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Bot shop EL wire how to

Bot shop EL wire how to

Electroluminescent wire – EL wire how to

Yes, it looks impressive that is for sure! But it might seem a bit daunting to newcomers…… it is not. There are only a view things you need to know.

In the past, you needed to be quite skilled to use lighting to set moods, use in displays, in home decor and so on, now it became easy. In this EL wire how to you will learn everything you need to be an expert in electroluminescent products and it will take you no more than 15 minutes to learn.

Some quick technical stuff

el wire how its made

It is actually quite simple to understand. By introducing very low alternating current (but high voltage) to a layer of phosphor the phosphor will glow. Phosphor when glowing has an aqua blue colour.

To get different colours of EL wire a coloured plastic sleeve is used on the outside of the EL product. This is how EL product manufacturers can produce different colours

el wire colours

The colours are limited to 10 colours: Aqua (fluorescent blue), Lime (fluorescent green), red, blue, green purple, orange, yellow, pink and white

The way to introduce electricity to phosphor can be seen in the first picture above, you take a  piece of copper wire and coat it with phosphor, then you take 2 very fine wires and turn it around the phosphor coated wire like a spiral over the whole length of the wire. You now put the one wire of a power supply and connect it to the phosphor coated copper wire and the other wire of the power supply you connect to the 2 thin wires.

The power source – inverter

One of the reasons we did this how to is because there is a lot of confusion around the power requirements for electroluminescent. The first thing to know is that EL products operate best at a Voltage of between 80V-140V (120V is optimum).

WHAT? Electroluminescent (EL) PRODUCTS OPERATES AT 120V, THAT CAN KILL YOU!!! LUCKILY THERE ARE NEARLY NO AMPS SO IT IS SAFE. 

If you touch bare open wires you might feel a very slight shock – so the connection points should never be exposed. Later in this how to you will see how to make your own connections (if you do not get pre-made el products with connectors already on them) and cover the bare wire with heat shrink tubes, We sell both types in our shop here.

The power source alternates the voltage at around 800 Hz. That simply means it first sends + voltage to the one EL wire and negative voltage to the other side and then switches the – and + voltages around, what is impressive is that it does this switching 800 times in a second, That’s fast!

To make this long story short – you need an EL inverter.
IMPORTANT. Inverters have different power ratings. The lower the power rating the smaller the length of EL wire it can handle. A small inverter is usually able to handle about 3 meters. You do not have to turn it into rocket science, you just need to be “nearish” to those specs, All inverters have a description on what length of EL wire it can drive

So be careful with this though, don’t use a short piece on an inverter that is meant for longer pieces, your EL product’s life expectancy will be drastically shortened. So basically if you have 3 meters or lower use a 3meter inverter rather, it will last longer

Power efficiency, heat and life span.

How long will it run from a battery and how many hours of light will it produce. EL products are very power efficient because of the low amps (current) it uses. There is no other light source this efficient.

Two AA batteries driving 3 meters of EL wire will last 10 hours plus!
No heat is produced at all, cold to the skin
EL wire life span is about 8000 hours, if you have it on every night it will last 1000 days

Using EL wire

El wire can be shaped any way you like. You can also cut it shorter and if you like you can put on connectors on the offcuts (more about that soon)

Becuase the EL wire got a plastic casing you can use PVC glue to glue it anywhere. For wearables like shirts and hats, you can sew it to the wearable by sewing a “loop ” around the EL wire and the piece of fabric. There are no hard and fast way on how to stick it to stuff, above is only ideas

Cutting and putting connectors on EL wire.

Easy as pie. Below is a video that shows exactly how to do that. You will need a soldering iron, solder and a wire stripper (or Stanley knife) we sell an El solder kit here that include the connectors, shrink wrap tubes and end caps. They use a heat gun in this video to shrink the tubes but a lighter will work great as well.

It is important to note that when you cut EL wire the end that is cut of must be isolated in any way you like so that the copper wire and 2 thin wires do not touch each other.

 

 

And that concludes this EL wire how to. So, head over to our EL wire shop category here, get some EL wire and accessories and create some fun stuff.

Our Lithium Battery Charging module review

Our Lithium Battery Charging module review

Lithium Battery Charging module

Lithium Battery Charging module

There will come a time that you want to have your project mobile. The easiest way to accomplish that is with batteries and if you want to get a bit fancy, rechargeable Lithium batteries.

