New FAT File System in chipKIT-core

microSD cards are supported on several chipKIT boards
microSD cards are supported on several chipKIT boards
Did you know that a robust FAT file system is now available in chipKIT-core? Keith Vogel of Digilent recently ported the file system library by ChaN at elm-chan.org. You can use this library to create and access files on microSD cards, as shown in the photo above.

But wait… what is a FAT file system, anyway?

FAT stands for File Allocation Table. It’s a method of organizing data on disk drives. Designed way back in 1977, FAT was the standard file system used on disk drives for at least two decades. While modern computers now use more sophisticated systems, FAT is still the standard for USB sticks, Flash drives and solid-state memory cards.
DSDVOL example in Arduino IDE
DSDVOL example in Arduino IDE


Several chipKIT boards (such as the FubarinoSD, WF32, Wi-FIRE, and WiFi Shield) include a microSD card slot where a solid-state memory card can be inserted. The new library allows your sketch to create and access files stored on the memory card. Files can be used for serving up web pages, storing large amounts of data collected from sensors, or anything else you can think of.

chipKIT-core combines the FAT file system with improvements to the DSPI and SoftSPI libraries. (DSPI uses the hardware SPI ports, while SoftSPI uses any combination of unused I/O pins to create a virtual SPI port.) When a microSD card is inserted, your sketch can easily mount it as a disk volume to access files. An example sketch is included with chipKIT-core, and appears as DSDVOL under the File:Examples menu item. Here is a snippet of code from DSDVOL:
Mounting a volume using the new FAT file system
Mounting a volume using the new FAT file system
Up to 5 volumes can be mounted and used at the same time. While most chipKIT boards have only one microSD card slot, virtual disk volumes in RAM or MCU Flash will be supported soon.
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Unix on chipKIT Fubarino SD



If you haven’t seen this yet, you’ll likely be impressed. RetroBSD (Unix) running on a chipKIT Fubarino SD? Yes, you heard that right 🙂 Hackaday featured this post referencing Serge Vakulenko’s post, where he provides instructions for how you too can run RetroBSD on your Fubarino SD and then compile and assemble away on your mini computer!

Have fun and enjoy!

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Murum Lux Human Interface: chipKIT Fubarino Mini and Hover Gesture

Microchip GestIC MGC3130 Sabrewing Evaluation Board
GestIC Sabrewing Evaluation Board

As a follow-on to a previous post, today’s post is about the human interface portion of the Murum Lux (Wall of Light) that Josh Ian Lindsay built. In his Overview post, Josh explains how he built the e-field box by using a chipKIT Fubarino Mini and Microchip’s MGC3130 GestIC on-board the Sabrewing Development Board. (He notes that he used the Hillstar Development Kit during development, which also contains the MGC3130 GestIC device). With the Hover Arduino library as a base, which he greatly improved (see Github), he’s created a demo that showcases the usefulness of human interface!

Why not have a gander!

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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!

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Use an RC Servo input to control a stepper motor output

Have you ever wondered if you could control a stepper motor’s speed and direction using an RC servo controller (for example from the stick of a RC airplane transmitter)? Wonder no longer – using a Fubarino Mini and a Big Easy Driver stepper motor controller, Brian Schmalz was able to write a simple sketch to enable precise control of a stepper motor from an RC servo input signal.

This sketch uses a 32-bit hardware timer and output-compare module on the PIC32 so that very accurate step speeds are generated. Step speeds from 1 step per second to over 12,000,000 steps per second can be configured using #define values in the sketch. There is also a configurable dead zone in the stick’s center position.

One advantage of this type of control system over a simple DC motor controller is that the speed of the stepper is not dependent on the load (to a point), so you can very accurately control the speed of whatever you are moving even if the load torque changes over time.

Check out the simple video of this sketch in action:

For complete instructions on how to duplicate this setup, see the complete description here on Brian’s site: RC Servo to Stepper Sketch

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chipKIT Oscilloscope Plotter

Hackaday: chipKIT O-Scope Plotter
Live long and prosper – Drawing in the XY mode of an O-Scope

So many chipKIT projects, so little time! At least that’s what Jacob Christ probably thought, but as he taught his microcontroller class at MtSac, he remembered that one project he always wanted to do! What’s that you say? Why drawing in the XY mode of the oscilloscope, of course! So, armed with a chipKIT Fubarino SD and a Microchip MCP4902 DAC, Jacob and students together made art on the o-scope. Sounds too cool to pass up right? To learn how to do it yourself or to see just how they did this, check out the Hackaday post!

May your art and creativity live long and prosper!

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