Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PPAC Fixes, Minimalduino, Timer

I've been busy lately and haven't had as much time as I'd like to tinker, but I've gotten things moving in the last two weeks and am overdue to post.

Hoping to show off the alarm clock a little, I brought the PPAC (including power block, valve tree, and tank) to the Make:SF Meetup last month, and while talking and hooking it up at the same time, plugged the AC supply into the DC power socket! The voltage regulator fizzled but the power board seems fine otherwise. Strangely, of all things, the LCD display was dead as well... though I may have killed it when disassembling the can..:o I ordered a better looking LCD replacement which I'll install in the next few days-- green-on-black instead of black-on-green: Newhaven NHD-0216K1Z-NSPG-FBW-L.

The minimalduino project is still moving forward: I'm using a test board I made at home a few weeks ago, populated with as little as possible: chip, caps, resonator, female headers, reset and male FTDI header. I'll move a few traces around but it's pretty much there, and hope to get three test boards made through the DorkbotPDX PCB order, deadline noon on March 29. I've built a spreadsheet with costs, and it seems like I could make a batch of 25 kits at just under $15 each. I'm not sure if it's worth the trouble though.

A few weeks ago, I built a new coffee grinder timer with a re-worked sketch and single board, then handed it off to fellow coffee fiend HF for ideas on how to make the ideal grinder timer. One thing we agreed on is that tenths of a second would be cool, so last night I had a great time working out a sketch to drive a common anode 3-digit 7-segment display using an SAA1064 IC. Of course having a sketch to start with made things straightforward-- thanks Alessandro Saporetti! I reworked the code to make it more general purpose, using all of the chip's functions including multiplexed (versus not) and changing the constant current output (7 output levels possible, from 3 to 21mA). [Video to come]

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