Upgrading to Sharp 128×128 Pixel Memory Display


In “Low Power LCD: Adafruit Breakout Board with Sharp Memory Display” I used a 96×96 Sharp Display (LS013B4DN04) with the Adafruit breakout board, but because that one seems to be EOL (End Of Life), I searched for a replacement. I have found the 128×128 pixel version (Sharp LS013B7DH03), and best of all, it is pin compatible :-). With a small tweak of the driver, it works :-):

Sharp Memory Display 128x128

Sharp Memory Display 128×128

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Low Power LCD: Adafruit Breakout Board with Sharp Memory Display


Many projects benefit from a small display as a user interface. For very low power applications this is usually a no-go as the display needs too much energy. I have used e-paper displays from Kent: while these e-paper displays do not need any power to keep the image, changing the display content is not for free, plus is very slow (around 1 second needed to update the display). So I was looking for something low power and fast for a long time, until Christian (thanks!) pointed me to a display from Sharp: both very low power and fast:

Font Test with Sharp Memory Display

Font Test with Sharp Memory Display

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Tutorial: STMicroelectronics VL6180X Time-of-Flight LIDAR Sensor


For many of my applications I need to measure a distance. I have used ultrasonic sensors, but there view angle (beam) is not able to detect smaller objects, it very much depends on the object surface and angle, it is slow and not very precise. I have used infrared sensors, but here again it depends on the infrared reflection of the object in range, it depends the amount of reflected light is not really telling much about the distance, and yet IR reflection is subject of material and object targeted.

But there is yet another sensor type to consider: ToF! ToF (or Time-of-Flight) sensors have a built-in LIDAR: The sensor is sending out light pulses and measures how much time it takes for the light to come back. Similar to ultrasonic sensors (see “Tutorial: Ultrasonic Ranging with the Freedom Board“), but instead of ultrasonic it uses an infrared laser light. Or think about a radar system using an infrared laser light.

Vl6180x Breakout Board with tinyK20 Microcontroller-board

Vl6180x Breakout Board with tinyK20 (NXP Kinetis K20) Microcontroller-board

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Making-Of Sea Shell Sand Clock


The year is coming to an end, the Holiday season is approaching. In case you are looking for a nice present: I have completed my version of a sand clock: a clock writing the time into sand:

Sandclock

Sandclock

If you are interested to build your own version, I have documented the different steps with tips and tricks…

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MINTomat: World’s Most Complicated Bubble Gum Automata?


How to fascinate kids for technology? Show them that engineering is fun :-). At the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts we have created the ‘MINTomat’: a robotics system for STEM activities rewarding interaction with bubble gums:

MINTomat

MINTomat

Yes, pretty over engineered compared to a normal bubble gum automata, but that’s part of the fun :-).

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Enclosure for the Remote Robot Controller with LCD Display


The first enclosure for the INTRO robot remote controller board (see “INTRO Robot Remote – First Production PCB“) is ready, and it is looking good:

Enclosure for the Remote Controller Board

Enclosure for the Remote Controller Board

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Prototype of Wireless Remote Controller with NXP Kinetis K20


For next semester I plan to use the tinyK20 as a remote controller for the Zumo Robots. I already had an early prototype presented in “3D Printed Gameboy and Remote Controller with tinyK20 Board“, so here is the next iteration of, in a sneak preview:

Remote Controller Prototype

Remote Controller Prototype

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Bricking and Recovering OpenSDA Boards in Windows 8 and 10


Getting a board from a distributor like Farnell/Element14/Mouser (add your own distributor) means that chances are high that the default firmware on it is written years from now because the inventory has not been updated, or because boards are still produced with that original firmware (because of testing?). So what happens if I use board with a firmware developed pre-Windows 8/10 area?

Freshly Unboxed NXP FRDM-KL25Z Board

Freshly Unboxed NXP FRDM-KL25Z Board

It might work, but chances are high that the bootloader and firmware is not ready for the ‘modern age’, and as a result the board might be bricked. If you still have a Windows 7 machine around (I do!), you are lucky. If not, then you need to read this article….

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A Flying UAV Drone Full of Sensors


One goal of this blog is to inspire engineers, in one way or another. And when I get reports back that things were useful, I like to share it :-).

