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Microcontrollers, Software, and You — Part 3

While getting the correct answer to a programming problem is crucial when designing a program, it should not be your only objective. You also want to write it with sufficient clarity that someone else can read your code and easily understand what the code does. Let’s take a look at an example program to show the square of a number.

Nextion Touch Screen Display — Part 4

Part 1 of this mini-series was also Nextion Part 3 (last Issue), where we started designing a programmer for our Small Engine Ignition Timing Controller. So, consider this installment really Nextion Part 4. Now, we build the Tune and DataLog Pages.

Implementing Circuits on Protoboards

You have found or designed a circuit, and it’s time to build a permanent version of it. You could design and order (or make) a printed circuit board, but that will cost money and/or time. It also makes changes and corrections difficult. The obvious alternative: Implement the circuit on one or several prototyping boards. So, how do you go about building on a protoboard? I’ll describe a sequence of steps here.

Copper Cobweb Circuit Construction

Are you bored with conventional two-dimensional circuit layouts, or looking for a way to add an artistic flair to your next project? I’ve taken point-to-point construction style a step further by making it self-supporting, which opens up a wide range of physical circuit topologies. (Point-to-point construction usually uses supporting structures like terminal strips that are functional but not pleasing to the eye.) I call this construction style the copper cobweb. Here’s how to do it.

Microcontrollers, Software, and You — Part 2

In the previous installment, we discussed the Five Program Steps and how we can use those five steps to organize our thoughts about writing programs. In this article, we’ll discuss the format that the Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) requires for your program to execute in the IDE. We’ll then examine how the IDE allows us to easily organize a program using the Five Program Steps.

A Real-Time Operating System for the Arduino

An RTOS (Real Time Operating System) is a software component that lets you rapidly switch between different running sections of your code. Think of it as having several loop() functions in an Arduino sketch where they all run at the same time.

You Don’t Have to Be an Engineer to Design Your Own Electronic Circuits

Most of you have at one time or another thought about designing your own electronics. The thing stopping many of you is the fact that you realize you’re not a “real” graduate engineer. Well, so what? You don’t have to have an EE degree to design. You can do your own design with a little direction. Here’s my approach to it, so you can give it a try.

Nextion Touch Screen Display — Part 3

Back in Part 1 of this series, we designed a simple Nextion display screen and got it to do stuff. However, the look was rather droll. In this installment, we’ll use the Nextion in a special application (building a small engine ignition timing controller) and make the screen sizzle.

For IoT Projects, Call JSON

Internet-of-Things (IoT) projects that use sensors, actuators, displays, or controllers can easily communicate through an MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) server, or broker. The MQTT standard lets devices publish and subscribe to specific topics. When they use the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format to exchange information, software can easily interpret or parse it. In this tutorial, I'll explain how to create and parse JSON messages.

Microcontrollers, Software, and You

Most of us have invested some time in learning those things we want or need to do. Learning how to program is no different, and it can be an extremely satisfying endeavor. Seeing a device respond to code you wrote is, well, intoxicating in a good way. My goal is to create an interest in exploring microcontrollers and encourage you into investing $5 and some of your time into that exploration. I honestly think you'll enjoy the journey.