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I am working on several different Arduino based projects and having a blast learning the platform. It's a lot of fun for an old electronics geek like me.

I wanted to share some of my projects and see what others may be working on. So feel free to share your Arduino projects if you mess around with them as well. I am willing to post the code or anything else about my projects if anyone may want it. 🙂

Two of the  projects I am working on at the moment are for my  wife. She's really into all things "paranormal". So I thought I would build her some of her own custom "ghost hunting tools", like the ones you see on TV. I decided to start with what seems to be two of the most common, an EMF meter and "Spirit Box".

 

The EMF Meter is exactly what it says it is, but configurable since it uses a micro-controller, the Arduino Nano in this case. I wanted to be able to program it's behavior and have adjustable sensitivity. That project is almost complete, I have it on a prototyping PCB already, testing antenna types, and I need to find or build a housing for it.

It uses 330ohm resistors on the LED array, a potentiometer to adjust sensitivity, and currently two antenna connections. One is isolated using a diode, one is not. Still testing antennas.

Overall a simple project and it works amazingly well.

IMG_20210427_125246734.jpg.dff2773a656993dc94410d70ab2a6c74.jpgIMG_20210427_125353782.jpg.542133578beef1068b4524683c94cc90.jpgIMG_20210427_125415942.jpg.2c6b6bdd8dec65e295f07d9f522ca153.jpg

 

The Spirit Box is basically a radio frequency sweeper, going from 76.0MHz to 108.0MHz in .1MHz increments. I wanted to be able to omit local radio stations from the sweep, adjust the sweeping speed, and display the station numbers. I have it prototyped out on a breadboard, got a little help with the coding from the official Arduino forums, and it works great.

Now, I am thinking about adding the ability to switch between two modes, full sweep and omitted sweep. So full range 76 to 108 with no local active stations being skipped, and the original omitted sweep with local active stations being skipped.

It's using an Arduino Nano as well, a 4 digit 7 segment i2c display for the stations, potentiometer to adjust sweep speed, and a TEA5767 Radio Module.

This is a fun one, learning a lot more coding on this project.

IMG_20210427_121207297.jpg.8213f5c4f0f04689aec7c0e747ca97ec.jpg

 

I have more in the pipeline I will share later, once I have more done with them, but if you mess around with Arduino or other micro-controllers, feel free to share it!

Edited by Strider
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Nice projects, Strider!

I mess with Micromite micro-controllers. For several reasons I like it more than Arduino, but mostly it is due to my personal preference.

One of the actually useful projects I made is SMS PC Resetter. During pandemic lockdown I work remotely at home, connecting via RDP to my office PC. Unfortunately PC freezes sometimes, and sometimes it is hard to find anybody there to press reset button. Power shutdowns also an issue, so somebody needs to press a power button. This little device uses SIM800L module, and lets me press reset or power button on my office PC remotely via SMS message. Proved to be extremely useful!

pc_resetter.thumb.png.75a7a56742709b911f9f2268e28dec7e.png

inside_pc.thumb.png.649717449d89ad729658e2d9a0bfbf9b.png

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20 minutes ago, Cyber said:

Nice projects, Strider!

I mess with Micromite micro-controllers. For several reasons I like it more than Arduino, but mostly it is due to my personal preference.

One of the actually useful projects I made is SMS PC Resetter. During pandemic lockdown I work remotely at home, connecting via RDP to my office PC. Unfortunately PC freezes sometimes, and sometimes it is hard to find anybody there to press reset button. Power shutdowns also an issue, so somebody needs to press a power button. This little device uses SIM800L module, and lets me press reset or power button on my office PC remotely via SMS message. Proved to be extremely useful!

pc_resetter.thumb.png.75a7a56742709b911f9f2268e28dec7e.png

inside_pc.thumb.png.649717449d89ad729658e2d9a0bfbf9b.png

I could have used this so many times over the past year! Except I work for a defense contractor and I suspect they would not view something like this favorably.

It took six months, but I finally got them to swap out my desktop computer I've been RDPing into for a laptop. Now I only have to worry about whether the VPN concentrator is up rather than it *and* the desktop I'm targeting.

