Building a Custom OLED Display

Ever have the need to display real-time data with custom hi-res graphics and text? Super-user Majenko recently built up a cool green OLED display to fit inside a standard hard drive bay on his PC.

A custom mount inside the drive bay

The OLED display is backed by a chipKIT Lenny running the DisplayCore library. Take note of the hi-res scrolling graph along the bottom edge of the display. Not bad for a modest board like the Lenny running Arduino-compatible code. Check out this post that explains exactly how he did it.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

HelveKit Robot: A chipKIT Robot Design

HelveKit Robot

There are plenty of “how to design a robot” tutorials out there; this is not one of them. Why is this one different? Because the author, GastonLagaffe, doesn’t want to tell you what to do, as he doesn’t want to limit your creativity. 🙂 His personal goals for this robot were for it to be small, autonomous, cheap, easy to solder, easy to program, with plenty of holes, and swarm capable, and although the journey to get from concept to implementation took him 12 months, he learned a lot along the way.

So if you want to make a robot, why not dream big as you read about how Gaston took what started as a small wish and made it a reality, Gaston-style. To see his journey, check out this HelveKit Robot Design Journey on Instructables. You may smile as you see his approach and decide you would have done it differently, but that’s exactly what Gaston would want you to do!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

BME280 Weather Station

BME280 is a fully integrated environmental unit from Bosch that combines sensors for pressure, humidity, and temperature into a single tiny 8-pin metal-lid LGA package. Because of its compact size, ease of use (BME280 supports standard I2C and SPI interfaces), and availability of supporting open-source Arduino libraries, BME280 is very popular among hobbyists and weather enthusiasts.

This project describes how to read barometric pressure, relative humidity, and temperature measurements from BME280 using a chipKIT Uno32 to make a standalone weather station. The sensor readings are acquired over an I2C bus and are displayed on a Nokia 5110 LCD display.

Continue reading details of this project!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

P-P-PIC up a TFT with chipKIT and DisplayCore

Did you know that chipKIT boards are probably the best choice for controlling a TFT screen?… Considerably better than most Arduino boards, that is for sure! I say that with confidence for three reasons:

  1. chipKIT boards typically have far more memory and computing power than many Arduino boards, and as a result, they are so much better at manipulating graphics and data for display.
  2. chipKIT boards can get the data out to the TFT screen so much faster though high-speed interfaces, so less time is spent redrawing things on the screen. You’ll find that images appear instantly, as opposed to being drawn out slowly.
  3. Finally my favourite reason: professional-grade library support. I say it’s my favourite because I designed and wrote the library myself, but I’ll tell you more about that journey later on.

First let me introduce you to a little friend of mine:

picadillo

This here is the Picadillo-35T developed by 4D Systems in Australia (also available from microchipDIRECT). The Picadillo is essentially a chipKIT MAX32 board with a nice, high-resolution TFT touch-screen strapped to the back. The meaty PIC32MX795F512L chip (also used on the MAX32) boasts plenty of RAM (128KB) and Flash (512KB) and all the other bells and whistles you have come to expect from chipKIT boards. The board also has the same connectors as the popular chipKIT Uno32, uC32, WF32 etc., so all your shields should just plug in and work. You also get sound thrown in to the mix with an on-board speaker, and of course you get an SD card slot–what self respecting board would be without one these days anyway?!

Ok, enough said about that. The main reason I write this post is to tell you of the most useful part of this Picadillo board: the TFT touch-screen. And let me tell you, it’s not just any TFT screen. It’s an above-average 3.5″, 320×480 resolution, crisp-image delivering screen. Not only that, but the way the TFT is wired to the PIC32 chip is also “above average.” The TFT connection boasts a 16-bit parallel interface, not the normal slow SPI interface that most cheap Arduino TFT screens give you–meaning that it takes one bus clock operation to output a pixel as opposed to 16 (a considerable speed increase!).

But that’s still not all! (I’m starting to sound like a TV salesman now. “Buy now and we’ll throw in this amazing clock radio and set of saucepans absolutely free!”). The TFT’s 16-bit interface has been directly connected to the “Parallel Master Port” (PMP) of the PIC32. The PMP is a bit like the old internal bus of early computers; you get an address bus, a data bus, and a bunch of control signals, meaning there’s no messy twiddling of GPIO pins with the likes of digitalWrite() (or even direct port manipulation using registers). Writing data to the screen takes just one instruction. That’s right – ONE instruction. And that means even greater speed. But wait, there’s more! (Here comes the gold-plated nose-hair trimmer…) It’s called DMA: Direct Memory Access. Guess what that can do! DMA can send data through PMP, and this essentially allows for direct communication with the TFT display, all without the MIPS CPU’s involvement! In effect, you can be outputting data to the screen whilst doing other things! All-in-all it’s really a thing of beauty… if you like that kind of thing, of course.

