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Old 8th January 2017, 2:44 PM   #16
da_moat
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corflute is fantastic for the 'the only thing i currently know is wherever i put something it is invariably the wrong spot.' part of a project..
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Old 8th January 2017, 3:07 PM   #17
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I buy most of my stuff on ebay.

I'm about to build a 2 in 4 out audio switcher for home.

The interface will run off my Raspberry Pi webserver but the I2C controlled relays will run off an Arduino Nano which will have commands sent to it over the network.

I also have a half-complete custom controller for Kerbal Space Program that i'm making will is running off an Aduino Due for the extra processing power.

I also have a project for next christmas. I play trombone and normally march in the RAC Christmas pageant. It will have a microphone near the bell which will feed into an arduino, which will then control LEDs placed over my trombone. Meaning (hopefully) that the lights will pulse as i play

*EDIT - I also work at a school, i'm going to help some of the kids make some of these

http://www.instructables.com/id/VU-M...or-Classrooms/

As everything is about programming now. Plus it's something tangable/useful that they will get at the end of it.
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Old 8th January 2017, 3:17 PM   #18
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I've been helping in ##electronics on freenode for a few years now, the Arduino scene has seen its ups and downs, but the Arduino API and IDE is now usable on a vast array of alternative platforms, which makes it a rock solid starting point which can be taken right up to some of the highest levels of embedded development.

First and foremost, the ESP8266 is an amazing chip. It's easily accessible in the "D1 Mini" platform, which you can find on aliexpress/ebay/etc for about $3. Like the Arduino, it comes ready to program, with a usb to serial adapter onboard, can be programmed using the Arduino IDE (after adding a board support package) and can just run from USB. Unlike the Arduino, its 3.3V at heart, is 32-bit instead of 8-bit, is 80MHz (OCs to 320MHz!) instead of 16MHz, comes with 4MB of flash storage instead of 64kb, and best of all, has native WiFi capabilities. Well worth checking out. Like the Arduino you can get an array of shields that just plug together with it to provide various functions, including a handy "Prototype shield" where you can just solder on your own parts to use, or wire things to a breadboard. The only downside is it has no easily usable analog inputs, meaning you'll need an extra ADC module to handle inputs from many sensors, raw line audio, etc.

These are an absolute gem tho. For 3 bucks each, you can basically turn any device into an IoT appliance. Displays for any custom feeds you want, where ever you want. Gather data from anything you like - want to be able to check if you left the stove on from your phone? It's a 1 hour project to enable if you have one of these spare. Another huge bonus, is that while like an Arduino, they can be programmed via their serial interface, which helps make them so accessible - unlike the Arduino, this is not factory programmed firmware, but ROM in the chip, meaning it's effectively "unbrickable" - while you can "kill" an Arduino from a bad upload, requiring you to connect it to another Arduino to bring it back to life, the ESP8266 is immune to such issues.

Once you can connect things to the net using widgets like this, you can start finding entirely new uses that nobody has built before, and only you really understand the need for. Finally you can just do it yourself, just click a few 2 buck modules from china together and call it a day

As for Aliexpress, well... yeah, i've been playing that game for a while :P I even made a site around it, hopefully no issues linking it, its not sponsored in any way and i make no money from it, its just a collection of aliexpress links i find cool / cheap / worthy of sharing http://deals.viper-7.com/

There is also this list, of component parts a newbie might want to stock up on, so they can achieve projects on the spot without having to order a module every time for this or that - http://deals.viper-7.com/home/kits/b...shopping-list/. Please be aware that all the links from that page are examples only, many have raised their prices since noticing they've been linked to, and others have stopped selling entirely. However the links do still work, so you can see titles, images and descriptions for what to buy, along with the prices i list for how much your should expect to pay.

For general recommendations, the 0.96" OLED display modules you can get for around $3 are great value, and make perfect displays for small projects. They combine well with a rotary encoder for user interface.

