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 Post subject: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 12:06 am 
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So, PCB123.com has generously agreed to let me beta test their new software (actually, I griped A LOT on their after order survey and they called me and I gave them an earful), so I thought I might make the first-ever TwinCitiesMaker branded product- an Arduino shield.

Right now, I'm leaning towards an LED-I/O combo board. Features I'm considering to make it something special:

Support for the most common alphanumeric LCD driver, the HD44780- I'd like to put in a couple of different header arrangements, so users could populate a SIL or DIL header as appropriate to their particular LCD. The reasoning there is simple: the cheapest source for these LCDs is from surplus shops, and there are various connector types, but a fairly limited number thereof.
3-wire serial based LCD communication- perhaps on SPI only, or really generously, on any three pins.
Analog input for buttons- to save I/O pins, a resistor network, properly applied, can provide several discrete analog voltages, allowing an analog input to scan for button input.
Mini-joystick input- because, let's face it, that's just cool. Mouser has tiny analog joysticks, but they are still nearly an inch square, which is pretty big on a 2.1x2.7 inch board. Although nothing says the shield has to be the same size as the Arduino is...
Negative voltage for high-contrast units- If I get really ambitious. This is a low priority- these units are not common.
Voltage inverter to power EL backlit units- This is slightly more likely, because I actually HAVE some EL backlit LCDs.
Auto dimming backlight for LED backlit units- I banged a circuit to do this together ages ago, and it worked better than I'd hoped. Might be worth it, but board real estate may be an issue.
Infrared support- BIG maybe. I might put in the necessary lands and connections, but not plan to write software for it yet.

And of course, I'd have to write an Arduino library to support this.

So, bottom line is this- would anybody here like to see this happen? Enough to pitch in and buy one (or two or three)? According to the PCB123 pricing tool, at 25 units, this PCB would run about $7 per, dropping to about $5 per at 50 units. That is for unpopulated bare boards, without soldermask and silkscreen. Soldermask and silkscreen will roughly double the cost- worth it to sell to others, but for "in-house" (not that we HAVE a house) prototypes, it's unnecessary frills.

At $7 per, I'd be willing to buy 5. If we can find four other people willing to pitch in $35 to this, or any permutation that gets us to 25 boards, I'll get started on it. Actually, I'll probably get started on it no matter what, but I'd like some inkling that I'm GOING somewhere with it. Also, note that PCB123 has a very rapid turn around. I ordered boards yesterday and they would have been in my hands today if my company hadn't closed the shipping department down on Fridays to save cash.

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 Post subject: Re: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:44 am 
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I'd be in for 5.

-Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:10 pm 
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FYI, I am interested in this, not sure I fully understand the details and applications at this point but it sounds cool.

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 Post subject: Re: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:23 pm 
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Also, Uptown, since you seem to be the one to talk to about this, how could I get a PCB board going for the music sequencer project in Make 13:

http://makezine.com/13/sequencer/


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 Post subject: Re: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:56 pm 
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idris_arslanian wrote:
Also, Uptown, since you seem to be the one to talk to about this, how could I get a PCB board going for the music sequencer project in Make 13:

http://makezine.com/13/sequencer/


Yeah that's a cool one, I think it was in my list of kits we could sell. Kids love all the noise toys I've made.

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 Post subject: Re: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:22 pm 
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...and the parents? ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:57 pm 
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Theo wrote:
...and the parents? ;)


That kind of depends on the parent, some people don't get it, it's more universal with kids.

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 Post subject: Re: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:26 am 
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Put me down for 1 for now, If I get a job anytime soon I'll post again for more.

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 Post subject: Re: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:57 am 
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noise wrote:
That kind of depends on the parent, some people don't get it, it's more universal with kids.
Tell me about it. (guess what sort of parents mine were/are)

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 Post subject: Re: Arduino shield
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:05 am 
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noise wrote:
idris_arslanian wrote:
Also, Uptown, since you seem to be the one to talk to about this, how could I get a PCB board going for the music sequencer project in Make 13:

http://makezine.com/13/sequencer/


Yeah that's a cool one, I think it was in my list of kits we could sell. Kids love all the noise toys I've made.


I'll check it out and see how hard/easy it would be. Most of the stuff in Make: is pretty trivial, electronically speaking- usually not much worse than an Arduino. If we can kit it up and sell it, I'd like that.

I have some other ideas, too- I'm thinking an 8-pin pre-programmed microcontroller that generates a square wave of any frequency up to, say, 500 kHz, the frequency and duty cycle are programmable by resistor divider. Also, a similar product that takes input from a quadrature encoder (think rotary input that goes in one direction or the other, forever) and outputs either a range from 0-255 (over SPI) OR direction on one pin and pulse on another OR pulse on one when the encoder is turning one way and pulse on another pin when the encoder is turning the opposite direction. Also, one that decodes IR signals from a remote control receiver. All of these things would kind of be parallel processing applications: a small, cheap (<$2) co-processor that handles the grunt work required to provide useful input to another application.

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