So here is something what a team of young undergraduates (Przemyslaw Brudny, Marek Ulita, Maciej Olejnik) did for theirs Master Thesis work at the Politechnika Wroclawska, Poland: a very cool flying machine controlled by two Kinetis K66, having many sensors (on own designed boards) with a custom debug/programmer board similar to the tinyK20, developed with the NXP Kinetis Design Studio:

Plane Model

UAV (Source: Thesis of Przemyslaw Brudny)

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3D Printed Gameboy and Remote Controller with tinyK20 Board


As a remote controller for the Sumo robot (see “Zumo Robot with Magnetic Encoders“) we have used so far a combination of NXP FRDM-KL25Z board and a Joystick Shield (see “Joystick Shield with nRF24L01 driving a Zumo Robot“). That solution was not ideal, so this weekend I created a 3D printed prototype:

tinyK20 Remote Controller

tinyK20 Remote Controller

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nRF24L01+ 2.4 GHz Wireless Connectivity with the tinyK20 Board


I’m using the tiny and inexpensive Nordic Semiconductor nRF24L01+ transceiver (see “Tutorial: Nordic Semiconductor nRF24L01+ with the Freescale FRDM-K64F Board“) in many projects: it costs less than $3 and allows me to communicate with a proprietary 2.4GHz protocol in a low power way (see “IoT: FreeRTOS Down to the Micro Amps“). I have that transceiver now running with the tinyK20 board too:

nRF24L01+ Transceiver with tinyK20

nRF24L01+ Transceiver with tinyK20

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How to put the Kinetis K20 on the tinyK20 Board into Bootloader Mode


To put the tinyK20 board with the NXP Kinetis K20 into bootloader mode, well someone could check the schematics, or follow this quick guide :-). In short, the pin PTB1 has to be pulled to Ground (GND) while powering the Kinetis K20. The pin PTB1 is on the outside row as below:

tinyK20 Bootloader Pins

tinyK20 Bootloader Pins

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Kinetis Lava LED Light Cube


In “openHAB RGB LED Light Cube with WS2812B and NXP Kinetis” I started experimenting Kinetis boards, a LED cube diffuser and Adafruit WS2812B NeoPixel LEDs. That worked well, but I was not to very happy about the visual effect. So here is my next version: I wanted to have control over each side of the cube. For this I have built a cube inside the cube with a 3D printed structure:

Bare LED Cube

Bare LED Cube

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3D Printed Magical MUFG Capsule to Duplicate NXP Kinetis K20 Boards


Sometimes it is all about doing fun stuff: to carry and store the tinyK20 (NXP/Freescale Kinetis K20) boards needed for next course, I wanted to build something geeky: a MUFG capsule to store and duplicate Kinetis boards 🙂

MUFG Capsule with tinyK20

MUFG Capsule with tinyK20

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Hardware Reset for ARM Cortex-M with Segger J-Link and Kinetis Design Studio


The reset and signal line of a microcontroller is probably the most important signal to a microcontroller. And if things go wrong, then a first thing to check is the reset line. So having control over reset is an important aspect for embedded development. You would think that if you download a program to a microcontroller, the debug probe would put the device into reset at the start with a short pulse like this:

Reset Signal in Logic Analyzer

Reset Signal in Logic Analyzer

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First 3D Printed tinyK20 Board Enclosure


The tinyK20 boards are now used in several projects. Initially I was considering a commercial USB thumb drive enclosure for it. But this needed some tweaking of the enclosure so at the end it was not ideal. 3D printing is probably that hot topic for 2016. So why 3D printing an enclosure for that board?

tinyK20 3D Printed Enclosure

3D Printed Enclosure for the tinyK20 board

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How to Add Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Connection to ARM Cortex-M


In many of my embedded projects I’m using successfully the Nordic Semiconductor nRF24L01+ (see “Tutorial: Nordic Semiconductor nRF24L01+ with the Freescale FRDM-K64F Board“) and the HC-06 Bluetooth transceivers (see “Getting Bluetooth Working with JY-MCU BT_BOARD V1.06“) for wireless communication. However, the nRF24L01+ is using a proprietary protocol, and the HC-06 does not work with Apple products (it does very well with Android devices). To close that gap I decided to add Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE, or Bluetooth 4.x). So this post is about how to add Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to NXP (formerly Freescale) Kinetis devices:

BLE Enabled Kinetis

BLE Enabled Kinetis

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Data Logger with tinyK20 Board


First off: The tinyK20 project is progressing fine and is now on Hackaday.io :-).

For a research project we would like to use the tinyK20 to log gyro sensor data. For this I have created a quick-n-dirty project to explore how feasible it is. The tinyK20 has all the pins on the outside of the board, so I’m able to put it on a bread board:

tinyK20 on Breadboard

tinyK20 on Breadboard

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