobbies and work projects. These versatile microcontrollers ran the code I programmed them with, but once the final device was shipped, it was hard to change the firmware (the software running on the microcontroller): The user needed an ISP programmer and the software tools to update the firmware. A more convenient solution is to use a bootloader. The bootloader is a small program that…

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RAK831 LoRaWAN Gateway

Previously, I covered the Dragino LG01 Single Channel LoRaWAN Gateway, a low cost solution good for testing basic LoRaWAN communication setups. I needed a better gateway and I was about to go for the german IMST IC880A gateway when I stumbled upon a Chinese variant named RAK831, that was cheaper and offering the same features. The RAK831 and the IC880A boards are almost identical in terms of Semtech chips used…

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High Voltage inverter KIT

This blog was home to some exciting high voltage related experiments already. While my time for hobbies is becoming increasingly limited, I recently got a HV-1 high voltage inverter KIT and decided to show it here. It’s a one transistor oscillator, with a feedback coil in a compact high voltage transformer. It’s identical to the first high voltage inverter I’ve built, except for the flyback transformer. Even with its tiny…

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RN2483 / RN2903 Firmware upgrade guide

The Microchip RN2483 and the RN2903 are Low-Power Long Range LoRa┬« Technology Transceiver Modules, in the same package and Pin compatible. The RN2483 is intended for the 433 MHz and 868 MHz Frequency Bands (Europe), while the RN2903 is for the 915 MHz Frequency Band (US, Taiwan). I used the RN2483 in my first LoRaWAN project, some time ago. While LoRaWAN technologies have seen an impressive recent boost and Microchip’s…

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Simple IOT temperature sensor

IOT stands for Internet of Things and refers to small devices equipped with direct internet connectivity, without needing an external computer. They are usually composed of a main microcontroller and an additional connectivity (eg. ESP8266 for Wifi, ENC28J60 for Ethernet) or they are complete SOC including both the processing unit and the connectivity modems in one single package. Regardless of their form or shape, these devices open new applications for…

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Dragino LG01 LoraWAN Gateway

I already covered the impressive LPWAN LoraWAN technology with a proof of concept remote air quality monitoring unit based on the BME680 from Bosch and the RN2483 from Microchip, in a previous post. The device, capable of measuring temperature, humidity, pressure and VOCs can run for months on a single cell battery, thanks to the low power LoraWAN communication solution. It can send real time data on distances up to…

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Portable Power Supply

I have a few excellent external batteries, the kind with USB female connectors used to charge phones. Now I needed a high voltage 12V battery, or more specifically something in the 6V-28V interval to power a uRADMonitor A3 unit. The form factor was important too, as I needed something more compact, a portable power supply with DC output. With a 3D Printer and a CNC Router at hand, a quasi-professional…

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CNC Router for DIY PCB manufacturing

I’ll have to go straight to the point: get yourself a CNC router now! I’m serious: I used to make my PCBs dual layer and in the kitchen, as Hackaday folks like to show on their Twitter from time to time, but looking back, I can’t understand how I’ve done without a CNC router so far. And if you’re like me, and you probably are since you’re on this blog,…

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An IOT Swing

The new generations benefit of an advance over their predecessors. This is a simple equation that guarantees progress. For that I can do a simple comparison between the toys I had as a child and my daughter’s new IOT Swing that I just assembled. An IOT Swing Initially, this was a nice Fisher-Price Precious Planet swing. It is an older model running solely on batteries, so what I did was…

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Microcontroller Programming Issues

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

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

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

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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Morse encoder

The morse code encodes the latin alphabet comprised of 26 letters to a binary base. Traditionally, the destination set used dots and dashes, making the encoded letters easy to transmit as signals both over radio and wire. But any binary set of symbols can be used instead. For other languages with more than 26 characters, or for special characters, there is an extended set of morse binary combinations something we…

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Voronoi diagrams and OpenLayers 3

OpenLayers is an opensource javascript library for rich web-based geographic applications. I recently had to represent temperature readings on a map. The first idea was to use heatmaps, due to their nice blur and colour gradient effects. There is native support for heatmaps in OpenLayers 3: Demo code on JSFiddle. function initHeatmap(src) { return vector = new ol.layer.Heatmap({ source: src, blur: 2, radius: 8, weight: function(srcObject) { return parseFloat(getDoseRate(srcObject.get(’averagecpm’), srcObject.get(’factor’)))…

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Sharp GP2Y1051 dust sensor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Yihua 858D Hot air rework station

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

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

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

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

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

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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