Programming a through-hole ARM microcontroller


The age of ARM microcontrollers for the electronics hobbyist is upon us, and luckily there are a few breadboard-friendly microcontrollers available in a DIP package. One of these chips is NXP’s LPC810M021FN8 – a tiny little 8-pin DIP with 4 kB of Flash, 1 kB of SRAM, and has a clock fast enough for some really cool stuff. [Joao] needed a way to program one of these microcontrollers and came up with an easy method using only a USB/UART adapter.

The key to this build is the fact the LPC810 doesn’t need any additional components to operate; the internal oscillator means the chip will run at 30 MHz with only a power and ground attached. To program the chip, [Joao] attached the Tx and Rx lines of the chip to a USB/UART adapter (at 3.3 V, of course), and uploaded some code with Flashmagic.

We’ve seen these DIP-sized ARM chips before, but [Joao]‘s method of using off-the-shelf tools to write a blinking LED program means it’s a piece of cake to start working with these very cool and very powerful microcontrollers.

Build your own backyard pizza oven


Don’t heat up your house this summer, build your own backyard pizza oven instead. We love to using our garden produce, homemade dough, and fresh farmer’s market mozzarella to whip up a tasty pie in the summer. But it can be tricky to cook it on the grill and we hate heating up the oven when it’s hot out. This could be a perfect solution.

The footprint of the oven used to be a flower bed in [Furiousbal's] yard. He removed the soil and side walls, laid down a bed of pea gravel, then started building the brick base for the oven. The base is insulated by encasing beer bottles in a bed of clay which he harvested locally. Fire brick then makes the floor of the cooking area as well as the arched opening. To support the clay during construction he built a dome of wet sand and covered it with damp newspaper. The clay is built up in layers before removing the sand from the inside. The final step (not shown above) is to build a little shelter to ensure the elements don’t wash away your hard work.

Of course you need to build your own fire inside to use it. If that’s too much work perhaps you should try solar cooking?

[via Reddit]

Help us decide, should this project gone on LIFE.hackaday?

Reflow soldering improved with carbon dioxide


This is exactly what it looks like. [Oleg] calls it soldering in inert atmosphere, but it’s just a toaster oven reflow hack dropped into a container full of carbon dioxide.

Why go to this trouble? It’s all about solder wetting. This is the ability of the molten solder paste to flow into all of the tinned areas of a board. [Oleg] talks about the shelf life of hot air leveled PCB tinning, which is about six months. After this the tin has oxidized. It will certainly not be as bad as bare copper would have, but it can lead to bad solder joints if your PCBs are more than about six months off the production line. This is one of the reasons to use solder flux. The acid eats away at the oxidized layer, exposing tin that will have better wetting.

But there is another way. Soldering in the absence of oxygen will also help the wetting process. CO2 is heavier than air, so placing the reflow oven in a plastic container will allow you to purge air from the space. CO2 canisters are cheap and easy to acquire. If you keg your own homebrew beer you already own one!

If you’ve got everything but the reflow oven just look around for a few examples of how to build your own.

Charlotte, the hexapod with 3D vision


Charlotte’s chassis comes from as a kit, but the stock electronics are based on an Arduino – not something for a robot that needs to run computer vision apps. [Kevin] ended up using a Raspi for the controller and gave Charlotte eyes with an Asus XTION. Edit: or a PrimeSense sensor These sensors are structured light depth cameras just like the kinect, only about smaller, lighter, and have a better color output.

Hardware is only one half of the equation, so [Kevin] tossed the Arduino-based stock electronics and replaced them with a Raspberry Pi. This allowed him to hone his C++ skills and add one very cool peripheral – the XTION depth camera.

To the surprise of many, we’re sure, [Kevin] is running OpenNI on his Raspberry Pi, allowing Charlotte to take readings from her depth camera and keep from colliding into any objects. The Raspberry Pi is overclocked, of course, and the CPU usage is hovering around 90%, but if you’re looking for a project that uses a depth sensor with a Pi, there you go.

[Read more...]

Programming microcontrollers with a Raspi


The advent of the Arduino brought the world of microcontrollers to hobbyists, students, and artist the world over. Right now we’re in the midst of a new expansion in hobbyist electronics with the Raspberry Pi, but we can’t expect everyone to stay in the comfortable, complex, and power-hungry world of Linux forever, can we? Eventually all those tinkerers will want to program a microcontroller, and if they already have a Raspberry Pi, why not use that?

[Kevin] wanted to turn his Raspi into an AVR development workstation, without using any external programmers. He decided to use the Raspi’s SPI port to talk to an AVR microcontroller and was able to make the electrical connections with just a few bits of wire an a handful of resistors.

For the software, [Kevin] added support for SPI to avrdude, available on his git. Theoretically, this should work with any AVR microcontroller with the most popular ATMegas and ATtinys we’ve come to love. It doesn’t support the very weird chips that use TPI programming, but it’s still extremely useful.

Ambilight clone has meaningful amount of resolution


We don’t have an Ambilight clone on our own home theater, but seeing this one in action makes us wonder if we shouldn’t add it to the ever-growing list of projects we need to tackle (right below that POV display we’ve been putting off for years). [Falldeaf] built the colored light augmentation system using a set of WS2801 controlled LED pixels. There are a lot of them, and this results in the ‘meaningful resolution’ we mentioned in the title. The image on the screen is the opening to a James Bond film. You’ll remember that the camera shot down a rifle barrel follows him as he walks across the screen. There’s enough LEDs here to have to the light follow him across the screen as well. This is a nice touch that we don’t see in every Ambilight clone project.

A frame of fake-wood angle bracket holds each LED pixel in place. The entire assembly attaches to the VESA mounting holes on the back of the television. An Arduino addresses the lights while the Boblight package processes the video to acquire the lighting instructions. We think the hue is a bit off, but otherwise it’s a solid offering.

We’re still hoping the Microsoft IllumiRoom becomes a thing.

[Read more...]

Announcing LIFE.hackaday

life-logoOver the years we’ve had a tons of tips sent in that were more along the lines of “lifehacks”. Simple little tips to make life better. While we would occasionally squeeze them into hackaday, many got left behind. Now we’ve created an entire site called LIFE.hackaday that we’re filling with all these great ideas. Finally, a place for all those docks people send us!

Occasionally, there might be something that we feel works for the “classic” hackaday and “LIFE.”, in which case, we may just mention it here. We hope that by creating another site, we can give people the “lifehacks” they want while keeping hackaday focused on hardware hacking.

We have some other tricks up our sleeve, but they aren’t quite ready to be revealed yet.