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Project Building

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Build the Poor Man’s Seismograph

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New Uses For The Garage Door Open Alarm

In the November 2010 issue of Nuts and Volts, we built a wireless device to alert us when the garage door was left open. Since then, I’ve had several readers suggest other uses for the ”Wireless Garage Door Transmitter”.  The transmitter unit has the capability of inputting three signals on the terminals provided.  The unit works such that any type of switch that connects to ground and to a terminal that is closed will cause a green light to display.  When opened it will display a red light and if the alarm button is armed it will cause the alarm to sound. Here are three hacks to allow you to use the transmitter for other purposes.

Posted in: Magazine - Articles

Is Your Garage Door Open?

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Building your own Bitmaps and Animation for the 128x64 Graphics Kit

How would you like to generate your own bitmaps to display on the 128x64 graphics kit that was introduced in the April 2010 issue of Nuts & Volts? Or even go the next step and produce animation with the same basic techniques? We’ll show you how easy it is to add this capability to your 16-bit Micro Experimenter using a cool tool from

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Adding More Digital I/O to your 16-Bit Microcontroller Experiments - Part 2 The Software


In part 1 of this feature, we discussed how to use the MCP23S08 device to add digital I/O to the Experimenter. Now, we’ll discuss the associated software to make this work. The demo software is written in PIC24F C Compiler and is available here as a software downloadable project. The demo uses the MCP23S08 device to emulate an eight bit output port. All of the outputs are configured to drive their own individual LEDs through an external current limiting 100 ohm resistor. The microcontroller turns each LED on and off, one at a time, in sequence. In addition, the LCD on the Experimenter announces the demo.

Let’s jump right in with an overview of the software.

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Adding More Digital I/O to your 16-Bit Experimenter Kit - Part 1 The Hardware


If you’ve been following the 16-Bit Micro Experimenter series in Nuts & Volts, you are already familiar with its solderless breadboard environment and the fully programmable 10 line I/O expansion bus that comes with the kit. The 10 lines can be assigned to be digital, analog or even connected to any of the PIC24F Microcontroller’s internal extensive peripheral set (i.e. dual UART, five CCP modules, ADC, Real time Clock Calendar, dual SPI, and dual I2C).

But, if you find this 10 line I/O capability constraining, there’s a really cool enhancement to add even more I/O to your kit…

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8 Bit PIC® SchmartModule Work Shop

Simple Step Motor Control


This project uses a PIC16F886 to drive a 5-wire step motor.

Posted in: Nuts and Volts

Build A Sim Card Reader

This project details how to build a Smart/SIM card reader/writer for experimentation and investigation of SIM & Smart cards.Once the reader design is built, the open source software can be used to read from and write to the card. Together they can be used to backup/restore stored SIM card data, recover deleted SMS’s and phone contacts, examine the last phone numbers dialed, etc.

Posted in: Featured Article

Build an Electronic Metronome

By Paul Florian

If you are a beginning musician, it is often desirable to have a metronome to help keep cadence while playing. This circuit describes a variable rate metronome constructed with easy to find components.

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  • Toss the Toggle

    projects be embarrassed by their old-school toggles and slide switches! Upgrade them to the power of push buttons! Read More...

  • Three-Axis Hockey Puck Accelerometer Data Logger

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    It’s very time-consuming to set up a power supply and voltmeter, and then select a series resistor to limit current just to measure the voltage of diodes. The unit described here is a simple two-transistor circuit that needs nothing more than a multimeter to build, test, and use it. Read More...

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    Expand what you can sense with an Arduino utilizing light and temperature values as data. Read More...

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    The Rapid USB prototyping stick is powered by an enhanced PIC16 microcontroller that can do the work normally relegated to PIC32 silicon. The PIC16F1459 under the USB stick's hood can spout USB lingo at one end and spit RS-232 bits out of the other. No external clock crystal is required to utilize the stick's ADC, comparators, DAC, SPI module, and timers. This installment will show you how to take advantage of the tremendous amount of computation power stuffed into a very small package. Read More...

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    Learn about two new printed circuit boards you can use in either PICAXE-Pi projects or pure PICAXE applications. Read More...

  • Tools of the Trade

    Whether you’re a professional or hobbyist (or both!), having the right equipment to accomplish what you’re doing makes all the difference in the world. Here’s a look at some of the “must-have” tools for a workbench. Read More...