Microcontrollers - Arduino

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Richard Hull
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Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Richard Hull » Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:52 pm

I have been retired for almost a year now and working harder than when working. Normal bedtime every night is about 5 am. Sleep until noon.

Over the last year, I have found that every day of my life is a Saturday and nothing in life is more important than what you want to do as compared to what you are expected or supossed to do. What a blast! It is like being a kid again on a summer vacation that lasts until death do you part. Retirement.....I highly recommend it. Secret....Have about 10 or more active hobbies long before retirement. Most of us older folks here probably do.

I have been desinging, building and selling various GM counter systems, metering systems, and special projects. Since Late October, I have taken the dive into the Arduino realm. The Arduino is an Italian inspired micro-controller board group assembled around the versatile Atmel series of integrated controller IC's.

First, I despise the language, IDE, It is stupid and highly flawed from a number of directions, but with perserverance, one can rewire one's brain to encompass its laziness and many falabilities. It is a mish-mash of C'ish and Java'ish coding combining the worst of all coding worlds.

To save its bacon and make all this worth the effort, the Arduino has the honor of having a vast collection of predone libraries where other younger folk with faster rewired brains have done a lot of the hardware/software interfacing. All of this is on-line...Somewhere.
It is sort of like this site........All open sourced.

I have a number of years of past experience with several computer languages and microprocessor assemblers that I mastered and have a good deal of past experience with the Parallax, Basic Stamp series. All my previous experiences were part of the computer revolution through my 30's to my mid40's and part of the Richmond Robotics Group which I formed in the late 70's that existed until the late 80's. So, I know programming - both the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Arduino, due to its ridiculously low pricing, (Micro-Centers & M.P. Jones), has a vast following. Now that my three month learning curve is now maturing, I love it.....But never, ever the IDE, (interactive development environment).

I hope to mechanize a number of things using the Arduino pro-mini, doing all pre-devlopment work on the UNO. Among the planned process controls might include starting up the fusor and getting it ready for basic human takeover during critical run periods. I hope to also upscale the capabilities of my custom GM systems with the pro-mini. I have already completed several interfacing tasks to multiple hardware interactive systems with success that gives me the impetus to continue.

All the above is a work in progress and I thought I would bring you folks up to date on what my retirement is like.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Andrew Robinson
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Andrew Robinson » Fri Feb 06, 2015 5:46 am

Glad to hear you are so thoroughly enjoying your retirement. Something that I can both sadly and excitedly say is an experience I wont need to worry about for quite some time. With regards to you thoughts on the Arduino I caution you to not get sucked into the void that is Arduino. Sure one can't argue against the simplicity, price point, availability, and development of the Arduino, and to be honest, you Richard are probably the best case example of how to properly approach this platform as you have paid your dues. Allow me to expand a little further so no one misunderstands my point. I have a love hate (but mostly hate) relationship with Arduino. Over the last few years it has become the solution to everything whether necessary or not. It has completely replaced the most basic circuit knowledge with DIY how tos, plug and play, copy paste nonsense. Need to turn on a light bulb? Here's how with Arduino. The internet has become so saturated with absolutely pointless implementations of Arduino that sometimes it seems impossible to find even the most basic information. I don't discount or discourage the use of micro controllers and use several myself in specific situations where truly needed, but I think it's important to keep sight of the fundamentals. Not plug wire A in hole B, copy paste code and run. Just my 2 cents.
I can wire anything directly into anything! I'm the professor!

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Richard Hull
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Richard Hull » Fri Feb 06, 2015 5:11 pm

Fortunately, I am very old school and not new school. I started making vacuum tube circuits at 6 or 7 in the early 50's and continued with vacuum tubes only until the late 50's When a friend introduced me to the Raytheon CK722 transistor. I worked in mixed tube and transistor environment until college and then went pretty much solid state. While in the Airforce and vietnam, the first IC's became avaialble and I experimented with digital circuits using RTL, DTL and TTL, then came CMOS. I worked with the earliest microprocessors in the early 70's, the MITs S-100 buss systems, TTY printers and then computers like the Apple PET and OSI. The first micro controller IC's were variants of the 8000 series intel like the 8748 with built in UV Eraseable Eprom, etc. I used many early linear ICs like the 709, 555, 1458, 308, etc. Next came the Basic stamps which were a godsend at the time.

