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  • The Cooling System

    This is the 3rd part of the workspace project where I describe the cooling system and how it was built.

    The desk has an electronics cavity which contains 2 audio filters, 2 stereo amplifiers, 2 power supplies and 2 protostack boards. These all create heat, so a method was needed to ventilate the cavity. The concept was pretty simple, a fan whose speed is dependent on temperature.

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    RGB Lighting Controller

    Back in 2011 we wrote a tutorial on how to use Pulse Width Modulation to change the colour of an RGB LED. This part of the workspace project is based on the same principles, but on a larger scale.

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    Katsushika Hokusai's Great Wave at Kanagawa

    A few months ago I finished a project, to renovate my workspace. I work from home running Protostack and a software development house Zero Point Labs. I wanted to create a workspace that would suit my needs, plus have a bit of fun along the way.

    The main part of the project was building a new desk. This post provides an overview of the project and in the next few weeks I'll go into a bit more detail.

    Full build log photos can be found in this flickr album

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    The USBASP windows driver was previously based on libusb-win32. The certificate on the base drivers have expired and the library has now been superseded by libusbK. Earlier today we packaged up the driver and uploaded it to the server. You can now download it from the location below.

    This driver should work with version of Windows XP right through to 8.1 and the version 10 preview. (both 32 and 64 bit editions). Because the driver is signed, there should be no need to disable driver certificate enforcement or use Zadig.

    Cables and Connectors

    6-Apr-2014 6:43pm

    IDC Breadboard cable

    IDC connectors don't play nicely with breadboards. The 2 rows of pins are too closely spaced and there are many hacks to get around this issue. In one of our tutorials we recommend taking a IDC connector with right angle leads and bending the leads to make it fit. This does work, but is a pain to get right and it looks ugly.

    The 10 Pin IDC to Breadboard Cable fixes all that. It has a standard 2x5 pin IDC female connector at one end and the other end plugs straight into your breadboard. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

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    Small, Medium and Large

    29-Mar-2014 1:53pm

    Small, medium and large prototyping boards

    Ever since we started, we've stocked full size and half size prototyping boards. The standard sizes allow the boards to be stacked together, which is why we called ourselves protostack.

    This month we are stocking a new board, which is approximately a quarter of the size of the full size one. Instead of calling it the "quarter size board", we've renamed all the various sizes to Small, Medium and Large.

    The new board measures 58.42 x 68.58mm (2.3" x 2.7") and is available right now for $2.90.

    Small  prototyping boards

    The diagram below shows the 3 board sizes in relation to each other. As you can see, all 3 board sizes are stackable with the vertical blue lines showing how the mounting holes line up.

    Small, medium and large  prototyping boards

    The small boards can very easy be stacked together as shown below.

    Stack of small boards

    When stacking the small board with one of the medium or large boards, you will need to support one end with a stacking header or something similar. This is shown in the photo below.

    Stack of small and medium boards

    ATMega1284 Development Kit

    The ATMega1284 is an impressive microcontroller with plenty of memory, plenty of pins and loaded with features. The ATMEGA1284 Development Kit combines the microcontroller with our 40 Pin AVR Development Board and a bunch of other components to help you build ATMega1284 circuits faster.

    The kit is nearly identical to the one that Tweak Town reviewed, and gave a "Must Have, Best Features Award". The only differences are a better microcontroller and a faster crystal oscillator.

    The board is engineered for flexibility with many different configuration options available. It also sports a huge prototyping area that resembles a breadboard with power busses snaking in and out.

    The kit is available right now for just $26.60

    ATMega1284 and Resistor Networks

    We've been selling many different AVR microcontrollers for some time. This week we add the ATMEGA1284 to our lineup.

    The ATMEGA1284 is quite impressive with 128K of flash and 16K of RAM. It comes in a 40 pin through-hole PDIP package, has the same general pinout as the ATMEGA32A but runs faster and has more features. Like the ATMEGA32A, in can be used with our 40 Pin AVR Development Board.

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    New Year, New Product Post

    16-Jan-2014 11:22am

    16 x 2 character LCD module with blue backlight and white text

    Welcome to 2014, I think it's going to be a good one. Let's start the year with 3 new products

    First up we have 16 character x 2 line Blue LCD Displays. They are just like the Yellow/Green ones we've had for a while, except the color is different. Because they use a HD44780 compatible controller, you can use standard libraries to drive them.

    If you've never used these type of displays before, the following tutorials will be useful

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    8 Bit Logic Level Converter

    10-Dec-2013 6:45am

    8 Bit Logic Level Converter

    More and more devices run on 3.3V or even less. Some have 5V tolerant data pins, but others can be damaged with 5V. The SN74LVC245A 8 Bit Logic Level Converter fixes that problem.

    The SN74LVC245A is an 8 bit bus transceiver with 3 state outputs. It has 2 buses (A & B), both 8 bits wide. It can transmit from A to B or vice versa, depending on the state of the DIR pin. The input side is 5.5V tolerant and the output side matches VCC when high, so when interfacing with a 3.3V device, set VCC to 3.3V. The datasheet has a lot more detail.