Files can be found here.
Well my new tool, a LogicPort Logic analyser from http://www.pctestinstruments.com/index.htm, arrived last week whilst in the middle of our house move and I’ve been itching to try it out, well last night I made time to play with it. The result is, man I wish I had one of these beasts earlier.
The first StrobIt Triggr seen in the Wild!
Jan has made a neat and well packaged version of the StrobIt Triggr. Based on the AtMega8 it runs from a single AA battery. Well done Jan!!!
Ok I have finally had a little bit of time to work on things (will be short lived as I’ve just bought a house and moving in the next couple of weeks Aghh!!).
Things are getting very close to reality after many design changes, the very nearly final Strobit Trigger base board, aka a modified Ardiuno BT board, with the Bluetooth removed and now fitted with the RFM12B SMD Tranceiver module and an external SMA antenna connector. The Eagle 3D side of things still needs work as some components are not shown and the inductor for the DC-DC converter is incorrect, but you get the basic idea right!
Why have I gone to a non-dedicated trigger board?
Well a couple of reasons, initially to cover myself from any patent issues that might have arrisen had I used a dedicated wireless triggering device, but mainly to allow better expandability. Why have a dedicated trigger with all the fruit and only use half of it, this way dedicated boards can be used, i.e. standard trigger, or sound/light trigger, sequences etc. Another reason is that the Ardruino is very well established and supported in the open source community, especially when it comes to the firmware libraries etc, it’s already been done. also I can use these in my robotics hobby as well, not just for photography.
Ok onto the board features:
- Fairly compact same size as ArduinoBT
- Standard Arduino Pin headers, so should be able to use with existing shields.
- Will operate from as low as 1.2V, so should work from x1 NIMH AA easily enough.
- RFM12 Tranceiver, up to 300m range (as per datasheets, although it does depend on the datarate)
- SMA connector so you can connect an external antenna for better reliability and range, or remove the SMA connector and use a piece of wire as the antenna.
What is left to do?
- Well the design is pretty well done, I want to get some prototypes made so I will be sending it off very shortly for fabrication.
- Different variations of shields need to be done, first one being stock standard strobe type of triggr, input and outputs, then others as needed
Due to the number of requests for help in getting a link operation with the RFM12 tranceiver, I’ve set up a dedicated topic on the forums. http://forums.everythingrobotics.com/index.php. Please post any cries for help there, that way no information is lost in the comments of my blog or my email inbox
During the development of the StrobIt Open Trigger Project I’ve been using the HopeRF RFM12B Tranceiver as the RF module. The learning curve was fairly steep so I’ve decided to create a series of How-To articles so that others can easily get the module up and running fairly quickly for their project of choice. So far I’ve already slated these for use in a few other projects around the house, both robotics, home control and weather station related.
Well I finished the two prototype boards tonight with some minor changes and a bit of troubleshooting, still lots to do though. I now have them triggering. Will be testing further over the next few days to get indication of range etc. So far it is only syncing at 1/100. I will be posting more details , schematics, firmware etc as well as I get time.
After a hectic and very hot Christmas (41DegC) I managed to get some development time and finished 2 prototype boards. My RFM12 header boards still have not arrived, caught up in the christmas mail I guess So I’ve had to resort to hand soldering some wires to the header in the meantime. (Murphys law suggests that as soon as I finish soldering these headers the breakout boards will arrive in the mail)
Tomorrow/Later tonight I will test both of them and see if I can get a remote trigger happening woohoo.
Sorry about the quality of the photos as they were taken with my phone
Unfortunately development has ground to a halt for me.
Whilst repartitioning my laptop to give my system drive some more space (I REALLY dislike the default DELL partitioning of 20GB for c: and the rest for d:), I lost my development drive (and the rest of my data drive as well) with all my recent work on it, like the latest pcb I finished yesterday. Luckily I have most of it backed up, however murphys law now comes into play and some of it was not.
To cut a long store short I’ve had to resort to lowlevel recovery of my files, which at this point looks like I’ll recover 100% of my data…phew, but its slow work doing sector level file recovery of a 140GB worth of data!
On a brighter side, just received a shipping notice from batchpcb that my first lot of header boards for the RFM12 has been shipped, I’m hoping that they arrives before Christmas so I can play with them over the break. My 2×6 2mm headers also arrived earlier this week.
