Monday, November 26, 2012

100th Post: Giveaway Winner!

We are thrilled to announce the winner of the 100th post giveaway!

Congratulations to Michael Horne! We will be in contact with you. (Note, you have forty-eight hours to respond, or the prize will be forfeited.)

Check out the video below to see the setup of the random number generator using an Arduino. We decided to select three winners, in case we do not receive a response from the first person, etc.

I used a brand new, unopened Arduino Leonardo from my stash and used a graphic LCD screen that was on SBot2. I tried to use the included random function, but the results wouldn't work for the giveaway as randomization is difficult in general. So I came across this other library, which you can access here, TrueRandom. Here is a link to the code used for the random number generator and LCD output.

Thanks again to all who participated. We look forward to offering other giveaways!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Raspberry Pi 1/2 DOA

When the 512MB version of the Raspberry Pi was released, I couldn't resist not getting one. This would be perfect as a permanent attachment for the Motorola Lapdock and a Pillbow case. A few days later I received it in the mail and loaded Adafruit distro on a borrowed SD card from our digital camera. This is when things started to go awry.

After first boot I went through the setup, including region and all that stuff. That last thing I did was a rpi-update to update the firmware. After that it wouldn't boot, or so I thought. I tried multiple images and SD cards. So far, nothing. It looked like it would boot and then get to a point, lose video and Ethernet. After many hours and days of fighting with it I realized something. It was almost like it was booting but just loosing Ethernet and HDMI. So I tested my theory.

I whipped out my Sparkfun FTDI Basic 3.3v version and connected to the UART of the RPi. What do you know? It booted up and worked perfectly! So I came to the conclusion that the CPU is fine but all the attached devices are bad, like Ethernet, HDMI, and USB. From my tests even the composite video out didn't work, really odd problem. I was confused since it seemed to work initially. I did get it to boot a few times but it would never last.

512MB Raspberry Pi with Sparkfun FTDI Basic

But not all is lost. The wonderful people at Newark refunded the money without having to send the bad one back and after making a new order, made it priority, even though I had to wait over a month but the new one should be here tomorrow. As for the defective one I could use it over UART and just use it for the GPIOs. I ran it for a few days monitoring the CPU temp in a terminal session over UART and it was stable so it should be useful for something down the road, at least I hope. If anything it would be good to use for showing and explaining to people what a RPi is since they can touch it all they want, it's already defective right?

RIP: Arduino UNO 11/19/2012

It saddens me to write this post after the events of last night. This Arduino UNO was the beginning of it all. It started me on a journey that would change my life forever and has taught me many things over the years. From blinking LEDs to controlling a robot, to many late night projects. It has always been there for me, no matter the task at hand.  It gave its life in the line of duty for betterment of electronics and the protection of my USB port. Its sacrifice will not be in vein but help further development of many late night projects. It will be missed but never forgotten.

RIP 2009-Nov 19 2012
Have you had a similar loss?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

100th Post Giveaway! CLOSED

The 100th post has arrived! So to celebrate, we're having a giveaway! I wrote about it earlier, and I still cannot believe that it is finally here. I've wanted to extend my gratitude to those who follow my blog here, and to the electronics community, especially when it comes to Opensource.

Thanks to our friends over at DFRobot for sponsoring this giveaway! 
A little background about them: as an online shop, they specialize in robotics. They make and sell a variety of boards (offering PCB services), tools, components, kits, etc. If it's about robots, chances are, they've got it. They also plenty of other electronic items. If you've yet to hear about them, go check them out!

The prize: Dreamer Nano V4.0

Source: DFRobot, with editing by heartsy

Description from DFRobot:

The Dreamer Nano V4.0 is a surface mount breadboard embedded version of the ATMEGA 32U4 with integrated Micro USB. It has everything that Arduino Leonardo has (electrically).Physically, it is just missing power jack to save space.

Using the ATmega32U4 as its sole microcontroller allows it to be cheaper and simpler. Also, because the 32U4 is handling the USB directly, code libraries are available which allow the board to emulate a computer keyboard, mouse, and more using the USB-HID protocol!
The Dreamer Nano v4.0 is compatible with most Nano shield in the market. It's suitable for projects that require a compact size controller system.

  • Microcontroller:ATmega32u4
  • Operating Voltage:5V
  • Input Voltage (recommended):6.5-12v (VIN) / 5v (Micro USB)
  • Input Voltage (limits):6.5-12V
  • Digital I/O Pins:20
  • PWM Channels:7
  • Analog Input Channels:12
  • DC Current per I/O Pin:40 mA
  • DC Current for 3.3V Pin:50 mA
  • Flash Memory:32 KB (ATmega32u4) of which 4 KB used by bootloader
  • SRAM:2.5 KB (ATmega32u4)
  • EEPROM:1 KB (ATmega32u4)
  • Clock Speed:16 MHz
  • Compatible with most of Nano shield
  • Size: 45x20x20mm

We think this prize makes a great starter microcontroller that is breadboard-able, and Arduino Leonardo compatible.

How to enter the giveaway:
  • One comment, answering: How did you get started into (or what brings you to) electronics?
  • Winner will be picked with a random number generator using an Arduino.
  • The generator will be recorded in action & uploaded on the blog, in a new post.
  • Be sure to log in when you comment. Anonymous types will not be accepted.
Giveaway is now until Thursday, November 22, 2013 at 11:59 PM PST. Winning announcement will be held that same weekend.

Should you have any questions, please send me an e-mail instead of leaving a comment. Good luck!