Data logging with Arduino

Super sweet sensor sexiness over the serial stream.

Tom Igoe’s blog code, circuits, and construction has posted a tutorial on how to log data from your Arduino and put it into your platform or format of choice. As Tom explains, there’s a few common pathways once you’ve read a sensor or accepted some other form of input:

  • Serial transmission to a personal computer, and serial capture to a file.
  • Saving data to an SD card mounted on the Arduino.
  • HTTP upload to pachube.com via an Ethernet shield or Ethernet Arduino.

Continue reading

iPhone serial communication with external devices

Haxoring the iPhone with ancient but reliable protocols.HC Gilje has posted an excellent guide to serial communications with external devices using the iPhone. There are lots of resources out there for setting up serial devices, but the landscape is fragmented. And as always, Apple is not exactly falling all over themselves to let you hook up peripherals. As Gilje succinctly puts it:

Apple has not made it easy to let the iphone communicate with external devices. Basically, you need a jailbroken phone to do anything.

Continue reading

Faster code Fridays: Understand division and speed of operations

Hello there and welcome back! Faster code Fridays is our weekly series that doesn’t ever fall on a Friday, unless our laziness becomes so strong that it interferes with our disregard for naming conventions. We figure we’ll forgetfully publish one of these things on a Friday at some point. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, eh?

If you’re a first-time visitor, Faster code Fridays highlights code optimization techniques that are useful for embedded systems. Embedded applications often deal with time critical applications that require maximum performance and minimum execution time. In fact, good coding practice is often more apparent when working with microcontrollers, because you don’t have four 4GHz cores and 8Gb of RAM to get you out of trouble. We’ll use Arduino-compatible code for most of our examples, though these techniques are applicable to AVR, PIC, or any number of platforms.

Continue reading

The best embedded systems books to improve your development process

Microchip fun for everyone.Embedded systems have never been more important. With the growth of trends such as Arduino, the “internet of things”, and inexpensive wireless connectivity, even seemingly simple devices can process data and communicate with the outside world.

Whether you are looking to gain a basic knowledge of circuits and electrical engineering or build on an established career, it’s important to learn from the right resources. The following books have been selected by the EngBlaze editorial team as some of the best guides to embedded systems development. These are only a taste of what’s available, but they provide a good introduction for various skill levels and backgrounds.

Continue reading

Green DIY: Make a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) with 55 gallon plastic drums

GreenTerraFirma has some very cool links regarding DIY power generation and sustainability projects. This page deals exclusively with wind turbines, and posts several videos on how to make your own out of two 55 gallon drums. The project is dirt cheap if you can source parts well, and doesn’t take a lot of specialized tools either. The author machines gears out of some cheap cutting boards, but mentions that you can make an equivalent drive system out of belts and pulleys, which can be store-bought.

Continue reading

Faster code Fridays: Avoid floating point math

Everyone seems to have a snazzy weekly feature these days, and we didn’t want to feel left out.  Unfortunately, we could only think of a few catchy names for our series, and it’s not Friday today.  Oh well.  Consider it a preview publication.

Embedded systems often deal with time critical applications that require maximum performance and minimum execution time.  Writing efficient code requires solid study of language and platform fundamentals, and there’s no substitute for concentrated practice.  However, there are small tips and tricks to squeeze the last drop of performance out of your programs.  Faster code Fridays highlights these techniques so you can implement them into your repertoire. We’ll use Arduino-compatible code for most of our examples, though these techniques will work on a number of platforms.

Alright already, we’ll all float on

Continue reading

Find project parts and prototype hardware at SmallParts

One of the biggest challenges of robotics and DIY hardware is simply finding the right components for the job. You may have cooked up the perfect locomotion system, but obtaining that oddly sized axle bearing or aluminum channel can take up more of your time than the actual design and assembly. Because of this, we’re always on the lookout for good sources of project parts and hardware that can deliver quickly when needed.

Continue reading

Online IDEs for microcontrollers

mbed's online compiler and IDE for ARM microprocessors.Recently we’ve seen a few options for compiling and programming your processor of choice in the cloud. Online IDEs offer a lot of convenience, as you don’t have to worry about OS idiosyncrasies or implementation details on your specific machine. You simply put in source code and get compiled files out. Power users may want alternatives with more features, but just like other app categories, we’re guessing online development environments will get more polished as time goes on. Most online environments are limited to standard desktop languages, but lately some online options have popped up in the microprocessor arena.

Continue reading