DIY resistor folder for 9.90€

If you’ve done even a bit of electronics, the chances are that you’ve already amassed a hefty collection of resistors. Buying them is fun but finding the right values from a stack of resistors is not. I noticed that you can buy actual “resistor folders” with nice labels and the full E24 series of 1500 resistors for $100. I already had resistors so I decided to make my own folder with less expense.

I walked into the nearest book store and quickly found a promising offering: 10 transparent plastic sheets of “collectible card holders” for about 3€. Any store having binders and associated supplies will probably have something similar. I also bought a thin A4 binder and 200+ label stickers for about 9.90€ total (about 1:1 to dollar prices). Here’s what I came home with (already added the stickers):

Each sheet had 9 pockets so for 3€ I get storage for 90 values, and 10-20 resistors fit into a pocket without making the page too heavy. I labeled the first 72 based on my E12 series and that left me with 2 extra pages for “exotic” resistor values. Here’s the first page of E12:
Continue reading DIY resistor folder for 9.90€

V-USB: Outputting Data with usbFunctionRead()

I promised to commenter Marek to post an example of using usbFunctionRead() to return larger amounts of data. So building upon the ATtiny85 version we made in last part, let’s add one more command to usbtest.exe:

#define USB_DATA_LONGOUT 5

// [...] Change the buffer size in main():
    char buffer[2048];

// [...] Add the following in the if-else structure in main():

    } else if(strcmp(argv[1], "longout") == 0) {
        nBytes = usb_control_msg(handle, 
            USB_TYPE_VENDOR | USB_RECIP_DEVICE | USB_ENDPOINT_IN, 
            USB_DATA_LONGOUT, 0, 0, (char *)buffer, sizeof(buffer), 5000);
        printf("Received %d bytes: %sn", nBytes, buffer);
    }

Now let’s tell V-USB that we’re implementing usbFunctionRead() and doing transfers of more than 254 bytes in usbconfig.h:
Continue reading V-USB: Outputting Data with usbFunctionRead()

7 Segment Multiplexing With ULN2003 & PNP Transistors

The reason a started my electronics hobby was that I wanted to build a chess clock. Lacking a proper LCD display, I chose to multiplex several 7-segment displays. Most sources in the net did not specify hardware at all, and those that did were driving the segments with a 74HC595 shift register and using NPN transistors to enable one common cathode display at a time. However, if you look at 74HC595 specs you’ll notice that it’s not designed to source the amount of current that is required to drive several multiplexed 7-segment displays. It might work, but no one can say for how long!

It took me a while to find a good, inexpensive and readily available alternative. I finally found it in ULN2003, which is inexpensive darlington array that can drive 500 mA from each of its pins. So I decided to write a little tutorial on 7 segment multiplexing that walks through all the needed hardware and software in detail. Here’s what we’ll build (click for a larger image):

For this tutorial I assume you know how to connect ATtiny2313 to a programmer and flash it with custom software. You’ll learn as much in IMakeProjects.com’s AVR tutorial. You’ll also need the following components:
Continue reading 7 Segment Multiplexing With ULN2003 & PNP Transistors

V-USB with ATtiny45 / ATtiny85 without a crystal

One guy at Hack a Day remarked on the long wire runs in my V-USB tutorial breadboard setup. So I thought I’d build upon the part 4 of the tutorial but modify the setup a bit to run the AVR at 5 volts and use zener diodes to drop D+/D- voltage, thus eliminating the need for a regulator. And why not stop there. ATtiny45 and ATtiny85 are smaller than ATtiny2313 and have an internal oscillator that can be calibrated to provide 16.5 MHz clock, accurate enough for V-USB to do its magic. I challenge anyone to drastically shorten these wire runs!

In the photo, I used a 4-pin header to show the place of the USB cable so the zener diodes would not get obstructed. Note that due to the angle it can seem like the 0.1 uF tantalum cap (light brown one) is wired to PB4 when it really is going to GND pin! Here’s the schematic, heavily borrowed from V-USB’s EasyLogger reference implementation:
Continue reading V-USB with ATtiny45 / ATtiny85 without a crystal

Dissecting the Excalibur Game Time Chess Clock

A go-playing friend of mine had a broken “Excalibur” chess clock that we here in Europe use extensively in go tournaments. The LCD was shattered and I don’t think they ship replacement parts:

Because the clock is not of much use without a display, I got to rip it apart to see what it contains. This particular clock is used quite a lot, so I thought I’d share the images. Note that you can click on pictures to view larger version of the image.
Continue reading Dissecting the Excalibur Game Time Chess Clock

PicoScope 2204 USB Oscilloscope Review

PicoScope 2204 USB scope

One of the nicest things when starting a new hobby is that there’s just so many things you don’t yet have, and can thus look forward to researching and then maybe buying if the price is right. In electronics, you can pretty much get started with a $10 soldering iron, $25 multimeter, maybe a $30 programmer if you want to use microcontrollers, and then just buy cheap components to tinker with. But sooner or later, you start thinking about how nice it would be if you had an oscilloscope.