I am reviewing the lithium Battery Charging module that is also available from us here. It is a low-cost unit that is affordable enough to build into your projects directly without having to worry to open a box, removing the batteries for charging and then put it all back again. Except for saving on the cost of a charger you now have an easy to charge project.

Power to the board.

It comes with a USB connector to connect to a 5V power source. This is handy because you can connect the module to a computer USB port or a 5V power supply, your cell phone power supply will work great. This module also has a place to solder 5V power supply power wires directly to the board as well.

Functionality

Lithium charger functions

From the picture above you can see the 2 status LEDs on the Lithium Battery Charging module. The charge LED indicates that the battery is charging and the second LED lights up when the battery is fully charged.

Most of the work is done by the TP4056 IC, it is a constant-current/constant-voltage linear charger IC designed specifically for Lithium ion batteries and comes with many features including automatic recharging and is able to supply 1A charging current! You will find these chips in cell phones, cameras, charging doc stations etc.

Hooking it up is easy, supply the Lithium Battery Charging module with 5V and then hook up the battery via 2 wires to the bat+ and bat- power through holes on the board (this require soldering).

Specifications

  • Input voltage: 5V
  • Maximum charging current: 1000 mA
  • Charge cut-off voltage: 4.2 V + / – 1%
  • Battery overcharge protection voltage: 2.5 V
  • Battery over-current protection current: 3 A
  • Input interface: Micro USB or 5V to power terminals
  • Dimension: 2.6 x 1.7 cm

Changing the charging current

Out of the box, this unit supply 1A constant current to the batteries but that might be too high. It is recommended that when you charge a battery you should charge them at 37-40% of the battery capacity(in mAh). If you are charging a battery of 1000mAh capacity, you should adjust the resistance in a way that the current offered is approximately 370mA-400mA.

Now, this is my only drawback in using this module, you will need to manually replace the resistor. It is an easy process but still a bit of extra work to get exactly the amps you require. I was hoping for a variable resistor but the problem with this is that you will blow the chip if you set the resistance too low, that you will do very easily if you turn a variable resistor just a bit too far to the wrong side.

In the picture earlier you can see the resistor you need to replace if 1A is too high for your batteries. It is easier than you probably think right now, simply use a soldering iron to heat up both sides of the resistor at the same time to remove, put the new one in place and heat up each side to solder it back in place. If you do not have an SMD resistor use a normal 1/4 watt resistor, cutting the legs as short as you can.

Here is a table to work out the size of the resistor you will require:

Resistor (k)BAT amps (mA)
3050
2070
10130
5250
4300
3400
2580
1.66690
1.5780
1.33900
1.21000

Summary

Cheap, easy to use and it can charge bigger Lithium batteries than expected with ease. With the drawback of having to solder in a different resistor to get the correct charging current comes the benefit of being able to charge any chargeable Lithium battery at its optimum levels.

Wifi Scale project for Wemos D1 board Part two

Wifi Scale project for Wemos D1 board Part two

wemos d1 project

Scale project for Wemos D1 part 2- from pallet wood 

Now that we got the scale to work with an Arduino it is time to see how we will get it to work with a Wemos D1 board so that we can view the scale data from a Wifi connection on a web browser. This can also be a web browser on a cellular phone if you so wish. In short, we want to now expand our project to an IOT (Internet of things) scale. This scale project for Wemos D1 part 2 focus on the wifi part of this project, in part one we focus more on the load cells and amplification so first have a look (there is a link above).

Getting the D1 to work with the Arduino IDE.

In our review of this board, we gave details on how to get it to work with your Arduino IDE in the “Use your Arduino IDE to program the chip” section.

To recap:
  1. To install drivers remove all previous esp boards download and
  2. install http://www.arduined.eu/files/CH341SER.zip
  3. next open file>preferences
  4. enter http://arduino.esp8266.com/stable/package_esp8266com_index.json in the additional board manager urls area
  5. open tools>board>board manager
  6. search ESP8266 and
  7. install “esp8266 by ESP8266 community” version “1.6.5-947-g39819f0”
  8. next restart the Arduino IDE then select
  9. tools>board>WeMos D1 R2 & mini
  10. select upload speed at 115200 baud

 

Scale project for Wemos D1 – Hooking up the load cell HX711 amplifier

In part one of this project, we showed you how to connect the load cells to the amplifier board as well as to an Arduino Uno. We also talked about the pin differences between the Arduino and Wemos D1. Below is a picture again as well as a diagram connecting the amp to the Wemos board.

In the code, we also show, as comments in the pinouts for the Arduino.

