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MakerPlot – The DIY Software Kit

If you use microcontrollers in your projects, imagine how helpful it would be to see the data in a graphical format, rather than just a series of numbers -- especially when debugging! MakerPlot does all of this and connects directly to your microcontroller’s serial port to display analog and digital data in graphical form; it’s DIY software for your microcontroller projects.

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An ESP32 / Teensy 3.5 Super Clock

After creating an Internet connected digital clock using the Adafruit RA8875 driving an seven inch LCD display, I decided to step it up a notch and add several additional features including: the ability to set an alarm; a countdown timer for uses like monitoring an exercise program; a weather display to provide brief conditions at 10 different cities; a real time stock market report that gives the changing prices for a selection of stocks; and lastly (just for fun), a Mandelbrot fractal generator to produce those wonderful images.

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Build the Graphing Thermometer

Recently, I began to explore ways to improve and upgrade my “thermal monitoring technology” and came up with this simple, easy to build trend-plotting thermometer. This project features a large color graphics display to show the current temperature in big bold digits. Better than that, it also graphs the temperature trends over the most recent 4, 8, 16, or 24 hour period. 

Whether it be temperature trends, time and date, current/voltage readings, battery status, or other variables, consider giving your next project some extra pizazz by including an LCD color graphics display into the design!

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Build a Variable Voltage Reference

A voltage reference is a zener diode-like semiconductor that produces an accurate fixed voltage; often, five or 10 volts. The downside to a voltage reference is that it only generates a single voltage and has limited current output. I decided to design a circuit that could generate any voltage between zero volts and 10 volts in 0.1 volt increments. Here’s how I constructed my variable voltage regulator.

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Harvesting Electricity From The Environment

With "smart" cell phones, Wi-Fi, RFID tag systems, and so many other new applications for radio waves these days, it is obvious that we are immersed in an electromagnetic field ("EMF") just about everywhere we go. Here's a circuit to experiment with collecting and measuring the energy present in our environment.

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An ESP8266 Live Wi-Fi Webcam

Having read about the ESP8266 NTP clock in previous issues of Nuts & Volts, an idea came to mind to construct an interface camera using the ESP8266. In this project, we used an old Android phone as a camera source and linked to an ESP8266 based webserver. The phone acts as a camera server and the ESP8266 web server acts as a client to the camera server. The webserver displays the live webcam on its web page.

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More Tricks with Old-School Digital Clocks

Here are a few of the many possible variations on the general theme of discrete-logic digital clocks. If you have a few LED displays, counters, drivers, and simple logic, you can probably build a clock. Consult the datasheets of the ICs you choose to use, breadboard everything first, and have fun.

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