Turn-key PCB assembly services in prototype quantities or low-volume to mid-volume production runs

AVR programmer and debugger in one board

Martin Thomas has this nice tool called Evertool in his collection. It is a AVRISP/STK500 and Programmer/JTAG debugger on a single board. It is compatible with AVRStudio with firmware upgrade-ability. So always new devices are supported.   Evertool has following features: ISP Programmer compatible with Atmel AVRISP, with AVRStudio and avrdude accessibility; JTAG debugger compatible with Atmel JTAGICE, works with AVRStudio and AvaRice; All Atmel AVR devices supported with their AVRISP and JTAGICE.; Easy update of the programmer via RS232/serial port; Rescue clock generation to recover from wrong fuse-bit-settings; Simple hardware, standard parts; Evertool uses bootloader which is free for non-commercial use. Download latest version from here. Project is very well documented. There are also simplified versions of programmer available like JTAG only debugger, or even Evertool-USB version suggestion. Thomas Martin also has a nice collection of microcontroller programming examples including WinAVR and WinARM which is supported by him. Continue reading

Traffic warning system for Los Angeles freeways

Traffic warning system or so called TDDY(Traffic Data Display ) is a vehicle-mounted, receive-only traffic warning system designed by Dubravko Gacina. System may be used to minimize the risk of vehicle like like public buses, emergency response vehicles, cabs, delivery vehicles accidents. An ATmega128 microcontroller and a matrix of 512 bi-color LEDs organized as a map of the Los Angeles freeways comprise the system.     Collisions between emergency vehicles and other vehicles are common events. Many of these collisions occur at inter-sections. Public vehicles approaching at 90 degrees to the direction of travel of emergency vehicles are very difficult to see. Sensors mounted on the vehicle could alert emergency vehicle drivers of approaching cross traffic. In such a scenario, sensors sends information to some sort of dispatching center which process incoming data and, in return, sends data to interested parties in form of positional information to traffic warning devices mounted in vehicles. This design presents an early implementation of traffic warning device. Conventionally, it uses server software hosted on PC and pager which serves as client to display position… Continue reading

Wall-sized interactive Tetris game

SparkFun team have made a huge interactive Tetris game. This is really impressive piece of art made of 16 Atmega8 microcontrollers, 720 LEDs and 240 buttons. Game can be controlled by touching buttons directly on frame(similar to touch screen). The Tetris board is 10×20 cells and each cell lights up 1 of 7 different block colors. Separate button pads are 4×4 and there are 15 of them, so total array is of 12×20 buttons. There is RGB LED placed behind each button so it is possible to light any button with any color. Can imagine what processing power is needed to update all picture and read all button state. This is why whole project was break up in pieces of 4×4 button pads with separate microcontrollers accessed via SPI interface. Project is really challenging but satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. They provide all schematics and firmwares if somebody wants to give a try. Continue reading

Interface HD44780 LCD to USB port

This nice LCD2USB device is an open source and open hardware project. The mani idea was to make cheap solution of LCD connection to various PC’s via USB port. The total cost of LCD2USB is up to 10 Euros, while applications can be run under various operation systems like Windows, Linux, MacOS. This may be a nice addition to your PC to display various system information or simply for showing MP3 song titles.   Information which is sent to LCD can be configured and transferred with various well known applications like lcd4linux, LCD Smartie (requires a seperate driver), and LCDProc. USB interface is software implementation on AVR Atmega8 microcontroller, so no expensive special micros are needed. Project is very well documented and constantly updated. Download the latest version here. Continue reading

Ultraviolet light box for PCB exposure

Probably everyone electronics hobbyist is dreaming about fast PCB prototyping method. Some of you are just ordering professional made PCBs, that is not always worth of cost, other are using easier way – Laser printer toner transfer technique which is not very accurate, third option is more advanced – ultraviolet light exposure of photo-resist coated PCB through film mask. This gives pretty good quality at reasonable price and doesn’t take much time.   The main thing that is necessary and expensive – the ultraviolet light source that is needed to expose sensitive layer of PCB coating. Yo can buy light source or as a hobbyist you can build one. Scienceprog has published a nice project on how to build a Ultraviolet light source. It uses 8x20W light tubes that gives a total 80W for one side. So the exposure time is just three and half minutes. Device can be used for double sided PCB exposure. And can produce a large number PCBs at once. Probably many of you may not need such big device, but some design ideas may be… Continue reading