I’m pleased to announce the very ALPHA release of the RFM12 library for the wireless HopeRF RFM12 FSK tranceiver module that I’m using for the strobist open trigger project. It was developed under BOOSTC for the PIC embedded controller, but should be easily ported to any compiler.
Most of it is untested, hence the alpha release, but it’s a good starting point. Everything is fairly well documented, but like any project could do with more. Please send me any bug fixes/improvements that you may find while using it.
- 433Mhz and 915Mhz HopeRF FSK RFM12 modules supported
- Initialisation with a basic config
- Set Frequency
- Set Receiver Bandwidth
- Set Receiver Gain
- Set Receiver Signal Strength Indicator Level (RSSI)
- Set Transmit Power level
- Set Transmit Modulation
- Set Baud rate
- Enable/Disable Transmitter
- Enable/Disable Receiver
- Transmit a single byte – blocking
- Transmit a buffer of data – blocking
- Receive single byte – blocking with timeout
- Receive ‘x’ number of bytes into buffer – blocking with timout
TODO: (not in any order)
- Howto documentation
- RFM12 Interrupt handling
- Non-blocking Tx/Rx routines
- MSSP SPI implementation (current SPI implemented via bit bang)
- Frequency hopping
- Custom configurations
Released under the Creative Commons – Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike
Please use this library at your own risk. I will not be held liable for any damages.
I finally had some time this weekend so I started the hardware verification, mainly getting the PIC and the RFM talking together via SPI, of which I have had no previous experience. The PIC is receiving it’s clock source from the RFM12 via the CLK pin so I dont need any external Xtals. The RFM12 default clock rate on reset is 1MHz, so the first challenge is to change the speed of the RFM12 CLK to 10MHz, that way I know the PIC and RFM12 are talking.
As I’m doing most of my software development with BoostC (http://www.boostc.com), there is a library to use the on-chip MSSP (SPI and I2C) functions of the PIC16f873A, so I thought I’d use this and the on-board SPI functions to handle all SPI communications to the RFM12, after a very frustrating few hours and with my scope monitoring the SPI pins, I finally got the SPI to spit out proper CLK, SDO, and receiving something back on the SDI line after I realised I had not had my interrupts enabled to allow for the non blocking SPI functions DOH!
Now that something was getting out and back in, however none of the commands I sent seem to be getting through, well at least not interpreted as commands by the RFM12. After much head scratching and re-reading of the RFM12 SPI timing diagrams It occurred to me that the 16bits that make up the the RFM12 commands were getting send through in byte sized chunks, i.e. 8 bits at a time were being sent through, then the next 8 bits were send with a delay in between the two bytes, this makes sense as the internal SPI uses an 8 bit register that gets transmitted, although the library I was using allows from the transmit of any number of bytes via a buffer. I figured this was the problem and quickly wrote some bit banging SPI functions to test the theory, and straight away the RFM12 responded to my commands and now I have the PIC running at 10MHz.
So now that all is working in the land of Oz as far as my PIC and RFM12 and talking to each other it’s onto finishing the RFM12 library I started last week and testing that with the RFM12 Demo board so I can test Tx and Rx functionality without having two development boards set up.
The RFM12 module is a pain to prototype with due to the 2mm header (won’t fit into the breadboard), so I’ve whipped up a prototyping board that brings out the pins to a standard header. It’s been it sent off for fabrication today so I should have back in the next week or so. I’m trying out www.batchpcb.com for the first time so will be interested in how they turn out.
In the meantime I’ve soldered on some wires but I don’t really like it.
As mentioned in my last entry I was toying with the idea of frequency hopping on the RF side of things, well looks like someone has implemented something similar here http://www.raccoonrezcats.com/rfmodem.html I’ll like to do something similar to this as it seems doable.
While not able to get some “hands on” development time over the weekend, I did more reading of the HopeRF modules and these will be able to achieve the hopping, as the can programmed to any frequency in the 902-928Mhz Freq range so definately looking achievable.
If what the above links says on the site then we could (at least in theory) have a max output of 1watt if we chose to implement hopping, else we are limited to 1mW output power.