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December 2013

Nuts and Volts Magazine

The HexBright Project - Shedding some light on Kickstarter

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Features

Introducing Wi-Fi With the PIC 32-bit Micro Experimenter

Get ready to use your Experimenter to communicate with remote Wi-Fi sensors.


Getting Started With Matrix LED Displays

For a bold and eye-catching output display in your next electronic masterpiece, consider exploiting a matrix LED device.


The Good, the Bad, and the HexBright

Follow Christian’s journey with Kickstarter for his Arduino-based flashlight that finished in the top 10 most funded projects.


How to Make Professional Looking Control Panels and Enclosures — Part 1

Don’t you hate it when you’ve worked really hard on a project, only to have the finished product look like a six year old put it together? This tutorial will show you a cheap and easy way to make great looking panels and enclosures when you aren’t able to utilize professional services.


A Mathematics Engine For Microcontrollers

Even though microcontrollers are magical, their math skills sometimes leave something to be desired. Let's find out how to connect a microcontroller to the TI-83 Plus graphing calculator for use as a coprocessor to help figure out some of the tougher equations.


Get Amp’ed Up Over the Theory Behind Building a Headset or Power Amplifier

Previous articles detailed the assembly of a power amplifier and headset amplifier. Here, we'll discuss the theory of operation behind both.


The microMedic Kit

This is a review of the microMedic Contest Kit, designed to support the 2013 microMedic National Contest sponsored by the US Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center and Parallax, Inc.


MakerPlot — The DIY Software Kit Part 2

Besides being a great debugging tool, the real power of this customizable software is in its ability to become a virtual instrument for your microcontroller’s data.


Rock-ola Jukebox Amp With CD Players and iPhones

This system plays my collection of vintage rock and roll and country music songs the way I remember how they used to sound.


How to Make Professional Looking Control Panels and Enclosures — Part 2

Details on the ways to print completed graphics and transfer them to the final panel material are covered.


The Lost Art of Strip Board Prototyping

Everything you need to know to use this timeless technique to wire up circuits for prototyping or functional applications.


MakerPlot — The DIY Software Kit

So, you’ve designed a microcontroller project. Have you thought about how that data is displayed, logged, debugged, or otherwise gets presented to you for display and analysis?


The DHT22 Humidity/Temperature Sensor Demystified

Keeping tabs on relative humidity and temperature is important in a variety of situations. Uncover the secrets of the DHT22 joint humidity/temperature sensor, to get it working for you.


Raspberry Pi, Anyone?

Get a piece of this popular DIY action by learning how to cook up your own RPi to start experimenting with.



Projects

Build A Bluetooth Controller For Your Digital Camera

Now, you can easily do self-portraits, group shots, and time-lapse photos by leveraging your favorite iOS device as the wireless user interface. You’ll be able to incorporate this circuit into other projects, as well.


Build a Headset Amplifier

This amp can be driven by a CD or MP3 player, and can drive a good high fidelity headset of about 32 ohms, and as high as 600 ohms and beyond. Plus, it’s a forgiving circuit for beginners.


Build the Wireless Super Detector

This project started out with a singular focus and grew into a multi-purpose circuit with all kinds of sensors for detection and alarm applications.


Quick and Easy USB Keyboard Input

This circuit is perfect for any application where you use a physical trigger to input data onto a computer. Read how it was implemented for video TIC-TAC-TOE and a bag toss game.


Construction of a Low Budget 180 MHz RF Sweep Generator

Your bench could be sporting a unit like this for around $75 in parts... plus your labor, of course.


The Retro-Shield: Where the Past Meets the Present

Combine a vintage vacuum tube with an Arduino for an updated version of an AM broadcaster.


Hack an LED Desk Lamp

Turn an ordinary lamp into a battery operated emergency light.


Build A Low Cost, High Performance 12 Watt Amplifier For Eight Ohm Speakers

Construct this inexpensive amplifier for “clean” listening enjoyment.


The Sirius Metronome for the Serious Musician

Build a metronome that sports a number of impressive features lacking on even more expensive commercial units.


Build Your Own PIC Trainer from Surplus

Assemble a versatile and high quality PIC trainer from stuff in your junkbox that will make going from concept to working project a breeze.


A Recording Radiation Counter

Are you exposed? Build this unit to detect and display levels of radiation, plus you can record months of data to keep track of just how toxic areas may be or become.


Building an Electric Guitar

This project will be music to your ears if you’ve ever wanted to construct your own stringed axe. Building this guitar — while not your typical Nuts & Volts project — was a lot of fun.


Build An Emergency Radiation Monitor Alarm

This easy-to-build device makes a perfect addition to an emergency preparedness kit.


