Arduino Board Design for Custom Projects

solar charger arduino

Believe it or not, the Arduino is one of the wonders of the modern world. It made electronics design and prototyping accessible to everyone by removing a lot of the initial entry barriers such as expert knowledge in C programming and hours of reading datasheets and application notes.

The power of the Arduino rellies in its communities that make good quality software libraries and join forces to make the platform easier and more powerful.

15 years ago, if you wanted to do a WiFi connected device that broadcasts information to another device, you will surely need a team of skilful and experienced engineers. As of today, by buying some modules and following tutorials online, you can achieve the same result.

But what happens when you have your proof of concept Arduino prototype working and want to make it smaller so it fits a sleek enclosure and takes away unnecessary components to make it cheaper?

You need to make your own PCB.

In this article, you will learn how to create a circuit that you can program with the Arduino IDE and works the same as the proof of concept prototype but in a custom-built PCB.

For this tutorial, 2 different MCUs will be reviewed. The ATMega328P from the Arduino UNO R3 and the ATTiny85/45/25, another popular MCU that can be used with the Arduino environment and is cheaper than the ATMega328P.

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Transformerless PSU, round 2

transformerless PSU

A few months ago, in the article Transformerless PSU, is it worth it? two ways to convert AC mains into usable DC voltage were analyzed in terms of cost, space and performance.

These two types were the traditional step-down transformer approach and a transformerless design that uses the property of reactance of the capacitor to create a voltage divider and effectively step-down the voltage.

In this article, we will analyze a third way to convert AC mains into DC voltage to power small electronics. Continue Reading “Transformerless PSU, round 2”

Beginners Guide: First Design with the dsPIC33E MCU

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This post was originally published on Predictable Designs, the original article can be found here

If you are designing an electronic product, chances are that it will have a microcontroller (MCU) embedded into it.

In order to control, process, easily change parameters of the design on demand and keep the design tidy and relatively low complexity, it is unpractical to approach a solution using purely discrete analogue and digital components. For this reason, a natural choice is the use of a microcontroller. A microcontroller is basically a computer shrunk to a chip. It contains a CPU, memory, I/O pins and peripherals, all in a single package. Continue Reading “Beginners Guide: First Design with the dsPIC33E MCU”

Current Source to Measure DC Resistance of a Wire

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Have you heard of a current source before? In electronics, when you hear the word source, it means that part is “giving” or “providing” something, in this case, a current. The opposite of sourcing is sinking, this means that part is “taking” or “demanding” something. Continue Reading “Current Source to Measure DC Resistance of a Wire”

Transformerless PSU, is it worth it?

transformer vs cap

When it comes to the design of a power supply that needs to convert AC mains voltage into a fixed DC voltage, it is the norm to think that a transformer is required to achieve that design goal. In this article, a different alternative will be presented, and more importantly, it will be simulated and compared to the standard transformer solution in terms of cost, size and performance. Continue Reading “Transformerless PSU, is it worth it?”

Optimize the Energy Consumption of your Electronic Device

Energy consumption is an important parameter that not only concerns sustainability. It is true that by optimizing the use of energy on the device, less energy will be required to perform its function, therefore more efficient, but also by performing this optimization you will have an overall better product.  Continue Reading “Optimize the Energy Consumption of your Electronic Device”

WindAid is also Electronics

This post was originally published on the WindAid blog. The article can be found here

Back in the summer of 2014, I had one of the best experiences of my life (sounds cheesy and the start of a teenage girl movie doesn’t it?). I was just finishing university and graduating with an electronics engineering bachelor degree at the University of Plymouth and before getting hooked into a 9-5 job I was looking to have an experience where I could combine three different factors Continue Reading “WindAid is also Electronics”

Wind turbines with Twitter accounts

Wind Turbines with Twitter accounts? Unconventional perhaps, but it’s a zero service cost option I was able to implement that allows WindAid Institute, a Peruvian Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) to receive notifications from their wind turbine systems in rural Peru. The open source remote monitor project (or ReMona) was born out of a need to:

  • Receiving system alerts, such as battery level being critically low.
  • Wanting Live data to track system usage and turbine performance anywhere in the world.

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