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Welcome to the Arduino Playground

Discussion in 'Arduino Playground' started by AA7BQ, Mar 25, 2021.

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  1. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator QRZ Page

    This forum is about small, embedded computers, widely regarded as SOC or system-on-a-chip where an entire computer is realized using just one chip. Everything from CPU, memory, I/O, D/A, A/D, etc., is on that chip. Arduino's yes, but also ESP-32, LoRA devices, the so-called Nano chips, and so on.

    Now we've had a lot of single-chip computers over the years, many of them in common DIP packaging and as few as six or eight pins running Basic or some simple interpreter. The PIC was one example and there are several others.

    Over the past 10 years, this environment has undergone a tremendous integration phase and the SOC's coming out now raise the bar to previously unimaginable levels. For example, the ESP-32S, a chip the size of a large postage stamp, has WIFI, Bluetooth, a 240mhz dual-core ARM processor, and is Arduino compatible. These incredible chips go for about $6 on Amazon when bought in small quantities. Can you say Internet of Things (IOT)? These chips can be used to put just about any device on the network.


    I've been using these boards for some programmable lights that I've been working on. I only use three pins, Ground, power, and one data pin (D2). I leave all the rest unused, but I don't care. Those three pins give provide a lighting controller that is controllable via WiFi using a smartphone.

    What could it do in your shack? Well, it could make a handy remote antenna rotator and with a few cheap $2 sensors a weather station too. Want a camera? They make this model with a camera for an extra $5. It has the onboard A/D needed to make a simple digital voltmeter. Need a display? They make one of these with a tiny display, again for around $15.


    This model (below) has a LoRa (Low Power Radio) that runs on 915 or 432 mhz.


    Programming these things is not hard and all of the software is free. I use the Visual Code editor with the PlatformIO plugin. It knows all about small boards and it was able to program any chip that I threw at it. Very simple - just plug a cable into the micro-usb connector and the chip boots right up from the USB power alone. The board has the familiar CP2102 serial interface and so it's compatible with nearly all systems.

    My biggest project has been making some programmable holiday lights for the house. There is a software package called WLED (Wireless LED) that can be loaded right into any of these chips and it's an instant product complete with its own web server interface. Check out WLED/aircookie on GitHub

    One other thing: No Wifi? No problem. Two or more of these chips can be placed into a mesh network. As long as you can reach the first controller, the mesh will reach all of the others. Great fun.

    73 -fred
    UT7UX, PU2OZT, N0TZU and 1 other person like this.
  2. KF5FEI

    KF5FEI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Cool. I can see myself hanging out here. We use a lot of microcontrollers at work, and at home. Just fixin' to start an Arduino project with a small OLED display.

    Many of our products at work use an Atmel Tiny24 -- according to our programming software, we've programmed about 15,000 of them in the last 4 years.
  3. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    great new forum.
    Using the nodemcu and esp32's as well.
    Built a super wifi controlled antenna switch for myself and my son VA7TWX, with 2.4Ghz link between wifi chip and relay box at the tower
    also use a nodemcu for a house system monitoring for the generator, sump pump, etc if I'm away
    I've got one of the esp32-cam devices to play with soon
    Lots of arduino & atmel chips to play with when not on the air or flying rc planes

    I can see this forum getting busy

    tnx, Bob VE3CGA
  4. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

  5. AD5MB

    AD5MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    for those who have not yet started: The Arduino is, at best, a carbureted, point ignition aircooled VW single port engine. the ESP32 is a fuel injected 5.4 V8. An Arduino and a 915 mHz radio model costs more than an ESP32 with an integrated 915 mHz radio, and an OLED display my ancient eyes could never read. If you buy an ESP32 with integral 915 mHz radio, get one with an integrated SMA connector, not the anemic u.fl connector and the pigtail that is never a useful length.

    but you should start with the Arduino, and learn how to use the various interfaces. The ESP32 uses the Arduino IDE and many Arduino libraries, so it's an easy transition.

