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  #1  
Old 05-04-2009, 11:32 PM
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haku
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Default Episode 102 - Build an Email Alert System with Microcontrollers [Discussion]

Learn the basics of microcontrollers but building yourself an email alert system. It's fun and functional!

Watch / download here.


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Extremely pleased to have a show with microcontrollers, this is exactly the kind of show I want to see much more (MOAR!) of.

PICs, no mention of PICAXE's? a programmable PIC which doesn't need a $100 device to write code to, and has lots of extremely useful native functions such as PWM (pulse-width-modulation) outputs, servo controlling, i2c communcations, analogue input, program it (very easily) in a version of BASIC. The only drawback is the higher price per chip compared to standard PIC chips but that's fine if you're not going to be programming tens of chips.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:41 AM
reffle
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Good show, I'm just getting back into playing with microcontrollers and this show kick started me on my projects hope we'll see more like this in the future!

Just noticed at the end that the credits were wrong btw
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Old 05-05-2009, 02:31 AM
namochan
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I was really suprised about the 'you need either a 200$ controller, or these expensive arduino boards' message of the show.

Arduino uses AVR contollers that are just as good as those PICs, but their programmer is _really_ easy and cheap to build. Some of AVR controllers don't even need the crystals, just plug GND and VCC in and off you go.

Those heavy chip programmers really brought back memories from the 80's, thanks for that

Simple AVR Programmer
Very simple AT2313 board
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:30 AM
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Hardware wise to program most of the PICAXEs all you need is a serial cable, two resistors and 5v power.

The argument for not moving over to USB as standard for a lot of microprocessors is that it would needlessly increase the price of the chips, much cheaper to have a USB-serial cable.
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:31 AM
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Great to see a show on microcontrollers.

But it could have been better. I think the "pick a microcontroller" section was done at an uneven level. I think its pretty self explanitory that folks watching the show don't need 1000 units, so the bias should be towards the Arduino or Basic Stamp for quantities of one to five.

Would have been nice to have at least a sentence or two on how the client code on the PC/Mac detects that You Have Mail. Give a bit of insight into the issues and approaches. Even if you are going to use a magic library, its still worth a sentence on how it works.
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:57 AM
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Excellent episode! Bravo! I may actually buy a parallax propeller and try it out (when I get some money of course).
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Old 05-05-2009, 05:08 AM
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great episode! it definitely inspires me to get out and make some micro-controller projects, which is what i like to see from systm!

i think that the code aspect of the project was glossed over at the expense of the comparison of boards, and i felt like the comparison of the various types of boards, while good for general background, was overkill. this episode could have easily been split up, one episode covering the comparison, and another covering the actual project. i felt like the actual project was boiled down to 'find it online' and a 30 sec example of it running.
i guess an analogy is a cooking show. instead of watching them baking a cake and showing why the ingredients are added, i felt like the episode was just about saying theres 3 different types of cake, and then after beating that point to death, we watch them eat a cake.
i understand that the whole point isnt so much to create something useful as just to inspire people to start playing with micro controllers in general. though i would have liked to see some of the actual micro-controller voodoo though.

again, great episode! dont take my criticism too much to heart. i did learn a lot and i love to these garage-style hardware/software, weekend make something projects, even if i get to live vicariously thru watching. :P
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:53 AM
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namochan like you I was a little disappointed to hear David say to program Microchip PIC microcontrollers you needed an expensive "PIC Burner", this is simply not case. I program $1 PIC chips using a $14 programmer all the time and everything works great. Microchip has their own programmer they sell for $35 http://www.microchipdirect.com/produ...words=PG164120 At that price even a project you only plan to make twice represents a savings over the other options mentioned on the show. A glimpse at the code would have been nice and since the show was geared towards beginers showing how to get on the code onto the chip probably should have been included. Great show and neat idea I'd just like to see more accuracy in their technical statements.

Oh and if you have the ability you can make a PIC programmer using "junkbox" parts http://www.jdm.homepage.dk/newpic.htm

Last edited by jimlovell777 : 05-05-2009 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:53 AM
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Dave way over complicated this entire project, this project can be achieved with a $4 picaxe and a few resisters. As soon as he mutted the words "Servo Driver" I thought he's talking crap. Servos are controlled using pulse-width-modulation, This can be achieved using a simple 555 timer or any micro-controller (servo driver what a crock) . I've included a schematic I wiped up while listening to this episode out of pure disgust.

So its about time you were really educated by this programme,



As you can see from this schematic, nothing more that a picaxe and a few resistors, It's programmed through the 3 input lines, then you need to switch over to the other input. The pulses are sent out pin 5 (software pin 2) through a 330ohm resister, this tiny picaxe can control 3 servos at once.



Picaxe 20m, this PCB I built in around 1 hour, is currently running 8 servos, the cap and regulator is so I can run both the picaxe and servos of the same power rail.

I haven't tested this code but this should work with the programme Dave's programme, after changing the port speed down to 2400. The code is quite simple to follow if it doesn't go.


Code:
 symbol flag_down = 50  'Change if flag is in wrong spot when down
symbol flag_up = 160   'Change if flag is not vertical when up
symbol Email = b0


Main:
serin 4 , N2400, (email)   'Program will pause till it receives an input

If email = "M" then  
servo 2, flag_up
pause 600                 'this pause gives the servo time to get in place
Pause 5000                'Flag stays up for 5 seconds
servo 2, flag_down        'Then drops 
pause 600
end if
goto Main
Dave you underestimate the intelligence of your audience, If you really read the forums you'd see some of Haku's post regarding picaxe also, this entire ready made PCB approach you have is disappointing.
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  #10  
Old 05-05-2009, 03:42 PM
scott01581
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Default kiwifrog you rock!

Kiwifrog, thanks for the post! Although you definitely have the simplest and easiest way to complete this project I just thought I would mention Dave was also wrong about the Arduino as they also have PWM pins capable of doing completing this project without having to buy a $15 motosheild. I really wish they would just stick with what they know and not try to sell us their favorites by trashing other methods which they know little about. Also the book they pointed out "Making things talk" is really the intermediate level by Make. The beginners book is actually "Getting started with Arduino" also by Make and it takes you through all the basics that Dave said was lacking. Once again showing his lack of research. Unfortunately, this probably won't be posted as these Mac people have a real problem with criticism. Even when it is backed up with facts.
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