Another Arduino compatible alternative hardware platform worthy of checking out is the STM32. These are around $2.50 per module, at least for a board from the entry level STM32F1 series, the STM32F103C8T6 module. These also require a $3 "STLink v2" usb programming device, as they come blank from the factory, unlike Arduinos which have a bootloader pre-programmed onto the chip to make the usb port work. however you can use that programmer dongle from the Arduino IDE, so it's really nothing more than having to connect a few wires, and these are a step up again in capabilities. Although they lack the WiFi networking of the ESP8266, they have amazing Analog capabilities (both in and out), and can be used for audio processing/effects (DSP), high precision motor control (PWM), building your own ghetto oscilloscope (USB DMA), custom USB devices (it has a real USB peripheral, not the usb to serial adapter of most Arduinos), and far more. It's another 32-bit chip, 72MHz this time, and arduino-like amounts of ram & flash. Here's an example touchscreen motor controller interface I've built using one with the Arduino IDE and a few other chinese modules on a breadboard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpumoNVVDL8

Last but not least, it would be wrong to not mention the Digispark. This is an ATTiny85, a tiny little 8 pin chip, which the community has taken a loving to. The cheap (~$1.50) modules you can get with this chip have a USB port, despite the chip not actually supporting USB, by the work of a magical little software USB implementation. These boards let you do most anything you can on an arduino - PWM, ADC, I2C, SPI, GPIO, etc - and you can create a custom USB device using any of it. Great for making custom joysticks or other input widgets. Among other things a nifty use is combining one with an IR receiver module, to create a super-cheap USB IR dongle for any device. It can also run from either 5V or 7-30V input, so it can also be used as a simple microcontroller platform for projects in your car.


Most of my recent projects have been around motor control, in particular playing around with a specific pump, along with this motor controller, which i've found amazingly versatile for a myriad of uses. I've built drink dispensers, personal water cooling systems, vacuum pickup tools, a puncture-resistant air mattress, and plenty more.

It is a little chunky, both on the price side (at least for china), and for the chip itself, but i've come to use the VNH2SP30 modules as my default go-to method of interfacing with any high-ish power 12V device - lights, fans, pumps, motors, heaters, solenoids, mains relays, and plenty more. The outputs are push-pull, meaning you can reverse the polarity of each output pin individually, and you can PWM them for speed control at up to 20kHz (very fast, you can basically use this thing as a 650W RMS subwoofer amp if you want). I'm giving some extra detail on this part because its also a rather disturbing example of why while i'd love to support sparkfun, i personally dont. I fully understand their business is offering a premium service, with a higher standard of care and support than eg a seller in china. However these Arduino shields are available for US$4.68 on Aliexpress, with 2 of the chip i'm talking about, while Sparkfun sells the *exact same module*, with the same chips, for $69.95.

I dont begrudge them a fair markup, but thats a little unreasonable.


Below are example links of the items i've mentioned in this post. I have not ordered from these specific sellers before, and give no endorsement to the specific sale, they are merely examples of the items i have described, and the cheapest shipping suppliers for them to Australia i could find in a quick search.

D1 Mini: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free...776288065.html

0.96" OLED: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free...658807092.html

STM32: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1pcs...583160323.html

STLink v2: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free...022854051.html

Digispark: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1pcs...584084654.html

Motor Controller: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free...583188407.html


I could keep going on and on, but i guess this will do for a first post on the matter

Last edited by ViPeR-7; 9th January 2017 at 11:49 PM. Reason: Added note about ESP8266 unbrickability
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Old 8th January 2017, 6:40 PM   #19
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I used Arduino hardware and make a lot of my own but do not use the Arduino programming I use Bascom http://www.mcselec.com/ there are a lot of projects in the forum.
It is another way to write code for the Atmel AVR.

