Monthly Archives: August 2017

Nano I2c Peripheral

Nano deviceMy “nano peripheral” started life as a simple attempt to expand the ESP8266 by making use of the IO on a really cheap Chinese board, an Arduino Nano equivalent Chinese £1.20 rip-off (After all, any Arduino is basically little more than an Atmel chip with reset and power circuitry and a “bootloader”).

UPDATE: Now working on IR – receiver already tested – see experimental version further down…

The idea was to build a dirt-cheap I2c peripheral, suitable for use with my ESP8266 code but now, with improved access to i2c on various boards such as the Orange Pi Zero (2 i2c channels), FriendlyArm NEO, M3, Raspberry Pi and others (see blog entry on i2c) it makes sense to look at this for general use – and with a widened range of capabilities.

Regular readers may recall some time ago I was buying all sorts of parts – A/D converters, port expanders etc. to help with my solar monitoring – and so some time ago I had a shot at making an I2c peripheral using an Arduino Nano…

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A new GPIO in Town

input and outputSince I started reviewing different boards (i.e. those other than the Raspberry Pi), one thing that has always stood out a mile has been lack of GPIO support. Well, that’s now history – at least for Node-Red users.

I cannot being to express how sick and tired I am of hearing about not being able to access GPIO without ROOT access. On the one hand you're not supposed to use root - on the other hand if you are not root you can't do this... you can't do that... the Raspberry Pi and other devices are learning tools for heaven's sake - it's as if some folk don't want us to succeed until we're as clever as them!!! GRRR.

So you can imagine how pleased I was as this learning exercise started to unfold. It turns out - that there IS a way... read on...

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Khadas Vim

Khadas VimA little something arrived via Correos post for me recently… a very pretty little package containing a Khadas Vim.

What is that, you may well ask. Well, until recently I’d not heard of them either. I can’t remember if one of you good readers brought them to my attention or if I just stumbled across them on one of my late-might web-trawling expeditions.

So without further ado – here’s the low-down. The VIM is an Amlogic S905X-based SBC. That is, a 64-bit quad-core Cortex A53 board. It is about, but not quite the same size as a Raspberry Pi but slightly thinner even including the Plexiglas case which looks like it was engineered for a precision record-deck. Very pretty. With the components getting warm, the company must have confidence as there is no provision for heat sinking or fans.

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The Real Raspberry Pi

I’ve been using the likes of FriendlyArm boards and similar for so long now, struggling at first with GPIO and I2c and as regular readers will know, finally pretty much mastering it due to hard research and more importantly, the works of people you’ll find links to in other articles in here….. that I’ve pretty much ignored the actual Raspberry Pi for some time.

Until this week when my friend Jonathan sent me a Raspberry Pi 3 to check, as he’s been having trouble with “the script” and I could not help as my RPI2 installations worked just fine.

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Arduino Cores

Just a quick one…. for some time until I discovered the ESP8266 and the Espressif SDK which I use today, I was an Arduino fan and one of the more annoying aspects was the lack of support for all but the mainstream units – Atmega328, 2560 etc.  One particularly nice chip was the 1284, in particular because it was the ONLY one of the larger Atmel chips of that class which was available in 40-pin DIL format.  Sadly I would always find myself altering libraries to handle this chip.  I use to get samples regularly from Atmel (SMT) and Aidan and I had our own board made which we still use today.

1284Sometime, I don’t remember when, I discovered a series of articles which helped me make good use of the 1284 and 1284p – a fellow by the nickname of ManicBug. Here’s a link and you can find out more about the chip there. He developed core which would work with the Arduino IDE – but after a while as things moved on we ended up with much easier ways to add whole classes of chips to the IDE…. well yesterday I found a repository which does just that for the 1284 chip – and indeed others and so I thought I’d take the opportunity to send the link to you.  Dead easy to add to the Arduino environment following the instructions – but there’s more – have a look at the other repository that HANS has put together.

So apart from lots of pins – what’s nice about this Arduino-code-compatible chip? Arduino has 2k RAM, 1284 has 16k – but it gets better – FLASh=128k, EEPROM 4K, 2 UARTS, 3 Interrupts, 8 analog pins.. Worth a lot but it is more expensive than the 328-based boards.

Hope that is useful. Here’s a neat Atmega 2560 board I found  - hell of a lot smaller than the standard Meg board…


The TOMO Power Supply

TomoWell, I started to make a video of this thinking it was going to be a great new uninterruptable supply. I’d listened to others, I’d read the spec (or so I thought) and this was to be the new saviour of battery supplies.

The TOMO unit comes in different sizes, I chose the 3-battery solution. I bought mine from AliExpress.  It has a USB input and 2 USB outputs and can power up to 2.1 amps in TOTAL (2.1 amps out of one output OR 1 amp out of the other – must use the same chip as everyone else).

It is nice looking and comes MINUS the batteries and hence is cheap.  You can use one battery or more – either way it still acts as a power supply.

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