Wemos D1 pin assignments

Wemos diagram

The LCD screen pinout can also be seen in the code.

LiquidCrystal lcd(0, 2, 4, 14, 12, 13); // WEMOS pins differ from UNO pins translated to uno would be (8, 9, 4, 5, 6, 7)

Scale project for Wemos D1: Explaining the code

Connecting to your WIFI network

To connect to a WiFi connection we use these 2 libraries (all the WiFi libraries will be automatically installed with the ESP8266 files when you add the board to your Arduino IDE):

#include <ESP8266WiFi.h>
#include <WiFiClient.h>

Next, you need to enter your WiFii details to connect to the network. Look for the lines below in the code and change the **** with your network name and network password.

const char* ssid = "*********"; 
const char* password = "*******";

Setting up the board as a web server

The first thing to understand is that we want to setup the D1 as a web server. If you are not familiar with web servers it basically means that we want to hand out web pages to web browsers for displaying when the web browsers connect to the D1 board. Hence the name web server – it serves web pages to your browser when the browser connects to it.

In the code (see below) you will use a library called ESP8266WebServer.h and the code to start the web server is simple:

ESP8266WebServer server(80);

The (80) specify the port the server should listen to and is standard as all web browsers by default try to connect to web servers on port 80. A port is nothing more than a number that distinguishes what data is intended for what application on a server. Thus, a web browser will connect to the web server and communicate that it wants to connect to the software that is assigned the number 80. Port numbers are of cause very important when you have many applications like FTP, email etc on one server,  else there is no way you will know for what application the data to your server is for.

Web page code

A web page is a text file with very basic code in it, this code is called HTML, In short, HTML code tells your web browser how to display and what to display on the web browser. It tells your web browser things like the size, font and colour of the text, where to find the images in the web page, where on the page the images must display and so on. (Note, that the images are not “in” this text file but rather a link to where the browser will find it on either the Internet or in the web servers file directory). A web browser thus “understand” HTML code and will generate the page you see in the web browser according to this code.

Here is an example of HTML in the code we will use soon:

webString=”<html><head><meta http-equiv=’refresh’ content=’3′> </head><body>Weight: “+String((float)value)+”kg</body></html>”;

This image below is what you will see in your web browser:

browser view plain

In short all web page code start with <html> and end with </hml> . We then have the <head> tag that gives your browser information like the name of the page and so on, in the example above we use the “refresh” tag that tells the web browser to reload the page, in this case, every 3 seconds. This is required because we want the web page to refresh by itself so it will display the weight of the scale when the weight changes. The <body> tag tells the browser what it should actually display in the browser window and the </body> tag tells the browser when the end is reached of what should be displayed.  In between the body tags we display the Weight from the scale in the browser.

If you spice up your HTML knowledge a bit you can make it look better. I added a picture and some other formatting to the code so it shows our logo.

webString=”<html><head><meta http-equiv=’refresh’ content=’3′> </head><style>body {background-color: #cccccc; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif; Color: #000088; }</style><body><img src=’https://www.botshop.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logowebsite2.png’><br><b>Weight: “+String((float)value)+”kg</body></html>”;

Here is the result:

browser view formatted

Connect to the D1 web server

Once your server is running use your web browser to connect to the D1. In the URL field in your web browser type the IP address (see below on where to get it) of your web server and press Enter. In our code, we created an additional page called test. To get to it use your ipaddress/test e.g 192.168.0.1/test

Get your IP from serial monitor. We simply used the code below to get the IP address you should connect to and that will display in serial monitor for you to know what the IP is. You can also display it on the LCD display if you so wish.

Serial.print(“IP address: “); // displays ssid and IP on serial monitor and also IP on LCD
Serial.println(WiFi.localIP()); //

Code

#include <ESP8266WiFi.h>
#include <WiFiClient.h>
#include <ESP8266WebServer.h>
#include <ESP8266mDNS.h>
#include <HX711.h>
#include <LiquidCrystal.h>

LiquidCrystal lcd(0, 2, 4, 14, 12, 13); // WEMOS pins differ from UNO pins translated to uno would be (8, 9, 4, 5, 6, 7)

#define DOUT 16 // uno pin 2
#define CLK 5 // uno pin 3

float value;
String webString=””;
#define calibration_factor 21900 // Do Not change unless other load cells are used
HX711 scale(DOUT, CLK); // initialize load cell amplifire

const char* ssid = “*********”; // function as metioned in bellow comments
const char* password = “*******”; //

