Facing sun with MSP430 based tracker

Solar panels are most effective when facing sun directly. So if you want to get most energy, you need to track sun trajectory in order to keep panels always facing towards the sun. Actually this is fairly easy task. In this solution vigneshraja shares setup built of couple light dependent resistors (LDR) and single motor to track sun.

Tracker is built on MSP430G2231 microcontroller that sit in Launchpad. Interesting thing is that two LDRs are in stationary position that determine sun position by comparing their values. Motor is driven through H-Bridge motor controller. Such solution is great for near equator locations, but in other areas sun wont travel directly above, so probably more suitable tracker should have two motors controlling both angles to point sun directly.

TMS0803 scientific calculator emulated on MSP430G2452

simpleavr got inspired with web based calculator emulator and so he decided to build his own hardware based emulator. He’s chosen MSP430G2452 microcontroller (same that comes with launchpad) to run emulation.

He tried to match original calculator layout and speed by selecting MCU clock speed. To make it look more retro he used bubble LED seven segment indicators. After several PCB versions it seems that he finally made it.

MSP430 alarm clock with bubble LED display

Bubble displays were intensively used in vintage electronics. Back then LEDs were small and inefficient so they were placed under bubble lenses to make it look bigger. Today we have different situation with multicolor bright large LED displays. But those old ones actually look pretty attractive and gives nice flavor to product.

Markus has build a simple alarm clock which features a four digit bubble display. Clock is run on MSP430 microcontroller that runs RTC inside. Clock is powered with single AAA battery what makes it really small. There is a speaker to ring an alarm which is augmented with LED flashing. So there is no way you could sleep any more.

Experiment with MSP430 FRAM board via web interface

MSP EXP430FR5739 FRAM based microcontroller board is interesting piece of hardware. It features FRAM memory instead of Flash which is claimed to withstand almost unlimited number of Reads and Writes. It is also faster. It can substitute an EEPROM on board. But it is not very popular technology due to different manufacturing. On this development board there is MSP430 microcontroller which has 16KB FRAM, 1KB of SRAM. It carries eight LEDS, MTC thermistor, 3 axis digital accelerometer, optional LDR, couple buttons. So this is great for many uses.

Even if it doesn’t have Ethernet connectivity, webui_msp430 decided to build Web UI where he could do experiments in with visual feedback. He used Linux based host where Python reads data from USB and updates data to webpage using node.js. Web interface displays analog inputs and all three accelerometer channels that are also represented in separate graphs. There is also ability to toggle any of eight LEDs from webpage.