Cheap Multimeter Gauges Embedded Idle Time

ganssle-multimeter-turned-idle-meter

How often is your microcontroller actually doing something? You can find out by measuring idle time, but how exactly do you do this? [Jack Ganssle] shows that simple embedded applications can toggle a pin when idle, which can then be measured. More complex applications like those using a Real Time Operation System can do the same by making use of the idle hook. But what can you do to make this toggling pin feedback actually mean something?

His solution is to repurpose an analog multimeter. The meter is interface with the toggle pin and a trimpot calibrates the needle. This way the needle jumps when the processor is busy and returns to zero when idle. What a great tip for getting a little more feedback about what’s going on inside of that black plastic IC package. It’s not surprising to find such a clever hack from one of the Hackaday Prize judges.

While you’re in the analog multimeter aisle you might want to pick up a couple of extras for more alternate data displays.

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Take the python challenge

python-challenge-level-1

It’s hard to believe that we haven’t covered this one before. If you enjoyed out Barcode challenges from last week, perhaps now is the time for you to take the Python Challenge. We made it through the first 18 levels about a year back but with a total of 33 levels we’re not even close to being finished.

This is an excellent opportunity to learn Python if you’ve never tried it, or test your skills if you’ve already got them. We’d suggest using IDLE which is available as part of the Python language download. Because Python is an interpreted language, IDLE allows you to try out each line of the code you are writing and add it to your program as you get different sections working.

The levels start out fairly easy and require some sniffing around, such as looking at the source code, and dissecting images with Python’s various libraries. As you pass each level, you will be granted access to the Python Challenge forums in order to see how others solved the level. By solving each level and then seeing what different solutions entail you grow your knowledge of the language and reinforce your understanding of how to use it.

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