It is also a good idea to get a ISP programmer for the AVRs the USBASP is a cheap one.
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Old 8th January 2017, 9:59 PM   #20
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Started with blinking lights but now my kid is all excited about making a robotic arm. Turns out the kits don't contain servos so it's going to get expensive very quickly - super paranoid that bits won't fit if buying separately but I guess that's how you learn....
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Old 8th January 2017, 10:12 PM   #21
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The absolute biggest motivation for me was getting a 3D printer. Finally being able to print enclosures around my electronics projects, not to mention stuff like servo horns for tiny custom laser pointer turrets has been such a useful addition to my workshop.

I started from a $200 kit from Aliexpress, i've probably spent about AU$400 on it all up now, including about 10kg of filament.

Random pics of my printer and some produce:

http://imgur.com/a/M5xb1
http://imgur.com/a/KZjf0
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Old 8th January 2017, 11:10 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ViPeR-7 View Post
VNH2SP30
i'll have to keep these in mind, was wondering why they need so many inputs but it makes sense due to the way they are interfaced, and they do current feedback which is useful.

dumb question but is the 0.96" OLED colour?
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Old 9th January 2017, 3:43 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by oculi View Post
dumb question but is the 0.96" OLED colour?
Not at all a dumb question, the standard screens are basically single color, available in white, blue, or a combination yellow/blue display where the top 12 pixels or such are yellow, the rest blue.

There are color versions available too tho, search "OLED 65k" on aliexpress or such, they cost around US$10 each last I checked, so not as cheap, but still quite nice.

I can also highly recommend the 2.8" SPI Touch LCD modules, I used one in my motor controller example video, and provide links to the exact module I use in the description there, but they're fairly common, about AU$10 each, provide plenty of screen space for UI, and provide simple resistive touch, which while not being as sexy as capacitive touch input, is simpler to work with in your projects, and can be used with gloves on or such, so makes for a better appliance interface.

For more specific displays, buydisplay seems to be a nifty source with a wide variety of shapes & sizes of monochome and color, lcd and oled displays, at decent prices.
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Old 9th January 2017, 10:22 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by ViPeR-7 View Post
I've been helping in ##electronics on freenode for a few years now...
Viper, you the real MVP.

I'm looking to start my first project but would like some advice.

I want to build a wifi camera that I can put anywhere in the house. Eventually I want to interface it with the internet so I can retrieve an image.

What hardware would you suggest starting out with?
From what you have posted I was interested in using a D1 mini (ESP8266) and a OV7670 camera module. Just not sure what other stuff I need (and haven't thought of) to get started.

I wouldn't mind getting a 'Arduino Starter pack' to get started but I feel like there would be heaps of bits I would never use, and i'm more motivated to build something I have thought of rather than the basic stuff.
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Old 9th January 2017, 10:49 PM   #25
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I need to build my dad a parking sensor for the home garage so he doesnt go too far in
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=a...parking+sensor
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Old 9th January 2017, 11:05 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azzachaz View Post
I want to build a wifi camera that I can put anywhere in the house. Eventually I want to interface it with the internet so I can retrieve an image.

What hardware would you suggest starting out with?
From what you have posted I was interested in using a D1 mini (ESP8266) and a OV7670 camera module. Just not sure what other stuff I need (and haven't thought of) to get started.
Two main ways to go about this one, the way you suggested will work great, and is easily combined with services such as pushingbox.com to provide push notifications to your phone / desktop, including the latest photo. You shouldn't really need anything else beyond a USB phone charger / power supply to run it from.

The alternative is a step up in functionality - microcontrollers are great, but when you start talking about high quality images, or worse yet video, they can start to feel a little cramped. I'd likely be considering a cheap pi board, running linux, using "motion" to provide motion triggered alerts, record stills and video, and provide live network camera streams. For this you can use one of the boards available with native camera, or a simple USB webcam.

