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December 27, 2006
about a year ago
I bought this in order to help someone get started with AVR programming. Not that I’m any expert in that area, but I wanted to help. It works just fine on a CentOS 6.5 box that has the avr-gcc toolchain on it and the libusb packages. I’ve noted that logic levels are intended for 5v parts and I’d need a level shifter and probably a voltage regulator of some sort if I want to use this on low-voltage parts. I also have an Olimex programmer (the ISP-500) which can work with low voltages.
about a year ago
These are really nice. You can’t, however, install two shrouded side-by-side for the 2x5 and 2x3 pin groups. The pin groups are spaced so closely together, with the pin 1 sides facing each other so closely, that you’ll probably damage the ribbon cable trying to insert one cable or another into the plastic shroud. a 2x3 shroud plus bare male header pins for the 2x5 connector seem to work fine though. Just be careful of your pin 1 placement.
about a year ago
I destroyed all but one connector in a small order of 3 of these. I should have used a vise to crimp the cable connections closed. Even then I find that it needs to be done with care. Too much force breaks the plastic. So now I’m reordering.
about a year ago
I’ve done an initial test of this on a headless CentOS 6.5 x86_64 system that runs in runlevel 3 (meaning, it is non-GUI). This programmer expects the target to be externally powered. So give your target chip voltage from somewhere else. Connect programmer VCC and GND to the external voltage and GND supply.
To get a bash shell I simply ssh in to the box from another computer. I plugged the programmer in to the USB port and checked the dmesg output. It was discovered and assigned to the /dev/ttyACM0 device just fine. That device belongs to the ‘dialout’ group., so I added my unprivileged user to that group. Then I did:
avrdude -p m32 -c stk500v2 -P/dev/ttyACM0
and it immediately recognized the Atmega32 it was connected to.
Over the next week I will try to actually program the Atmega.
This is pretty nice. It works for me. I do wish that the pin 1 mark on the top of the board were easier to see, and also if there were a small LED built into it (with a switch to turn the thing on or off) so that we can rapidly determine if the ICSP connector is able to power the target project.
about 2 years ago
Thank you, Toni. I assume the Sharp relay part is blown. The microcontroller side of this board seems okay, at least the LED works, and I can see that my Really Bare Bones Board is turning digital 5 on and off at the expected intervals. So, I have ordered a new Sharp SSR rather than a new relay board kit. Tomorrow I’ll get a new extension cord too. Then desolder the old SSR and solder in the replacement and try again.
I think I miswired the 120v extension cord that is on the load side. Totally my fault. It took some Googling to understand that I only need to connect one conductor of the extension cord to the LOAD side of the relay. I had wired both conductors, one to each side of the load. This post explains how to connect an solid state relay. Only when I saw it did I truly understand my mistake. I feel a little stupid, and the breaker for that house circuit tripped, but I’m better educated now.
I bought this kit and assembled it. Then I modified a brand new 125v, 13 amp, two-prong AC extension cord so that the stranded conductors on the side with “ribbed” insulation pattern were soldered to a solid copper wire which was then connected to to the “LOAD” terminal in the square pad, and the other conductor wrapped in the “smooth” insulation side connected to the other LOAD terminal. I then wrote a small Arduino sketch and connected the control terminals to a Really Bare Bones Board. The control wire goes to Digital 5.
I then plugged a 60 watt incandescent light bulb to the customized extension board, and plugged the extension cord into a surge protector brick. I noticed that within a second or so of doing this, the incandescent light turned on. (The manual switch for the light bulb was switched on.) Then I connected power to the Really Bare Bones board to turn it on. After a few seconds, wham! The entire house electrical circuit that the relay’s load is connected to turns off. The circuit breaker had tripped. It took a little while to get things back to normal since that circuit also drives my network switches.
The SSR has no switching functionality at all. I did some Googling to check into this, looking for my mistake. I did have the soldering iron I was using set to over 300 degrees centigrade. I understand the SSR has to be soldered with the temperature under 260 C. Perhaps I destroyed it that way?
Or, did I connect the wrong polarity LOAD wires to the terminals – accidentally reversing polarity?
Or should I have not used an incandescent light bulb?
Thanks for any help.
about 2 years ago
I finished my radio. It was tough working with black tee shirt fabric I chose. I think I cut it much too generously (that wasn’t too bad – I cut the excess fabric off) and also the fabric folded on itself in two places on each side of the enclosure frame. I suspect that wasn’t good at all. It was very difficult getting the final two plywood “sides” to snap on. At the bottom edge of the radio they would stubbornly pop out of the press-fit holes. Time had run out on me with this project, though: the radio had to be given to my friend. I might possibly have been able to justify an additional delay, the friend would have been gracious about it, but…I wanted it done (impatience on my part.)
I used glue and clamps to get the final two pieces of plywood to stay on. As mentioned in the post above, the right hand knob for the station tuning pot would not install correctly. I’m going to have to find a knob that really fits and looks the same as the ones that came with the radio. Or, replace both knobs with two different knobs.
Another small issue I discovered while working with the enclosure assembly is that there is no silk screening text to identify the pins which were brought out to headers on the bottom surface of the PCB. The ICSP header should be silkscreened too.
Given that I was impatient with the fabric covering part, my final judgement is this kit is not ready for prime time. It has too many small defects that need to be corrected. The “FabFM Radio Kit” silk screening mistake is a bit embarrassing, and it is, to me, a sign of other mistakes with the kit. Removing pin 14 on the “polarization” justification isn’t the best way – that is not the Arduino way or the Creative Commons way.
I think the next time I work on a radio, I want to buy the PCB and circuit components and the actual radio enclosure separately. This has been a very interesting project for me overall, even though I feel this kit needs improvement. I have learned from it.
In the kit that was sent to me, the two knobs are exactly the same. They seem to be engineered to fit the left hand (on/off/volume) pot very nicely, but not the right hand station tuning pot. The right hand pot has a much thicker wiper control than the left hand one. Nothing I did could persuade the knob to fit the right hand pot.
No public wish lists :(
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