When my electronics generation goes down, you will see the last of the men for all seasons. Those who learned in a vacuum tube era all about vacuum tube circuitry and who would ulitmately embrace and design discrete solid state systems, then transition of discrete IC based systems and finally still be fresh enough to learn computers, work with, design and program microprocessors and finally micro-controllers.

When I was born there were only vacuum tubes and nothing else. I saw and became enmeshed with all electronics from tubes to this date. I had to....I was an electronics engineer.

We old boys know how the world works. I would refuse to use an Arduino for a circuit that would only need a 555 to generate a square wave and a 74LS121 one shot to control pulse width. Yes the arduino can do this, but not over even a fraction of the range that the discretes can.

I still have a ton of discretes on hand and use them when needed and when they make sense. I still do a vacuum tube circuit every now and then, but only where a flawlessly functional solid state device doesn't exist, like the hydrogen thyratron, etc.

My generation still respects common sense and value survivability in electronics.

The arduino is fabulous for tough complex little control apps, especially portable apps, and that is where it will be used.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Andrew Robinson
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Andrew Robinson » Fri Feb 06, 2015 6:51 pm

As I said haha, you are one of the few out there who can actually approach something like Arduino properly.
I can wire anything directly into anything! I'm the professor!

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Bob Reite
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Bob Reite » Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:37 am

I'm another "old hand" that started out with "fire in bottles", and the CK722 transistor was just coming out when I got into electronics as a hobby in middle school. In the real life broadcast industry in small markets, you'll still find AM stations running transmitters using 807 and 833 tubes! Only when you convince the owner that the tubes are getting hard to find and that a modern class E 1 KW transmitter is not that expensive and that what they save on the electric bill and tube replacement costs will pay for the new transmitter in 5 years do they finally upgrade. But yeah, using microprocessors for something that you can do "old school" using just 10-15 parts for less does seem dumb.
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The testing isn't over until the prototype is destroyed.

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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Jeremy Sims » Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:29 am

I would say I'm somewhere in the middle there. My first computer at 16 was a Tandy Color Computer 3 with 128k Ram. We had Commodore 64's at our tiny private school. First storage device for the programs I wrote in basic was a cassette recorder. I learned a little bit about electronics at that time. Since then its been on off with tinkering. About 3 years ago started messing around with Arduino. It really has the same feel as the basic on my first computer and I do like that you can integrate with Processing or Java to create a GUI for an controller or sensor array.
I'm not sure tube knowledge will be completely lost. There does seem to be a trend toward making guitar/stereo amps with tubes right now. I've been selling off some items to make money for my fusor and a set of Baldwin tubes I pulled from a junked organ made $230.

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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Jerry Biehler » Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:05 am

I recommend the Teensy series over generic arduinos. They use uC's with real USB, not usb-serial like a lot of Arduinos use. Also the Teensy 3s have much better ADCs on an ARM Cortex M4+ and they also fully support the arduino environment. And they are made here and I know the guy who designed them. After he designed the original teensy there were a lot of knockoffs but none compare.

This week a new Teensy was released, the LC with a Cortex M0 which is about half the price of the Teensy 3, around $11. One nice thing about all the teensy devices is they are standard .6" dip so they pop into a breadboard.

At work we are working on some projects with the intel Edison. Neat little unit, 500MHz dual core x86 atom running yocto linux. It is for embedded devices unlike the RasPi and the like. Pretty powerful, you can do some pretty good number crunching in them for the size. Not cheap though, the bare module is about $50.

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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Andrew Robinson » Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:31 pm

Yup, same here. Working on several of these for a project at work as well. Just ported JAVA 8 and wired up an 18650 to this one the other day. To those of you unfamiliar with the new Edison, notice that the Edison is just the chip on top of that break out board :)

The specs are impressive for something the size of a postage stamp.
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Jerry Biehler » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:02 am

We had a meeting friday with the intel rep and found out there is some interesting stuff coming down the pipeline. The rep himself has been trying to get DisplayLink running on one to do USB video but has hit a snag someplace.

There was a new firmware update that came out yesterday, it makes wi-fi and bluetooth easier to implement and they is now more decent documentation too. That has probably been the most annoying thing about the edison, the lack of decent docs. Well, that and that darned 1.8v IO.

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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Andrew Robinson » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:23 pm

Ah excellent! Will take a look. Thanks for the tip.
I can wire anything directly into anything! I'm the professor!

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