5 LDO regulator considerations other than voltage and current

Pryamiduino-R4-with-LDO-Regulator-Disabled-1600px-760x427

James Lewis over at Bald Engineer writes, “For an AddOhms series, I created a DIY Arduino I am calling the “Pyramiduino.” It is an ATmega328p based board in the shape of a triangle. Other than being cute, the shape does not offer any other benefit. The design features a 3.3 volt LDO Regulator, which is also the subject of this post.”

More details on Baldengineer’s tutorial page.

Arduino time attendance system with RFID

circuit-600

A how-to on building a time attendance system with MFRC522 RFID Reader and Arduino from Random Nerd Tutorials:

Before getting started it’s important to layout the project main features:
*It contains an RFID reader that reads RFID tags;
*Our setup has a real time clock module to keep track of time;
*When the RFID reader reads an RFID tag, it saves the current time and the UID of the tag in an SD card;
*The Arduino communicates with the SD card using an SD card module;
*You can set a check in time to compare if you are in time or late;
*If you are on time, a green LED lights up, if you are late, a red LED lights up;
*The system also has a buzzer that beeps when a tag is read.

More details at randomnerdtutorials.com.

Check out the video after the break.

DIY Moteino guide

p-image9-600

Felix writes, “I posted a short illustrated guide for making your own Moteino from SMD components. It also includes details how to burn the bootloader and fuses. Check it out here. Thanks and credit goes to forum user LukaQ for his contribution of the images and test sketches in this guide!

See the full post at LowPowerLab.

How servo motors work and how to control servos using Arduino

p-Arduino-and-PCA9685-PWM-Servo-Driver-600

Dejan Nedelkovski over at HowToMechatronics shared detailed tutorial on how servo motors work and how to control servos using Arduino and PCA9685 PWM driver:

There are many types of servo motors and their main feature is the ability to precisely control the position of their shaft. A servo motor is a closed-loop system that uses position feedback to control its motion and final position.
In industrial type servo motors the position feedback sensor is usually a high precision encoder, while in the smaller RC or hobby servos the position sensor is usually a simple potentiometer. The actual position captured by these devices is fed back to the error detector where it is compared to the target position. Then according to the error the controller corrects the actual position of the motor to match with the target position.
In this tutorial we will take a detailed look at the hobby servo motors. We will explain how these servos work and how to control them using Arduino.

More details at HowToMechatronics.

Check out the video after the break.

 

ESP32 (35) – BLE, scan response

In the previous posts I explained how to receive and send advertising packets based on the Bluetooth LE standard.

The payload (that is the amount of “useful” data) of those packets is at most 31 bytes. It isn’t much: if – for example – you want to include the device name, little place remains for other data.

The BLE standard allows peripherals to send additional data using the scan request – scan response process.

When a device receives an advertising packet, it can contact the transmitter by sending a scan request packet to request further information. When receiving a scan request package, the peripheral can respond with a scan response packet:

scan-response-001

Advertising and scan request packets have the same format; it’s therefore possible to transfer, using scan response, additional 31 bytes of data.

esp32

The esp framework offers two modes for configuring the content of a scan response packet: using the esp_ble_adv_data_t struct or creating a byte array (raw mode). These modes are similar to the ones used to configure advertising packets you learned in previous articles (struct and raw mode).

In the first case, you have to declare a second struct, in addition to the one related to the advertising packet, to define the content of the scan response packet:

static uint8_t manufacturer_data[6] = {0xE5,0x02,0x01,0x01,0x01,0x01};
static esp_ble_adv_data_t scan_rsp_data = {
  .set_scan_rsp = true,
  .manufacturer_len = 6,
  .p_manufacturer_data = manufacturer_data,
};

Very important is set to true the set_scan_rsp parameter. It’s indeed this parameter what tells the driver that this struct is related to the scan response packet.

You can then pass the new struct to the driver, with the same function used previously:

esp_ble_gap_config_adv_data(&scan_rsp_data);

The driver will call the callback function twice: one to indicate the successful configuration of the advertising packet and one for the configuration of the scan response one. The two events are different:

case ESP_GAP_BLE_ADV_DATA_SET_COMPLETE_EVT:
  [...]
case ESP_GAP_BLE_SCAN_RSP_DATA_SET_COMPLETE_EVT:
  [...]

