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Thread: Arduino based Renard Tester

  1. #1
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    Default Arduino based Renard Tester

    This last week I finally made time to work on something that's been in the back of my head for months. Code-name "Hephaestus" it is a handheld, battery operated, arduino based tester for Renard controllers. You can read all about it on my Christmas website at: http://christmasonquiethills.com/how...ks/hephaestus/

    In a nutshell, it has an LCD and navigation buttons to configure the output which is converted to RS485 for Renard controllers.



    If you read the page, you'll see it is not complete and I have a goal of making the final hardware block as cheap as possible. I would like to get help from the community in designing the breakout board that I currently have breadboarded. I'd like to use this to learn how to do board layouts in Eagle, so I may have questions about that as well as how to keep costs down.
    [url]http://christmasonquiethills.com/[/url]
    [url]http://diychristmas.org/vb1/index.php[/url]

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    Default Re: Arduino based Renard Tester

    Well done!
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    Default Re: Arduino based Renard Tester

    Nice! I've had the same thing running through my head for awhile now. I have a pic based one in the works but I never can seem to get around to finishing it
    Chris
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    Default Re: Arduino based Renard Tester

    Looks good MD!

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    Default Re: Arduino based Renard Tester

    I don't know all of the ins-and-outs of selecting shields for Arduino, but I have a few comments for your Hephaestos web page...

    First, there are character LCD displays that cost a lot less than $25 (assuming that this was the cost of the display and not the cost of the display plus a shield).

    Second, most character LCD displays can be driven in a four-bit mode, requiring only seven pins (plus maybe an eighth pin for backlight control), so I don't think that pin count should be an issue.
    Phil

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    Default Re: Arduino based Renard Tester

    very nice!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Arduino based Renard Tester

    Thanks for all the positive comments everybody! Just got back from a weekend of fun, so I'll probably start working on the RS485 breakout this week and start posting files asking for feedback soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by P. Short View Post
    I don't know all of the ins-and-outs of selecting shields for Arduino, but I have a few comments for your Hephaestos web page...

    First, there are character LCD displays that cost a lot less than $25 (assuming that this was the cost of the display and not the cost of the display plus a shield).

    Second, most character LCD displays can be driven in a four-bit mode, requiring only seven pins (plus maybe an eighth pin for backlight control), so I don't think that pin count should be an issue.
    Phil, you're correct on both accounts.

    For the first comment, $25 is the price for a complete LCD shield PCB and BOM. It uses a HD44780 LCD which can be had for around $15 regularly, but also includes an mcp23017 which is around another buck fifty, but the PCB/header pins/etc. make the cost worth it. In addition, adafruit did the hard work of creating a library for the LCD. Arduino has one to address the HD44780 directly using 7 (or 11) pins called "LiquidCrystal", but a separate one is needed to go through the i2c expander.

    On the second, you're correct again. There is another mode for these LCDs which uses less pins. The reason I went with this one is the fact that the shield has the LCD as well as the 5 navigation buttons all wrapped up into 1 shield and a library to boot! I would probably be able to make my own shield using an LCD and a couple nav buttons, but that would have taken quite a bit more time doing things I'm not good at (hardware). I'm a software guy.

    Thanks for the input from the Renard man himself. Without you, I had no reason to build this thing! :D
    [url]http://christmasonquiethills.com/[/url]
    [url]http://diychristmas.org/vb1/index.php[/url]

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    Default Re: Arduino based Renard Tester

    Here's first stab at the BOB.

    I'm new to designing PCBs, so I'm looking for feedback of any kind. It's very similar to the E681->DMX board budude is working on.

    Here's an image:


    The J2 6-pin header will connect using a ribbon cable to the Diavolino's ftdi breakout and pins 1, 3, and 5 are used. 1 is ground, 3 provides +5V and 5 is the TX from the Diavolino.
    R1 is 560ohm, R2 is 120 ohm, and R3 is 560 ohm. U1 is a ST485BN, C1 is a .1uF ceramic.

    I tried thinking about mounting holes, but the real estate required would have made this BOB much bigger than I was going for. I figure I'll end up using double sided foam tape, or hot glue of some sort in an enclosure or something for this.
    [url]http://christmasonquiethills.com/[/url]
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    Default Re: Arduino based Renard Tester

    A friend suggested getting the placement of decoupling cap C1 as short as possible, so rotate U1 90 clockwise and move C1 under it on the board. Here's the next revision for review:



    Any suggestions?
    [url]http://christmasonquiethills.com/[/url]
    [url]http://diychristmas.org/vb1/index.php[/url]

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Arduino based Renard Tester

    It appears to me that the blue layer is ground, with one signal trace on that layer (U1-6 to R2). I think that it would be a good idea to move that trace to the other side, so that the ground layer doesn't have any slots cut in it. The power layer is less critical in this respect.

    Also, since this is a dedicated transmitter, R1 and R3 are pointless (they are useful on receivers to ensure that you always get a consistent output if the input cable is disconnected). R2 is also fairly pointless for a dedicated transmitter on a point-to-point link, although there might be some small benefit if you have an extremely long cable (1000's of feet) without a terminator at the far (receiving) end.
    Phil

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