    FCC Part 15 does not authorize the use of 433 mHz radios. hams can use the band, if you are willing to send out ID every time you TX. Part 15 allows 915 mHz and 2.4 gHz radios.

    my current project started as a doorbell that says anything but "ding dong." then I realized that I could use it to tell me when someone enters the 400 foot long driveway, when they enter the property, when they enter the yard... and then I add datalogging. It has grown to become a perimeter monitor for a ~10 acre property.

    the problem with that is I need a dozen sensors at least, each of them requires 2 transceivers. the expense and complexity are off the scale. the answer is LoRa, which is a pool with no shallow end. With LoRa, you need a motion sensor, a microcontroller and a transceiver at each potential entry point, but only one receiver, known as a LoRa concentrator. a benefit of LoRa is that you can send commands back. I can tell the ESP32 to close a relay, spark up a wireless IP cam at the sensor location, only use the power sucking video cam when there may be something to see.

    if you get involved with ESP32s and LoRa you will also be involved with 18650 batteries. bit of a learning curve, worth the effort.

    a heads up about the Arduino forum: this is not a caring, sharing, hold your hand and sing Kumbaya web site. it's a place where you are expected to ask informed questions, and you get brief but intense answers. they have no love for people who try to get forum members to do their homework. the attitude is more drill sergeant than boy scout. when you go there check out the Project Hub in the community menu.

    modules: look for modules with at least 2 mounting holes. I have GPS modules with one mounting hole. drive you screaming with all that swiveling

    stock up on male headers, female headers, and cables. male to male, male to female are necessary. female to female cables get cut up to make headers at this QTH.

    don't waste your money on kits. they are fine for a classroom. they have too many sensors you don't need, and not enough of the ones you do need.

    shields are a bad joke. The only one I have that works is the LoRaShield for the UNO. it ties up all but 9 pins, and if you use GPS you are down to 7. older shields worked on the UNO but not the Mega, because of different pin assignments for the I2C interface. more recent shields, anything you buy new, use the ISP connector for I2C; no more bending pins and soldering jumpers. the SPI interface on the Mega is not compatible with shields.

    do not putz around with the barrel jack for power. get a proper 5 V Mean Well brand switching power supply, power the Arduino through the 5V in pin and everything else directly from the power supply and nothing via the board. if you power things through the Arduino you use your board as a fuse.

    breadboards are fine for people who build blinking LEDs in a classroom. if you are building a serious project get the module working, solder a header together for the module, then hot glue that end of the header. now you have eliminated the need to troubleshoot the module end when things stop working.

    you have to kill way too many popups to get to many useful things here. you can just look for keyestudio at eBay and skip the irritating interface at that site.

    I use Libre Office to draw outlines of modules and locations of mounting holes, tape these outlines to plexiglass, and mount my finished projects. if you don't, you end up snagging cables and pulling connections apart. unfortunately you can't post .ODG files at the Arduino forum. If you can post them here I will upload the ones I have.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
    KU4X, W6KCS, WA9TDD and 1 other person like this.
  6. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'd agree on the arduino forum. Searching on it provided some good code solutions/ideas but only after wading through negative comments.
    Since I layout & build my own circuit boards, got templates for the arduino boards & havent used them as of yet, been programming 328P's as stand alone and use patterns for the nodemcu & esp boards
    I played with esp-now which will be useful in some future builds, but bluetooth? the only project I can forsee would be a hands-free audio bridge from the rig audio & mic to the vehicles mic & spkrs through bluetooth. Getting my KIA to recognize a esp32 would be the challenge.


    This is a good forum, I am a newcomer and I hope to learn a lot of knowledge about Arduino and ESP32.
  8. KG4RUL

    KG4RUL Ham Member QRZ Page

    My Arduino/Amateur Radio Projects, In-Progress List:
    • Controller for BITX40 Transceiver
    • Controller for 5W, Field Programmable, VHF/UHF Crossband Repeater
    • Controller for 5W, Field Programmable, VHF/UHF Simplex Repeater
    • Upgraded Raduino for uBITX V6 Transceiver utilizing Triumvirate Skonk Workx T4.1 Clone Kit
    • Digital, QRP, Dummy Load/SWR Meter
    So many projects - So little time! :)


    Thanks to this forum, I learned a lot about Arduino and ESP32.
  10. PU2OZT

    PU2OZT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I sure knew there should be such a forum.

    No computer inside, nor even close to my station, but as I reinstalled everything, there is some place left for a Raspberry and a thiny screen.

    Subscribed to forum, gonna discover what could be done as threads add up.

    Thanks, Fred :)

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