You have to wait until both the events have triggered before starting the advertising process. In my example program (you can download the source code from my Github repository) I use two boolean variables:

bool adv_data_set = false;
bool scan_rsp_data_set = false;
[...]
case ESP_GAP_BLE_ADV_DATA_SET_COMPLETE_EVT:
  adv_data_set = true;
  if(scan_rsp_data_set) esp_ble_gap_start_advertising(&ble_adv_params); break;
 
case ESP_GAP_BLE_SCAN_RSP_DATA_SET_COMPLETE_EVT:
  scan_rsp_data_set = true;
  if(adv_data_set) esp_ble_gap_start_advertising(&ble_adv_params); break;

If you want to use the raw mode instead, you have to declare a byte array and fill it with the content of the payload of the packet. Then you can use a specific function of the framework to pass the array to the driver:

static uint8_t scan_rsp_raw_data[8] = {0x07,0xFF,0xE5,0x02,0x01,0x01,0x01,0x01};
[...]
esp_ble_gap_config_scan_rsp_data_raw(scan_rsp_raw_data, 8);

did you notice that the content of the scan response packet is the same in the two examples?

The driver will confirm the configuration of the packet with a dedicated event. Also in this case you have to wait for the end of both configurations (advertising and scan response):

case ESP_GAP_BLE_SCAN_RSP_DATA_RAW_SET_COMPLETE_EVT:
  scan_rsp_data_set = true;
  if(adv_data_set) esp_ble_gap_start_advertising(&ble_adv_params); break;
You can also mix the two modes in your program. For example you can configure the advertising packet using the struct and configure the scan response one using the raw mode.

Now with the nRF Connect app you can verify that your scan response packet is correctly received by your smartphone:

scan-response-002

In the following video I explain how I built the payload of the packet and how the program works:

ESP32 (34) – BLE, raw advertising

In the previous post, you learned how to send BLE advertising packets with the esp32 chip.

To define the content of the packet, you used a struct, of the esp_ble_adv_data_t type:

raw-adv-001

The struct’s definition is included in the esp_gap_ble_api.h file:

raw-adv-002

Although there are many fields available, sometimes it is necessary to be able to define the content of the advertising packet arbitrarily. For this reason, the esp-idf framework provides a raw mode.

Instead of defining a struct, you create a byte array and fill it with the entire contents of the packet’s payload:

static uint8_t adv_raw_data[10] = 
  {0x09,0x09,0x4c,0x75,0x6b,0x45,0x53,0x50,0x33,0x32};

then you can use the esp_ble_gap_config_scan_rsp_data_raw() function to pass the array to the driver. You have to specify both the array and its size as parameters:

esp_ble_gap_config_scan_rsp_data_raw(scan_rsp_raw_data, 8);

When using this new function, it also changes the event that the driver passes to your callback function when the configuration is complete. The new event is ESP_GAP_BLE_ADV_DATA_RAW_SET_COMPLETE_EVT. As in the previous example, when this event is triggered you can start the advertising process:

case ESP_GAP_BLE_ADV_DATA_RAW_SET_COMPLETE_EVT: 
  esp_ble_gap_start_advertising(&ble_adv_params);
  break;

Raw data

For the advertising process to work, the data contained in the array must correspond to a valid payload.

In the blog post about the iBeacons, I’ve already shown you its structure. Let’s briefly review it:

ibeacon-002

The payload contains one or more AD (advertising data) structures. Each structure is made by 3 fields:

  • an initial byte that represents the length (in bytes) of the structure, excluding itself
  • a byte that represents the type of the data contained in the structure
  • a variable number of bytes which are the actual data

The codes that can be used to define the type of data can be found in the Bluetooth specifications. Depending on the type of data, it is then necessary to apply a particular format to the data that follows. The necessary information is found in the Core Specification Supplement document (available on the Bluetooth.com website).

Let’s see a simple example: the ADType 0x09 represents the complete local name, which is the name of the device. This name must be specified in AD data with simply a sequence of the ASCII codes that correspond to the different letters.

