Using an Arduino or Seeeduino for its FTDI chip

We think of the Arduino as a rapid prototyping tool but we never thought of it as an FTDI breakout board before. [Ihsan Kehribar] wrote a quick post to show how it’s done. You’ll find an FTDI chip on Arduino boards that have a USB connector. It’s used to handle the USB communications on one side, and TTL serial communications on the other. The serial pins from the chip are mapped to the UART on the AVR chip, and in turn they appear on the pin headers for easy connections. Just load up a really simple sketch(available from Ihsan’s post) to make sure the processor doesn’t get in the way and you’ve got yourself an FTDI breakout board. If you happen to have a Seeeduino there’s even more functionality as the board has a selector switch that allows you to choose between 5V and 3.3V levels.

This doesn’t hold true to the newest generation of Arduino, as those board have replaced the FTDI chip with an ATmega8U2. That’s basically and ATmega8 with native USB handling… fancy.

[Thanks Marcus]

DS1307 breakout board

Adafruit’s got a handy breakout board for the DS1307 RTC available. This chip isn’t nearly as accurate as the DS3231 used in the Chronodot but it’s quite a bit cheaper. The breakout makes this easy to breadboard or plug into an Arduino and has everything you need; clock crystal, a backup battery, filtering capacitor, and pull-up resistors. Our favorite part is that Adafruit designs are open source so you can etch the board yourself if you checkout the files from their git repository. This will make a great addition to our prototyping hardware collection.

Incidentally, we were surprised to see the choice of 2.2k resistors for the I2C bus pull-ups. We were under the impression that 4.7k was a standard value here. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]

Audio breakout box for MacBook Pro

[Billy] wanted to use the audio connector on his MacBook Pro for input and output at the same time. He knew it could be done because Apple sells headphones with built-in microphones that work with the computer. He set out to build a breakout box so that he could connect the components of his choice to the single port. Using a scart-RCA adaptor box he scrapped the scart plug and wired the RCA jacks to the Apple headphone wires. He can now patch the pickup of his guitar to the mic connector, send it through the MacBook, and run the output back to his guitar amp.

Biopunk watch: time, temperature, gaming

[Matthew Garten] built this watch based on an Arduino. The face is a small color display which allows you to choose to show time in digital, binary, or analog formats. In keeping with the recent trend here on Hackaday he has a glove-based add-on that has temperature sensors in the fingers; for Firefighters or those with nerve damage to their fingers (we’re thinking Darkman). For entertainment in any situation he’s included a trackball and the ability to play breakout or draw in 16-bit color. Details are scarce but apparently he’ll be sharing more soon. For now, watch the video after the break and think of ways to shrink this down into a nice package like the Pong Watch enjoys.

[Read more...]

5×2 patch board

Sometimes we want to sit on the back porch, crack a beer, and do some prototyping. Other times we’d like to do the same but on the couch in the livingroom. To that end we added a 5×2 pin to 10×1 pin patch board to our solderless breadboard.

The 5×2 pin form factor is pretty common, used as an AVR programming header, on development boards like the Dragon Rider 500 and the STK 500, and in small prototyping devices like the Bus Pirate. We like the freedom of using IDC cables as interconnects and that’s where this board comes in. Now we can patch into the IDC cables yet still quickly disconnect them when moving to a different prototyping location. Check out the PCB artwork and this handy device in use after the break.

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Capacitance sensor guide (AD7746)

capacitive_sensor

[Marcus] has written up his experiences using the AD7746 capacitance sensor. He used the SparkFun breakout board in conjunction with an Arduino. The available Arduino code wasn’t that great so he rewrote it to be easier to understand. The AD7746 is an I2C device that can be continuously read, but this doesn’t mesh well with the Wiring libraries. Additionally, the calibration routine from the data sheet is difficult to understand. He’s included all of the code he used plus a Processing sketch to help visualize the input which will hopefully make your experience with the chip much more smooth.

Business card AVR board updated

bcard

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories has updated their business card AVR breakout boards to version 1.1. We suspect the changes will probably make them even more popular. The boards are designed for the ATmegaXX8 family of microcontrollers. The center has all 28 pins labeled while either end has a prototyping area. An in-system programming header is also provided. For the new version, both prototyping areas have been increased to accommodate DIP14 packages. The holes for the microcontroller are now larger so that they can hold a ZIF socket. Finally, the power and ground traces have been expanded. We’ve always like the versatility of these boards, as demonstrated in the Tennis for Two project, and can’t help wondering if these updates were made to facilitate another project.