ESP8266WebServer server(80); // starts server on port 80

const int led = 13;

void handleRoot() { //
digitalWrite(led, 1); //
server.send(200, “text/plain”, “please enter correct page”);
digitalWrite(led, 0); //
char temp[400]; //
} //

void handleNotFound(){ //
digitalWrite(led, 1); //
String message = “File Not Found\n\n”; //
message += “URI: “; //
message += server.uri(); //
message += “\nMethod: “; //
message += (server.method() == HTTP_GET)?”GET”:”POST”; //
message += “\nArguments: “; // typical error 404/page not found
message += server.args(); //
message += “\n”; //
for (uint8_t i=0; i<server.args(); i++){ //
message += ” ” + server.argName(i) + “: ” + server.arg(i) + “\n”; //
} //
server.send(404, “text/plain”, message); //
digitalWrite(led, 0); //
} //

void setup(void){
pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
digitalWrite(led, 0);
Serial.begin(115200);
WiFi.begin(ssid, password);
lcd.begin(16, 2);
Serial.println(“”);
scale.set_scale(calibration_factor); // calibrate scale
scale.tare(); // zero scale
/*
while (WiFi.status() != WL_CONNECTED) { // I have disabled this to allow client to play with device,
delay(500); // What this does is it waits for the WiFi to be connected
Serial.print(“.”); // and while waiting it displays which ssid it is trying to
lcd.setCursor(0,0); // connect to I was thinking to add a script to show all
lcd.print(“Connecting to”); // available ssid’s so the client can select which one to use
lcd.setCursor(0,1); // using the keypad on lcd shield and also enter the password
lcd.print(ssid); //
} //
delay(750); // allows enough time to see that its connecting
*/
Serial.println(“”); //
Serial.print(“Connected to “); //
Serial.println(ssid); //
Serial.print(“IP address: “); // displays ssid and IP on serial monitor and also IP on LCD
Serial.println(WiFi.localIP()); //
lcd.setCursor(0,1); //
lcd.print(WiFi.localIP()); //

if (MDNS.begin(“esp8266”)) {
Serial.println(“MDNS responder started”);
}

server.on(“/”, handleRoot); //home page

server.on(“/test”, [](){        //enter IP followed by /test
char temp[400]; //to display scale value
value=scale.get_units(), 0; //
webString=”<html><head><meta http-equiv=’refresh’ content=’3′> </head><body>Weight: “+String((float)value)+”kg</body></html>”; //this line has an automatic refresh built in it is also the string to display the value
server.send(200, “text/html”, webString); //
}); //

server.onNotFound(handleNotFound); // 404 error

server.begin();
Serial.println(“HTTP server started”);
}

void loop(void){
server.handleClient(); // monitors user interaction on web
value=scale.get_units(), 0; //
lcd.setCursor(0,0); //displays scale vallue and ip on lcd
lcd.print(“Wheight: “); //
lcd.print(value); //
lcd.print(“kg”); //for some reason this jumps around alot
delay(1000); //
}

scaleCode text file

 

Scale project for Arduino and Wemos D1

Scale project for Arduino and Wemos D1

wemos d1 project

Scale project – Arduino and WiFi scale (see part 2 of this tutorial) from pallet wood

This scale project is built around the Arduino Uno and part 2 of this tutorial around the Wemos D1 development board. In its basic form, it will display the weight of an object on an LCD display and in the next tutorial in a web page using WiFi. This project can of cause be expanded even more to capture the weight in a database and so on. Here are lots to learn, from weight load cells all the way to Wifi with the D1 board that is cheaper than an Arduino Uno. We have a review  of the Wemos D1 here:

When doing an Arduino or Wmos D1 scale project there are a couple of things to know, The first is the development board itself, then the coding that can be done directly from an Arduino IDE and then some HTML coding to create the web page when doing the WiFi parts. If you are already coding Arduino projects you have very little learning to do on the coding of the Wemos D1 board.

 

The Wemos D1 board is designed to be similar than an Arduino Uno and you will immediately recognise the power headers and I/O header.

If you are not planning to use the scale as a wifi project the Arduino Uno will be just fine.

The D1 microcontroller is much more powerful than that of an Arduino

Saying that… you can easily build this scale using an Arduino Uno if you prefer.

One thing that stands out from the D1 is that it uses the very powerful ESP8266 chip that is a microcontroller and Wifi chip all in one. What’s even more impressive is that the microcontroller is much more powerful than an Arduino microcontroller with much more memory for your wifi projects.

