Vacuum Fluorescent Display Alarm Clock

This is a special type of Alarm clock which is built around a vacuum fluorescent display. Along with the alarm clock, it also shows unread mail as well as the weather of the city. Overall it’s an exciting Internet of Things Based application. The author has written a driver for the display in C# that will make things easier if you are trying to yourself. The processor is from the Renesas R8C lineup which I looks new to me.

vaccum_display_alarm

The existing code for the application have been uploaded to Github so that more features can be added in the near future. The concept looks easier to understand from the pseudo code provided. The code might be a little messy but it works flawlessly. In the initial run, it takes time to capture data from the mail client and open weather but that only a one time process. All the codes along with the LCD driver and necessary hardware can be obtained from the project website.

Building a BASIC Stamp LED Cube (Before Programming)

The BASIC Stamp microcontroller is user friendly and a favorite of electronic hobbyists. The application of BASIC Stamp dates back to the 1990’s but continues to evolve. As a budget microprocessor, BASIC Stamp is helping further new technologies, as well. This includes LED cubes, which offer several advantages. The benefits of LED cubes include:

  • Aesthetics: LED Cubes are visually appealing compared to alternatives.
  • Cost: BASIC Stamp boards, resistors, transistors and basic wiring are inexpensive materials.
  • Learning Curve: There is a minimal learning curve and novices can quickly enjoy LED Cubes.

led_cube

Here is a BASIC STAMP LED Cube project for most skill levels. The materials can all be purchased at a local electronics store or an online electronic store such as Newark. Continue reading

Lost in development boards?

You probably have your favorite microcontroller and developing board which you usually take for prototyping. If you need different features, you simply select which suits your needs best. Not life is rally easy as there are many choices if you need something simple, maybe Arduino or MSP430 launchpad can help. If you need more power then any ARM board could fit. Or maybe you need one with Linux, then Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone can help.

dev_boards

There are so many to choose and all of them won’t cost a fortune. For starters in embedded world it may seem pretty tricky to select one. Makezine have written pretty good info on selecting right board. It is good to go through such list for everyone because you never know if you missed something interesting that is there in the market. This variety indicates that not everything spins around Arduino or Raspberry Pi. Other platforms have also something to offer. So don’t be impulsive on selecting next target – choose wisely.

Learning assembly the easy way

Not many people program microcontrollers in assembly language. Compilers are very good at generating machine code efficiently. In other hand microcontrollers are also fast enough to overcome some some excess code with speed. But if you really want to be good at microcontrollers, you need to understand what is going on inside. Assembly language allows to see how program runs inside MCU instruction by instruction. Sometimes understanding how processor operates in low level it might be easier to adjust your high level program like C to be close to perfection.

asm_learning

To program in assembly might be real pain, but sometimes you may need to write routine o part of the code to get exact timed behavior as you need. For instance very efficient DDS signal generator where every cycle counts. Yasp have built web based assembly language development environment where everyone can write assembly program, debug and even see it running visually on board image. Here you can get generic basics of assembly language without any setup.