Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Archive for April 2010

ATmega 28-pin ISP programmer

In AVR, Hardware on Apr 30, 2010 at 00:01

The Flash Board presented a few days ago was only half the story. Here is the other half, i.e. the chip socket.

What you need is a board with a 10 kΩ reset pull-up resistor, an 8..16 MHz resonator for the clock, and – just to be safe – a 0.1 µF decoupling capacitor. I used an empty JeeNode v4 PCB to hook it all up:

Dsc 1372

I added the ISP connector in a slightly unusual way: with long pins bent sideways. The reason being that the ZIF socket won’t fit on the board otherwise. In fact, it won’t fit directly anyway because the holes are too small and the socket is too long. So I pushed it (hard!) into a 28-pin IC socket first:

Dsc 1371

Then I soldered the socket in, and there it is:

Dsc 1373

An ISP programmer for 28-pin ATmega’s!

Tomorrow, I’ll describe how I’ve modded this setup to also allow programming 8-pin ATtiny DIP chips …

JeeLink’s “Plan B”

In Hardware on Apr 29, 2010 at 00:01

Hmm, it looks like the plastic “USB stick” cases are seriously and totally unavailable. I’ve completely run out of cases, and the next shipment from Farnell is reported to be in… July!

Can’t have everyone wait for it, so I’ve started replacing the case by some semi-transparent heat-shrink tubing:

Dsc 1375

It’s not quite as pretty or sturdy, but it does protect the board so you can easily plug in or remove the JeeLink. The red, green, and blue LEDs are still clearly visible.

If nothing changes on the delivery-of-cases front, then this change will become permanent. Otherwise, I’m willing to repackage any JeeLink you send back at no extra cost. Once the original cases are available again.

Will keep y’all posted on this …

Update – Just got a note from Farnell that the cases are shipping (!). I’m going to hold back on all JeeLink shipments until Monday – with a bit of luck, I can send them off with the “real” plastic cases after all!

Meet the Input Plug

In Hardware on Apr 28, 2010 at 00:01

After yesterday’s exploration into sending 4 bits over one I/O pin, it was easy to complete the Input Plug:

Dsc 1364

I got the silkscreen labels completely wrong, but once that was clear it all went more or less as intended.

A new “InputPlug” class has been added to the Ports library. It’s essentially still a Port, but with one extra “select(channel)” member to set the input channel from 0..15.

Note that this is called an input plug, but it’s really an analog 16-channel multiplexer in front of the AIO pin of a port. It can be used for analog input as well as digital input (just use digiRead2() i.s.o. anaRead()).

But it can also be used as output demultiplexer, even for analog (i.e. PWM) output when connected to port 2 or 3! Just keep in mind that as output, the usefulness is limited since there is no latching going on: the pin goes to high impedance, i.e. disconnects, when the channel is not selected.

One possible use as output, is to drive a set of transistors – one at a time, e.g. to multiplex a 7-segment or matrix display. By setting the AIO pin permanently to 0 (or 1), you could use the channel selection to pull one of the 16 pins down (or up).

The Input Plug is not an I2C plug – it requires a dedicated port and can’t be daisy-chained.

The following “input_demo.pde” example sketch has been added to the Ports library:

Screen Shot 2010 04 19 at 23.26.41

Sample output:

Screen Shot 2010 04 19 at 23.10.33

All inputs read out as 1023 because of the pull-up in this demo, except for one pin which I was manually connecting to a 1.5V battery in rapid succession.

Will be adding this plug to the shop shortly. See the documentation page for further details.

Decoding a pulse train

In AVR, Hardware, Software on Apr 27, 2010 at 00:01

The (planned) Input Plug uses an ATtiny chip to decode a 16-channel selection code using a single I/O pin.

Here is the relevant part of the schematic:

Screen Shot 2010 04 19 at 19.50.37

The DIO pin is connected to PB4 of the ATtiny. The ATtiny PB0..PB3 pins in turn are hooked up to the A..D select inputs of the analog multiplexer. So all the ATtiny needs to do is decode an incoming “pulse train” on its PB4 pin, and send out the decoded value on its PB0..PB3 output pins.

My first attempt used a simple serial protocol: a start bit and 4 data bits, clocked at a fixed rate:

Screen Shot 2010 04 19 at 19.52.59

This worked, but it was a bit flakey because the internal clock of the ATtiny is not accurate enough to ensure everything stays in sync for the entire duration of the transmission, i.e. across 5 bit periods. This is clearly explained in the following image (from here):

async1

It’s better to use a self-clocking format, for example 5 pulses of varying width, because then only the length of each individual pulse matters. Above a certain threshold = 1, below = 0. And we can reset when there are no pulses.

Here’s the a transmit test sketch, which sends a 0..15 counter every 100 ms:

Screen Shot 2010 04 19 at 19.57.36

As you can see, the pulses are 4 or 8 µs wide, with one pulse every 12 µs. Roughly.

Note that interrupts have to be disabled during each “transmission”, since these pulses are very short and need to be fairly strictly controlled.

The decoder on the ATtiny (ATtiny85 in this test) is also quite simple. It waits for a pulse start and then counts in a loop until the signal drops to zero again. Counts above a certain value are treated as “1″. Missing pulses and pulses which are way too long cause the decoder to be reset and start from scratch:

Screen Shot 2010 04 19 at 20.01.21

This can be compiled with avr-gcc, and it’s of course just a few bytes (even an ATtiny is overkill here):

Screen Shot 2010 04 19 at 20.02.44

I’m using yesterday’s Flash Board for ISP programming. Makes a good test that it also works with ATtiny MPUs.

Here’s the test setup (with the ISP programmer disconnected):

Dsc 1362

And sure enough, the LEDs display a little running 4-bit counter, driven by data sent over a single DIO pin.

Should be good to go for the Input Plug!

Meet the Flash Board

In Hardware on Apr 26, 2010 at 00:01

The Flash Board is a brand new piggy-back board to turn a JeeNode into an ISP programmer:

Dsc 1352

It’s compatible with the ISP plug described a few days ago, but it includes a few extra features:

  • on-board button and LED
  • on-board 128 Kbyte EEPROM memory
  • holes for a “direct-connect” ISP connector

It works with the isp_flash.pde and isp_prepare.pde sketches. See those two posts for details about these.

This board is now in the shop as kit, with the EEPROM soldered on since most people probably don’t want to solder such tiny surface-mounted chips. Note that the above two sketches don’t use the on-board EEPROM.