So what does all that mean to the layman? It means you have a well-designed, well-built bit of kit in a nice compact package with all the power you could ever want to make your perfect user interface. But isn’t programming user interfaces and drawing graphics on a TFT screen a hard job? Isn’t it fairly skilled and in-depth? Don’t you have to write reams and reams of code just to get it to print “Hello World”? Well, yes, you do. However I have already done all that for you. And that is where the journey to the core begins.

Continue reading P-P-PIC up a TFT with chipKIT and DisplayCore

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

chipKIT Uno32 and Nokia 5110 LCD

I have just finished writing up a new tutorial on using the Nokia 5110 graphical LCD with the chipKIT platform. Nokia 5110 LCD was used in Nokia’s popular 5110 and 3310 model cell phones and is a very popular display among the Arduino community because of its low cost (~$3 on eBay). It is a 48×84 pixels matrix LCD driven by the low-power PCD8544 controller chip. It is powered by 3.3V and includes on-chip generation of LCD supply and bias voltages, thus requiring minimum external components for its operation. This tutorial explores the PCD8544 serial bus interface and its connection with chipKIT Uno32 board for displaying text, graphics, and bitmap.

 

chipKIT Uno32 and Nokia 5110 LCD

Read the full tutorial!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (5 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

chipKIT Text-Message-Enabled Sign and Music Light Box (Man Cave Sign)



Using our DIY chipKIT-board tutorial, Darryl Gardner, a student of the University of South Florida, created something he calls the “Man Cave Sign” for his MakeCourse. This techie sign not only displays messages (via 5 LED dot matrices), reacts to playing music, and lights up in different colors (via 2 LED light strips), but is also controllable via Text Message or Android Apps (which he wrote) that allow the user to do many things like change the display message, control the stepper motor, the color of the light strips, and even make your phone talk out loud!

His PIC32BLUE(+) Android App and PIC32BTN Android App allow you to connect to your microcontroller using a Serial Bluetooth Module and do various things like send messages/commands to/from your Android phone and control things like servo motors, LED matrices, RGB lights, LCD screens or anything you’d like. He incorporates other technologies as well, like a microphone to adjust the light strip colors according to sound fluctuations in the room, a stepper motor to rotate a USF Bulls logo, and he powers it all with a 10,000mA battery for a battery life of over 10 hours.

In this Instructable, he provides more details along with a YouTube playlist of some Arduino tutorials he referenced for the project. Keep an eye out for more details on the various portions of this project! 😀

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

chipKIT Murum Lux Wall of Light: LEDs, Human Interface, and Ethernet


This weekend at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, the chipKIT Platform will be showcased at the Microchip booth (located in the Expo Hall in Zone 2, booth 2510, east most side of the hall).

One of the items you’ll see at the booth is the Murum Lux (or Wall of Light), which uses PIC32 32-bit microcontrollers via the chipKIT Wi-FIRE and the chipKIT Fubarino Mini to create what Josh Ian Linsday calls “Murum Lux” (Latin for “Wall of Light”). Using a Sabrewing Development Board from Microchip for gesture control, he created an e-field box, then using IPLogika’s Ethernet modules, he connected the e-field box to the RGB LED matrix panel to control the content displaying on the “wall of light.” This stuff is way too cool to reduce down to a small paragraph!

You’ll have to check out Josh’s blog post to see how he put this all together!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.6/10 (5 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

chipKIT Uno32 with Arduino LCD Shield

Arduino LCD Shield compatible with chipKIT Uno32!
Arduino LCD Shield – Compatible with chipKIT Uno32!

Do you need an LCD for your chipKIT project? Check out this quick “hello world” example to get your chipKIT Uno32 up and running with the Arduino LCD Shield! For a more useful example, check out this example for how to connect and display a Photoresistor or LDR (Light Dependent Resistor) to your circuit and display the value on your LCD!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Open-Source Science Tricorder with chipKIT Max32


Did you ever watch Star Trek and wish you had your very own Tricorder? Well, even if you can’t buy one right now, you can at least find solace in the fact that it exists as an open-source project. Peter Jansen believes in a world where we can learn and care about our environment by using such tools, so he put together the Arducorder, an Arduino-compatible sensing device (Tricorder), using a chipKIT Max32 and a collection of sensor boards, along with Arduino-compatible libraries.

So if you didn’t catch it on Hackaday, check it out now!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)