All in one solution with camera & wifi: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Oran...663940765.html

USB Camera: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Blac...673429029.html

Super cheap WiFi pi: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/New-...760774493.html

More powerful ethernet equivalent: http://www.friendlyarm.com/index.php...product_id=132

I should note, either of the Orange Pi solutions will require a special power cable, they wont accept power over micro usb. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/NEW-...581161944.html, however the nanopi from friendlyarm will run from a regular micro usb charger cable, like the D1 mini.


An added little bonus, just in case you want to take it further, this would also work with any of the solutions discussed. Pan & tilt control for $4?

Pan & Tilt camera mounting kit: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Serv...544952286.html

Servos for mounting kit: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1PCS...673542105.html

Last edited by ViPeR-7; 9th January 2017 at 11:29 PM. Reason: Added power cable info
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Old 9th January 2017, 11:13 PM   #27
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Quote:
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I need to build my dad a parking sensor for the home garage so he doesnt go too far in
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=a...parking+sensor
Any of the platforms discussed will work fine there. I'd probably go for an ATTiny85, or even just an Arduino Uno, just for the sake of keeping it simple.

You can use ultrasonic ranging: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free...979768585.html

or laser ranging: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/DIYm...770569783.html

For ultrasonics, I would suggest more than one input for safety - in building a system like this, you really don't want a bit of dust covering the sensor to create an accident, just because the driver expected your system to work and it didn't. For the ultrasonic modules, a blocked sensor is the same as no object being in range to reflect sound. The laser ranging modules don't suffer from this, and will see an obstruction of the sensor as an obstacle, so produce a constant alert, letting you know to clean the sensor.

As for the output, i'm not sure a speaker/buzzer/horn is really the best approach for an external sensor - it would need to be loud enough to hear inside the car, but not loud enough to annoy the whole house/neighbourhood.

I'd suggest perhaps something different instead, how about a visual indication? https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1m-4...036819167.html

You could put those on the back wall, and make them flash, change color, etc as they get closer - that way the information is right in their face, and you can have some fun playing with the individually addressable RGB lights

This stuff is basically lego these days, just grab the modules you need for your project to provide the features/functionality you want, some wires to link em together, and follow tutorials to write some basic code, using high level libraries to glue the modules together in the way you want.

Last edited by ViPeR-7; 9th January 2017 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 10th January 2017, 7:38 AM   #28
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IMHO solving a problem of your own (however trivial the problem is and however silly your solution is) will be more rewarding than doing cookie cutter projects as you will be more invested in them, but sometimes solutions looking for problems are fun too.
Couldn't agree more.

I had an Arduino for a few years, did much of the usual and quickly got bored.

Then I was handed a problem and I set out to provide a solution using an Arduino. Seemed simple enough, a box with 4 pots to control 4 lights via DMX. The standard DMX library is broken and figuring out how to deal with the 1 bit dither from the ADC really stained the brain. I'm now into a project that uses a different serial protocol, LANC. If I get any more like this I'll definitely be investing in a DSO.

I suspect a lot of people move on from the Arduino to something with more grunt without ever looking under the hood of the Arduino. It gets pretty intense and very frustrating as there's a lot of well intentioned but dud advice to be found.
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Old 10th January 2017, 11:02 AM   #29
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I need to build my dad a parking sensor for the home garage so he doesnt go too far in
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=a...parking+sensor
Hang a ball from the ceiling with some string so it touches the windscreen when the car is in far enough or glue some 90 x 45 to the floor so the front wheel touches it when the car is in the right spot.
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Old 10th January 2017, 11:43 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by ViPeR-7 View Post
You could put those on the back wall, and make them flash, change color, etc as they get closer - that way the information is right in their face, and you can have some fun playing with the individually addressable RGB lights
I'm playing with a string of WS2811 RGB Lights at the moment.

The Libraries make it so easy, I was actually hoping to learn more about serial data protocols, and timings and things... But when the libraries let you do so much, so quickly... I feel like reinventing the wheel is wasted time.
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