Member Since: August 19, 2008

Country: United States

  • Wow I can't wait to use these. After I got tired of the old BasicX Microcontrollers I was using on my autonomous vehicle dumping their programming whenever a low battery or high load condition caused a brownout, I wanted to port all seven peripheral sensor nodes over to Arduino, which seems much more stable. The only catch was that I would be giving up the fairly robust built-in RS-485 networking which was included with the BasicX modules.

    Now it appears that I might have a solution! I was hoping I could cobble together some new boards in such a way that I could piggy-back the Arduinos into the existing sockets for the 40-pin BasicX chips, and still be able to use all of the existing RJ45 connectivity on my vehicle. Again, it looks like this makes that possible. Can't wait to give them a try.

  • I have been looking at the various wifi modules Sparkfun offers, but I am still not sure which will be best for my application. I have a machine I need to monitor from about 50 feet away. I want to be able to use my Kindle Fire to view the sensor readings and such. I hoped I could set up a wifi module to serve up a web page with the sensor readings that the wifi on my Kindle could connect to and display. The browser on my Kindle seems to work very reliably and it also has a function to easily request between mobile and desktop versions of web pages. I am familiar with HTML and I am confident I could build a GUI in HTML for the display.

    I will also need the ability to send configuration commands from the web page on my Kindle back to the device.

    There is no Internet in the area and no room on the machine for a computer or separate router. I was hoping for a stand-alone module that could possibly interface serially with an Arduino on the machine, then send the data to my Kindle via wifi.

    I had built an XBee based system, but that required that I set up a specific LCD monitor on a serial link. I am trying to get away from the need to build monitors for all of my devices and go toward a setup where I can use my Kindle for all of them. I had considered a Bluetooth connection, but I know next to nothing about the Bluetooth my Kindle uses and can only assume it is meant for headsets or HID's and not intended for raw data transmission (I am also clueless as to how to build the app that such a setup would require).

    Is this module capable of doing what I described without a separate router, computer, or Internet connection?


  • ... or for a more elegant filter solution you could mount two polarized filters, one fixed and one rotating. The filters would span from near transparent when aligned to opaque when at right angles.

  • ... and so if your goal is to hack this for tracking motion at a distance, you would first want to provide optics to focus the image on a plane in front of the sensor (having the ability to do frame dumps would be very handing in setting up the optics).

    Once you have the optics how you want them, you could emulate the shutter feature by mounting a circular grayscale smoke filter ahead of the optics on a stepper motor or servo, then use the LED output signal to rotate the filter accordingly.

  • My take on the datasheet explanation is that the shutter feature modulates current (or PWM?) to the LED driver in order to scale illumination to keep the pixels somewhere centered between the highest and lowest values. This would ensure the greatest amount of usable image regardless of whether the mouse were on a bright white surface or a black surface.

  • Also... it took some searching to locate these cables. Why on earth are they not listed under the "Cables" heading??

  • It is simple to convert these to a servo extension cable- I use them all the time. Just snip off a three-pin section of 0.10" straight breakaway header and plug it into one side to make it a male. For better pin engagement, push the header pins through the plastic base until the length is equal on both sides. For a really secure connection a small piece of electrical tape wrapped around the finished connection keeps everything in place. I prefer to stock only female-female extensions because I use them the most. When I do need male-female, I just use this method.

  • I am going to use these to replace the homebuilt Picaxe programmer breakout I built. For mine I simply added the two resistors the Picaxe uses on its Serin pin. The original was built on stripboard; but this will make for a cleaner adaptor once I add two SMD resistors to it- should be simple enough.

    I find myself prototyping Picaxe projects on breadboard from time to time, and I found that such an adaptor really speeds up the process (I have never fully understood why the resistors are not simply built into the Picaxe's, since they are necessary for proper operation and programming.)

    It would be cool if Sparkfun added the two resistors to this breakout and offered it as a Picaxe programming breakout, but I do not know if there would be much demand for it.

  • My guess is that they wanted to follow the now somewhat conventional footprint/pinout that the 24-pin Basic Stamp2's use. Particularly, pins 21 through 24 have the same functions, providing the same necessary power supply, ground, Vout, and reset lines the Basic Stamp2 uses. I also noticed the new 24-Pin version of Parallax's Propeller microcontroller uses the same pinout.

    The programming connections are different, but that is to be expected in this case.

    I have several older BS2-based projects that I am considering reworking and "supercharging" with this new Arduino board. The hardware compatibility will allow me to resurrect some of those older projects and try some things that the BS2 is simply to slow to handle.


  • Great video Pete. Honestly it covered much of what I already figured out, only you condensed into a few minutes what I learned by trial and error over about 20 years. Having never been "formally" trained in the subject, it is good to have some confirmation that I am on the right track. I started home brewing my own PCB's, first with a Sharpie and photo-etch, then to printed transparencies, and finally on to Eagle and some of the low-volume quick turnaround fab houses, along with the great tutorials Sparkfun has provided.

    I would recommend this to anyone who is just getting started with PCB design. Eagle has lots of great tools to assist, but they don't provide the common-sense methodology of the layout as you have done. Thanks for another excellent resource. -Rob

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