Detecting Sounds With the Sonic Sensor

Put your appliances under sonic control with this super souped-up version of a “clapper.”


Build the CHROMATICON

Want to be sure you’re playing musical chords correctly? This unit will tell you if you are and display a light show in the process.


Raspberry Pi Based Remote Temperature Monitoring System

Learn how to integrate 1-Wire temperature monitoring hardware with the Raspberry Pi.


Build Your Own Induction Charger

Borrowing from the concept of wireless chargers now on the market, you can build your own DIY version to power your projects and learn about inductive charging in the process!


Build the LED Matrix Game Player

With a little imagination and a whole lot of time on your hands, you can create simple — yet amazing — action games you can play anywhere!


The Wide Range Pulse Generator

Generate pulses and/or logic level signals to check out the operation of your circuit before completing a project. This simple and straightforward unit will prove to be a handy addition to your workbench.


Hacking the Nine-LED Flashlight

The simple circuit in these now common flashlights actually eats through batteries pretty fast. This hack adapts the flashlight to use an external power source, and adds a pulsed driver circuit for better efficiency.


Build a Wireless Silent Alarm Warning System

This is an inexpensive transmitter /receiver system you can build in one night that will let you know if something is amiss.


Build an Inverting DC-DC Converter

Ever need negative voltage when all you can get is positive? This voltage mirror device will give you -V out when you put +V in, and works over a range of voltages without adjustment.


An Electronic Photocell for Lighting Control

This simple electronic version of a photocell makes it convenient to do lighting control without the use of the sun.


Make A Smart Necklace

Your Mardi Gras “beads” will be the talk of the town with this customizable jewelry that makes great gifts too!


Build This Simple Alarm System With the TI Launchpad

Constructing an alarm system complete with a keypad interface is cheap and simple with Texas Instruments’ MPSP430 microprocessor and their easy-to-use Flash programmer and debugging tool.


Build a Personal Guitar Microphone Pre-Amp

Fine-tune the sound for your guitar just the way you want it with this handy device that will also work with Karaoke machines, boom boxes, and surround sound systems.


King Tut’s Pyramid Gravimeter

Use this novel assembly to determine the gravity of most any situation.


My Christmas Can Light Dimmer

Since I wasn’t going to be able to replace my incandescent icicle lights with new LED versions, I needed a way to extend their life.


Turn your Raspberry Pi into a remote-controllable Internet radio/music file player

Listen to Internet radio stations or play artists, albums, or individual songs from a Flash drive plugged into your Raspberry Pi.


MakerPlot — The DIY Software Kit Part 3

This time, learn how to connect your microcontroller to the software to plot a single channel of analog data. Plus, see how to scale raw ADC data into corresponding voltage levels so you don’t have to do math inside your micro.



Columns

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (5.2013)
Rainbow on a chip, farewell to botulism, enhanced security from Dell, GIMP is good, get Cubified, flash for mobile phones, BIG screen TVs, and IEEE member predictions.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (7.2013)
Raising our taxels, free image enhancement, and finding hidden cell phones are just some of the interesting tidbits discussed this time around.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (9.2013)
Harpooning your brain, free secure browsing, virtual money, and high-end ear buds are some of the titillating topics covered.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (10.2013)
Brain sparks, USB speeding up, a free 3D printer (maybe), and digitizing the throne are just a few of the hot topics discussed this time around.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (11.2013)
The first human B2B interface, the world’s thinnest keyboard, digital detox, and some tough little fuses are some of the tittilating tidbits you’ll read about.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (1.2013)
Some of this month’s tidbits include a supercomputer that hits 20 petaflops/s, the next-gen of the iMac family, and how to record your entire life effortlessly.

TechKnowledgey
Events, Advances, and News (2.2013)
Read about memory cubes that are poised for production, the world’s thinnest UHD monitor, and being surveilled by store mannequins, just to name a few of the items presented.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (3.2013)
Slicing with sound, wireless storage for eight mobile devices, a rival for GPS, and a way to never lose anything again are just some of the interesting tidbits you can catch up on this month.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (4.2013)
Tapping into tap water, a super “duper,” and core memory’s 60th anniversary are just a few of the things you’ll read about this time.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (6.2013)
Printing a pancreas, a REALLY big tablet, a barometer for smartphones, and an app contest with $50,000 in prize money are some of the topics talked about this time.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News (8.2013)
Yes, Virginia, there is a monopole; is it an AIO or tablet; dippers for tippers; and a bill that’s been introduced to protect electronic privacy are just some of the topics covered.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
A QuickStart to Propeller Fun
This low cost platform should be a part of every hobbyist’s arsenal.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
Sounding Off With WAV Files
Learn how to play audio with the Propeller, while it’s doing other functions.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
The 2013 Great Plains Super Launch
This year’s conference included topics such as near space STEM, designing and flying photometers, long-duration balloon flights and telemetry modes, and vacuum cannons.

