Cypress PSoC4 Pioneer Kit Review

28 08 2013

I mostly work with microcontrollers and occasionally FPGAs. I already had a PSoC3 board that a Japanese magazine was giving so I had a pretty good idea about what PSoC is. For those of you who are new to the term, PSoC stands for Programmable System-on-Chip, it is like a System-on-Chip as it has analog and digital components and a microcontroller core and all of the parts inside it are programmable. You can do things in the microcontroller like look-up tables, then decide to move them to the digital logic part of it to save some memory and faster response. Before I begin with my review, I have to warn some about it: Although this board comes in Arduino form factor, using it is definitely harder than an Arduino. You actually have to set up the peripherals (or components as Cypress calls them) in a schematic editor like you are doing a circuit schematic, open each peripherals’ settings and set them (like ADC channels, sampling rate …), then you can move onto coding. But more about this later.

Kit Contents

The kit contains the development board with the 4200 family PSoC, a USB cable, 6 jumper wires and a quick start guide. There is not much on the quickstart guide, but the link there ( is important. It takes you to the product page where you can get the PSoC Creator (the IDE), the kit datasheet and a program that adds kit examples into the IDE.

Kit contents. Brochure on the left, board on the right top, USB and jumper cables on right bottom.

Kit contents. Brochure on the left, board on the right top, USB and jumper cables on right bottom.

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HackerSpace Monitoring with Raspberry Pi

22 03 2013

About 2 months ago, nice folks at Adafruit offered to send us a care package filled with Raspberry Pi goodness. In return, they wanted us to create something and write about it. Most of us were busy, but it seemed like a good offer, so we quickly accepted it as we thought “Well, we will have some free time, right?” Yeah, free time…

Thus arrived our care package 4 weeks ago, addressed to yours truly as I was selected to be the person responsible with the progress. Nope, it had nothing to do with me giving classes about Raspberry Pi or being experienced with embedded Linux boards; the reason is as a grad student I have a flexible schedule, enjoy all-nighters, solder fumes and programming. We discussed many projects: GPS data logger, weather display, radiation measurement server and so on. All was nice but I wanted a couple of things to try with this project: WiFi access to a hidden network (our HackerSpace has a hidden network), using a webcam, reading sensors and displaying them. That gave me an idea to have a HackerSpace status display so that we can see if anybody is in so that people without keycards can drop by. While we are at it, why not add a webcam feed to it and a temperature&humidity sensor to see if it’s a good idea to leave home (In Tokyo, summers are really hot and humid so you usually don’t wander off the regular path between home and work). That is how HackerSpace Monitor was formed.

HackerSpace Monitor during development. The switch on the left side is for status messages, there is also a wireless adapter attached to the USB hub.

HackerSpace Monitor during development. The switch on the left side is for status messages, there is also a wireless adapter attached to the USB hub.

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12V Phone Charger v2.0

25 06 2011

Just a couple of days after the Great Tohoku Earthquake, everybody at Tokyo HackerSpace was working on projects of their own. This is a project that began at that time but was stalled due to lots of reasons. We might be late for people of Tohoku, but the project is ready for manufacturing for other disasters around the world.

v2.0 board, soldered

One problem we saw was that people were in these shelters without any type of communication. Sure they had cellphones but cellular system was down and charging their phones impossible as all had left their chargers at home. We couldn’t have done anything about cellular system but there was chance that we could help them charge their cellphones.
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Using Bus Pirate with Arduino IDE

4 05 2011

Yesterday, a friend from Tokyo HackerSpace said that he bought an DIY Arduino kit. The problem is that the ATmega168P does not come with the required bootloader. Just the same day I bought two FreakDuino boards and tried to use them to flash the bootloader with no luck. FreakDuino boards had no problem as I tested the same approach using other Arduino type boards available at the hackerspace.

This morning an idea popped up in my mind to use the Bus Pirate with avrdude. I managed to program but something was off because I was not able to connect to the bootloader. I can use Bus Pirate with avrdude directly as it’s firmware can interact with avrdude. “How about embedding it into Arduino IDE?” was the question in my mind now.

While messing around the directory of Arduino IDE, I found some text files and answer to my question lies in one of them: programmers.txt

Just add these three lines to it and you are good to go (note: you might need root privileges for Linux) Bus Pirate


MTM06 is over

21 11 2010

Make: Tokyo Meeting 06 was an eye opening experience. Lots of cool stuff to look at & play with, speaking with fellow geeks about their projects (sometimes in Japanese, a really bad one 😀 ) and taking lots of pictures and a couple of videos. I am still thinking about which photo best describes this event, and there are so many! I think I will go with the stuff I bought and got for free. 🙂

MTM06 loot

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TK-1315LA review and connection guide

3 09 2010

I recently purchased a TK-1315LA GPS module and an MMCX antenna set from here. My first test results were good and I am planning to use it in a future project (involving robots of course!). It is a really tiny (L42.0 x W14.0 x H9.2mm) 3.3volt GPS module that tracks up to 20 satellites. The default data output is NMEA0184 V3.00, RTCM formatted data by UART @ 9600bps, 8N1.

GPS module and Bus Pirate connection

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PIC32 Ethernet Starter Kit review

3 09 2010

I have attended the PIC32 Ethernet Starter Kit RoadTest event, won a kit and here is my review. The PIC32 Ethernet Starter Kit is the 3rd version of a series of PIC32 starter kits. This is not my first time for working with Ethernet enabled microcontrollers but a first for PIC32 family.

Package Content

The kit came in a black plastic box which resembles a DVD box. The contents were:

  • PIC32 Ethernet Starter Kit development board
  • USB Mini-B to full-sized A cable – USB debug cable to debug and power the board
  • USB Micro-B to full-sized A cable – PIC32 USB cable to communicate with the PIC32 USB port
  • RJ-45 CAT5 Ethernet patch cable – Ethernet CAT5 cable to communicate with the PIC32 Ethernet port
  • Software CD
  • Registration card

Package contents

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