You can use a website to do the conversion:

raw-adv-003

The payload to transmit this name is therefore:

adv_raw_data[7] = {0x06,0x09,0x4d,0x79,0x42,0x4c,0x45};

The first byte has value 0x06 that is the sum of the name length (5 bytes) and 1 byte for the data type (0x09).

Demo

In the following video you can see how I use the raw advertising feature to simulate the advertising packet of my iBeacon and therefore I’m able to activate the relay as in the previous example.

The source code of the program is available in my Github repository.

Why electrolytic capacitors are actually kinda shitty

thumb332x187-1

Afroman writes, “Electrolytic capacitors are common, but knowledge of their limitations is uncommon. A demonstration is shown highlighting the difference in performance between electrolytic and ceramic capacitors in power supplies. Other topics discussed in the video: Electrolytic capacitor construction, ceramic capacitors, ESR, ESL, impedance curves, why “0.1uF”, and more.”

Via Afrotechmods.

Check out the video after the break.

Alexa (Echo) with ESP32 and ESP8266 – Voice controlled relay

p-esp8266-esp32-alexa-circuit-600

Rui Santos writes, “In this project, you’re going to learn how to control the ESP8266 or the ESP32 with voice commands using Alexa (Amazon Echo Dot). As an example, we’ll control two 12V lamps connected to a relay module. We’ll also add two 433 MHz RF wall panel switches to physically control the lamps.”

More info at randomnerdtutorials.com.

Check out the video after the break.

ESP32 (33) – BLE, advertising

In the previous posts you learned how to use the esp32 chip to receive and parse the advertising packets transmitted by BLE peripherals. As a practical example, I developed a program to detect the presence of a particular iBeacon and activate an output accordingly.

In today’s tutorial, you’ll learn how to transmit advertising packets instead.

Advertising process

You’ve already discovered that the Bluetooth driver included in the esp-idf stack is executed in a dedicated thread. Whenever the driver needs to send a notification to your program, it calls a callback function indicating which event has triggered.

The advertising process is very simple:

  • the program configures the data to be transmitted with esp_ble_gap_config_adv_data()
  • the driver reports that it has finished the configuration with the event ESP_GAP_BLE_ADV_DATA_SET_COMPLETE_EVT
  • the program can now start the advertising process with esp_ble_gap_start_advertising()
  • the driver reports that the process has started with the event ESP_GAP_BLE_ADV_START_COMPLETE_EVT

esp32-adv-001

Advertising DATA

It’s possible to tell the driver which data to include in the advertising packet with the following command:

esp_err_t esp_ble_gap_config_adv_data(esp_ble_adv_data_t *adv_data);

The command accepts as parameter a pointer to an esp_ble_adv_data_t struct:

esp32-adv-002

The meaning of the different fields is explained in the Supplement to the Bluetooth Core Specification document.

First let’s find out how to transmit the device name. You have to use the esp_ble_gap_set_device_name() function to pass the name to the driver and set the field include_name to true in the struct:

static esp_ble_adv_data_t adv_data = {
  .include_name = true,
};
[...]
ESP_ERROR_CHECK(esp_ble_gap_set_device_name("ESP32_BLE"));
ESP_ERROR_CHECK(esp_ble_gap_config_adv_data(&adv_data));

Using the flags, you can publish some features of your device. The available constants are:

esp32-adv-003

you can combine them with the OR operator. If, for example, you want to tell the world that your device is limited discoverable (i.e. it sends the advertising packets only for a limited time, usually 30 seconds) and that it doesn’t support classic Bluetooth (BR/EDR, Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate) you’ll write:

static esp_ble_adv_data_t adv_data = {
  .flag = ESP_BLE_ADV_FLAG_LIMIT_DISC | ESP_BLE_ADV_FLAG_BREDR_NOT_SPT,
};

Advertising PARAMETERS

After configuring the content of the advertising packet, you have also to tell the driver how to send the packet.

The command:

esp_err_t esp_ble_gap_start_advertising(esp_ble_adv_params_t *adv_params);

accepts as parameter an esp_ble_adv_params_t struct:

esp32-adv-004

You can configure the minimum and maximum transmission interval of the packet. The two parameters can assume a value from 0x20 to 0x4000. To calculate the interval in milliseconds, the value specified must be multiplied for 0.625. This means that the minimum value (0x20) corresponds to an interval of 12.5ms.