Here’s the Flash Board in more detail:

Dsc 1357

Nothing fancy, but I find it convenient, especially in combination with a JeeNode USB and a LiPo battery pack as a Portable ISP Programmer!

The “direct connect” ISP connector is a funky way to dispense with the ISP cable altogether, and plug this thing directly into a board with 6-pin ISP holes:

Dsc 1358

The master JeeNode + Flash Board are pushed upside down into the 6 holes of the ISP header, i.e. without header. Due to the way these extra long pins are placed, they will go in under an angle and push sideways to make a good connection. The trick is that these pins use two separate ISP headers, to end up with pins 1-2/3-4/5-6 swapped, so that they’ll work properly upside down. See the after-burner weblog post for another example of this.

Sure, it’s a bit funky. And you don’t have to use this. But it works :)

Preparing ATmega’s with ISP

In AVR, Software on Apr 25, 2010 at 00:01

Here’s a second use of yesterday’s ISP plug: pre-loading ATmega’s with a fixed sketch and bootloader.

This uses a very nice trick from the Arduino Boot-Cloner: store the code to be sent to the target MPU as PROGMEM data inside the ISP sketch itself!

I’ve adapted that Boot Cloner so that it takes its data from a separate C include file, added a couple of other features, and speeded the whole thing up a bit.

The result is called “isp_prepare” (code here).

Here’s what you’ll see on the USB serial port when starting it up:

Screen Shot 2010 04 18 at 23.14.22

The list reports the files which have been integrated into this sketch at build time, using this C code at the top of isp_prepare.pde:

Screen Shot 2010 04 18 at 23.23.36

Here is the contents of that include file, with most of the data bytes omitted:

Screen Shot 2010 04 18 at 23.24.51

The data consists of “sections” of code, to be programmed into the target ATmega using ISP. In this case there are two sections, a RF12demo sketch starting at address zero, and a bootloader in high memory.

Here’s is isp_prepare in action:

Screen Shot 2010 04 18 at 23.14.47

So the steps to load RF12demo onto a JeeNode with a fresh ATmega are as follows:

  • upload this isp_prepare.pde sketch to a “master” JeeNode
  • insert the ISP plug described yesterday,
  • connect the target JeeNode to this master JeeNode via ISP
  • enter G to start programming and wait for it to complete
  • done: disconnect, now the target JeeNode is ready to run with RF12demo on it

I’ve also included a “data_blink.h” header file, if you want to preload the ATmega with the standard Arduino blinking LED demo. Just change the include in isp_prepare and upload the sketch again.

I can now use this setup for initializing all the ATmega’s here at Jee Labs, since it means I no longer have to start up the Arduino IDE or use avrdude.

Convenience!

ISP plug

In AVR, Hardware, Software on Apr 24, 2010 at 00:01

For one of my projects, I needed a quick way to reflash an AVR via ISP. Didn’t want to have to use any of the several ISP programmers around here, so I made my own “ISP plug” for use on a JeeNode:

Dsc 1353

The pins are connected as follows:

  • ISP pin 1 = MISO = DIO1
  • ISP pin 2 = VCC (+3.3V)
  • ISP pin 3 = SCK = AIO1
  • ISP pin 4 = MOSI = AIO4
  • ISP pin 5 = RESET = DIO4
  • ISP pin 6 = GND

Here the top view, made from a little JeePlug board:

Dsc 1354

Bottom side:

Dsc 1355

Note that this ISP setup draws 3.3V from the JeeNode and uses it to power the target, so the target board should not have its own power and it should not draw more than say 100 mA of current @ 3.3V.

The code for this is called “isp_flash.pde” and is derived from the “ArduinoISP” sketch. I added software-based (bit-banged) SPI communication for use with the above I/O pins, and did a fair bit of cleanup of the source code.

The nice thing about this ISP programmer is that it works out of the box with Arduino IDE 0018:

  • upload the ISP_flash.pde sketch to the JeeNode
  • insert the ISP plug and hook it up to the test circuit (or one of these …)
  • burn the boot loader using the Arduino IDE:

Screen Shot 2010 04 18 at 18.04.06

The result will be a properly initialized ATmega, with protected bootloader and the default blink demo pre-loaded.

It’s not terribly fast because it uses a 19200 baud connection, but it’s simple and can be a life-saver if you ever damage the bootloader on an ATmega, or want to prepare blank ATmega’s for use with a JeeNode.

This plug can in fact be used as ISP programmer for any type of ATmega or ATtiny with “avrdude”:

Screen Shot 2010 04 18 at 18.14.42

You’ll need to adjust the serial / USB port, fuse settings, and sketch as needed, of course.

(Not so) Home Easy

In Software on Apr 23, 2010 at 00:01

Here’s the Elro / Home Easy AB440R remote control:

Dsc 1351

On the surface, it looks like a very clean 433 MHz protocol:

Screen Shot 2010 04 17 at 12.16.22

Here are some bit patterns, as I see them coming in:

Screen Shot 2010 04 17 at 12.15.26

All the pulse widths are in the expected range (first two are timestamp and pulse count):

Screen Shot 2010 04 17 at 12.38.38

This is completely in line with the protocol description I found. Given that it uses a special 0-0 pattern for extended group codes, I decided to pass all the transitions back, leaving the interpretation to higher-level code:

Screen Shot 2010 04 17 at 12.31.28

Here’s what comes out:

Screen Shot 2010 04 17 at 12.30.50

Several very odd problems with this:

  • the incoming bit patterns are less than 50 bits
  • the KAKU decoder also matches these patterns
  • I’m getting spurious empty lines reported

The KAKU decoder match is very surprising, since it only fires when receiving exactly 12 bits! As it turns out, the other way leads to false positives as well: the KAKU transmitter currently triggers the HEZ decoder – but that’s more logical, since the HEZ decoder isn’t checking exact packet sizes yet.

Something very fishy is going on, but I can’t see where :( – despite this, I’ve updated the code.

Oh well, can’t win ‘em all…

A mini scope

In Hardware, Software on Apr 22, 2010 at 00:01

Triggered by a discussion on the forums, here’s a little demo of how to build your own “Poor Man’s Scope”:

Screen Shot 2010 04 21 at 20.36.10

I connected an LDR between AIO1 and ground, and played around with light levels during this screen shot. The last samples were all over the map because I inadvertently touched the LDR leads.

