Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Ethernet shield is a go!

I kept thinking for a while of buying an Ethernet shield from Lady Ada: it would have been $40 in all ($15 for the shield and $25 for the WIZnet Ethernet module). However, the Wiznet module was back ordered for a while so when I accidentally ran into a similar Ethernet shield on NKC electronics, I didn't hesitate. The decision was easy because this shield comes with the WIZ812MJ module and while normally the shield is $32.99 then it was on sale for $29.99.

It arrived in a couple of days and it looked great. And now I had to solder it. Like I keep saying, I am a beginner so I had no idea how to do it. Of course I tried soldering before but I was never happy with the results. I looked for tutorials and found a couple great ones, like the soldering basics tutorial on Sparkfun and the one from Lady Ada. Armed with all this knowledge I got some courage and took my Weller SP23LK Marksman 25 Watt Soldering Iron Kit that I got at for about $15 out of its plastic (first time using it!) and started to solder following the guide. And it turned out pretty good, if I may say so.

I gave it a quick try using a piece of software Xtalker posted in the Arduino forum and it works great -- thanks a lot, Xtalker for starting me on this project.

Next step: make a real project out of it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Got my Seeeduino today!

I got my Arduino Duemilanove a couple months back and I love it! Since I am a beginner and I haven't had much luck using the debugger in AVR Studio (it worked for a few times and then it started crashing all the time), every time I want to try or learn something I use it because I have instant feedback using the serial connection and the built in LED.

Recently I started thinking about a project for which I need to dedicate the Arduino full time. Of course, I could buy another one or just use the Atmega168 by itself in the project. Or I could use one of the "bare board" clones, there are tons of them available (for a comprehensive list of Arduino-compatible hardware, see this awesome post on Jeff's Arduino Blog).

However, a few days ago I was looking at some of my favorite sites and I discovered that NKC electonics has an awesome deal on a Seeeduino: it originally sells for $27.50 at Seeedstudio but NKC has it for $16 + S&H! Excellent deal, it can't get any better. So, I ordered one and it arrived in a couple of days.

As soon as I got it, I started arduino-0014, and tried to load a "Hello World!" sort of app: blink an LED. Nothing happened! Then I noticed the switches on the left of the Seeeduino board and changed the PWR one from EXTernal to USB: the Power LED turned on and a couple other LEDs started to blink. OK, getting somewhere!

After I set the COM port to the correct one, I tried again to upload the app but still nothing happened. I looked at the switches a bit longer and figured the ReSeT one has to be in Auto mode and not in the default Manual mode. Changed this one and tried again: success!

Of course, I could've gotten here a lot faster if I first read the docs for the Seeeduino! :-)

Anyway, it works great and since I paid less than half the price of a new Arduino, I will use the Seeeduino in my next project. Which hopefully I'll post here soon.