The esp_gap_ble_api.h file lists the constants that can be used for the other parameters (esp_ble_adv_type_t, esp_ble_addr_type_t …).

For example, let’s configure the advertising process as it follows:

  • minimum transmission interval: 0x20, maximum: 0x40
  • non connectable device (it doesn’t accept incoming connections and only sends data in broadcast)
  • public MAC address
  • transmission on all the 3 channels dedicated to advertising packets
  • no filter on devices who can perform a scan or connect
static esp_ble_adv_params_t ble_adv_params = {
  .adv_int_min = 0x20,
  .adv_int_max = 0x40,
  .adv_type = ADV_TYPE_NONCONN_IND,
  .own_addr_type  = BLE_ADDR_TYPE_PUBLIC,
  .channel_map = ADV_CHNL_ALL,
  .adv_filter_policy  = ADV_FILTER_ALLOW_SCAN_ANY_CON_ANY,
};
[...]
esp_ble_gap_start_advertising(&ble_adv_params);

Demo

I prepared a program that includes what explained above. The source code is available in my Github repository.

Here’s how it works:

Arduino bootloader and ISP

After having developed a sketch using the Arduino IDE, you can compile and load it on the Arduino board connected to your PC with just a click on the upload button:

isp-002

The program is stored in the flash memory of the microcontroller (on Arduino Uno boards this is the ATmega328p).

You can upload your program on the microcontroller without the need of a dedicated programmer because of the microcontroller itself runs a small program named bootloader.

The bootloader is indeed a program, already flashed in every microcontroller of the Arduino boards, that is executed everytime the microcontroller is reset. The first operation the bootloader does is to check if on the serial/USB connection there’s a request to flash a new program. If so, the bootloader talks with the Arduino IDE, receives the new program and stores it in the flash memory:

isp-001

The bootloader used as of now on the Arduino Uno boards is named optiboot.

If you buy an ATmega328p chip and you want to upload your sketches on it using the Arduino IDE you have first to flash the bootloader in the chip. You usually need a dedicated programmer to program the chip. ATmega microcontrollers support a programming method named In System Programming (ISP), designed to program the chips directly on the board where theyt are located.

This method requires to connect 6 pins of the chip to the programmer:

  • 5V and ground
  • reset
  • MISO, MOSI and SCK

For example every Arduino Uno has a dedicated connector which allows to re-program the ATmega328p chip without removing it from the board:

isp-003

On the Internet you can find several ATmega programmers (for example this by Adafruit); very interesting is the possibility to use an Arduino as a programmer, thanks to the work of Randall Bohn.

First you have to upload on your Arduino the ArduinoISP sketch which is included in the Examples shipped with the IDE:

isp-004

then you have to create – for example on a breadboard – a minimal circuit with the chip to be programmed, a 16MHz crystal and two 22pF capacitors:

isp-013

using some jumpers, connect your Arduino Uno to this circuit as it follows:

  • 5V -> pin 7 and 20
  • Ground -> pin 8, 22 and the two capacitors
  • pin 10 of Arduino or RESET of the ICSP connector -> pin 1
  • pin 11 of Arduino or MOSI of the ICSP connector -> pin 17
  • pin 12 of Arduino or MISO of the ICSP connector -> pin 18
  • pin 13 of Arduino or CLK of the ICSP connector -> pin 19

isp-014 isp-015

Configure the IDE to use Arduino as programmer:

isp-005

then burn the bootloader:

isp-006

after few seconds, the IDE should confirm that the bootloader was programmed on the chip:

isp-011

Shield

On some webstores I found an Arduino shield which makes it simple to program ATmega chips. It’s named AVR ISP Shield and manufactured by a company called “OPEN-SMART”:

isp-012

This shield has a ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) socket where the chip goes, some pins to connect it to external boards and a buzzer that is used to confirm the burn process with two beeps.

On the Internet I found an archive with the documentation about this shield and the “official” sketch. You can also use the sketch shipped with the IDE, it won’t only activate the buzzer when the burning process ends successfully.

If you need to program several ATmega328p chips (for example if you’re building your Arduino-compatible boards) the use of this shield makes the programming process much easier and faster!