All you need to reproduce this experiment is: an LDR, a JeeNode, and the JeeMon runtime. Oh, and the Arduino IDE to compile and upload a sketch to the JeeNode.

The sketch is adapted from the arduino-arduinoscope.pde demo. This is not nearly as fancy (or even flashy) as that Processing-based version, but it’s very easy to set up and get started with, IMO.

Anyway, here is the sketch running on the JeeNode:

Screen Shot 2010 04 21 at 20.44.32

It does a lot more than I’ll be using here, since I’m only picking up and displaying the first analog value, i.e. AIO1 on the JeeNode.

To get started with JeeMon, you could go read this page to get some background, but all you need really is the executable, so you can just download the appropriate one: for Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Then:

  • unpack the ZIP file, so you end up with a “JeeMon” executable
  • create a directory called “JeeMon-rigs”
  • in that directory, create a file called “application.tcl” (contents shown below)
  • adjust the serial port of the JeeNode to your setup (look at the top of application.tcl)
  • launch JeeMon, and you should get the real-time scope display shown above

Here is the application.tcl file, written in Tcl and using the built-in Tk GUI subsystem for visual display:

Screen Shot 2010 04 21 at 20.53.36

I’ve sprinkled some comments in the code. There are a fair number of pesky little details (as in all programming languages), but even without knowledge of Tcl/Tk you should be able to more or less see what’s going on.

There’s a lot one could improve or add to this thing. There always is. This is just a starting point.

But there you go: a Poor Man’s Scope in less than 100 lines of JeeNode sketch + JeeMon rig code. Fun!

Digital postage stamps

In News on Apr 21, 2010 at 00:01

At last, this country has entered the 21st century…

Dsc 1347

It is now possible to print postage stamps with a label printer, instead of having to constantly buy stamps and place up to 8 (!) of them on the packages going out at Jee Labs. Not to mention keeping 4 different stamps around.

Until now, the only other option was to buy a fairly expensive franking machine which weighs the packages and prints stamps on them, but it doesn’t handle thicker packages, so I’d end up printing on separate labels anyway – and essentially waste most of the investment while still doing the same as before.

I’ll probably keep using stamps for the small shipments. But no more reams of stamps per envelope, new shipping options in reach, and no more running out of specific stamps!

Now, if only they supported the Mac… oh, well.

X10 RF reception

In Software on Apr 20, 2010 at 00:01

One more decoder, a home automation protocol this time – a X10 RF transmitter:

Dsc 1342

That’s a Marmitek SS13, sending out over 433 Mhz (European model).

This is a fairly simple protocol (documented here), although synchronization and packet detection works a bittle differently from the other decoders so far:

Screen Shot 2010 04 16 at 00.06.22

Sample output:

Screen Shot 2010 04 16 at 00.05.35

Easy!

More OOK decoders

In Software on Apr 19, 2010 at 00:01

O(o)k … so there are now several decoders for OOK transmissions: 3 for 433 MHz and 4 for 868 MHz:

Screen Shot 2010 04 15 at 10.36.43

Sample output:

Screen Shot 2010 04 14 at 23.20.21

The code is here now here. It has been set up as an Arduino sketch, but the decoder logic is not Arduino-specific, nor even ATmega-specific in fact. The sketch compiles to under 5 Kb, leaving plenty of room for future extensions.

All that is needed is to call the decoders with pulse widths in microseconds. They all run in parallel, but normally at most one will succeed for any given pattern of pulses. The actual decoding completion happens during the final long pulse (2000 µs or more, in most decoders).

Here is the rest of the sketch, which drives the decoder from pulses measured in an interrupt routine:

Screen Shot 2010 04 15 at 10.36.58

Note that there is something odd in this code: all the decoders are fed the same pulses! In real use, separate receivers will need to be connected for 433 Mhz and 868 Mhz, and then pulses fed to the appropriate decoders only. The reason I did it this way was for testing: I can simply replace the OOK receiver with whatever I’m currently trying out to see if it works – no reset needed.

So that’s it for now: 7 decoders, capable of decoding packets from several dozen different types of sensors and transmitters.

The data is reported as a set of hex nibbles, which need to be separated into the specific bit patterns for each type of packet. Also, checksums still need to be verified, to weed out any remaining false positives.

But that’s another topic, for another day.

Note – the RFM12B receiver cannot receive OOK signals. I hooked up extra hardware to make the above work.

Visonic sensors

In Software on Apr 18, 2010 at 00:01

Another set of sensors is made by Visonic. Here’s the door sensor:

Dsc 1341

It has three sources of triggers: a reed switch, normally kept closed with a magnet on the door or window, an extra set of ordinary contacts, and an internal switch which is released when the case is opened.

There are other sensors using the same protocol, such as a PIR motion detector and a “universal transmitter”.

The sensors send OOK data on the 868 MHz band, but it took me a while to figure it all out. The main reason being that I couldn’t find a preamble for these radio packets – apparently there is none! – instead, the tail of the packet is a good reference point, i.e. the 72 pulses preceding the long pause at the end can be reliably decoded.

Each bit is either a short-long pulse pair, or a long-short pulse pair. This can in fact be used to resync even before the end of the packet is reached, because short-short and long-long combinations indicate that we’re off sync.

The total packet has 72 pulse transitions, i.e. 36 bits of data. I add 4 extra zero bits to create a 5-byte result. Here is the main decoding logic:

Screen Shot 2010 04 14 at 16.28.07

Here is some sample output:

Screen Shot 2010 04 14 at 16.35.43

I’ll postpone decoding of the actual bit pattern to another day but note that you don’t really need to interpret all the bits: just look which patterns your sensor is sending out under various conditions, and you can match the incoming packets accordingly.

Improved OOK Scope

In Software on Apr 17, 2010 at 00:01

In yesterday’s post, I used the OOK Scope to find the distinctive pulse pattern emitted by a specific sensor to be able to write a decoder for it.

Keep in mind that this is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack: there are often over a million pulses coming in within just minutes. That’s why I had to compare the “sensor-off” baseline with the “sensor-on” pattern. And even then, you never know for sure where pulses come from and especially whether they came together in quick succession, as expected for genuine RF packet data.

So I added some filtering: instead of showing all pulses, I only look for pulse sequences with pulse widths and pulse counts in a certain range, followed by a brief period of silence (i.e. a relatively long pulse).

