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Old 06-29-2010, 03:20 PM   #21
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What exactly do you need to program the microcontrollers? Is it a socket that plugs into the computer? I'd love to learn to program them myself. I don't know C, but I learned to code in MATLAB in college and I taught myself to use VBA this past year at work. The principles are the same, I'd just have to learn the syntax. I do appreciate the offer for the programmed chip.

As long as you didn't let the magic smoke out of the circuit, there's still hope. Why use a pot when you need a constant resistance?
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Old 06-29-2010, 06:04 PM   #22
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you guys might want to be careful when talking about your pots and magic smoke...

Im really interested in all of this, i need to go back over everything more carefully. If you guys do any private communication regarding this, could one of you type up a summary for the rest of us to look at for later use?
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Old 06-29-2010, 06:55 PM   #23
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What exactly do you need to program the microcontrollers? Is it a socket that plugs into the computer? I'd love to learn to program them myself. I don't know C, but I learned to code in MATLAB in college and I taught myself to use VBA this past year at work. The principles are the same, I'd just have to learn the syntax. I do appreciate the offer for the programmed chip.

As long as you didn't let the magic smoke out of the circuit, there's still hope. Why use a pot when you need a constant resistance?

Here's the programmer I use.

USBtinyISP - Inexpensive USB AVR Programmer

It's cheap, and you can solder it yourself to get some experience. (Or you can buy one presoldered, but if you can't solder this, you shouldn't be doin this project.)

Also download AVR Studio. I have version 4.13, I don't know if there are newer ones, but this version works with the programmer I showed you above. You could always buy a brand name programmer, but they are anywhere from $50 to $100, and I figured, "Why spend the money when I can buy one for $20 that does the same thing? There are also some programs you need to make the programmer work correctly with AVR studio, but they're really easy. It's on the site, and it walks you through it. If you get those things, you'll be able to program any chip. (Well, any Amtel chip at least, I haven't tried adurinos)

Also, I order everything from DigiKey.com It's a (I think) wholesale distributor. I think they're used to very large orders, but I make small orders just fine. Great shipping too. It's really hard to find the correct things though, cause there is like 5 slightly different versions of everything. You REALLY have to know what you're looking for. But, I have all of the part numbers I used, so if you want to make sure you're getting the right stuff, I can look it over for you. Also, I'll type up a parts list when I'm done.

Anyway, start lookin up C programming. It's actually pretty easy. (Of course I say that, I know it lol) Like you said, once you know how to program, it's all syntax.

Ok, on to the business at hand. I finished my little "project box". The ones at Radio Shack didn't fit right, either too big or to small, so I made one. I put a small computer fan on the end so that the regulators don't get too hot. One thing I did forget to do was actually program the delays into the MCU, so that it takes 12ish hours to go through the whole cycle. But I still have the programming part set up on the breadboard, so it'll be done in a few. I'm going to install everything tonight, so I don't bug the fish by turning the light off in the middle of the day. Hopefully the day after tomorrow I'll have some time lapse video of the moonlights and stuff in action.

EDIT: Oh and on the use of the POT, I believe with the use of the variable voltage regulator, the calculation isn't exactly correct, so the POT helps you get the exact voltage you want. I could guess and stick a bunch of different resistors in there, but it's just easier this way.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:47 AM   #24
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Im really interested in all of this, i need to go back over everything more carefully. If you guys do any private communication regarding this, could one of you type up a summary for the rest of us to look at for later use?
If Corrado is ok with it, I'd be happy to share anything I can.

Corrado, thanks for the info. I'm always a fan of cheap work-arounds. So I build this programmer and the microcontroller plugs in directly, correct?
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Old 06-30-2010, 12:04 PM   #25
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If Corrado is ok with it, I'd be happy to share anything I can.

Corrado, thanks for the info. I'm always a fan of cheap work-arounds. So I build this programmer and the microcontroller plugs in directly, correct?
Not exactly. You basically have to make a programming "socket" for the chip. It's just 6 wires, but the programmer is built to work with any chip, not just the one I'm using, but because of that you have to make your own. I suggest buying a solderless breadboard. You basically need one for circuit prototyping anyway. With that breadboard, you can program any chip that will fit into the holes. EDIT: You can buy breadboards from digikey as well. EDIT2: Many people include the programming wires on their actual board they make, so they can actually program the chip without removing it. (I probably should have done this)

I'll take a picture of mine. It only takes a few seconds to wire the programmer to the chip. You just gotta know where to put the wires lol. Again, I'll write a complete writeup when I get everything working right. Right now, my "sensor" isn't working right. It needs to be adjusted.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:08 PM   #26
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following along...
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Old 06-30-2010, 05:48 PM   #27
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I'm going to test everything tonight, while the lights are out. (I don't like to bug the fish.) So HOPEFULLY tomorrow night will be the first full blown thing. Right now when I plug it in it automatically goes to the moonlights I think? I don't know, cause I put major delays in to slow everything down. I'm going to delete the delays and test everything before I put them back in. (Dumb move on my part putting them in before it was fully working)

Oh and when the one moonlight did come on yesterday, it looked REALLY cool. The purple LEDs are more of a spotlight than a wide angle light, so it kinda just looks like a purple beam is shining down from the heavens. I actually love the look. It kinda looked like aliens had come to abduct my fish. lol And the light bounced around enough to let me see the rest of the tank, although JUST barely. Also, I think I could see the spotlight cause my water isn't really polished. There are tiny pieces of stuff floating around. Normally you'd never notice, but when it's dark, and there is a single light, you notice.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:17 PM   #28
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What LEDs did you use again for the moonlights?
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:20 PM   #29
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I bit the price bullet and bought some UV/purple ones from radioshack. I was too impatient to order cheap ones.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:22 PM   #30
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I was looking for some good ones for mine, do you have a link i could check out? Or just the brand and model number?
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