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HackerBoxes #18 – Using an Arduino to Program a New MCU for the Transistor Tester

As described in my original post on the HB #18 transistor tester, if you want to try one of the various builds found online for the transistor tester, a new ATmega328P MCU can be programmed using a USBTiny.  I also wanted to try programming a new MCU using one of the Arduino clones that came with a previous HackerBox. The Arduino clone I used is the RobotDyn Arduino UNO R3 Microcontroller Board included  with HackerBox #16.  If you use this board, you will need to make sure that you have the drivers setup, and I would load a Blink sketch to test and make sure it is working before proceeding.  Step 12 of the HackerBoxes Starter Workshop details how to do […]

How to Change the MCU Code on the HackerBoxes #18 Transistor Tester with a USBTiny

Updated 05/13/17:  It is possible to use an Arduino to upload new firmware to the HB transistor tester.  I added a tutorial on using the Arduino clone from HB #16 to upload firmware to an ATmega328P. Also, the GitHub project for the transistor tester seems to have two main authors – Markus and Kübbeler. This tutorial for the USBTiny uses the firmware build by Kübbeler while the tutorial using the Arduino uses the build by Markus. This is a short tutorial on how to change or update the code used on the MCU for the Transistor Tester included with HackerBoxes #18.  This involves a few steps to get it working, none of which are particularly difficult, but it is a bit of a pain […]

Using SIM800L to POST Data with HTTP and HTTPS

The SIM800L can POST data to web sites/services using both HTTP and HTTPS.  The procedure for both is nearly the same with the exception of a few additional parameters needed for the HTTPS POST version.  To enter AT commands into the serial monitor, I’ll use the sketch (shown below) my prior post on using the SIM800L to send data via GET .  I connected the SIM800L to an Arduino UNO clone with the following conmnections:   5V -> VIN, GND -> GND, D8 -> TX, D7 -> RX. There are a few gotchas to watch out for. Be sure to set the serial monitor to 9600 baud and also set the line ending drop down to use “Both NL & CR”.  A largish cap […]

Using the SIM800L to Send Data to a Web Page

Last GET received at: This is a short tutorial on how to send data to a web page using the SIM800L.  My plan is to use the SIM800L to send sensor data from our blueberry rows back to a web server where the data will get stored in a database.  The blueberry rows cover about an acre, so I think this will work much better than the wifi that struggles to reach out that far across our property. Why is the HackerBoxes #16 penguin at the top of the page?  Instead of just explaining the AT commands to get the HTTP GETsent via the SIM800L, I thought it might make more sense if you could actually see your GET commands do something, and the […]

HackerBoxes #16 – Quick Tutorial for Sending SMS with the SIM800L

We’ve been playing around with the latest HackerBoxes (#16).  We haven’t really dug into it too deeply yet, but here is a quick tutorial on how we got the SIM800L EVB breakout sending text messages.  Our brief experience with the board has shown us a few minor gotcha’s: If you’re out of the coverage area for the SIM card, you’re out of luck.  Our family lives on a small farm out in the sticks of North Georgia, and our cell service is sketchy at best.  We drove around last night trying to get a connection to no avail. When I took the board into my work today in metro ATL, it connected pretty fast to T-Mobile. Related to the connection, I […]

Basic Weather Widget for SSD1306 and ESP32

HackerBoxes #15 included a SSD1306 display along with the ESP32.  One of the suggested projects was to create a weather widget, and the following is what I did to create a working albeit very basic weather widget. Please keep in mind  I am not a coder, and my code is not very pretty or bug free.  It does give a working example of the HackerBox #15 project we’ve been working on at my house, and we thought it might help some other folks out.  You should be able to get a basic weather widget running pretty fast.  The basic process is to wire up your board, grab your API key from Weather Underground, install the libraries, update the code with […]

Altera MAX II EPM240 – Using the 7 Segment LED with a Counter (and a Debouncer!)

Quick aside regarding the video below…admittedly, my second video attempt using KDEnlive (which I really like) was kind of so-so .  My video editing quality is definitely bush league, but like I said, it was my second attempt.  Watch it if you like. Both the content here in this post and the video is pretty much the same. This is a quick tutorial for a Quartus Prime block schematic that uses a 7490 decade counter to “count” from 0 to 9, and then uses a 7447 BCD to seven segment decoder to display the number on the EPM240’s on-board seven segment display.  Typically, the circuit uses a clock signal coming into the decade counter that drives the “counting” of the […]

Attempting to Make a PCB with Shapeoko 3 CNC and Chilipeppr

HackerBox #13 included some IR sensors for use with the esp8266 controlled car.  I tried some very basic circuits and programming to have the car follow a line.  Overall, it was a pretty big fail.  The car would follow the line at first, and then start correcting its course if it veered away from the line.  These corrections would continue with the car doing ever larger left and right wobbles, and ultimately the car would wobble right off the line.  Some Google searches indicated that this is a pretty common problem, and that a better way to approach line following cars is to use a sensor array of IR emitters and detectors such as the Pololu QTR-8RC and also to […]

HackerBoxes #13 – WiFi Car Controlled with Blynk Joystick and HC-SR04

The code below is what I have thus far for the WiFi car that came with HackerBoxes #13.  I hooked up a Blynk 2 axis joystick to control the car, and it works pretty good. The “tires” for the car are terrible on the surfaces around my house – wood floors, tile, concrete.  The tires slip all over the place, and it’s really difficult to keep the car moving in a line with the back end of it sliding all over the “road”.  No carpet in our house, so maybe it works better on a surface like that. The HC-SR04 sensor is the general ultrasonic sensor you’ve probably seen before.  Very easy to hook-up and seems fairly accurate for the […]