Process automation: temperature sensing

My previous article documented how I designed and built a PCB that hosted three relays and a triac that could be mounted inside a PC case and connected up via the USB bus for host control using simple commands. The relays and triacs board That board is of course the output part of the system,...

Process automation: relays and triacs

In my previous article I discussed how I intended to convert an old PC into a controller that I could use to automate the temperature control required to ferment and conditional beer. If you haven’t already read that introduction then I’d encourage you to do that so you know what...

Process automation: building a process controller

Not a lot of people know this, but I brew my own beer as a hobby; and I’m not talking about the murky coloured astringent tasting dodgy brews of yesteryear. The beer I brew is probably best described as craft ale. I do the whole process, much like a brewery would. I design recipes, crush...

A laser-cut acrylic case for my server power supply controller

In my last article I built a controller board around the Artesyn NXA66 server power supply module that I picked up very cheaply on ebay. This board gave me the ability to control the key functions of the module and formed the basis for a rather nice, high current desktop PSU for voltages of...

A high current power supply built around a server voltage regulator

Regular readers of this blog will have already seen the article that I published about 4 months ago where I attempted to reverse engineer a voltage regulator module originally designed to fit into a Dell server. The theory was that these would be high quality, stable and robust designs that...

GPS Disciplined Oscillator review and teardown Nov12

GPS Disciplined Oscillator review and teardown

You may recall that about a year ago I built a frequency counter based on an FPGA and an Android user interface. I called it Nanocounter and you can read about it here if you haven’t already done so. One of the basic requirements for building a frequency counter is the ability to...

Reverse engineering a server CPU voltage regulator module

A recent ebay fishing expedition yielded an interesting little part for the very reasonable sum of about five pounds. It’s a voltage regulator module from a Dell PowerEdge 6650 Xeon server. I originally bought this because I had the idea of salvaging parts from it to use in another...

Old, not obsolete. Working with the Xilinx Virtex-E FPGA in a huge BGA package.

Let me see now, it must have been about two years ago when this story started. I was bored. I can’t remember why but when I’m bored I often surf ebay just to see what interesting bits and pieces are out there. Mostly it’s the same old stuff repeated over and over. Cheap bare PCB modules from the far east at the low end and chancers wanting $1000 for a broken oscilloscope at the other. This time though I found something interesting. Someone in Sweden was selling a job lot of forty factory-sealed Virtex-E FPGAs for what amounted to two quid each. And they were big ones — the XCV600E-6FG676. ‘Virtex’ is...

An acrylic case for Nanocounter

You may have already read my writeup about my first experience with laser cutting and the case that I produced for my reflow oven controller. If not then you can always get up to speed by clicking here. Creating a design for laser cutting involves laying out the different pieces into a...

A review of the Maximator Altera FPGA development board

I recently received a review sample of a rather nice looking FPGA development board called Maximator from the folks at Kamami.com. I’ve spent some time evaluating it and this post is a detailed review of the board. The development kit arrives in a nice, well padded box. What’s in...

A custom enclosure for the Android bluetooth reflow controller

It’s a good nine or ten months now since I published my design for a reflow oven controller that uses an Android app for display and control. I knew at the time that I would need an enclosure for this controller and not just because of the obvious hazards of having exposed mains...

Nanocounter is an accurate frequency counter using an FPGA, STM32 and a bluetooth android app

Here we have a good example of how a requirement for a simple tool spirals out of control and spawns a project that takes months to complete and ends up dwarfing the project that it was originally expected to facilitate. You see, some time ago I was fiddling around with a project, something to do with data logging, probably, I’ve actually forgotten what I was up to. Said project would have used an MCU to acquire and timestamp data over an extended period of time and I quickly realised that the oscillators and quartz crystals used to generate the clock tree inside an MCU are not accurate enough to track wall-clock time over extended...

USB HID device development on the STM32 F042

The STM23 F042 series is ST’s cheapest route into USB device programming for the F0 series of STM32 microcontrollers. In hacker-friendly units of one you can buy an STM32F042F6P6 (48Mhz, 32Kb flash, 6Kb SRAM, TSSOP20) for £1.47 at Farnell today. STM32F042 TSSOP20 0.65mm pitch...

A development board for the STM32F042 TSSOP package

It’s been a while since I posted a new article, a delay at least partly due to me herniating a disc in my neck which left me completely unable to look downwards for any length of time and as you’ll know all too well you can’t work on circuit boards without peering down at...

Filtering the 5V USB power supply line Jul24

Filtering the 5V USB power supply line

I’m currently working on a new project that contains sensitive analogue components and have rediscovered what many before me already know, that is that the VUSB 5V line that comes out from your computer’s USB hub is noisy. In fact I was surprised at just how noisy it is....

An android reflow controller that anyone can build Jul12

An android reflow controller that anyone can build

The story so far Welcome to the never ending saga of Andy and his reflow controllers. About a year ago I published a project writeup showing how I built a PID-based reflow controller. It featured a 640×360 graphical LCD from the Sony U5 Vivaz mobile phone and was all-surface mount. It...

Cheap China ATMega8 investigation: counterfeit or just great value? May31

Cheap China ATMega8 investigation: counterfeit or just great value?

I was recently working on an all through-hole project and for prototyping purposes I’d bought myself an ATmega328P microcontroller from Farnell; you know the one, you can find it on every Arduino Uno board. The general idea was that I’d write the firmware with the luxury of 32Kb...

PCB Fail: Andy bitten by manufacturing defect May02

PCB Fail: Andy bitten by manufacturing defect

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that when I want to get a batch of PCBs made I use the low-cost prototyping services available from the Chinese houses such as Seeed Studio, ITead Studio or Elecrow. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose because I’m convinced that...