I also added some configurability, i.e. whether to display using a logarithmic horizontal scale, whether to “decay” old data so new pulses are weighted more heavily in the counts.

One last very convenient feature added was a “peak detector”, i.e. trying to identify the most prominent peaks in the graph and reporting their microsecond values in a status line at the bottom (the first value is a pulse count).

I didn’t implement a GUI to adjust these values – I simply set them as needed in the code and restart JeeMon:

Screen Shot 2010 04 13 at 20.58.19

Here’s the result of running the OOK decoder with these settings and waiting for a packet from the Cresta sensor:

Screen Shot 2010 04 13 at 19.52.25

Bingo: very clean peaks, as well as the actual durations of the main pulses, i.e. 392 µs, 576 µs, 880 µs, and 1056 µs. As I’ve been able to determine from previous experiments, these are just two groups of pulses: 392/576 = 0 and 880/1056 = 1. The reason is probably skew – these receivers appear to have a completely different response to carrier-start and carrier-end transitions.

Here’s a plot when leaving the OOK Scope on and accumulating for one hour:

Screen Shot 2010 04 13 at 21.05.53

There’s a bit more garbage now, with additional noise and a few more peaks being “detected”. I’ve added code so that pressing ESC clears the counts and starts from scratch – this can help isolate a specific transmission.

This version of the OOK Scope was used to establish more accurate pulse widths for the Oregon and Cresta sensors, and that’s was led to the values used in those decoders. The latest source code of the OOK Scope has been checked in, replacing the previous version. It’s still very small: under 200 lines of Tcl/Tk code.

Note how much you can do with just an OOK receiver and software: it’s like a special-purpose scope. For these experiments it’s in fact better than a storage scope or a logic analyzer, because of the custom pulse filtering!

Cresta sensor

In Software on Apr 16, 2010 at 00:01

Another day, another sensor:

Dsc 1339

This is a Cresta unit (no serial number on it), with a simple outside temperature sensor (which has been outside for a some time). Here’s the OOK scope fingerprint:

Screen Shot 2010 04 12 at 13.50.25

Here’s the baseline, i.e. the background signal with the sensor switched off:

Screen Shot 2010 04 12 at 14.06.37

Some clear peaks, at values 100, 135, 175, and 195, roughly. These correspond to pulse intervals centered around 400 µs, 570 µs, 890 µs, 1080 µs, respectively.

My hunch is that the 400/570 and 890/1080 pairs are really just the same pulse, skewed by the size of the preceding pulse.

In this case, it turns out that the sensor sends 3 copies of the packet, with a 1..3 counter value inside. Seeing that counter in the raw bits indicates that this sensor is not using Manchester encoding, simply 1 = 1 and 2x 0 = 0:

Screen Shot 2010 04 13 at 20.11.30

I get better results with the sensor at least 1 meter away from the receiver – a very strong signal probably adds extra spikes or shifts pulses too far apart.

Time to write a decoder for this thing:

Screen Shot 2010 04 13 at 20.15.06

With the base unit turned on to see what the values being reported are, I was again able to determine the basic details of the packet layout. Each 8-bit byte is followed by a 9-th parity bit. So this hex data isn’t as easy to read:

Screen Shot 2010 04 13 at 20.18.56

But the expected temperature values are in there, and the 1..3 channel selection is as well. Again, I’ll save the checksum verification and the post-processing in JeeMon for another day.

Onwards!

Oregon sensors

In Software on Apr 15, 2010 at 00:01

Let’s try to decode the OOK data coming from an Oregon Scientific THGR810 sensor:

Dsc 1340

It sends at 433 MHz (the above picture was accidentally set to Fahrenheit). I used the OOK scope to figure out which pulse widths to use in the decoder. Ended up splitting pulses shorter and longer than 700 µs.

Anyway, now I can write a bit-decoder for it, using the same finite state machine approach I’ve used before for KAKU and FS20. But there’s one difference: these bits are Manchester encoded, i.e. 0 has two short pulses, while 1 is one long pulse. The Manchester encoding can be deduced from the fact that when you replace two short pulses my one marker, you get more or less consistent packet lengths. Since successive 1′s must flip the interpretation of the signal, there’s one extra bit of state to carry around in the decoder.

Most of these things can be determined by trial and error. Same for the synchronization pattern, the exact bit offset to start the data, and the bit / nibble / byte order of the data.

It helps tremendously that the sensor has an LCD display, showing what values it is transmitting, of course.

My basic approach is to collect lots and lots of pulses, and save them to file as Tcl scripts. Then I weed out impossible runs of bits, keeping only what looks like potential 0/1 sequences of a decent length. Then just keep collecting, until some “packets” end up being received more than once.

Once I have a dozen or more packets which keep showing up, it’s time to look at the preamble, to try and figure out what the common prefix could be. It’s usually pretty obvious by then. The only uncertainty being at which bit the preamble stops and the actual data starts.

Anyway, for the THGR810, this is some of the data I ended up receiving:

Screen Shot 2010 04 12 at 17.43.19

If you look closely, you can already see the reported values in reverse hex in the data.

That’s it!

Here’s the main part of the decoding logic for this sensor:

Screen Shot 2010 04 13 at 16.11.39

And here’s the received data:

Screen Shot 2010 04 12 at 12.18.44

The last value is the seconds timer, showing that this sensor is reporting values roughly every 70..90 seconds. I did some resets and fiddled with the channel switches, to be able to later determine which bits they correlate to.

Another run, showing the temperature dropping from 21.1° ro 20.1°:

Screen Shot 2010 04 13 at 00.37.49

Will do the checksums and separation into readings in JeeMon … another time!

Picking up RF noise

In Hardware on Apr 14, 2010 at 00:01

In yesterday’s OOK scope, there were many pulses at around 880 µs and 1100 µs which I couldn’t explain:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 152609

Here’s another graph from new readings, same sketch, same ELV 868 MHz receiver:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 16.39.16

That’s clearly much better. The difference? It’s all about how you hook up the RF receiver!

This was used during the first set of readings:

Dsc 1337

And this was used for that second graph:

Dsc 1336

So the receiver is picking up a lot more noise from the Carrier Board!

It’s not that surprising, in hindsight – the Carrier Board has a lot of traces running all over it it to hook up the numerous different signals on the board.

Note also that it took 20% less time to pick up the roughly 1,000,000 pulses for that second graph. My hunch is that the receiver’s AGC is ending up being set more sensitive without the spurious noise picked up from the circuit next to the OOK receiver.