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1 hour ago, Cyber said:

Nice projects, Strider!

I mess with Micromite micro-controllers. For several reasons I like it more than Arduino, but mostly it is due to my personal preference.

One of the actually useful projects I made is SMS PC Resetter. During pandemic lockdown I work remotely at home, connecting via RDP to my office PC. Unfortunately PC freezes sometimes, and sometimes it is hard to find anybody there to press reset button. Power shutdowns also an issue, so somebody needs to press a power button. This little device uses SIM800L module, and lets me press reset or power button on my office PC remotely via SMS message. Proved to be extremely useful!

Nice! I like that, a functional useful project. Very handy!

I miss the days when I would try and build what I needed instead of just buying it when it came to my basic electronics needs. Trying to get back to that to some degree. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Well...

I have been teaching myself how to design custom PCB's, and having a blast! I have etched and drilled my own simple boards in the past, but never designed anything in software and sent off to be professionally manufactured. So, this has been a learning experience.

Starting with my "EMF Detector" project for my wife, nice and simple so I can get used to the design software. Got it all done, ready to order, I think. haha

Used my prototype as a reference, all the same dimensions as the boards I use, 5x7 cm in this case. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072Z7Y19F/

Now I just hope I got it all right. 😛

emfpcb1.jpg.2cbfcee89962a94a3f84e24b3e4341b2.jpgemfpcb2.jpg.c19c1db5cddc266fff8630d03d421b6b.jpgemfpcb3.jpg.7dc46ed8218a92e3d26fd21430bca889.jpg

Edited by Strider
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My project arcade had 3 microcontrollers executing various functions all communicating via the I2C bus with the Raspberry Pi.

The the first microcontroller is a Arduino Pro-Mini used to drive the arcade buttons, which interface with MAME. I have a script that decodes the MAME hardware setup file for each game and lights up the buttons according to how they have been programmed in the in-game control menu. The script also takes a default setup, so for all the other emulators I just hard code the button setup in.

The second project houses the Mega 2560, which drives the scrolling LED display, and interfaces with SD drive for the display data for each programmed game. The short coming for this project is that I never off loaded the character set onto the SD card storage, so the character set is made up of only uppercase letters and stored in program memory, which eats all of the space. This interfaces with RetroPie, a script passes the data to a driver, which passes the game code via I2C to the 2560. I programmed in a clock w/ alarm, and this interfaces with the final project.

The final project is another Pro-Mini, which drives an MP3 Audio Module and is loaded with various arcade sound clips. This plays, and the Pac-Man ghost eyes blink at random intervals. There is an IRQ setup when the programmed alarm goes off from the Mega 2560, or it can be controlled via momentary button push on the panel.

The connection between the 2560 and the Pro-Mini was an after though hack, and overall the total project really needs to be re-written to be more cohesive, but hey its my arcade and not a commercial venture so it will probably never get done. I’ve move on..

I just finished at the end of the year 2020 a pwm joystick for the TRS-80 using an ATtiny85.  The prototype seen, has two chips the final joystick has a single micro.  That was a fun project! To get to the final design I had to build a high voltage serial programmer to program the fuses so I could use all the pins.  That has a Nano driving it.

I am currently redesigning the serial programmer board to include a serial debugger on the top section of the ZIFF socket so as I make changes, then I can move to the top part of the socket and test.  I am hoping to make this into a plug in card for the commanderx16 someday.😉

arcade1.png

arcade2.png

arcade3.png

arcadeback.png

LCDpanel_n_arcade_sound.png

attiny85pwmtrs_80joy.png

programmer.png

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Strider said:

Well...

I have been teaching myself how to design custom PCB's, and having a blast! I have etched and drilled my own simple boards in the past, but never designed anything in software and sent off to be professionally manufactured. So, this has been a learning experience.

Starting with my "EMF Detector" project for my wife, nice and simple so I can get used to the design software. Got it all done, ready to order, I think. haha

Used my prototype as a reference, all the same dimensions as the boards I use, 5x7 cm in this case. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072Z7Y19F/

Now I just hope I got it all right. 😛

 

@Strider

I would like to know how this works out for you.  I have never done this either, and I would be curious to know if it is worth it.  I am the same as you, always made my own boards.  I thought about that new 3d board printer, but am very weary to sink high dollars into something for personal projects. 

