Arduino Embedded Systems Design

October 20, 2008 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

I really enjoy engineering generally, and electrical engineering in particular. My favorite toys for such endeavors are transceivers and embedded systems. For about a zillion years I worked mainly with Z80s and the like, but a few years back I switched to PIC microcontrollers. In recent times, I’ve migrated to Atmel’s 8-bit RISC AVR platform.

AVR development is already easier and cheaper than PIC development right out of the box, along with full-fledged free C compilers (AVR-GCC) and the whole nine yards.

But, now along come the Italians and give us something really cool and really nifty: Arduino.

The Arduino platform — complete with free software and libraries for all the most common stuff — makes embedded development incredibly inexpensive and ridiculously easy. (At least, for folks who are into that sort of thing.)

Now — you may ask — what does this have to do with the normal subject matter of my blog?

Well, for one thing, no rational person is one dimensional. But, for another … it just so happens that I invent all kinds of stuff — hardware, software, gizmos and you name it. 99% of the time, I just use whatever I invent for my own purposes or even put it into the public domain.

But here’s the cool thing about Arduino (and Freeduino). By using Arduino as a common reference platform, it will make it easy for me to express at least a subset of my inventions in a form that can be easily duplicated by people who don’t own a bunch of specialized hardware. All they need to get is an Arduino, a Shield and the parts that I specify — hook them up the way I illustrate, and program the beast using the software I provide (which they can update) and — shazaam — they can duplicate my work.

What this means is that, using the Arduino as a reference platform, it will be practical to share a subset of my inventions via the EAU Members-Only website. Why? Because I’m always talking about things like starting a home business, making your home the center of your family’s economic life and that sort of thing. By providing some of my inventions to members via the EAU Members-Only website, any member who wishes to use those inventions as a means of starting a home (or other) business — or just to add to his/her own level of self-sufficiency — can do so.

This is called in-group altruism. It’s adaptive.

The first Arduino gizmo I’ll be posting is a device that I’m designing for my chicken coop that turns on brooder lights at very low temperatures to keep my chickens from freezing and keeps their water at around 40F in the winter. This general design could be adapted for about a million other purposes. There’s no real rocket science involved — I just haven’t found a device in existence that does what I want, so I’m making my own.

So you’ll see the first designs of this sort up on the EAU Members-Only website in about a month.

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