Fubarino Contest: Serial Data Transmission


[Jesus] is helping his cousin learn about microcontrollers. Right now they’re on the subject of serial communications, which turned into a nice way to add a Hackaday Easter Egg.

Using and FTDI chip in conjunction with the PIC 18F4550 (it’s a little soon for them to tackle implementing USB directly) the serial data is shown in a terminal window. At the same time the binary value of each byte is flashed on the PORTD LEDs. When the chip receives the characters “hack” it immediately echos back the recommendation to check out the awesomeness that is Hackaday. He posted the code used in this example as a Gist.

This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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PIC-based USB conversion for an NES controller

[Andres] wrote in to share his USB for NES controller project (translated). It enumerates as a USB keyboard and is easily mapped on most emulators. Over the weekend we looked in on an AVR programmer used for this purpose. [Andres] went a different direction, using a PIC microcontroller and eventually incorporating his circuit into the body of the controller.

The prototype circuit can be seen above. [Andres] uses a breakout board for the PIC 18F4550 to test the circuit. The chip has native USB support, and reading the button states from the controller’s shift register is a snap. You can see him using this test rig to play Super Mario Bros. on an emulator in the video after the break.

The second iteration of the project moves from breadboard to a soldered circuit. A 18F2550 is used as it comes in a rather small DIP package. If the legs are flattened there’s room inside the controller case for it, along with a few capacitors and a crystal. The original controller cord is removed to make way for a USB cable.

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PIC 18F4550 dev board

[Natsfr] was looking for a single-sided PCB to host a PIC 18F4550. Not finding one he designed his own in Kicad and is sharing (translated) the spoils of his labor.

This chip has USB capabilities which is why we see it used in a ton of projects. Almost all of them (including this USB input device post) use a very large DIP package. [Natsfr] went a different route, designing for the TQFP package to keep the drilling ot a minimum. The layout includes a crystal and USB-mini port, but it also breaks out the I/O pins on the chip. The red box above shows the quick fix he used on the VCC line as the board trace was shorting on the USB jack housing.

He didn’t drill out the holes for most of the breakout pins on this prototype. There’s just one header populated for programming the PIC chip. But he does have some plans for the first board. He’s going to use [Texan’s] AVR programming firmware for PIC to turn it into a USB AVR ISP programmer.

Computer control for your Xbox controller

This wiring nightmare lets [H. Smeitink] map all the buttons from an Xbox 360 controller to his PC. It gives him the ability to push control input from his PC to the console. But it goes a step further than that because it actually acts as a pass-through device. He connected a wired controller to the computer and uses a program he wrote to translate those inputs and send them to the hacked controller.

The software is written in C#. It’s got a recording function that lets him save the keypress data from the wired controller while it’s sent to the Xbox in real time. When he finds a combination that he uses frequently he plucks out those commands, sets them up as a macro, and assigns one of the buttons to execute it. The controller hack uses one transistor for each button, and a PIC 18F4550 which controls them and provides USB connectivity with the PC.

This isn’t one nice package like some integrated rapid-fire and macro solutions we’ve seen. But it certainly opens up a lot more possibilities. See for yourself in the clip after the break.

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Super Pixel Bros now with manufactured PCB and rewritten software

[Retro Brad] has come a long way with his 8×8 gaming device which he calls Super Pixel Bros. The newest rendition has a fab house PCB and freshly rewritten code. The game is still played on an 8×8 LED matrix, but it looks like he’s sourced a version with square pixels, which is a nice touch since he was inspired by the block-based Super Mario games. Also new in this version is the character LCD screen which displays score, level, and life information. But it’s not just the shiny new hardware that’s different, he’s rewritten the software in Swordfish Basic to run on the PIC 18F4550. The new code allowed him to tweak how levels are loaded and stored. He’s even written a level editor and has finished 20 levels thus far.

The demo after the break does a great job of showing off the hardware and the game play. He’s added a lot, including enemies, the ability to shoot fire, and of course the common moves of jumping and breaking blocks is all there. He mentioned that the fab house he used is selling boards for around $5 and he’s looking into the possibility of getting a kit service up and running.

His progress since we last checked in on the project is quite impressive.

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XBMC controller is an all-in-one usb solution for HTPCs

On the original Xbox, XBMC was a software-only solution (assuming you had a chipped or soft-modded console). That’s because the Xbox was already meant to connect to a television and work with an IR remote control. Now that the XBMC software has transitioned to focus on a wider range of hardware, it may be more complicated to get the same functionality on an HTPC. Realizing this, [Dilshan] developed a USB connected XBMC controller that features an IR receiver, character LCD, and a rotary encoder with two buttons.

As long as your HTPC has a way to connect to the audio and video inputs on your TV, this should take care of the rest of the presentation. LCD screens were popular with XBMC from very early on because modchips included an interface. Because of this, XBMC is already setup to provide navigation and media information this way. So you can use XBMC for audio playback without needed to have your TV turned on. Add to that the ability to control your box with either  a remote control or the navigation tools on the front bezel and you’ve got a winning solution.

You can download an archive that includes all the info about this device over at the project repository. For your convenience we’ve embedded the schematic and PDF description of the project, which we found in that package, after the break.

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Over-engineered clock finds purpose as RSS reader

[Bob Alexander] admits that he over-engineered his clock, giving it eight control buttons, eight twelve-segment alpha-numeric display digits, a GPS module as a time source, and a beefy microcontroller to boot. But he’s found a way to get more for his money out of the device by adding RSS and weather features to it.

Since he’s using the PIC 18F4550 it’s a snap to add USB connectivity. From there he wrote a fantastic PC-side application for communicating with the display. Now he has the option of displaying time, RSS feeds, or weather by scrolling through the options with one of the buttons. Perhaps the best feature is the option to launch a browser on the PC and view the current story just by pressing a button on the display. Check out the two demos after the break; one shows the clock features and the other demonstrates the C# software.

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