The Box: Prototyping

So “The Box” project is back, taking on a less ambitious form this time. I’m not going to try and cram every part I have into a box. It’s just going to be a simple temperature and humidity monitor with a clock and some LEDs. It’s nothing fancy, but I’m hoping I end up with a polished final product.IMG_0826I’ve begun prototyping all of the elements of the project together and I think I have a solid base right now. Let me walk through how the prototype currently works.

IMG_0831The system greets you when it’s first powered on. There is actually a reason for this which will be explained shortly.
IMG_0832This is the main screen. The clock can be toggled between 12 and 24 hour formats. The bottom line alternates between the temperature and humidity readings every three seconds.IMG_0835There’s the button to toggle the clock. The system is powered by a 9v power adapter into a 5v regulator. The brains is an Atmega328p microcontroller.IMG_0834Those two perfboards have the temperature/humidity sensor and the real time clock. Oh look, some LEDs!

The LEDs go back and forth signalling a complete second. It’s done using delays which provides a break for the LCD and sensor updating. While the LEDs are going back and forth, it isn’t actually using the RTC. It’s simply delayed so that a cycle back and forth takes a second.  This takes us to the reasoning for the power on screen with the “Hi”. What’s actually going on is there’s a delay so that you can always read the “Hi”, then it waits for the next second change by the RTC. This process syncs the start of the program with the start of a clock second. That way, every time the program loops back to the beginning, it starts at the top of a second since each loop of the program takes a second to complete.

Check out this video to see the prototype in action:

Advertisements

Temperature and Humidity Monitor: Update 1.1.2

Yesterday, I posted about doing over the soldering for the DHT22 temperature/humidity sensor. In the post, I mentioned that the temperature scale appeared to top out at 30ºC. I’m not sure what went wrong, but when I went to fix it, it wasn’t an issue. While I was in Visual Studio, I did a little tinkering and added something new.

new1I removed the status bar that showed the current time and the timer telling you how long the historic values were true. I removed the current time because it was a waste of space, and I removed the historic value timer because it didn’t make a lot of sense with the new pause button. When you click the pause button, it stops requesting data from the Arduino until you click it again.new2The full log also gets a note mentioning the pause if you do decide to pause the logging.

The last minor change was adding a link to the Device Manager how-to window in the manual connection screen. You can get the download on the Temperature & Humidity Monitor project page.

Temperature/Humidity Sensor Soldered. Again.

It’s been a while since I touched the Temperature & Humidity Monitor project. I’ve been thinking about making it a standalone device, combining it with the real time clock and LCD I have sitting around.

IMG_0810I decided to transfer the sensor onto a new board. I cut a piece of perfboard and soldered it on, trying to be neater than last time. IMG_0812Somewhat unnecessary layout but I think it looks nice.testI tested it and it worked fine. This time, I put my soldering iron near it and tried to get the temperature to rise. I’ve never experimented with it like this so I just found out that the graph doesn’t rise past 30ºC. I’ll probably go back in and fix that.

A part of me would be bothered if I couldn’t get the sensor to work with the Visual Basic program once it becomes part of a standalone project without the Arduino board. I haven’t tried making a serial connection with an Atmega328 chip by itself. For now, the sensor would probably not be permanently mounted to anything so I can always plug it back into an Arduino and work on the VB program if I chose to.

Animatronic Head project, now “The Box”

In my five project Project Lineup, I had an animatronic head project listed there. I want to move away from the usual roaming robots because I get tired with them too quickly. In the past, I’ve seen people make cool robot faces with LED matrix eyes and servos that moved it around to follow and interact with you. I wanted to try something like that.

The Shelf Lighting System project sort of drained me as I’m finding it hard to be creative. I ended up with this after 15 minutes:This is a crappy version of what I had in mind but still somewhat close, which made me even more unmotivated just looking at it. That’s why I made the change to “The Box”.

The main purpose of this project is to put to use all of the parts I currently have. The picture above shows them all: 2×16 blue LCD, RGB LED, 8-ohm speaker, photoresistor, sound sensor, temperature/humidity sensor, and a Real Time Clock. The animatronic head was going to have these parts anyway, but taking away the servos and unique form factor, compared to a box, will make things easier for me.

The kicker for this project is that it will have an accompanying Visual Basic Windows program, although it won’t be necessary to use it all the time. I’ll have info on that when I get around to starting it.

A quick note about the temperature/humidity sensor… I just found out that the prototyping PCB I used actually has a second layer that connects pads on the board. It’s hidden under the silkscreen so I didn’t know until now. It looks like there’s a shorted connection so I’m going to try and salvage the sensor and put it back on a board like the one used for the RTC.

I’ll begin testing each thing and then start combining it all together.

Mail time + Project Lineup!

