Beginner Concepts: Using An Accelerometer

Accelerometers make for nice user interaction, that’s why every Apple product seems to have one included and the Nintendo Wii is still alive despite its underpowered graphics capabilities. Adding one to your project is pretty simple, just a matter of reading in analog data and interpreting it according to the datasheet. If you’re just starting out, here’s a tutorial on how to interface an accelerometer with a PIC microcontroller. They’re using an ADXL320 which can be acquired on a breakout board for about $30. The schematic and code are simple so even if you don’t intend to build the circuit (or want to use a different uC), this is easy to understand as an academic exercise.

[Thanks Skitchin]

[Photo credit: SparkFun]

Improving A Motorized Toy

[Dan Fruzzetti’s] daughter was delighted to get a motorized vehicle from her Grandparents, but [Dan] was unimpressed with the stock features. The lead-acid battery supplied remarkable life between charges, but the vehicle only had one feature: a go button that routed juice to the bipolar motor. After the break we’ll look at his improvements to the drive train, steering, and cosmetics.

Continue reading “Improving A Motorized Toy”

Four Channel Logic Analyzer

If you’ve got a graphic LCD lying around you can build this four-channel logic analyzer with a couple handfuls of cheap components. [Ronald de Bruijn’s] design uses a PIC18F4580 to sample up to four logic inputs at a maximum resolution of 2 MHz. He’s included the PCB artwork so that you can etch your own board. Having a logic analyzer around can really make your life easier, allowing you to reverse engineer communication protocols and troubleshoot your own design problems.

[Thanks Juan]

Zune Gets Hacked, OpenZDK

Here is one that really got some of us at the HAD offices excited (yes, we own Zunes). The introduction of the Open Zune Development Kit. Sure, there was XNA, and we even toyed around with it. But anyone will quickly realize just how limited XNA is, especially with older hardware.

OpenZDK is in its infancy, with only one application thus far (don’t worry, you can still use XNA apps too). But we wanted to give it a shout out and let the hacker community make this potential into a reality.

[Thanks Galen]