Read this post first: Before you move on, read this blog post that has much more details about the Wemos D1 development board and how to set it up for the first time. https://www.botshop.co.za/wemos-d1-review-wifi-development-board/

Let’s look at the scale first.

To build a scale you need 3 parts: load cells, an amplifier and then a micro controller to interpret the results and display it somehow. The micro controller can be one of many, including a WeMos D1, ESP8266 controller, Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

load cell image

Load cells come in many different types and if you plan on working with them extensively you will need to read up on all the types available. In this tutorial, we use  50kg load cells that is one of the products we sell on our site here. You will need 4 load cells that you must place on the 4 corners of a solid base that will act as the weighing platform of your scale.

The 4 load cells can handle 50kg each so you will end up with a scale that can measure up to 200kg.

scale frame   load cell

It does not have to be fancy, we used a couple pieces of pallet wood to create the base as shown in above picture, then you need to drill big holes for the cells to fit, note the correct way to fit the cells in above picture.

The HX711 load cell amplifier

Load cells operate at very small voltage changes, therefore an amplifier will be required. We sell the HX711 Load Cell (Weight) Amplifier that works perfectly with the load cells.

Below is a diagram on connecting the cells to the amplifier. The diagram and code below are for an Arduino and in our next tutorial, we will show you how to connect it to a Wemos D1 to change your scale into an “Internet of things” project.

load cell amplifier

Below is the code to get it going for your Arduino. It will print the weight out in Serial monitor for now.

#include "HX711.h"

// HX711.DOUT - pin #A1
// HX711.PD_SCK - pin #A0

HX711 scale(A1, A0);

void setup() {
 Serial.begin(9600);
 Serial.println("HX711 Demo");

Serial.println("Before setting up the scale:");
 Serial.print("read: \t\t");
 Serial.println(scale.read());

Serial.print("read average: \t\t");
 Serial.println(scale.read_average(20));

Serial.print("get value: \t\t");
 Serial.println(scale.get_value(5));

Serial.print("get units: \t\t");
 Serial.println(scale.get_units(5), 1);

scale.set_scale(2280.f); 
 scale.tare();

Serial.println("After setting up the scale:");

Serial.print("read: \t\t");
 Serial.println(scale.read());

Serial.print("read average: \t\t");
 Serial.println(scale.read_average(20));

Serial.print("get value: \t\t");
 Serial.println(scale.get_value(5));

Serial.print("get units: \t\t");
 Serial.println(scale.get_units(5), 1); 
 Serial.println("Readings:");
}

void loop() {
 Serial.print("one reading:\t");
 Serial.print(scale.get_units(), 1);
 Serial.print("\t| average:\t");
 Serial.println(scale.get_units(10), 1);

scale.power_down(); 
 delay(5000);
 scale.power_up();
}

LCD screen

Next, you will need a display and here you have many choices. The easiest to use is the I2C LCD display. We also have a basic LCD display that is cheaper.

Whats the difference? The I2C LCD shield has an extra board connected to the normal LCD shield, turning it into an I2C device, that means it has much fewer wires to connect and it is much easier to program with. The little I2C board take away allot of the job the Uno had to do.

That concludes our scale project, our next tutorial will take this scale and change it into a wifi (internet of things) scale using the Wemos D1 board.

Part 2 of this project is here!

Wemos D1 review  Wifi development board

Wemos D1 review Wifi development board

ESP-12E WeMos D1 review

Wemos D1 review

This board has quickly become our board of choice when we do Wifi project development. It looks just like an Arduino Uno and many Arduino shields will work with this board. We sell them here at Bot Shop – https://www.botshop.co.za/product/esp-12e-wemos-d1-wifi-board/

We created a scale project using this board, you can read more about the project here:

We pulled in a weight from scale sensors but without much changes, you can do the same with any type of sensor.

The D1 microcontroller is a beast compared to the Arduino Uno

The WeMos D1 uses the ESP 8266 microcontroller that is 2 x faster than an Uno, has 160Kbs of Ram compared to the 2K of an Uno and a 100x  the amount of  Flash memory! And each I/O pin is interruptable!

Most importantly is that it has embedded Wi-Fi and the centre point of this wemos d1 review.

Microcontroller specs

• A 32 bit RISC CPU running at 80MHz
• 64Kb of instruction RAM and 96Kb of data RAM
• 4MB flash memory
• Wi-Fi
• 16 GPIO pins
• I2C,SPI
• I2S
• 1 ADC

The only area the Arduino chip is better is that it has 6 ADC’s and the D1 just one, although that will very seldom a problem as you have both I2C and SPI on the chip, it is still worth taking note of this. If you need more ADC’s it is easy to add a multiplexer to increase the amount of ADC’s.

