Aug 31, 2012

My adventures with Arduino continues...


In this post I listed some components/shields/breakout boards that I want to try with Arduino. Well, last weak one of the missing components in order to test my ethernet breakout board (one very similar to the one in this post) arrived.

Like I child with a new toy I took the evening to try it out. After some time I finally got it connected (unfortunately there's not much information about the ethernet breakout board I've got in the net) but to my frustration I could not get it to work. :(

Basically I connected my Arduino Mega to the breakout as follows:

ENC28J60    Arduino
WOL            NC
SO               50
SI                51
SCK             52
CS               53
RESET          RESET
VCC             3v3
Gnd             Gnd

When I power up the Arduino board I can see that a red led also lights up on the ethernet breaakout board but its statuses leds does not blink / flash.

After a lot of time checking it my guess is that either the breakout board is defective or that it requires a crossover cable (I've tried various cables connecting it both my router and my computer directly) (
ENC28J60  datasheet claims that it supports "One 10Base-T Port with Automatic Polarity Detection and Correction" but this doesn't looks to be the same as auto MDI/MDIX to me).

Well next steps:
  • Ask for help on Arduino forums (already did)
  • Try to get a crossover cable to check.
  • Try to exchange it with a new one
  • Hope that someone have already faced this issue
As soon as I get any update to this I'll post comments here.

BTW, if you have any idea how to test / get this working, drop me a comment.

In time: I just received a "bluetooth" breakout board :) but this will need to wait to get tested.

Happy programming.

Aug 15, 2012

Windows 8 / Visual Studio 2012


Getting back to the subject I am more comfortable with, MS just released Windows 8 / VS 2012 (for MSDN and Technet subscribers). Off course I am downloading both right now but this is the first time, since Windows 95 launch, that I am not going to install the new MS OS as soon as it gets released. 

To be honest I am not even considering installing it (on my main dev machine) in the next 6 ~ 12 months! Contrast that to what I've been doing in the past 
(I've used Vista / Windows 7 RC!) and you can see how "excited" I am about it (maybe I install it on a virtual machine so I can experiment with it). Anyway, sooner or later I'll end up formatting my dev machine and the question is: am I going to give Windows 8 a try? Or shall I take a more drastic approach and install Ubuntu? This bring me to the second MS release.. VS 2012.

One of the main reasons I'm procrastinating migrating to a Linux OS is that I really enjoy developing using .Net (yeah, I do know Mono; the problem is: the bulk of .Net development is still concentrated on MS platform. Also, 
IMHO, *nix lacks a good .Net IDE).

Of course my friends (at least the ones in the software development field) knows that that is not completely  true: I also enjoy MS technology in general (COM+ pops up as one example).

What do you think? Should I dive into Windows 8?

BTW: Visual Studio download finished! This one for sure I'll get installed in the next few days ;)

Happy codding!

Aug 8, 2012

Connecting Nokia 5110 LCD breakout to Arduino


As I said in my last post, I have been playing with some hardware parts for Arduino.

In the "still to go" list I had:

  • Ethernet breakout
  • External EEPROM
  • RTC (DS 1307)
  • Nokia 5110 LCD
My plan was to tackle at least 2 of them during last weekend but I had a problem: all of this parts requires external components that I didn't have at hand. So I went to a local component shop but unfortunately I could not find most of the parts. 

The only part I had the required "missing" components was the Nokia LCD so I googled for "Nokia 5110 LCD  on Arduino" and voilá! The third entry in the results links to one great source of information about Arduino (and electronics in general). Now I was ready to start; I pulled my Arduino board, breadboard, the LCD (and required components) and put myself to connect them together.

My first disappointment came when I uploaded the sample application and nothing happened :(
Oopss.. maybe I have messed up with the connections... , let's see, pin x goes to y, pin z goes to w... no, everything looks connected correctly. After some head scratching I finally decided to do what I should have done from the beginning: Make sure the pin on my LCD breakout board matched the one in the Laydada  guide and of course they didn't! Compare the two pictures below (the red one is  mine and the blue one is the one used by ladyada):
As you can see they have different pinouts! Next step was to carefully reconnect the LCD and power on my Arduino (crossing my fingers hoping nothing bad had happened to neither my Arduino nor the LCD); this time everything but the backlight worked as expected; for some reason I could not explain the backlight refused to light up.  I checked and re-checked the connections many times but could not spot the problem. 

But at some point, during my investigation I could swear having seen the  backlight turning on and off; after some more testing I found out: by mistake I connected the backlight pin to the Arduino ground and that did the trick. But wait, both the LCD breakout schematic (not shown here) and the board itself does states that I should connect 3.3v on that pin... I have no idea what's happening here, but it is working. 

Next stop: external EEPROM.

Happy programming.

Aug 2, 2012

Now we are talking :)


Just a quick update on my Arduino experiments.

Some of my new "toys" just arrived....

I managed to get the following working so far:

  • Ultrasonic sensor (HC-SR04)
  • LCD 16 x 2
  • SD card
  • Temperature sensor (18B20)

Still to go:

  • Ethernet breakout
  • External EEPROM
  • RTC (DS 1307)
  • Nokia 5110 LCD

I am having lots of fun ;)

Lets get back to play with the ethernet breakout. 

See you.