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

Play chess with PIC

Considering how much power have modern microcontrollers there is no surprise what they are capable of. Following project developed by arthurb is based on DSPIC33F128MC804 microcontroller that runs at 80MHz. The final source isn’t limited by chess engine. There was enough room left for audio, keyboard, serial, VGA video, temperature sensor, RTC analog clock and even game of life. Code is written from scratch and is modular and well commented. Continue reading

Ambitious RGB LED cube project

LED cubes are pretty common projects that actually are quite easy to build. The only need is a patience to solder LED diodes nicely in to cube. Usually hobbyists build cubes out of mono-color LEDs, but this one is different. It is built of RGB LEDs that makes lots of wiring and soldering. This is an 8x8x8 RGB LED cube so totally 512 RGB LEDs or 512×3=1536 individual LEDs to be controlled. Hardware part took quite time to accomplish, but results are amazing. Such creation requires some processing power to display real time transitions, so it is controlled by PIC32 MCU which sends commands to LEDs via TLC5940 -16 channel PWM drivers. So as usually every LED of cube is addressable individually. Continue reading

A Simple Audio Spectrum Analyzer in a PIC32 Proto Board

Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier once stated that a composite wave can be represented as the sum of simple sine and cosine waves and this became the basis of the Fast Fourier Transform that is used to chop down waves into its sine and cosine components in order to analyze and identify frequency components of a signal. A hundred years later – Andrei Mehiläinen demonstrated how to use a PIC32 proto board along with a 320×240 PX color LCD to build a simple audio spectrum analyzer. He used a 2048-point FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) algorithm to generate the frequency domain plot. The PIC’s ADC was configured to sample at 48kHz while two potentiometers are used to offset the input signal and to set the voltage reference. Firmware for the project was written using Microchip’s MPLAB C32 compiler. The audio spectrum analyzer can be connected to an unamplified signal source such as your computer’s sound card. Continue reading

Floppy drive emulator for old computers

If you really need a floppy drive, but need some high capacity reliable media or have more control over process, try this Floppy drive emulator based on PIC32 microcontroller. It actually uses a SD/MMS memory to store information. It was specially designed for Amiga computer, but can be used for other computers as well. Floppy drive emulator connects to keyboard and monitor so this way microcontroller could produce an overlay menu for virtual floppy configuration. Emulator even has a floppy disk sound emulator by using a piezo speaker. Floppy emulator can emulate two floppy drives at same time and can coexist with another real floppy drive. It supports full FAT32 file system and can understand SDHC cards. Real Atari fans should find this project really useful. Continue reading

Model turbine engine control unit

Yeah you heard right – model jet planes can also be powered by turbine engines. And it seems that it isn’t as easy as regular propeller motors. Model turbine engines can reach RPM up to 180000. Smallest ones can be about 3” of diameter. Well let’s leave these technical details to ones who deal with them. And let’s see where microcontroller comes in. In fact to do proper control without microcontroller can be pretty hard as turbine engines are quite complex. A PIC32MX microcontroller is selected as a control unit which performs as closed loop control unit which actually measures engine RPM and exhaust gas temperature, air speed  in order to decide how much fuel to inject. Other features of ECU include: throttle input as PWM, UART, and 2.4GHz remote display. Module actually is made so that it would fit a radio controlled airplane model. Seems like a great toy for advanced modelers. Continue reading

Digital pen not only for note taking

The main challenge of LinkInk Digital Pen project was to address most popular shortcomings that were noticed in most digital pens found on market. Besides this you can do lots more with your own digital pen – add more features or expand functionality by reprogram it. So this is a PIC32 digital pen equipped with 3 axis accelerometer, force sensor, Flash storage and microphone. Digital Pen equipped with such bunch sensors is able to track pens 3D position what allows writing on any surface, so later any drawing could be imported to any image software. Integrated microphone allows record audio notes along with digital writing. Pressure sensor enables to make your drawing line width variable. This digital pen is equipped with USB interface – so along with flash memory it can be used as regular USB flash drive. This makes easy data transfer. What about controlling? There is no much space for buttons or other input devices. So with Accelerometer it is possible to control pen with gestures. PIC32 microcontroller is powerful enough to be equipped with even more peripherals… Continue reading