Anyway, that’s one mystery solved.

Is the Carrier Board a bad idea? Not so fast. Here’s the ELV 433 MHz receiver, plugged directly into a JeeNode:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 17.19.58

And here it is again, with a Carrier Board between receiver and JeeNode:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 17.28.43

So at 433 MHz, it’s now attenuating the noise from the JeeNode.

Unfortunately, it gets even more confusing: look how few pulses the 433 MHz Conrad receiver picks up when plugged directly into a JeeNode during the same amount of time:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 17.38.21

I’m inclined to go with the Conrad receiver for testing BTW, since it seems to pick up all the important pulses. Much simpler to debug with less noise!

Looks like I’ll have to be real careful while comparing results and drawing conclusions. And use some sort of ground plane or shield in the final setup.

An OOK Scope

In Software on Apr 13, 2010 at 00:01

Using yesterday’s OOK plugs, I wanted to get a feel for what sort of RF pulses are flying around here at Jee Labs. It’s a first step to picking up that data and trying to decode some of it.

Meet the OOK Scope, a sketch which reports every pulse it receives over the serial port, and a matching Tcl/Tk script for JeeMon to display the results graphically, and in real time.

Here’s the “ookScope.pde” sketch:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 14.17.41

The analog comparator is used to generate interrupts on each transition of the input signal across the 1.1V bandgap reference voltage (the digital pin-change interrupt would also have worked – I’ve use both in the past).

One byte of data is sent over the serial port for each transition, containing the elapsed time since the previous one.

Note that the serial port can easily become a bottleneck for all these pulses: at 57600 baud, it can “only” report some 5700 pulses per second, so rapid pulse trains under 170 µs or so will hit the serial port bandwidth limit.

Reporting pulse lengths with 2 bytes of data would halve this bandwidth, so a trick is used to be able to report pulse lengths from 20 µs to over 3 ms using a single byte of data. It works by encoding large values more coarsely, sort of like a poor man’s logarithm:

  • pulses are measured at 4 µs resolution, using the Arduino micros() function
  • pulses of 20 µs or less are ignored, they are simply too short to deal with
  • 24..508 µs pulses are reported as byte values 6 .. 127 (4 µs granularity)
  • 512..1020 µs pulses are reported as values 128 .. 191 (8 µs granularity)
  • 1024..1532 µs pulses are reported as values 191 .. 223 (16 µs granularity)
  • 1536..2044 µs pulses are reported as values 224 .. 239 (32 µs granularity)
  • 2048..2556 µs pulses are reported as values 240 .. 247 (64 µs granularity)
  • 2560..3068 µs pulses are reported as values 248 .. 251 (128 µs granularity)
  • 3072..4604 µs pulses are reported as values 252 .. 255 (256 µs granularity)
  • all longer pulses are also reported as value 255

In other words: short pulses get reported fairly precisily, longer ones less so.

Due to the way AGC (Automatic Gain Control) works, most receivers will end up constantly generating pulses, because the gain is adjusted continuously until something is detected, whether actual RF signals or noise.

So this sketch tends to generate a huge amount of data over the serial port. In my case, I’m usually seeing over 2000 bytes of data per second coming in.

That’s a lot of bytes. Trying to make sense of it is not trivial – needles and haystacks come to mind …

So let’s just start by plotting the frequency with which pulses of different durations come in. This is an excellent task for JeeMon, with its built in Tk graphical user interface.

Here’s a first plot, based on some 1,000,000 samples:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 15.34.35

The shortest pulses are represented by the lines at the top (i.e. starting at 24 µs), the longest ones are lines furher down. The width of the lines is the number of times such pulse lengths were received. The whole graph is scaled to fit horizontally, with some statistics showing in the window title.

Every 10th pulse width is marked in blue. Every 100th is marked in red.

Note that these are condensed values, as listed above. The “widths” are shown as values 5..255 on the vertical axis.

What the graph shows, is essentially noise. There’s a gradual decrease in pulse widths, i.e. short noise pulses are more frequent than longer noise pulses.

There is a very surprising peak of pulse lengths around 880 µs – I haven’t figured out where they are coming from, but that’s clearly not noise.

Let’s change the graph by switching to a logarithmic scale on the horizontal axis from now on (note that the vertical scale is sort of logarithmic as well, due to the above encoding). Here’s the logarithmic version, from roughly 1,000,000 samples:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 15.26.09

Interesting: there’s another source of pulses around 1100 µs – again, no idea where those come from.

Here’s a graph where I held down a button on an FS20 remote control:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 15.44.50

Sure enough – peaks around 380 µs, 412 µs, and 584 µs. The FS20 protocol works with 400 and 600 µs pulses – the variations are probably due to skew in the receiver, with different skews depending on the length of the preceding pulse.

Here’s the Visonic “fingerprint”, also on 868 MHz:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 16.05.53

Let’s try the 433 MHz band now – a nice clean histogram using the ELV 433 MHz OOK receiver:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 15.14.58

And here’s one using the Conrad 433 MHz OOK receiver:

Screen Shot 2010 04 11 at 15.12.35

Odd, there’s a blind spot in there. Also, the Conrad receiver reports only 1/10th the number of pulses reported by the ELV receiver. Either it’s filtering out noise much better, or it’s simply a lot less sensitive!

The ookScope code (sketch and Tcl/Tk script) can be found here.

OOK plugs

In Hardware on Apr 12, 2010 at 00:01

I’d like to get some more weather sensors etc. connected to JeeNodes, so I made some “OOK plugs” by hand:

Dsc 1332

  • top: 433 MHz receiver and transmitter, by Conrad
  • bottom left: 868 MHz receiver by ELV
  • bottom right: 433 Mhz receiver (also by ELV?)

The top two units need an external 17 cm wire antenna, the bottom two have built-in PCB antennas.

Here’s my OOK test unit, using a JeeNode USB v3 and the new Carrier Board & box:

Dsc 1334

And here a first test setup:

Dsc 1335

One of the things I’d like to establish is to what extent these units can be combined in one box. A previous attempt with the OOK relay seems to indicate that there can be severe interference between these units. Even “receivers” tend to emit quite a bit of RF power from their tuned circuits over short distances.

Haven’t wired up these units yet The plan is to tie receivers to the AIO pin and transmitters to the DIO pin, so that a pair of them can be used on a single port.