I got a package today from Dipmicro. I’m going to show off the things in this small package and then go through all of the projects I’ve got planned. See if you can guess a project or two by the end of the pictures.
IMG_20140214_210811They were having a sale on Atmega328 chips so I had to pick one up. If things work out, I’d definitely get more to make more projects that can stand by themselves without the entire Arduino development board.
IMG_20140214_210907Some capacitors and an oscillator for the Atmega chip.IMG_20140214_210648The only buttons I had before were pulled from toys and things. I don’t have any left so I got some more.IMG_20140214_210701A sound module because I didn’t feel like building an amplifier for the mic I have.IMG_20140214_210715Some photoresistors…IMG_20140214_210955These parts have joined the pile of parts on my desk. This sight means I’ve got a project upcoming. In this case, I’ve got five projects!

Light Timer Modification [REVISIT]

The Light Timer project has been running fine. However, since I don’t use really any of the extra features, I’ve stripped it down to the bare minimum. I’m taking it to the real basics. The lights are not going to be on a timer anymore. Rather, they’ll use the photoresistor to sense the light level in the area and adjust the lighting accordingly.

– Real-time clock and Arduino Uno board will be stripped from the Light Timer project.

– It will run on a circuit built using the Atmega chip.

– It will now use a photo resistor for the logic in turning on and off the lights.

Light Nametag [NEW]

I plan too many projects that end up going to waste. I’d like to have projects that I leave around to showcase. That’s why I’m thinking simple for this and the next project. This project will likely be two LED-lit name tags… one for my real first name and an ASIMOWALK5 one. Simple. If the Light Timer Modification project goes well (if the standalone Atmega circuit works), I will set up the same circuit for the two nametags so I can have them doing patterns. If that doesn’t work, I’m still fine with them just being on all the time.

– Two nametags. One spelling my real first name. One spelling ASIMOWALK5. They will each be their own solid colors.

– Possibly controlled by an Atmega chip, depending on how the Light Timer Modification project goes.

Desk Light Package [NEW]

There was a time not too long ago when I wanted to turn my desk into one “big” light show programmed to music. I just want a basic lighting system now. My desk is more of a station with bookshelves and drawers. I plan on giving parts of the desk different colors. No programming here, just a simple on/off switch on the battery pack.

– Lighting package for all of the areas of my desk.

– No “brains” (controllers) behind it; Battery powered and turned on and off by a switch.

Animatronic Head [NEW]

This is the big project of this group of plans. I’m still going back and forth on the details, but basically I want to create an animatronic desk buddy…

– Head and facial features include: LED matrix eyes, LCD mouth, servos for neck (pan/tilt), 8ohm speaker for short audible feedback.

– Sensory features may include: Temperature/Humidity sensor, Real Time Clock, Light, Sound.

PLC Trainer Program [REVISIT]

The last project is to get me back to practicing my ladder logic programming. I will probably try my hand at another mixing tank program. I usually do a full write up of the scenario and layout the buttons and that sort of thing. It will be a while because this has the least priority, though I do want to make it ongoing while I work on other projects.

So that’s the plans I’ve got! I’m excited because even though the main project, the animatronic head, is somewhat ambitious, I’ve still got other smaller projects to keep me going. Stay tuned for updates!

Temperature and Humidity Sensor Soldered

With the temperature and humidity monitor Visual Basic program perfectly functional, I wanted to finally package up the hardware into a neat little module I can plug and unplug easily from the Arduino, even if it’s in use for another project. I had tried soldering on a perfboard using the chisel tip that came with my iron but it was too big for me to handle. I went to Sayal today and picked up a thin conical tip (ST7) and it has worked out great, though I can use more practice.
IMG_0570I was trying to make connections between the individual pads using blobs of solder, which was the problem using the larger chisel tip. I couldn’t get the solder to flow over to another pad so I ended up bending the excess wire and soldering them together. It’s a bit of a mess but at least it works. My soldering training was on printed circuits so I just mindlessly soldered components to the board.IMG_0575The top half of the board was scrapped because it was part of my attempt to solder the 7-segment displays which did not go well at all. I plan on removing more of the board so I can make the module even smaller.IMG_0572The only wire I have are black and red so it’s kind of confusing to have two black wires coming out of the board. One is ground and the other is the signal. To remedy that issue, I cut the wires relatively short and am relying on these jumper wires to lengthen and color code them.

In addition to the iron tip, I picked up a couple of mini perfboards that I hope to find use for soon. I also picked up a crimping tool (which came with a bunch of random things like electrical tape and a voltage tester that I’ll never use) and some terminals. A PLC trainer revisit is in the works. Details on that will come soon.

Thanks for reading!

Temperature and Humidity Monitor: Save your data

log

Version 1.1.1 of the Temperature and Humidity Monitor is up! This update includes ways to save your data. You can now export the two graphs individually as an image. I’ve also added a new log that records all values continuously (unless the log is cleared for whatever reason). You can export the log as a text file.

Get the new version on the Temperature and Humidity Monitor page!