I’m done with school now, degree and all, and still have a couple of weeks before I’m officially on the job. In the meantime I’ve been fooling around with some home automation hardware, specifically the veralite from micasaverde. While I haven’t spent too much time with the veralite yet my first impression is that it is still a little undercooked. Developer documentation is rough to non-existant, serial support is sketchy, and the Android app seems hit or miss. That said, I do like the box and there seems to be a ton of progress being made on the backend. In an effort to learn the Lua language used for plugin development, and to keep myself busy, I’ve taken on another hardware and software project. Pictured below is the first prototype of this project.
The digital section of my Bright Light Controller is fully functional and I’ve gone ahead and made a library to help interface with the MSGEQ7 IC. As of Version 0.1 the library will probably only function on a 16MHz or slower Arduino. This shouldn’t be too difficult to modify, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. A video demonstration of the library performing a “readAll” is provided below.
Step 1: Purchase a new Atmega. This is the version of the chip from digikey Atmega328P
Step 2: Carefully desolder the old processor. I found that is very easy to lift the pads in this process. If I were to try it again I’d probably try using a heat-gun.
Step 3: Solder the new proccessor onto the board. Pretty straight forward, assuming the board was not damaged.
Step 4: Program the Arduino bootloader. This can be done using another Arduino board, or a dedicated programmer. I used my USBTinyISP for the first time and it works great. It interfaces directly with the Arduino IDE and is a lot more convenient than having to wire up a spare Arduino every time.
I forgot to disconnect a jumper on my breadboard before popping in my handy breadboard regulator. Fortunately I didn’t have any other parts on the breadboard. It looks as though the USB controller survived so I may be able to just replace the Atmega328 and get it going again.
So, if you’re thinking about connecting 12V to your Arduino’s 5V input, don’t do that.
I have recently stumbled upon a service called BatchPCB which offers cheap single run PCB prototyping. I’ve decided to give them a try since it seems safe for someone whose never designed a board from scratch. After some digging it seems like going to their supplier, Gold Pheonix, would work out cheaper if you’re looking at a design that’s larger than 35 inch^2. This requires a minimum order though, so for now I’m going to give BatchPCB a shot. I’m going to convert one of my old wire-wrap designs, a light controller, to test out this service and practice PCB design.