Update – Here is a detailed view of the different receivers and how they were hooked up:

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Dsc 1514

Closing in …

In Hardware on Apr 11, 2010 at 00:01

The first Carrier Boards and Carrier Cards have come in, as described a few weeks ago on this weblog:

Dsc 1309

The Carrier Board is sort of a chameleon, given all the options it has for connecting stuff together:

Dsc 1329

You’re not supposed to use all those options at the same time, although you could if you really want to:

Dsc 1313

On the back you can plug in either a JeeNode, a JeeNode USB, or a JeeSMD as “processing engine”. Here’s a JeeNode USB:

Dsc 1315

As you can see, the USB connector will fall inside the case when plugged in this way, e.g. when you don’t use it, or to hook up a cable permanently.

Or… you can turn the board around, and make a cutout in the case to access the USB jack from the outside:

Dsc 1316

Wanna see how much you can cram into a box? Here’s a first attempt, with still some room to spare:

Dsc 1323

One more feature worth mentioning, is that there are pads and holes for an SMD-type DC jack. Here’s the jack soldered on, with a JeeSMD plugged in (the “+” end needs to be wired up manually):

Dsc 1325

Lots of options with all this. Great, now I can start working out some projects which need an enclosure.

There is one issue with the Carrier Board, alas … It turns out that the RX/TX pins on the FTDI connector (top right, first picture) were accidentally reversed. So this board doesn’t work with a USB-BUB out of the box.

That’s ok, though. I only had five of these prototypes made – just enough to try them out. Will fix it before ordering more boards for the shop.

It’ll take some time, but it’ll all work out nicely in the end, I expect.

Debugging with LEDs

In AVR on Apr 10, 2010 at 00:01

There was a problem in the RF12 driver with startup, with hard-to-reproduce behavior, unfortunately. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, until more details started coming in via the Jee Labs forumlong live open source!

The problem, as originally identified: sketches don’t start reliably, when power is applied through batteries.

The diagnosis: it’s not related to battery power, it’s due to the RFM12B staying in some sort of “powering-up” limbo mode for several seconds.

Trouble with this sort of problems is that they can be very hard to reproduce, and even harder to debug. It all happens at startup, before any comms with the outside world is possible, and what’s worse: sending out some debug bytes over the serial port may affect the problem, due to the time it takes to do so, or the interrupts taking place, or even RAM memory being changed by the debugging.

They’re called Heisenbugs, and they’re the worst…

In this case, the breakthrough came when I had a “reliably failing” setup: running the lcd_demo.pde sketch and inserting a call to rf12_config() was enough to get a hang after each power-up. Good – now I can chase this bug!

In this case, there was an LCD hooked up, but it gets initialized after the rf12_config() call. All I wanted to know at first, is where the code hangs.

Time for the LED debugger:

Dsc 1331

Two LEDs, inserted in an unused port. Both with 1 kΩ current limiting resistors in series (470 Ω would be brighter). One between DIO and GND, the other between +3V and AIO.

The code to init this is quite simple:

pinMode(5, OUTPUT);
digitalWrite(5, 0);
pinMode(15, OUTPUT);
digitalWrite(15, 1);

I used port 2, i.e. DIO = Arduino pin 5 and AIO = Arduino pin 15. Due to the way these LEDs are connected, the one on the left will light when DIO is set high and the one on the right will light when AIO is set low. The above code starts with both LEDs off.

Now, all I have to do is turn DIO on at the start, and move the code to turn it off further and further into the initalization code:

digitalWrite(5, 1);
rf12_config();
digitalWrite(5, 0);

As expected, the LED never turns off again – rf12_config is going haywire.

Then I tried simplifying, replacing rf12_confg() by a call to rf12_intialize(). Same outcome: hangs. So it’s not the EEPROM code.

Tried out several things: delays, sending stuff to the RFM12B driver to try and initialize it better, or even twice – no difference: stil hangs.

Hm. The RF12 driver uses interrupts. Maybe it’s in there (yuck, even harder to debug). I called rf12_inititalize() with 0 as first arg, so attachInterrupt() would not be called – and bingo … no more hang.

So the RFM12B is generating interrupts, at a point when I don’t expect it: i.e. right after initialization. Interrupts should only happen when sending out data bytes (TX FIFO empty) or when receiving them (RX FIFO full).

To make a long story short: the RFM12B is pulling the IRQ line low for some eight seconds after power up. Since the IRQ line is set up as a level interrupt, that means it’s generating interrupts all the time!

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t make the RFM12B stop generating interrupts. But then, after about 8 seconds, it ended up going high and all was fine. Go figure.

So now I’ve added a loop which waits and polls the RFM12B in the init code, until it stops pulling IRQ low. On power up, that takes around 8 seconds. On reset, there is no wait. This should fix the remaining issue reported with hanging of JeeNodes, battery-powered or otherwise, i.e. any scenario which doesn’t use resets to restart the ATmega when the RFM12B is ready. If this affected you, get the latest code and re-compile / upload your sketch.

In hindsight, I’m surprised it worked before this fix!

Case closed. One more victory over bits and silicon. Onwards!

The JeeNode USB v3 has arrived

In Hardware on Apr 9, 2010 at 00:01

Well, I finally got around to finishing the details (ehm… at least some) of the new JeeNode USB v3.

I’ve added it to the Shop, replacing the older JeeNode USB v2. Starting now, all JU’s sent out will be v3′s.

As you may recall, the main reason for bringing out a new version was because the v2 model had the 3.3V on-board regulator mounting messed up, requiring manual fixes to be made for each unit.

The new v3 board has the regulator mounted correctly. Here is a list of all the differences, since a new run gave me the opportunity to do a bit more:

  • The 3.3V regulator is now also used to supply power to the ATmega and RFM12B. This improves ADC accuracy, since running the ATmega off the FTDI regulator and bringing out 3.3V from another regulator isn’t really a good idea.

  • The RFM12B has been moved to the side a bit, to make room for a pad with hole to solder the antenna wire to. Less risk of it breaking off during use.

  • The board length has been increased (80.7 mm vs 79.8 mm) so the RFM12B no longer sticks out.

  • The USB jack has been moved out a bit, so now it sticks out. This will be more convenient when mounting the board flush against the outer wall of some enclosure.

  • There is now an on-board MAX1555 Lithium Polymer battery charge chip on board, as well as an orange LED, which lights up while the circuit is charging.