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Getting Started With Python Programming
We're going to begin our Raspberry Pi programming experiments by implementing a simple "Hello World!" program using Python, and then move on to the basics of controlling the RPi's GPIO pins with a Python program.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
Digging Into Dynamixels
Learn the inner workings of these drivers, so you can use them to make your own projects move.

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
The Ins and Outs of Python Programming
Start off with a few Python experiments with digital inputs on the Raspberry Pi, then implement a Cylon Eye project to continue our quest of interfacing the PICAXE with a Pi.

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 54: The Arduino Proto Shield Alarm Clock — Part 1
Transferring the alarm clock components from the mini breadboard to the prototyping area on the proto shield, then writing some useful software. Part 54

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Herding Data Over Bridges.
This month’s discussion centers on moving data back and forth between a small embedded network and the Internet.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
Pick a Card or ... Abort!!!
Learn how to make the best use of the abort coding feature to create programs with robust error handling.

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Experimenting With Parallel Task Processing
All M2-class processors include this new software feature that allows them to simulate a multi-core processor by rapidly switching between two or more separate tasks.

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Getting Started With Surface-Mount Soldering
Getting Started With Surface-Mount Soldering. In order to finish our multiplexed LED project, we’ll need to construct a strip board version of the circuit.

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Have A Piece Of PICAXE Pi
Begin exploring the possibilites of interfacing PICAXE processors to the Raspberry Pi, starting with a simple stripboard circuit that will allow easy access to several of the Pi’s GPIO pins.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here
ESD instrument circuits, more about making sparks, VFO design, and MailBag round out this month’s topics.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here
Solar power for microcontrollers, touch switches, tuned circuit values, remote tester problems, and a tutorial on transistor modeling are covered this month.

Q&A
by Ron Hackett
Reader Questions Answered Here
A radio modification, a beginner’s question, a Jacob’s ladder circuit, electret microphones, and a stable, accurate oscillator are covered.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here (10.2013)
A Tesla coil project, an infrared pulse amplifier, a mini LTspice tutorial, a backup camera mod, some newbie questions, and MailBag round out this month’s coverage.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here (11.2013)
A Jacob’s ladder redux, a video monitor alarm, and robot communication issues are discussed this time.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here 12.2013
Bandpass filters, 12 volt control, and NiCad battery chargers are asked about and answered this time.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here
Topics include a pet trainer, bandpass filters, a push on/push off circuit, a DC servo, a voltage reducer, plus Mailbag.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here
Topics include a switch contact rating, a paddle key project, a negative voltage converter, making circuit boards, and a NiMH battery charger.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here
Questions on a synthesis circuit, IC chips, grounding problems, resistor values (for light/dark), power supplies, and Kodak photoresist and developer are answered.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here
An ampere-hour meter, a cat alarm, and a two-way intercom are discussed.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here
Questions about a voltage converter, a trigger LED from a distributor, and a bench top power supply are answered, plus a digital pressure gauge is revisited this time around.

Q&A
by Russell Kincaid
Reader Questions Answered Here
IR sensors, batteries, electric fence indicators, datasheet errors, dial lamp modifications, garage door lights, intercom systems, DC-to-DC regulators, and high voltage regulators are discussed.

PICAXE Primer
by Ron Hackett
Yet Another LED-2X7 Project!
Working with the 20M2 and the Lumex LDD-N514RI-RA LED Display.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
Full Color With One Wire
LED manufacturers are creating some pretty cool products these days, and with just a little bit of programming, you can have a lot of fun with them.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
LMX-ISM-242 State of Mind
While you were gone, I managed to get my hands on the official Lemos hardware.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Programming the Brains Behind CNC Milling Tools and Motors
Whether you’re planning a custom CNC application or an embedded monitor and control project, these gizmos will help things add up in your automation.

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 64: Arduino Handheld Prototyper — Part 5
Data Logging — Take a look at the SRAM and EEPROM on the Arduino, then graduate to SD cards to learn cheap and easy ways to store LOTS of data.Part 64-5

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 57: The Arduino Proto Shield Alarm Clock — Part 4
Have we been learning how to use Fritzing or learning to use the proto shield, or learning to design an alarm clock? The answer is yes — we were doing all of that! Part 57

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Controlling Homebrewed Devices With a PS DualShock 3
What can you do with a wireless Play Station controller?

