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Updating a General-purpose Programming System

Twenty years ago, I published an article in Nuts & Volts about designing a general-purpose programming system: the LP120. I’ve used the LP120 heavily for the last 20 years to support my eight-bit design hobby. It now has uploadable drivers and programming modules for many eight-bit micros, EPROMs, and GALs. However, things have changed since 2000. Back then, few microcontrollers had more than 4K bytes of program memory. Now, eight-bit PICs have up to 64K words of memory. Clearly an update to the LP120 was called for.

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Build a DotStar Light Painter

Long exposure photography captures the path of light over time, smearing moving elements to produce a single photo which creates a new realm of artistic photography. However, popular subjects of light exposure photographs are uncontrollable (stars, car headlights, etc.), so we made a light painter using microcontrollers and a DotStar LED strip to develop custom photography from images uploaded by a user.

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Build the Music Visualizer

As a final class project for our “Digital Systems Design Using Microcontrollers” course we all took last semester at Cornell University, we created a very unique device. We wanted to design something fun, aesthetically pleasing, and interactive, and since we all enjoy listening to music, we decided on a music visualizer. Our vision was to create a unit that listens to music being played, then in real time displays a dynamic and colorful visual representation of the music based on the volume and pitch of the notes. Additionally, our music visualizer provides an alternate avenue for experiencing music for the hearing impaired. Here’s how we did it, so you can make one too!

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Build a Configurable Clock/Timer

This project implements a clock/timer device with several handy features other than just a simple alarm. It utilizes a 16-bit PIC, the MPLab Code Configurator, and a serial LCD.

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Build the MIDI Replay Stomp Box

The MIDI Replay stomp box is a powerful configuration and recording device for keyboard players, based on the wonderful MIDI protocol: the standard musical language of over 30 years. 

This article explores the design challenges of this real-time system and covers topics such as task scheduling, buffers, parallel computing, dynamic memory management, response time analysis and menu system design.

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Build a Customizable Musical Doorbell

When my wife and I moved into our current home a few years back, it didn’t have a doorbell. We live on a quiet cul-de-sac, so it really wasn’t a problem as we had few callers. After a while, I installed a wireless doorbell that lasted about three years. Recently, after writing the series of articles on “A Digital Analog — When a PIC Can Replace a 555,” I decided to make one using a PIC.

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Replacing The 555 With A PIC — Part 5 — A Digital Analog

This final article in our series will examine those circuits from the “555 Timer IC Circuits” by Forrest Mims which were not covered in any of the preceding four articles.

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