Use your Arduino IDE to program the chip.

The Arduino IDE can be used to program the D1. The Wemos D1 have a USB to TTL chip on board for direct uploading of programs via USB directly from your PC. The chip used is the CH340G chip and unfortunately, a driver needs to be installed for some versions of Windows that does not include this driver. If your Windows version does not recognise the board it can easily be downloaded and installed, doing a Google search on “CH340G driver” will show many download links.

In this Wemos D1 review we do not want to go to much into details regarding programming but I have good links to follow, Also have a look at our scale project mentioned earlier in this review.

The next thing you will need to do is to add the Wemos D1 board to the list of boards already in the Arduino IDE. Here is an instructable on how to do that, it is pretty good http://www.instructables.com/id/Programming-the-WeMos-Using-Arduino-SoftwareIDE/

Oh, you will be able to upload to the board. To get the WiFi to work is not as difficult as I thought it will be, I used this instructable to do so: http://www.instructables.com/id/Programming-a-HTTP-Server-on-ESP-8266-12E/

Pin assignments

Something to note is that the pin assignment between the D1 and Uno is different. The Uno has the onboard led connected to pin 13 and the D1 to pin 14 as can be seen from the table below, If you, for example, upload the blink sketch to the D1 you will first need to change the sketch by replacing all calls to pin 13 to pin 14.

Wemos D1 pin assignments

Some things to be aware of.

  • As discussed the pinout differences, of cause the power pins are at the correct places.
  • Becuase of the pinouts some Arduino shields will not work out of the box, you will need to change the pin mappings. As an example, I had an LCD shield working in minutes without much effort.
  • The normal Arduino libraries will not always work, the LCD shield library worked with no problem though.

Wemos D1 review Summary.

Well, you can’t beat the price nor the ease of use. Microcontroller + Wifi for the same price as an Uno. I will always use my beloved Arduino Uno because of the amount of libraries and code available on the Internet but…. as soon as I need to use WiFi in my projects I will go for the Wemos D1 without a second thought. We also have a much smaller WiFI board for production here:

You can get yours from us here  https://www.botshop.co.za/product/esp-12e-wemos-d1-wifi-board/

 

Official Arduino Day 2017

Official Arduino Day 2017

Arduino day will be taking place on 1 April 2017, many haven’t even heard of it, so what is all the fuzz about.

What is Arduino Day?

Arduino Day is a worldwide birthday celebration of Arduino. It’s a 24 hour-long event – organized directly by the community, or by the Arduino founders – where people interested in Arduino get together, share their experiences, and learn more. whether you are newbies, makerspaces, hackerspaces, fablabs, associations, teachers, professionals, or any other user group Arduino day is for all who are fascinated by Arduino.

What will Arduino Day offer?

You can attend an event or organize one for your community. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Maker, an engineer, a designer, a developer or an educator: Arduino Day is open to anyone who wants to celebrate Arduino and all the amazing things that have been done (or can be done!) with the open-source platform. The events will offer different types of activities, tailored to local audiences all over the world.

Some projects from previous Arduino Days

What will we be doing for Arduino Day?

On Arduino Day we will be hosting an Arduino Beginner to Intermediate Training course for ages 10 and up! Have you subscribed to our newsletter? We will have an Arduino Day sale and will send details in our newsletter.

What you will learn on the training:

  • The internal working of Arduino.
  • Some key elements to programming.
  • Electronics around your program.
  • Four projects will be built excluding the bonus project.
  • Time will be given to chat to trainers in person.
  • trainers will be available if there is any confusion during the projects.

What you will need:

  • 5 LED’s
  • 5 resistors between 150E and 1k
  • 10k Potentiometer
  • Jumper cables
  • Arduino
  • Laptop

For those that do not have the components needed, we do have two options for you.

  1. When filling out the Registration form, select the number of small training kits.
  2. You could get our Monster Kit, also by selecting it on the registration form.

Please return filled out registration forms to kin@botshop.co.za

Simple Arduino esp8266 web server ESP-07 ESP-12

Simple Arduino esp8266 web server ESP-07 ESP-12

Arduino esp8266 web server

To be able to host your own simple web server is easy all you need is the ESP8266 Serial WIFI Module and FTDI232 downloader here is a short description of both and a link on where to find it, An Arduino is not required at all and the ESP8266 board can be a stand alone board and it can be programmed with an FTDIboard. This blog is called Arduino esp8266 web server because you can also connect the wifi module to an Arduino if you want.