For me it took about nine months. I saw an article on using AVR as an RFID tag and noticed I could build a simple RFID reader with a few components. However, to really learn something, it would be nice to actually see the 125 kHz RFID carrier wave instead of fumbling blindly with the schematics. Additionally, I could use the scope to verify DIY D/A circuits, maybe debug serial protocols and much more. So I started researching.

Getting a used analog or digital scope from eBay was of course one option. However, old scopes are big, clunky and I don’t really have much table space. And if the scope fell out of use, it would be wasting space in a closet. New Chinese-made digital scopes from Owon and Rigol looked good and were relatively small and light. However, they had 640×480 or 800×600 displays and I had 2560×1600 30″ monitor sitting on my workspace, and being more of a software person, I eventually decided against them and chose to get a PC scope instead.

Options in USB scopes

Going through the options for digital scopes, there seemed to be a few price brackets:
Continue reading PicoScope 2204 USB Oscilloscope Review

8 bit and 4 bit LCD interfacing with ATtiny

Since my brief journey to controlling LCD display directly with ATtiny2313 I purchased a display with Hitachi HD44780 compatible driver chip. The web is already pretty full of LCD tutorials and libraries, but most seemed to either skip details and rely on external libraries, or were just overly complex. So I decided it wouldn’t hurt to share the rather short (and functionally limited) versions I came up with.

8-bit mode

In 8-bit mode, you will be needing 8 pins for sending or reading a whole byte of data at once, and 3 control lines: enable (EN), register select (RS), and read/write (RW). Basic procedure is to prepare all other lines, and then pulse the enable line high for a short while in which LCD reads your command (when RW is low) or writes data (when RW is high). For control messages, RS line is low, and for writing letters, RS line is high.

I started with ATtiny2313 and used the 8 pins in port B as LCD data lines, and PD4, PD5, and PD6 as RW, RS, and EN, respectively. With such a setup, working write command became:
Continue reading 8 bit and 4 bit LCD interfacing with ATtiny

V-USB tutorial continued: HID mouse

Wow, my AVR ATtiny USB tutorial here I got featured in Hack a Day! Motivated by the influx of readers, I decided to find out how to make a USB HID (human interface device) mouse.

V-USB examples already contain an example of this, so I digged in to see what is different in usbconfig.h compared to the one we finished in my tutorial. It seems only a few things need changing:

  1. USB_CFG_HAVE_INTRIN_ENDPOINT needs to be set to have an additional endpoint
  2. USB_CFG_INTR_POLL_INTERVAL set to 100 ms instead of 10 in template
  3. USB_CFG_IMPLEMENT_FN_WRITE is not needed, nor is …FN_READ (define both to 0)
  4. Device ID and name need to be changed. I’ll just use the same ID as they did
  5. USB_CFG_DEVICE_CLASS is set to 0, not 0xff
  6. USB_CFG_INTERFACE_CLASS set to 3 instead of 0
  7. USB_CFG_HID_REPORT_DESCRIPTOR_LENGTH defined to match the structure’s length

That’s it! So here are the defines I changed:

#define USB_CFG_HAVE_INTRIN_ENDPOINT    1
#define USB_CFG_INTR_POLL_INTERVAL      100
#define USB_CFG_IMPLEMENT_FN_WRITE      0
#define USB_CFG_IMPLEMENT_FN_READ       0
#define USB_CFG_DEVICE_ID               0xe8, 0x03
#define USB_CFG_DEVICE_NAME     'M', 'o', 'u', 's', 'e'
#define USB_CFG_DEVICE_NAME_LEN 5
#define USB_CFG_DEVICE_CLASS        0
#define USB_CFG_INTERFACE_CLASS     3
#define USB_CFG_HID_REPORT_DESCRIPTOR_LENGTH    52

OK. So what about main.c? Turns out the changes are rather straightforward:
Continue reading V-USB tutorial continued: HID mouse

Driving an LCD display directly with ATtiny

My local electronics shop Partco (arguably the best in Finland) had a great offer on 6-digit LCD displays. For 1€ a piece, I immediately bought one:

Once I had my hands on it, the reason for such a low price became apparent: There was no controller chip, only 50 pins and the knowledge that pin 1 was “common cathode” and the rest were for the segments. So I decided to see if I could get it work directly without a controller. And succeeded, read on to learn how!
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AVR ATtiny USB Tutorial Part 4

All right. Now that we got the basic USB code working in part 3, it’s time to wrap things up in this tutorial series. This fourth section will explain how to send data from your device to PC and also the other way around. I may later do a fifth part on how to make a USB HID device like a keyboard or mouse, so if you haven’t already, I’d recommend subscribing to the RSS feed to get updates.

Sending data from device to PC

If you look carefully at our command-line client code, you probably noticed that the control messages sent to toggle the led are of type USB_ENDPOINT_IN and we have a 256-byte buffer in place to receive any data the device sends. So far we have not received any data and the return value stored in nBytes has been zero. Let’s change that.
Continue reading AVR ATtiny USB Tutorial Part 4