Thursday, July 11, 2013

FUN with Engduino

Engduino is an arduino with loads of bells and whistles (16 RGB LED with corresponding LED drivers, accelerometer, thermistor, IR receiver, LiPO battery) assembled together for some really serious fun with programming. Engduino was developed with a philosophy in mind. It is meant as a teaching tool for school children visiting UCL, to embrace programming.

IMHO, most new adopters of arduino that want to jump straight to code development often found them self in a situation where hardware components are hard to come by; either it is too time consuming or simply too expensive to acquire the necessary I/O parts. If I am getting a barebone arduino and stackable sensor shields that are the equivalent to engduino's sensors, I think I would have to survive on free coffee and leftovers from conferences held in campus for the rest of the month. Courtesy of Prof.Hailes, now I am a proud owner of Engduino #073.

Engduino comes with a clear cut instructions on installing for windows, mac or linux and also well documented API to leverage on the available hardware. Existing arduino users might want to download the entire engduino libraries packaged with arduino IDE from ehre. Just download it and unrar the content to a folder (other than the existing arduino folder if you already have one), install the corresponding drivers for lilypadUSB, and click on arduino.exe in the folder you have just unrar to get started. I strongly recommend to take a look at the existing examples->Engduino to understand how to use the API.

The only thing I like about programming on a computer is, I can experiment with code and not fearing the computer will explode. I have seen enough segfaults and core dumps but nobody was hurt. Having said that, programming without understanding the underlying "computer parts" can result in devastating effect and cost lives. With great ability comes great responsibility.

So...... with your newly acquired programming skills and also ownership of an engduino, what can be done?

For starter, check out my re-mod version of the persistence of vision (POV) toy I had some years back. my original POV toy calls for 8LEDs in a column, but the engduino have a maximum of 5. So, I have done some cheat mod in code by limiting the characters to 5LEDs in the same column. Hopefully, the output will turn out well in testng.

When I was about to test my new toy, I only came to realized that I do not have a USB extension cable long enough for me demo and also record a video of the POV in action. I will upload a video of engduino in action once i get my paws on the usb cable.

So whats next fun thing to do with Engduino??? I am toying on the idea of a signalling bike helmet that uses the the 16 RGB leds with the accelerometer.

POV code below

 As promised, here comes the video. I have to admit it is kind of difficult trying to video this POV ala selfie.

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