MQTT Mosquitto on a Pi Zero W in under 5 minutes // MickMake QuickBits

Setting up the Mosquitto MQTT Broker is pretty easy. In this video I’ll show you how to setup a Broker in under 5 minutes. Updating Raspbian If you followed my previous article on installing Raspbian without a keyboard or screen, Continue reading MQTT Mosquitto on a Pi Zero W in under 5 minutes // MickMake QuickBits

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App note: Flash for “Selfies”

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Effective front facing camera flash discussed in this white paper from Lumileds. Link here (PDF)

Smartphones are ubiquitous in everybody’s daily lives, a trend that shows no sign of slowing. A key component of the smartphone is the camera, which has gained market share over Digital Still Cameras due to its convenience.

As the demand for smartphone cameras increases, sensor makers are continuously working to improve the resolution and while 20MPix capability gained in importance for the main camera of the smartphone, the resolution race has begun for the front camera. With the rise in popularity of “selfies” and the 5 to 8 Mpix resolution for the front camera, it is not surprising that camera flash is starting to be more readily implemented for front cameras also. However, to make a successful front flash that captures an ideal “selfie,” there are certain illuminance requirements and shorter flash pulses that are recommended.

DIY robot design

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A computational abstractions for interactive design of robotic devices by Ruta Desai, Ye Yuan and Stelian Coros from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute:

We present a computational design system that allows novices and experts alike to easily create custom robotic devices. The core of our work consists of a design abstraction that models the way in which electromechanical components can be combined to form complex robotic systems. We use this abstraction to develop a visual design environment that enables an intuitive exploration of the space of robots that can be created using a given set of actuators, mounting brackets and 3d-printable components. Our computational system also provides support for design auto-completion operations, which further simplifies the task of creating robotic devices. Once robot designs are finished, they can be tested in physically simulated environments and iteratively improved until they meet the individual needs of their users.

Full details at cmu.edu.

Check out the video after the break.

CH340G board

On this site I’ve already posted about the CH340G chip, manufactured by a chinese company and often adopted as a cheap solution when a USB -> serial converter is needed.

As the chip package (SOP16) is quite easy to solder, I ordered some ICs from AliExpress and I designed a minimal demoboard, based on the reference schematics:

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You can download Eagle files (both schematics and board) in my Github repository.

I used Seeedstudio’s FusionPCB service to manufacture the PCBs (if you want to learn how to use it for your PCBs you can follow my tutorial) and hare are some photos of the first prototype:

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To verify if it works, you can connect the TX and RX pins with a jumper;  if you open a serial terminal, you should see each character you type:

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In the end, here’s the link to the WCH official website where you can download the drivers.

Display Arduino analog input using LabVIEW

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Zx Lee shared detailed instructions of how to display the Arduino measurements using LabVIEW:

To get started, I will explain what is actually going on in Arduino. In this project, I am using an Arduino Nano to acquire signals and send the data to PC. As mentioned earlier, two analog input channels (A0 & A1) will be used to measure input signals. To ensure an accurate measurement is performed at fixed sample rate, the Arduino is configured to wait the predefined interval before taking a measurement and send to PC serially. The concept used is similar to the BlinkWithoutDelay example in Arduino. The benefit of using this method is that there is a while loop that always checks if it has crossed the desired interval. If it is reached, it will take the measurement, else it will skip and you can make it to work on other task.

More details at his blog here.

Raspberry Pi soft power controller – the circuit

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James Lewis has been working on a Raspberry Pi soft power controller, that is available on github:

The RetroPie project enables retro-gaming with a Raspberry Pi. All of the Pi models have enough computing power to emulate the major 8-bit and 16-bit computers of the 80s and 90s. With the Pi 3 I have even been able to play PS1 games with no problem. My current project is to put my Raspberry Pi running RetroPie into an old Super Famicom (SFC), or SNES, case. The catch? I want the original SPST power switch to work. And by work, I mean allow the Raspberry Pi to shutdown properly when the switch goes into the off position.  To accomplish this task, I am building a Raspberry Pi soft power controller.

More details at baldengineer.com.