EEVblog #180 – Soldering Tutorial Part 1 – Tools

Dave at EEV Blog has another great video blog on soldering.  Highly recommended watching.


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From Embedded Lab: Expanding the number of I/O lines using Microchip MCP23008

Embedded Lab has another great tutorial, thie one on using the MCP23008 port expander.  I've posted about it here before and written a Swordfish module.

Expanding the number of I/O lines using Microchip MCP23008

A microcontroller comes with a limited number of general purpose input and output (GPIO) ports. However, some applications may require more ports than are available on the microcontroller. In such a case, GPIO expanders can be used to increase the I/O capability of the microcontroller. MCP23008 is one such device (manufactured by Microchip Technology) which provides an easy I/O expansion using 2-wire serial interface. This tutorial illustrates how to add an extra 8-bit I/O port to PIC12683 microcontroller (which has only 6 I/O pins) using MCP23008. A seven segment LED display and a tact switch will be connected to the extended port. The PIC12F683 microcontroller will count the switch presses and display the counter value on the seven segment LED  module.

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The Kitsap Mini Maker Faire

On Sunday, my partner Eric and I had a table at the first-ever Kitsap County, Washington Mini Maker Faire, (Maker Faires are sponsored in part by Make Magazine).  It was a gloriously nice day for the Seattle area and one of the few nice ones we'd have this year.  Over 400 people attended which was a nice scale and allowed lots of time for interaction.

We decided that we wanted to present sort of a broad view of "making" - that the technology to go from design to hardware to real-world applications was within everyone's reach.  Eric planned to combine "techie" and "foodie" and demonstrate sous-vide cooking as something that "maker" technology makes possible.

Read more: The Kitsap Mini Maker Faire

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From Embedded Lab - an I2C Tutorial

A number of devices have been decribed on the pages of Digital-DIY that use the I2C interface, including real time clocks, temperature sensors, WII Nunchuks, port expanders and even thermocouple interfaces and a number of Swordfish modules are available to make using these devices simple.  The TAP-20-USB board is based around using I2C for expansion.

Hack-A-Day posted about this tutorial available on Embedded Labs.  It's a nice overview on how to use I2C devices.  Have a look.

Lab 14: Inter-Integrated Circuit (I2C) communication

I2C (Inter-Integrated Circuit) is a short distance serial interface that requires only 2 bus lines for data transfer. It was invented by Philips in 1980′s, originally to provide easy on-board communications between a CPU and various peripheral chips in a TV set. Today, it is widely used in varieties of embedded systems to connect low speed peripherals (external EEPROMs, digital sensors, LCD drivers, etc) to the main controller. In this experiment, we will cover an overview of I2C protocol, its implementation in PIC microcontrollers, and the method of connecting single and multiple devices on a common I2C bus. We will demonstrate the technique by connecting two I2C EEPROM chips (24LC512) and an I2C compatible temperature sensor (DS1631) with PIC18F2550 microcontroller.

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Mighty Ohm Blog: Announcing the “Soldering is Easy” Complete Comic Book!

Jeff at the Mighty Ohm Blog has announced the Soldering is Easy Comic board available under a Creative Commons 3.0 ShareAlike/Attribution agreement.  Looks like a great reference.


Check out the details here.

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MikroElektronika's Online Book: PIC Microcontrollers

ME_PIC_bookThis great reference may have been mentioned here before but it's well worth a blog post even if it has been.

MikroElektronika has made PIC Microcontrollers by Milan Verle available online free of charge.  This 394 page reference covers the nitty-gritty of PIC microcontrollers and provides great insite into what goes on inside.  The how and why of hardware functions are clearly explained.

Table of Contents

This book is available for browsing and reading online, absolutely free of charge. To read book free online follow next links:

Read more: MikroElektronika's Online Book: PIC Microcontrollers

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If you have exceptional patience and good soldering skills, perhaps this is the perfect project for you!

Nick Schulze recently finished an 8x8x8 LED cube (totalling 512 LEDs). Sure it's designed around an Arduino, although it could be adapted to any microcontroller.

Here's a video of the cube:

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From Embedded Lab: A new multi-function power supply unit for my Embedded Lab

Here's a great writeup on a lab power supply with fixed positive and negative 5 volt outputs and an adjustable output.  A nice feature of this setup is the use of a PIC-based circuit to read supply voltage and current.

"One important parameter in embedded system designing is power consumption. This parameter is directly related to the battery lifetime, if the system is to be powered from a battery. In order to determine the power rating of your designed system, you need to know how much current the system draws from the source at a given voltage. While working on my projects, I usually measure current by placing an external ammeter in series with the current’s return path. This is not always convenient to do, and so I thought of making a special power supply unit for my lab that would display both voltage and current information on a LCD screen while prototyping my circuit. This way I can continuously monitor how much power my test circuit is drawing at a specific operating voltage. This power supply unit provides fixed ±5 V as well as a variable dc voltage ranging from 1.25 V to  9 V. A PIC16F689 microcontroller is embedded into the power supply unit to measure the adjustable output voltage along with the load current. Besides, this unit also has a built-in frequency counter to measure the frequency of an external signal. The range is over 50 MHz. However, it has been tested up to 20.0 MHz, and works fine. There are still few I/O ports of PIC16F689 that are not used. So I am thinking about adding one or more features (like capacitance meter) to it. But that would be on my second version..."

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Some Comments about Network Security - EDN Editor Ron Wilson

289226-Stuxnet_and_the_Internet_of_Victims_image1In this age of more and more "things" connected to internet, security becomes a big issue.  It's one thing to have your internet-connected toaster hacked and you have burned toast for breakfast but quite another to have a internet-controlled traffic signal hacked to turn the light green in all directions!  Ron Wilson has some thought-provoking comments based on real-world events.

"In marketing speak, it is the Internet of Things. Just as in the first decade of this century the Internet connected the world’s people, so—the pundits tell us—in this decade, the Internet will connect the world’s man-made objects. The toaster will talk to the television, and the light switch will lie down with the lamp. Without debating the wisdom of this scenario for global unification, we feel the need to offer it a hurled monkey wrench and then to observe the consequences.

Our spanner comes in the form of that recently famous computer virus, Stuxnet. As you may recall, no one has admitted to being the source of the virus. But it appears that some organization opposed to Iran’s nuclear program launched Stuxnet onto the Internet to attack the software that controls Iran’s uranium-enrichment centrifuges. Unfortunately, Stuxnet seems to have attacked many other instances of this widely used software, as well, making it perhaps the first act of global cyberterrorism.

It won’t be the last..."

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Who Has a "Right to Repair?" - a Blog Post by John Titus of EDN

John Titus has an interesting look at the maintenance issues created by the increasing use of "smart" electronics in cars.

"Automobile repair shops have a beef with auto manufacturers over who can repair vehicles. Many repair shops want to replace "programmable" components but the auto companies won't release the details of how to program these devices for fear of opening their intellectual property to all takers. A story in the 10 February 2011 Wall Street Journal explained that after a mechanic replaced a windshield-wiper switch in a 2004 Saab, the car wouldn't start. The switch needed an "initialization" at a Saab dealer..."

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