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Taming the DualShock 3 Beast
Taming the DualShock 3 Beast. Get ready to rumble with this Playstation game controller with USB driver code that gives access to all its pushbutton, joystick, and position sensor data.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Accessing Bluetooth For Remote Control Action
This month, we will eliminate the wires and use a $2 Bluetooth dongle to connect Microchip's most powerful microcontroller to our PlayStation DualShock 3. By the time you read the last sentence, you will be able to remote-control enable anything you can attach to the I/O pins of a PIC32MX.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Score Big With The Lemos LMZ ZigBee Module
ZigBee networks can cost upwards of $7,000 to roll your own custom embedded ZigBee radio application. See how to get an embedded ZigBee application on the air with just a microcontroller, an inexpensive radio, and some simple C code for way less.

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Home Automation Telegesis Style
Absolutely zero ZigBee technical knowledge (or a third mortgage) is needed to put the Telegesis home automation radios to work.

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 55: The Arduino Proto Shield Alarm Clock — Part 2
Let's take a look at the alarm clock software for both Arduinos and PCs, and learn how dates and times in general are handled on microcontrollers. Part 55

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 65: Arduino Handheld Prototyper — Part 6
It’s a wrap with data logging. Learn how to upload sensor data directly to a PC — first, via the serial port and then using an SD card.

The Spin Zone
by Jon McPhalen
New Life for an Old LCD
The displays we’re looking for specifically use the Philips PCD8544 matrix LCD driver/controller.

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 56: The Arduino Proto Shield Alarm Clock — Part 3
This time, we’ll dig deeper into the software for our Arduino based design to see what really makes it tick. Part 56

The Design Cycle
by Fred Eady
Walking the USB Bridge into Androidville
FTDI gave us the power to easily embed USB functionality into our projects with the FT232RL. The FT311D USB Android host IC enables us to walk across the USB bridge that FTDI built into Androidville.

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 63: Arduino Handheld Prototyper — Part 4
Finishing the fresh air controller design — mainly seeing how to communicate with the user via the I2C mini terminal LCD and pushbutton keys. Part 63-4

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
LED Photometers Revisited
Build a better light intensity measuring device.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Making a Modern Radio
Take a look at how digital techniques have changed and improved analog radios.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
LED Photometers Revisited — Part 2
Test and calibrate this upgraded version to collect photometer data in near space.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
A New Airframe Design for Near Spacecraft — Part 1
After a recent capsule landing that did not go smoothly, it was the opportune time to come up with a better and stronger design.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Connected Cars Communicate
Telematics is the wireless technology that connects your car to the outside world ... and it is hot! Here’s a summary of this emerging technology.

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 58: Fritzingduino — Part 1
Our journey continues as we incorporate both the Arduino core circuits and shield circuits into a single design, using a single PCB, to roll our own Arduino. Part 58

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 59: Fritzingduino — Part 2
Let's further amass knowledge about how to become more independent in our development by adding a bootloader to our "Roll Your Own" Arduino using tools provided by the Arduino IDE. Part 59

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
LTE — The Wireless Cell Phone Radio Technology
The motivation to develop LTE comes from the explosion of data services now available on cell phones that are stressing current infrastructures.

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Approaching the Final Frontier
A Simple Airframe for a Simple Flight Computer or Near Space Tracker. Learn how to turn a soft-sided insulated lunch box into a cost-effective airframe for your next mission.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
60 GHz Wireless Transports HDTV
Transmitting uncompressed digital high definition television signals is no easy task. Learn about the technologies that are currently being used to accomplish these transmissions.

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 60: Arduino Handheld Prototyper — Part 1
Create portable Arduino prototypes with this cool device that gives you the power to control the world (or smaller stuff) in your own two hands. Part 60-1

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 61: Arduino Handheld Prototyper — Part 2
Take a close look at the software for and finishing up our Arduino handheld prototyper. Part 61-2

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
Wireless Watches Will Win the Wearable Wars
Even though cell phones have encroached on the time-keeping arena, you may want to rethink the wristwatch concept.

Smiley’s Workshop
by Joe Pardue
Smiley’s Workshop 62: Arduino Handheld Prototyper — Part 3
Use the Arduino handheld prototyper to design a fresh air controller for your castle, or wherever you call home. Part 62-3

Near Space
by L. Paul Verhage
Using the Nearspace Simple Flight Computer
Last time, we covered building the NearSpace Simple-18 flight computer. Now, it's time to test and learn how to use it prior to its first near space launch.

Open Communication
by Louis E. Frenzel
10 Things You Need to Know About Wi-Fi
Discover facts about this familiar wireless technology that you may not already know.

TechKnowledgey
by Jeff Eckert
Events, Advances, and News 12.2013
Light-emitting pasta, Intel + Arduino = Galileo, a DC meter suitable for battery monitoring, and an IEEE conference in Vegas are just some of the highlights from this month’s selection.