The ESP8266-03 is a highly integrated chip designed for the needs of a new connected world. It offers a complete and self-contained Wi-Fi networking solution, allowing it to either host the application or to offload all Wi-Fi networking functions from another application processor.

The USB to TTL serial adapter is based on the high quality and very popular FTDI FT232RL chipset and is an excellent way to connect TTL serial devices to a PC through a USB port and to program your Arduino esp8266 web server.

Unlike most USB to TTL serial adapters, this adapter supports both 5V AND 3.3V operation! Simply set the jumper as required to choose between 5V and 3.3V as labelled on the board.

Part List
  • ESP-07/ESP-12
  • FTDI232
  • Jumper Wires
  • 10k Resistor
  • Pushbutton
  • Breadboard
  • Stripboard
  • 2x 8 pin headers male or female
STEP1: Easy Access

Grab your headers, ESP module and strip board. Cut the Stripboard down to size (8 columns 9 rows), if you are unsure of the size you could cut it afterwards, remember to break the tracks at the bottom. Next solder thin wire to the pads of the ESP module and put each wire in its own column and solder it to the stripboard, next solder in the headers.

This part is very important because the pitch of the module’s pads are 2mm and that of the breadboard are 2.54mm.

esp8226-bb-2

20161123_111632

STEP2: Wiring

Now we will look at the wiring of the module, something to keep in mind is that the module runs on 3.3V. The above mentioned Downloader(FTDI232) supports both 3.3V and 5V, switch the jumper to 3.3V if your downloader does not support 3.3v, you will have to add a voltage divider as shown below, below that is the wiring of the module.

untitled

esp8226-bb-1

 

STEP3: Setup

First things first, if you haven’t got the ESP8266 library yet see “Getting Started with NodeMCU with ESP8266 part 1” on how to install the library, next we have to select the type of board and programmer.

First select the Board Tools -> Board -> Generic ESP8266 Module

board

Next select the programmer Tools -> Programmer -> USBasp

programmer

Now you can connect your programmer and select the port. We’re using an example sketch for this tutorial. File -> Examples -> ESP8266WebServer -> Hello Server. Remember to add your SSID and password.

 

STEP4: Uploading

Now that the wiring is done and your Arduino IDE is set up, we can start the upload process.Uploading to the ESP module could become tricky if you don’t keep track so pay close attention.

Firstly  connect GPIO 0 to ground.

gpio0

If the ESP module is powered up already, press the reset button you installed on the breadboard (pushbutton), if not just power up the module via the USB cable to the downloader. This process boots the  module up in program mode. You can now upload you sketch to the module. Once upload is complete, disconnect GPIO 0 from ground and reset it again, this allows the module to operate as normal. and your upload is complete.

 

STEP5: Connecting To The Server

When you are done uploading and you have removed the wire from GPIO 0 you can open your “Serial Monitor”. It should display the connection status after it has connected to your WIFI-router it will display an IP-address, copy this IP and enter it into your browser’s search bar. It will display the words “Hello From ESP8266” in your browser window.

Arduino Simulator App Review

Arduino Simulator App Review

Arduino Simulator Review – Start Developing Without a Real Arduino Board

We had stumbled across this Arduino simulator, in which you can use both electronics and you Arduino skills to be able to test your circuit before buying the necessary component or just to prevent you having a fried Arduino.

This Arduino simulator is free and works really great, although it has one major downside, the sketches have to be saved in .hex files then imported into the simulator but other than that it’s a really great app to have. Once you get the hang of creating the hex files it is actually not too bad and it becomes quite effortless.

 

 

Below is a simple explanation on how to use the Simulide Arduino simulator.

First, you will have to download Simulide.zip and extract the entire archive to your desired folder. If you run the executable from within the archive some functions will not be available. After extraction process has completed you can run the executable (.exe).

Next, build your circuit, remember to adjust the resistor values, on the left click on Properties and double click on the resistance value.

 

 

After you have built your circuit you can compile your sketch into a HEX file. In your Arduino IDE make sure your sketch is saved then go to Sketch->Export compiled Binary, or press Ctrl->Alt->S.

Now it’s time to load your sketch into the simulator, Right-click on the Arduino and select “Load firmware” and load your HEX flie you just exported, there will be two HEX files “xx.ino.standard.hex” and “xx.ino.with_bootloader.standard.hex” you have to select the one without the bootloader.