Edited by evlthecat
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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, evlthecat said:

My project arcade had 3 microcontrollers executing various functions all communicating via the I2C bus with the Raspberry Pi.

The the first microcontroller is a Arduino Pro-Mini used to drive the arcade buttons, which interface with MAME. I have a script that decodes the MAME hardware setup file for each game and lights up the buttons according to how they have been programmed in the in-game control menu. The script also takes a default setup, so for all the other emulators I just hard code the button setup in.

The second project houses the Mega 2560, which drives the scrolling LED display, and interfaces with SD drive for the display data for each programmed game. The short coming for this project is that I never off loaded the character set onto the SD card storage, so the character set is made up of only uppercase letters and stored in program memory, which eats all of the space. This interfaces with RetroPie, a script passes the data to a driver, which passes the game code via I2C to the 2560. I programmed in a clock w/ alarm, and this interfaces with the final project.

The final project is another Pro-Mini, which drives an MP3 Audio Module and is loaded with various arcade sound clips. This plays, and the Pac-Man ghost eyes blink at random intervals. There is an IRQ setup when the programmed alarm goes off from the Mega 2560, or it can be controlled via momentary button push on the panel.

The connection between the 2560 and the Pro-Mini was an after though hack, and overall the total project really needs to be re-written to be more cohesive, but hey its my arcade and not a commercial venture so it will probably never get done. I’ve move on..

I just finished at the end of the year 2020 a pwm joystick for the TRS-80 using an ATtiny85.  The prototype seen, has two chips the final joystick has a single micro.  That was a fun project! To get to the final design I had to build a high voltage serial programmer to program the fuses so I could use all the pins.  That has a Nano driving it.

I am currently redesigning the serial programmer board to include a serial debugger on the top section of the ZIFF socket so as I make changes, then I can move to the top part of the socket and test.  I am hoping to make this into a plug in card for the commanderx16 someday.😉

I like it! Very nice projects! Love the arcade setup! Looks nice and fun to play. Those are the kinds  of projects I wish I had the time and space for.

I spent some time "cleaning up" some of my designs, just because other people have asked me to make them some as well. When it's just for me, I tend to leave it in a "well, it's working, no need to mess with it" state. So I totally understand. haha

I have seriously been considering messing around with the ATtiny85. Seen some really cool projects with them, they are so cheap and easy to use, and pretty darn versatile.

I have been spending so much time on my Arduino and Pi projects lately, I haven't had time for much else, but it's so much fun, and relaxing. At least, it is for me. 😄

* Edit *

12 minutes ago, evlthecat said:

I would like to know how this works out for you.  I have never done this either, and I would be curious to know if it is worth it.  I am the same as you, always made my own boards.  I thought about that new 3d board printer, but am very weary to sink high dollars into something for personal projects.

I will post my final results here. 🙂

The software is not hard to use, I have tried a few different ones, and I seem to be leaning toward EasyEDA right now, that's where I designed the EMF Detector PCB. I just like how it takes a "common sense" approach to it's toolkit, at least for the most part. I am also messing around with ZentiPCB, XOD IDE, and TinyCAD. Not very good with those yet.

Once you're done and have your PCB exported as a Gerber file, basically a zip that has all the design specs in it, you can upload that to your manufacturer of choice for fabrication.

Edited by Strider
Added info.
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1 hour ago, Strider said:

I have seriously been considering messing around with the ATtiny85. Seen some really cool projects with them, they are so cheap and easy to use, and pretty darn versatile.

I have been spending so much time on my Arduino and Pi projects lately, I haven't had time for much else, but it's so much fun, and relaxing. At least, it is for me. 😄

I love the Attiny85.  Very easy to work with, has most of the bells and whistles its bigger brothers have,  and very hard to blow up! 🙂   It interfaces well with the I2C MCP23017 I/O Port extender if you need more room.  I don't use Arduino software, but I would guess there is a library for it.  If not I have written one in C if you are interested.  I haven't had the time but elm-chan has put out a library to interface it with an SD card.  The library is called Petit FAT File System Module.  I used its bigger brother in the 2560 project.

