Sunday, March 27, 2011

Large and cheap displays for a Arduino

I order two of these red and green boards a few weeks ago for my ultimate weather clock. The Arduino forums already have a library for the boards that works great. So the total time to program and wire was 20 minutes.

32X16 RG Bicolor LED Dot Matrix Unit Board

Pocket AVR Programmer

When you get into electronics and programmers the first thing you learn is to be patient. Many times things don't work out the first time around for multiple reasons. Two examples, I Just picked up a AVR Programmer and WWVB NIST (Atomic Clock)Radio from SparkFun.com. I spent 4 hours trying to figure out why I couldn't program my ATMega328 with the programmer. Well, My issue wasn't that the programmer was dead but that I wasn't hooking up the programmer correctly. I was looking at the following image but flipped columns 1 and 2 on the 6 pin header.







My second frustration of the day was when I was working with the NIST Radio to pull in signals. I could never figure out why the radio wasn't working. I doubled checked the wiring and changed wires still no go. Thinking it was dead I walked away. At that point the LED I hooked up to the output signal started blinking. My hand being near the antenna and breakout board was preventing the signal from being received in.

Pocket AVR Programmer

WWVB NIST Radio

Arduino

I found a link a year or so ago for a micro-controller platform called Arduino. I wanted to get it for a while but never pulled the trigger. For Valentines Day my wife got it for me. Since then I been tinkering with it and have found it a great beginners platform to getting into electronics. My current projects are a interactive teddy bear and the ultimate weather clock. When you get to the point where you want to integrate the micro-controller into your project you can buy $4 chips instead of the $30 board.