You are all set now and you can click on the power button at the top.

Another great Feature

The probe is another great feature the app has. Put the probe on up to four of your output pins and right click on it and select add to plotter.

Please note that this might look like an oscilloscope but it is a logic analyzer and will not work with PWM signals, for PWM signals select “Add to Oscope” instead of “Add to plotter”

Arduino kits with Arduino course

Arduino kits with Arduino course

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Arduino course info
online training

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  • Arduino complete kit (3 to choose from)
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Kit content

  • Arduino Uno R3
  • USB Cable
  • 1 x breadboard
  • 1 x LCD screen
  • 1 x Joystick module
  • 1 x buzzer
  • 1 x relay
  • 1 x 8 segment LED
  • 20 x LED’s
  • 1 x 10 k potentiometer
  • 2 x push buttons
  • 1 x shift register IC
  • 1 x tilt sensor
  • 1 x light sensor (LDR)
  • 1 x temperature sensor
  • 10 x 1k resistors
  • 10 x 10k resistors
  • 10 x 560E resistors
  • 1 x motor
  • 1 x servo
  • 1 x 9V battery connector
  • 1 x rain sensor
  • 1 x Joy stick module
  • 1 x headers
  • 25 x jumper cables
  • 10 x du Pount cables

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How to create a PCB From a Diagram

How to create a PCB From a Diagram

How to create a pcb

Converting a circuit diagram to a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) could prove to be a challenging task.

But luckily with technology today it is fairly simple to complete this task, so there’s no need to be stressed out. We will be doing an easy one for today. It is called an A-Stable Multi Vibrator.

First, I will explain the circuit and the working thereof. Imagine that R2 were absent from the circuit, and suppose Q1 started out being turned on. Then Q2 would have nothing to turn it on, and Q1 would be held on by current through R3, while the R4 and the LED would charge C2. The effect would be that LED1 would come on and stay on, while LED2 would never light.

Now add R2. This will cause C1 to charge to -0.7 volts, until Q2 turns on. Once that happens, the charge on C2 would cause the base of Q1 to go negative, turning it off. When that happens, current flowing through LED1  will start flowing through C1 and the base of Q2, turning it on even harder. Once Q2 has turned on, it will keep Q1 off until C2 charges to -0.7 volts.

Note that while the circuit would have a stable state with both transistors on and both capacitors reverse-biased by 0.7 volts, in practice the winky-blink circuit always starts oscillating rather than entering such a state.

 

We will now start with our process. First download your software HERE for Design Spark or HERE for EAGLE CAD, I use Design Spark most of the time.

 

STEP1: Layout
,,,hFirst we’re going to place all of the components in the correct place.

flip-flop-raw-schem

It can be a bit difficult to find the components, but design spark has a great function under view -> Model Source Bar where you could either look under categories or enter a RS Components stock ,number just select your country and search your components you need, enter the stock number and click use component the software will tell you in which library it save the component and you can go fetch it from there. Marked in red are the two ways to find the components you need.

finding-comps-flip-flop-schem

 

STEP2: Connecting
Next we will connect the components together as shown in the image above, note that instead of a battery I have have added a two pole header, when we have the final product we will have two holes where you can solder in the battery leads or you can put headers in those same holes.

flip-flop-schem

STEP3.1: Converting
From here you have a few options. First option is to simply click on translate to PCB.

translate-to-pcb

and follow the easy steps. Your PCB will look something like this

translated-to-pcb

This does not always come out like expected, in which case we will see how to fix this in Step 3.2

STEP3.2: Converting
If your results was not what you expected in Step 3.1, click on Tools -> Unroute Nets -> All Nets.

unroute

You will see that the tracks has disappeared and now there are thin yellow lines. These yellow lines are to show you how the components were connected.

If you chose not to follow the previous option you will have to insert the components manually again. If you did follow the previous option you now only move the components how you feel fit.

This is what mine looks like yours can be different.

option-12-layout

STEP4: Wiring Compnents
For option 1 go to Tools -> Auto Route Nets -> All Nets

auto-route

and follow the instructions.

For option 2 you have to add the track in manually as in the schematic.

Your end result may look different than mine, but in the end, we achieve the same product.

finale

Note: Using option two may result in errors making the PCB useless. Yes option one may have errors as well but only if your schematic was wrong. Some of these errors may prove to be fatal.

I hope this blog post gave you a starting point on how to create a pcb.