Category Archives: Projects

Individual and group projects


The normal meeting format will be followed (welcome new attendees, announcements, problem/design review of the month, presentation, community project status, show and tell). This month’s presentation will be by Nick Edgington of Edgington Labs. Nick will share details of a very inexpensive line of mixed signal FPGAs (initial breakout board coming from OSH Park). Additional meeting time will be devoted to the status of the TriEmbed Community “Espressif 32 bit processor board + FPGA(s)” development board project.

NCSU and area CE/tech-interested students: This is for you!

Owl that judges emotions via Google AI
Robotic owl that judges emotions via Google AI

In a recent edition of the Embedded FM podcast, you can listen to ideas for projects from a fire hose. This is a concentrated and amplified version of the sort of ideas regularly floated, discussed, and demonstrated every second Monday night in one of the NCSU engineering buildings during monthly Triangle Embedded Interest Group (TriEmbed) meetings.

If you’re a student hoping to find a killer internship or permanent job doing embedded development this summer, check out TriEmbed. Details are under the Meetings dropdown menu above.

We look forward to seeing and getting to know you there.


September 11 Meeting Recap

  • Announcements
    • Sparkcon starts this weekend with “Geek Expo of Maker and Digital Arts” back at the Redhat Annex on Saturday from 11am to 5pm. And this just in. Adam and Dan will be there with this stuff:

      Maniacal Labs @ Sparkcon this Saturday: they’re back!
    • Raleigh Mini MakerFaire is September 23rd. Splatspace will have a learn to solder booth and other things to share. TriEmbed is passing this year but multiple folks will be attending with handouts.
  • Problem of the Month
    • Paul presented his “counting pushups” problem and gathered ideas submitted by the attendees
    • Details of past problem solving sessions are available via the “Problem of the Month” main menu above.  Or here.
  • Home Automation Presentation
    • What can we say? Ben stunned much of his audience, especially during the Q&A.
  • Show-and-tell
    • Paul gave an update about his power over ethernet development project and his ongoing wrestling match with 802.3AF.
    • Alex presented his “leg movement logging via accelerometer using European Data Format” project using a Teensy USB and open source tools and custom Python code. He gave everyone a great accounting of a typical development project based off open source starting points and got the final results he was after. The GitHub repository for his project is here.
    • (No notes were taken: if you contributed something please drop a line on the email list so this can be back-filled!)
  • General discussion and final questions

Archive of past meeting slides, videos, code and design files

Latest Reflow Progress


Solar Power Management/Charger rev 2B, Trail Counter rev 9

Stainless Steel Stencil from OSH Stencils
Stainless Steel Stencil from OSH Stencils

Here are Chip McClelland’s latest Trail Counter and Solar Charger boards, together with a shot of the stainless steel stencil now offered by OSH Stencils. The metal stencil makes it hugely easier to get perfect pasting and confirms that the curve that comes with  polymide stencils has been at least one root cause of that type being so challenging to use.  There was no paste bleed through to the back of the stencil, and the fine pitched power controller and Simblee BLE chip lands were perfectly formed. To get a sense of the cost difference some existing board specs were plugged into the OSH Stencils web site: a roughly five square inch battery charger, a three square inch decade counter/divider, and sub-square inch 6-axis breakout board. The steel stencils would be almost exactly double the cost of polymide, averaging about $12 each. By the way,  multiple PCB designs can be grouped within one stencil. This can greatly reduce the cost difference depending on the areas involved.

These are OSH Park boards: very deep blue/purple, sitting on a sky blue antistatic mat. This is a tradeoff with the very bright, high color temperature LED flood lights used to illuminate the bench.

Wi-Fi Connected IOT Thing

I have been working on this IOT thing for a while and wanted to share some details of my latest project.   In using the data loggers, I have found that just as I need to be able to use different sensors, I also need to be able to support different methods of recording and reporting data.  My first data logger used a MicroSD card for disconnected data collection.  Then, I built a version which connected using a cellular network.  For this next version, I used WiFi.

I started this project using the Atmel 328p but soon came to a realization, with WiFi, I needed more working memory and would need a more powerful chip.  After some trial and error, I decided to use the wonderful Teensy 3.1 from PJRC.  This is an Arduino compatible ARM processor with much more memory and speed.

The basic build contains the following components:

The basic idea is that this board will connect to GPS, obtain a GPS fix and report its location to Ubidots.  Ubidots can then display this information in a number of ways including showing the location and the number of times the sensor had been moved that day as the dashboard below shows:

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 11.57.05 AM

Here is the carrier board in detail:

Teensy Data Logger Board

Here is what the basic board looks like:

Basic Board
Basic Board

And here it is inside its protective Pelican case:


I have posted the firmware sketch and the carrier board Design files to my Github repository.

A few design notes:

  • I wanted to use a variety of power sources (including Solar) so I went with the TI TPS63002 Buck-boost switching DC-DC converter.  It can be a pain to solder (see tutorial here) but I have yet to find a more versatile power supply.
  • I incorporated a very cool battery monitoring approach using a P-MOSFET to allow the data logger to monitor battery voltage and report it to Ubidots.  While not as good as true fuel gauge, it should be easy to implement across various power sources.  Thanks to Shane Trent for sharing this circuit on his excellent FET Tricks Blog.  I have yet to implement this in the firmware but will leave that you to.
  • I have put some potentiometers and a momentary contact switch (held high) on the board for future use.  One plan I have for the switch is to test for a button press at startup to select the WiFi network to use.  The potentiometers are intended to adjust the sensitivity and reporting interval for the logger.
  • I added extra connections for power management – you should be able to turn off the WiFi and GPS modules to save power between reporting.  The Teensy can be put to sleep as well and the accelerometer can wake it with the provided interrupt connection.
  • I also included the battery holder and header pin for using the Teensy’s integrated real time clock.  You only need to add the battery and solder a crystal on the underside of the Teensy.  This would enable you to set a regular reporting interval even if no movement is detected. Full instructions are provided here.

I hope this information is helpful.  Please leave comments or contact me if you have questions.  Also, you can follow me on Twitter @chipmc86 to hear about more over time.