  • As a result, the PWR pins brought out on the port headers, etc, will now be at 4.2V instead of 5V, while plugged into USB. When on battery power, it will be whatever the battery supplies. You can still connect other types of batteries to the PWR pin to power the unit, as long as their voltage does not exceed 5V!

  • The on-board FTDI chip used for USB comms will be unpowered while running off batteries, to lower power consumption (it draws a few mA).

  • There is an on-board voltage divider connected to PWR, so that the ATmega can monitor the current battery voltage level. This is a high-impedance divider.

Oh, and since I got bored with just fixing things, I decided to throw a fresh bug into the mix ;)

The current boards have some incorrect silkscreen labels:

Juv 3 Silkscreen Errors

Just ignore ‘em. The P1 / P2 / P3 / P4 labels are the proper ones. FWIW: this was caused by panelizing this board in EAGLE without moving the labels out of the NAME layer. Probably a common (beginner’s?) mistake.

Anyway, I’ll get new boards made once my small initial batch runs out. Speaking of batches… I’ve now got lots of obsolete “JeeNode USB v2″ pcb’s :(

Comes with the territory, I guess: bugs in the atom world lead to REAL junk!

Turning the protocol around

In Software on Apr 8, 2010 at 00:01

Yesterday‘s post made it possible to send a message to a remote LCD screen. The remote node is set to constantly receive packets, and once a valid packet comes in, it displays the text.

There is no acknowledgement, so the sender does not know whether the remote node actually did receive the message, nor even whether it is turned on.

This can be solved by “turning the protocol around”: instead of sending packets to a remote receiver, the remote node periodically polls a central node to see if there is new data. The communication becomes bi-directional.

Let’s first change the code in the remote node to do this periodic polling (code here):

Screen Shot 2010 04 07 at 19.26.48

I’m using the “easy transmission” calls in the RF12 driver. They are used in a somewhat unusual way: by sending out empty packets, and then waiting for a valid acknowledgement packet to come in. This is done by checking the return value of rf12_easyPoll() – it will be 1 when an ack has been received.

But now there’s a problem. The JeeLink will immediately send an ACK back when it gets the data:

Screen Shot 2010 04 07 at 19.28.25

That’s not what we want, because the acknowledgement will contain no message text.

Instead, the RF12demo needs to be configured to use “collect” mode instead of “respond” mode. That will stop it from sending out the ACK:

1c

Now something else happens. Lots of packets will start coming in, in quick succession, because the remote node’s easy transmission setup is not getting any ACKs. So it keeps retrying:

Screen Shot 2010 04 07 at 19.31.40

We’ll need to change the JeeMon “application.tcl” script to use ACKs instead of direct packets (code here):

Screen Shot 2010 04 07 at 19.52.21

This change is fairly subtle. The SendToLCD code hasn’t changed. But it’s used in a completely different way now: instead of just sending out one packet, we set up a connection and keep it going – and therefore listening…

The trick is now to check what’s coming in, and when an empty packet from node 9 is coming in (“OK 41″, i.e. 32+9), then we send an ACK (128+9) with the message text. And since we’re done, we also quit the application.

There’s one small GOTCHA… it doesn’t work!

The problem is a bug in the RF12demo code, which prevents it from sending out packets that look like an ACK. I’ve fixed it now, so you’ll need to update your JeeLink or JeeNode – whichever you use as central node.

Once you’ve done that, it should work: power up both nodes and then launch JeeMon in the same way as before. If all is well, a message will again appear on the LCD screen:

Dsc 1327

Note that I’ve extended the remoteLCD sketch to support 2 lines of output: everything after a newline ends up on the second line of the display.

Sooo – similar result, but using a completely different mechanism.

This approach has as benefit that the remote node will stubbornly keep trying to obtain a message to display, even when packets get lost. But in its current form, that’s also a drawback: when JeeMon is not running, the LCD node will keep on retrying forever. With the easy transmission mechanism, it normally retries 8 times, once a second, but since we restart the packet every 5 seconds, it ends up constantly retrying, each second.

There are some other advantages with this remotely-initiated protocol. One of them is less important in this particular case: since the remote node is in control, it doesn’t have to keep the receiver on all the time, and can go into low-power sleep mode any time to save on battery consumption.

The second advantage is that the remote node doesn’t need to know where to get its data from. The easy transmission mechanism uses broadcasts, so whichever node decides to respond to it, gets its message displayed. As long as exactly one node always does, to prevent constant retries.

A third advantage is that the central node can detect when a remote node is up and when not, and act accordingly. This is a topic for another weblog post…

P.S. The Dimmer, Gravity, and Lux plugs have been added to the shop.

Remote LCD from JeeMon

In Software on Apr 7, 2010 at 00:01

Yesterday‘s post got a message to an LCD display, using a JeeLink with RF12demo to send the packet over the air. It works, but the packet had to be manually encoded as decimal bytes. Not very convenient.

Today, I’ll use JeeMon to streamline this somewhat. There will be several iterations of this example, so that it can also be used as an introduction to JeeMon and the Tcl programming language it uses.

To that end: here is a list of Tcl links which may be useful if you want to learn more about Tcl. Having said that – the code below should be fairly clear, even if you don’t want to dive in further.

This first example is mostly to get started with JeeMon.

Read the Getting Started section to obtain a suitable version of JeeMon (Windows, Mac, several Linux’es).

Got that? Ok, make sure it launches and no errors appear. Most likely result of doing so should be a message with “Can’t start (yet), …“. Good. It works.

Let’s set up JeeMon to send a message to the remote LCD.

  • Create a directory called “JeeMon-lcd1″.

  • Inside, create a file “application.tcl” with a text editor, and place the following Tcl program code in that text file (you can download it here):

Screen Shot 2010 04 06 at 10.14.32

  • Change the “usb-A600dVNz” in the above program to match the USB device you’re using to send the message with (can be either a JeeLink or a JeeNode). You can use the Arduino IDE to find out the proper name (probably COMn on Windows). Do not use the port of the remote LCD node, since that JeeNode is listening to incoming packets, not its serial port.

  • Launch JeeMon from the command line, by typing this command: “JeeMon lcd1” - JeeMon will now load the code contained in the JeeMon-lcd1 directory.

If all went well, you should see two things happen:

  • Some debug output will be printed:

    Sending: 72,101,108,108,111,44,32,87,111,114,108,100,33,9s
    
  • the text “Hello, World!” appears on the LCD!