I love the challenge too, but I put things on hold so I could re-learn 65c02 assembly.  I am going to take a couple of months to see where I can get with it, and then depending on where the commander X16 is, reevaluate.

To many projects so little time!

Quote

I will post my final results here. 🙂

The software is not hard to use, I have tried a few different ones, and I seem to be leaning toward EasyEDA right now, that's where I designed the EMF Detector PCB. I just like how it takes a "common sense" approach to it's toolkit, at least for the most part. I am also messing around with ZentiPCB, XOD IDE, and TinyCAD. Not very good with those yet.

Once you're done and have your PCB exported as a Gerber file, basically a zip that has all the design specs in it, you can upload that to your manufacturer of choice for fabrication.

Wonderful, I will be looking forward to it.  Might take a look at EasyEDA.

Do you need to make a minimum purchase; as I remember that is what turned me off originally?  You had to make a minimum order, and the price was steep compared to just making a perfboard prototype.  However, this was several years ago.

Thanks and have a great weekend!

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Posted (edited)

The common minimum quantity seems to be 5 PCB's, at least from the Chinese manufacturers I'm looking at.

I looked into getting boards made closer to me here in the US, but it's vastly more expensive, so I dropped that idea pretty quick.

From the looks of it, I will be sticking with either PCBWay (Thanks @Perifractic !), and JLCPCB. You can easily get low quantities of boards, considerably cheaper than here in the US, even considering shipping can be in the $10 to $20+ range, depending on how fast you need it. In both cases, I can get my first set of boards for $5 or less. Can't beat it!

😁

Edited by Strider
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Also I saw a tip on a Youtube of someone ordering a very small board, basically a Pi0 hat, where the minimum order was 5, but it turned out that 10 boards were available at the same price. So if making boards for things like Arduino hats, double check on that.

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2 hours ago, BruceMcF said:

Also I saw a tip on a Youtube of someone ordering a very small board, basically a Pi0 hat, where the minimum order was 5, but it turned out that 10 boards were available at the same price. So if making boards for things like Arduino hats, double check on that.

I seen that as well. It's something I will be checking out with all my orders. Great advice!

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Well, just got done putting together the "Spirit Box" (radio freq sweeper) prototype. Got the code all sorted out, working really good. Just have to add a powered speaker, giving it both headphone and speaker output, and build an enclosure for it.

Oh, and design a PCB to clean it all up. :P

spiritbox1.jpg.36271fd995d25eaa14b80ec3f878ea02.jpgspiritbox2.jpg.c326708a7b7a930a6abf895df65f2d48.jpg

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11 hours ago, Strider said:

Well, just got done putting together the "Spirit Box" (radio freq sweeper) prototype. Got the code all sorted out, working really good. Just have to add a powered speaker, giving it both headphone and speaker output, and build an enclosure for it.

Oh, and design a PCB to clean it all up. 😛

spiritbox1.jpg.36271fd995d25eaa14b80ec3f878ea02.jpgspiritbox2.jpg.c326708a7b7a930a6abf895df65f2d48.jpg

Looking great!  Can't wait to see the new PCB, enclosure and it in action!  Keep us updated.

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  • 3 months later...

Life has prevented me from completing any of the projects I had started, but hopefully I will be able to get back to them shortly as I may be switching positions at work. Yay. Hopefully. 🤩

In the meantime, I have picked up a few other small things to play with. Including a pretty cool little touch screen for Arduino. For $15, it's surprisingly good. I am testing it out on the Uno, but it will eventually make it's way to a Mega so I have access to more of the IO, it pretty much covers everything on the Uno.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EUVJYME/

Anyway, I was running through some test scripts to make sure it's working as intended, one is a BMP loader. So I had a bit of fun...

Looks better without all the GIF compression, and this GIF is running at 2x speed, it actually takes it about a minute to cycle through all 4 images with a short delay between them.

arduinoscreen2.gif.2d281cbd908b65424620e158d00322da.gif

 

In the end, I am not 100% sure what I am going to use it for, but I started building a custom FM Radio, I may use this as a fancy interface/display for it. We'll see. 😁

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