Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's a Christmas Miracle - Cheerlights for ENC28J60!

Just in Time!
     Okay, this will just be short, as I have holiday stuff to do soon! In case you have not heard about Cheerlights, here's a brief description: Cheerlights is a network of microcontrollers controlling colored lights based on social networking. The original Cheerlights used GE Color 50 lights, a string of addressable RGB LEDs and an ioBridge.
     Having none of this, but really wanting to participate, I downloaded the Arduino code. It, however, uses the Arduino Ethernet library, which didn't work with my ENC28J60 ethernet module (article coming soon). So basically I compiled this code together from the Cheerlights example and the example code from the Ethercard library. Huge thanks to everyone who worked on both of those, they are both awesome ideas. Also, I used an RGB LED from my local Radioshack. It's common anode.

My pseudo-Cheerlight setup taking its rightful place
next to the DVD player and [TiVo]

Friday, October 7, 2011

74xx Update

This post is just an update of what I've been doing with the 4000 series rocket launcher. I also thought that in the spirit of OSHW, I should try to upload as many files as I could. So first off, here is the PCB layout, ready for toner transfer. Here is the corresponding Fritzing file (Note: I really prefer Fritzing to Eagle, but I only use the PCB section, not the breadboard or schematic). As for the second part of the launcher, the actual seven-segment countdown, here is the PCB PDF and the Fritzing file in case you want to change anything. I recently found out about a new kind of etching process (which involves a sponge and much less time) so etching pictures should be up soon. If you've been looking at Dangerous Prototypes recently, there are some incredible circuits made of these chips, but I'm hoping this will get a "Not Over the Top" award or something. Check in soon for etching instructions!

Unfortunately, just a few hours before the deadline for the competition, my last part of the circuit failed. I attempted to solder the last 4017 directly to the PCB without a socket, but it burned out or something because the the circuit failed to work. Too bad. Hopefully they have another competition!

Also, I have been very pressed for time recently. I should have a lot more time now, so hopefully some post will come out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

74xx Competition! Part 1

As some of you may know, Dangerous Prototypes is putting on this big competition out for circuits that use discrete logic chips like 7400's or 4000's. In case you haven't seen the prize list, I suggest you cruise on over the and check it out.

         A while ago (in sixth grade) I built a rocket launch controller exclusively out of 4000 series chips and  555 timer. It was all on a breadboard and pretty messy. Now, in ninth grade, I've decided to get it back together, but this time on a PCB. But wait, there's more! I'm etching it myself, so it has to one-sided. Yes, there will be some jumpers, and the 555 will be replaced by an ATTiny for controllability and simplicity, but the displays and such will all be discrete. The first part I'm etching is the ATTiny and 4017 circuit. It will drive a bargraph display. Later, the divide-by-ten output of the 4017 will drive a 4026 [EDIT: 4029] (BCD count-up/count-down), which will drive a 4511(BCD to seven-segment display driver), and another 4017, the tenth output of which will trigger a relay and thus the rocket. In case that doesn't make sense, here's a super-simple diagram:

Sorry for the poorly drawn lines...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Web Stuff

Hello, all. Just posting to say that I've been changing the HTML on the site a bit, so don't be surprised if some stuff changes. What I've done thus far is add a little "+1" thing next to Hackaday and PyroElectro in the link section to show that I was on there. It won't be anything major.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Whoa! Pageviews!

 So in case you didn't know, the blog just got picked up by not one but two of my favorite sites: PyroElectro and Hackaday! How cool! Because of this, page views shot up ridiculously. Here's a good graphic:

That's the pageview graph. I never quite realized how cool Blogger was until now because I also found out that most of the people looking at this in the past few days were in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., and Australia. Funny that content written in Maine would be read on the other side of the world... pretty awesome.

Anyway, a pretty cool couple of days for me. Thanks to Pyroelectro and Hackaday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ATTiny2313 with Arduino

Note - you'll want to have completed or looked over this post as well. It shows how to make the Arduino Sketchbook folder if you don't know how to already, as well as setting up the 'core' file and such.

So, the ATTiny85 is good and everything; it's small, it's easy to program, but it only has five usable pins. Plus, it's memory isn't too great. Sometimes, you need more like 17 pins. That is when the ATTiny2313 comes in handy. It is a twenty-pin chip, has UART (your basic serial connection), I2C, SPI... a lot more than the Tiny85 (Which only has USI, or Universal Serial Interface). In this post I'm going to show how to install the cores, which is really the same as installing the ATTiny core, but there are a few hints.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Programming the ATTiny85, Arduino Style

    This is a sort of a continuation of the last post. In the last post, I showed how to load the ATTiny85 cores into the Arduino IDE. If that worked for you, cool! This how to actually program the chip. If it didn't work... put a comment somewhere. I'll try to help.
    Anyway, programming the ATTiny is very easy. The only thing you really need to do is set up a target board. This is either a breadboard, perfboard, or PCB circuit that interfaces the ATTiny to an Arduino board. The circuit should have these connections:

This is called ISP circuit. The chips communicate over
SPI via this configuration.

Learning a Good Lesson the Hard Way

This week, I made a PCB on which I was going to put some LED's and a little microcontroller. However, when I got one part of it soldered and tested it (always a good idea) I found that the LED's hardly lit up. I could see them turn green, but they weren't casting any real light.

Here all the through-hole components are soldered on the

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Using Arduino with ATTiny's

    I really like the Arduino IDE. I also like the language that is much simpler, if less powerful, than the common Assembly/C code for other AVR's. However, Arduino uses a very limited chipset. You can use ATMega168, ATMega328, ATMega1260, ATMega 2560, and thats about it. Many times I want a lower cost, smaller form-factor chip for a project. The ATMega chips have lots of memory, interrupts, timers, and suchlike, but sometimes that's overkill. That's why I like to use the ATTiny line.
A flock of three ATTiny85's and an ATTiny 2313 with a lone ATMega328 outside.

Monday, August 1, 2011

WiiChuck Library

     One of my favorite libraries for Arduino is the WiiChuck library. WiiChuck allows the Arduino to interface to a Wii Nunchuck. What is cool about the Nunchuck is that it has a three-axis accelerometer, a two-axis joystick, and two buttons. And it's I2C, so it's easy to work with. However, you will need one of these things to actually use it. You'll also need to solder four header pins to little PCB so you can plug it into the Arduino.

There are five contacts in the WiiChuck socket. Three on the right, two on the left.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


So... This is the first post on ToasterBotics. I started this blog for a few reasons:

1. To chronicle my continuing adventure through embedded electronics, programming, and making
2. To share what I've learned through tutorials or how-tos or something
3. To ask questions over the internet to get on my projects, or other peoples' projects.

So here is a bit about myself. I really like DIY electronics. I got a bread board just four years ago, and I've already made loads of projects, from 555s, to rocket launchers based on 4000 series chips, to a Pong! emulator on an Arduino. I've tried a BS-2, Picaxe, AVR, and Arduino microcontrollers and found that Arduino is my favorite. I know many people like other ones, but you guys are capable, try to port it over!