Dsc 1307

To be continued…

Update – only moments ago, a bug in the RF12 driver was fixed. Make sure to get the latest one and re-build / upload the remoteLCD.pde sketch again if needed.

Demo remote LCD

In Hardware, Software on Apr 6, 2010 at 00:01

It’s hard for me to realize just how confusing all this Jee stuff can be, and it’s certainly good to be reminded of that once in a while. Not everything makes sense for people who aren’t immersed into all this every day.

I want to improve that. In fact, it’s the main reason I’ve been chasing around in search of a good forum + wiki setup. As it stands, I’m hesitant to start writing down lots of things and, eh… yes, documenting all this Jee stuff. But this will change. Promise.

For starters, some good news on the forum + wiki front: I’ve decided to standardize on Markdown as formatting language. It’s ancient (i.e. proven), it’s clean, and with just one or two extras it will be good enough for most of the things I need. The reason I’m bringing it up here, is that I’ve just finished converting all the wiki pages to Markdown, as well as 90% of the current Jee Labs documentation pages. The forum remains bbForum, but it has now been adjusted to use Markdown formatting as well. So has WordPress. In fact, this is the first weblog post written in Markdown (in Textmate, my favorite text editor).

Yeay for one set of conventions, and yeay again for simplicity!

Ok, back to the main topic of this post.

Here’s a demonstration on how to send a text string to a remote LCD via wireless JeeNodes. This is the hardware I’m going to use for that remote LCD node:

  • a JeeNode USB
  • an LCD Plug with 2×16 LCD display
  • one extension cable
  • plus a hookup to USB to power this whole thing

Dsc 1300

Ok let’s set up a simple demo sketch for the remote receiver end (code here):

Screen Shot 2010 04 05 at 20.09.58

Very simple, really: wait for an incoming packet and display the bytes as characters on the LCD. Plus some initialization code.

On the sender end, I’m using a JeeLink running the pre-loaded “RF12demo” sketch:

Dsc 1302

First step is to put the JeeLink in the right mode:

8b 4g 1i

That’s the 868 MHz band, group 4, node ID 1.

Now we can send a message to node 9, which is running the remoteLCD sketch, by sending a packet with the individual character codes to the JeeLink (the “9″ at the end is the destination node ID):

84,101,115,116,32,49,50,51,9s

The result:

Dsc 1305

Yippie. No wires. Magic! :)

Gravity Plugs

In Hardware on Apr 5, 2010 at 00:01

Ok, some panelized boards and components are starting to trickle in. Here’s the first production batch:

DSC_1299.jpg

(no, I don’t reflow ‘em as a triangle, it just looks pretty this way…)

You’re looking at 15 brand new Gravity Plugs, i.e. 3-axis accelerometers. This is by far the smallest SMD chip ever soldered here at Jee Labs. The pads are too small for a soldering iron, even with a 0.4 mm tip.

Out of a panel of 20, some 18 appear to be working properly, but I did have to wick away some solder (i.e. fix solder bridges) to get several of these units working.

I’ll be adding this and a few other new plugs to the shop in the next few days.

Now, if I only had some time to play with these sensors…

Stencil Jigs

In Hardware on Apr 4, 2010 at 00:01

Ok, I’ve prepared a couple more Stencil Jigs for applying solder paste:

DSC_1297.jpg

Here’s one in more detail:

DSC_1298.jpg

Basic idea is that a couple of scrap PCB pieces are hot-glued to an A5-sized piece of foam board to keep the panel in a fixed spot. Then add the stencil and fix it to the jig in exactly the right spot.

The placement of components is still a manual task, and quite a precision job for some of the latest boards, but by now my daughter and I are starting to get quite good at it – yep, it’s become a family thing :)

The new jigs will speed up production of the ever-growing Jee Labs collection of JeePlugs and other boards!

After-burner

In AVR, Hardware on Apr 3, 2010 at 00:01

To reply to a comment posted yesterday, this is the contraption I use to re-flash a JeeNode or JeeLink after the fact via its ISP connector:

DSC_1295.jpg

It has two diodes, dropping the incoming 5V power from the programmer to around 3.8V – this turns out to be needed in the case of JeeLinks, which has the VCC pin on the ISP header connected to 5V instead of the 3.3V driving the ATmega. The high voltage was causing problems with logic signal levels.

The other component on the board is a 100 µF capacitor, to reduce voltage fluctuations (it.s probably superfluous, I added it while debugging the setup).

Here’s this “after burner” in action:

DSC_1296.jpg

The long pins are at an angle, because that way they can be gently pressed into the holes and they will stay there during programming.

Like most hacks, it looks awful, but it works pretty well!

AVRISP mkII w/ 5V power

In AVR on Apr 2, 2010 at 00:01

I’ve been using the USBtinyISP AVR programmer for some time now, to set the fuses, burn the boot loader, and burn the RF12demo.pde compiled sketch into each ATmega.

Trouble is, it’s slow as molasses …

So I got the AVRISP mkII programmer a while back, but the problem is that it’s unpowered. Not good for my setup, which expects power from the USB programmer:

2937E56E-F019-4E55-99F4-60B1B15111DB.jpg

So I went looking around for tips on how to bring 5V to pin 2 of the 6-pin ISP connector. Found this mod which uses a 5-to-3.3V regulator, and this one which draws 5V directly from the board.

I decided to tap the 5V USB power, but after the polyfuse, so that a short won’t damage the computer or USB hub as easily:

DSC_1294.jpg

The connection is jumpered, so this can still be used in its original form when needed.

And then I spent ages chasing ghosts…

It turns out that avrdude needs a “-B 3″ time adjustment to reliably program the chips. Now how am I supposed to know that!

Anyway, here’s the shell script I’m currently using on my old PowerBook, which automates it all:

Screen shot 2010-04-01 at 23.08.28.png

That last character being echoed is a CTRL+G, i.e. an audible bell to signal when the process is done. It used to be essential, since the USBtinyISP took so much time for each burn. Now, it’s clocking in at 17 seconds, and that could probably be reduced even further by combining the three separate avrdude runs.

A roughly 10-fold improvement!

New stencil is in

In Hardware on Apr 1, 2010 at 00:01

Just received the new solder paste stencil from Pololu, it’s laser-cut from 3 mil mylar sheet:

DSC_1293.jpg

Great, once all the parts are in I can try out the new JeeNode USB v3 boards and start “baking” a couple!