Hardware hacking

25Sep11

I missed the start of PubSub Huddle on Friday due to the catastrophic failure of the local railway system. Luckily I can now catch up using the podcasts.

Once I got there I spotted Andy Piper tinkering with the Arduino kit he had been using to demo some stuff with MQTT. I was inspired.

I don’t have an Arduino kit myself yet, but I did some time ago buy some TI LaunchPads, which are a total bargain at $4.30 each. I’d had a brief play with one set when visiting a friend in the US who had kindly acted as the posting address for me, but I’d not yet created any project.

The boards come with the installed chip preconfigured with a temperature sensing application much like the one Andy was showing me, but I wanted to cut some of my own code. TI provide a bunch of sample apps, and some video tutorials, so it wasn’t long before I had some LEDs blinking.

My next challenge was to make something that would interest the kids. Blinking LEDs took me to morse code (starting with the obligatory S-O-S), which then took me to flashing the kids names in morse.

It was pretty trivial to get the microcontrollers working on breadboard, with juice from a 3V button cell and a resistor from VCC to RST to get things going. Then… soldering time – moving the components from the breadboard to some stripboard to make something a little more durable.

I tidied the code up this afternoon and put it on GitHub.

I might try hacking a robot next (this project looks fun), and an Arduino kit looks certain for this year’s Xmas list.



5 Responses to “Hardware hacking”

  1. Hi,

    I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it to you in the past, but you might be interested in OSHUG. They generally organise an event every month or so.

    I’ll be speaking there this coming Thursday about my RGB LED project.

    http://oshug.org/event/12

  2. I certainly mentioned OSHUG to a bunch of people at PubSub Huddle (despite never having made it there myself – but I know several of the people involved).

    Glad to have inspired you – now I should look at how we get MQTT onto the TI boards…. :-) I know that @teddyboy at the Uni of Queensland in Brisbane has been using those as well as Arduinos and anything else he can get his hands on.

    • Funny you should mention this but I am sitting here with a LaunchPad on my desk and a copy of CrossWorks running on my Mac so that i can develop, debug, and download code. I’ll keep you guys in touch with progress on my work. However, I expect that the real release of an MQTT client on the MSP430 will happen over our summer break (Nov-Feb) when I have a few Summer Research Students working in our centre. I’ll set them the problem and let them loose!


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