The goal for this project was to build it with mostly parts that I had in my lab instead of designing or buying something special so for this reason some hacking had to be done.

April 22nd, 2010

ATmega328 fakes

atmega328 fake on the right

Sparkfun has a really interesting article about some ATmega328 from China which proved to be slugs 🙂 . This all started back in December of 2009 with the “global crisis” of ATmega328 in both DIP and surface mount packages. To avoid getting out of stock Sparkfun ordered these from a supplier in China which until then they only used for passives. When they got the chips and started testing they noticed the chips were not working at all hence the slug name. You can read about the visual differences between chips and how they used an acid bath to look under the hood. This is a very good lesson about getting stuff like microcontrollers from Chinese suppliers, you just can’t trust them. I was very close at the beginning of this year to making the same mistake. I was attracted by the lower price per large quantity, but I realized that its just not worth it to risk and get some fake chips.

July 14th, 2009

Arduino Nano 3.0

Arduino Nano 3.0

The Arduino Nano 3.0 is an Arduino-based electronics board that is designed to be mounted on a breadboard and can be accessed using the integrated USB port. This new version of the Nano features the Atmel ATmega328 microcontroller, which has more RAM and flash memory than its predecessor (ATmega168) and costs $35, cheaper than the previous model too.

The new Arduino Nano, like its forerunner, works at 5V, having limits of input voltage between 6 and 12V, 14 digital I/O pins with 6 of them being able to provide PWM output, 8 analog input pins and a clock speed of 16MHz. It also features automatic reset during program download, auto sensing/switching power input and standard 0.1” spacing DIP for easy breadboard installation. However, this new version possesses double amounts of memory: 32KB of flash memory (2KB are used for the bootloader), 2KB SRAM memory and 1KB EEPROM memory.

The PCB of the Nano 3.0 is a two-layer model, which makes it cheaper to produce and easier to hack. The blue power LED has been moved to the top side of the board and the pin labels have been rearranged. The Arduino Nano 3.0 is manufactured by Gravitech and it costs $30 if pre-ordered from them. The new models will ship on July 27th.

Arduino Nano 3.0: [Link][via]

June 17th, 2009

Open Source Camera Axe

Open Source Camera Axe

Every so often you can find yourself unable to take a picture, because human reflexes can’t always handle the timing required in some circumstances. From wildlife photos of animals or lightning to various fast moving objects like bullets or even splashes or balloons popping, one can encounter many situations where hand-eye coordination or shooting skills just aren’t enough to get the job done. And here is where something like the Camera Axe comes into play.

This is an open source project, both hardware and software, that controls a camera or a flash, activating it at just the right time. The brain of the device is the ATmega328 microcontroller with Arduino Bootloader. The Camera Axe possesses a Flash Trigger to activate the flash with, a Camera Trigger for the camera itself, a Sound Sensor and a Light Sensor. The sound sensor is built using an electret microphone and its sensitivity can be adjusted with the potentiometer on the PCB. The light sensor is made with a photo transistor that detects both visible light and IR. The Camera Axe also has a RF receiver so it can be triggered remotely from about 200ft.

I have a lot of respect for open source stuff and this project makes no exception. You can find a detailed component list, schematics, pictures of the PCB, the enclosure and more pictures taken using the Camera Axe, as well as code and information about getting the board in the link below. The part list has detailed pricing for every component used, from voltage regulator and microcontroller to bolts and nuts and the whole thing costs about 120 dollars for a single Camera Axe, which is really cheap for what it can do.

A very interesting, fun, useful and detailed project, the Open Source Camera Axe is another tool for the photography enthusiast that is worth every penny. A demo video is also available in the link.

Open Source Camera Axe: [Link][via]

Open Source Camera Axe

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