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Model Train Mounted Accelerometer

 
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BronzeG3
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Joined: 30 Apr 2006
Posts: 134

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:12 pm    Post subject: Model Train Mounted Accelerometer Reply with quote

I am currently working on a model train mounted accelerometer system for my Embedded Systems class. The overview of the system is to have a sensor on the train take readings on the accelerations of the train. A small PIC reads the values and sends them over RF. A Xilinx FPGA board reads from the RF receiver and can send the data over a serial port or I2C. Finally, another PIC provides USB support. I thought it might turn out to be somewhat cool and/or useful, so I am posting my progress here.

Tonight, I made my frist PCB (ever) using the toner transfer method (http://www.fullnet.com/u/tomg/gooteepc.htm). I would have used the light method, but finding regular copper boards was easier then finding sensitized boards. Once the boards were made, I soldered the sensors and pin headers on. This was also my first time soldering surface mount chips, so it was an exciting experience all around. I will post pictures later, as they are on another computer. I know the soldering jobs are horrible, but practice makes perfect.
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BronzeG3
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Joined: 30 Apr 2006
Posts: 134

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are the pictures. My camera is a bit old, so the pictures didn't come out all that well.

The first one I made:


The second one:


Board size and routing improved a bit from the first one to the second one, but I broke my drill bit used to make the holes for the pin head, so I had to use a larger bit.
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Alan
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Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1399
Location: Winnipeg, MB

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like the board turned out quite good! Smile
Looking forward to future project updates.
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BronzeG3
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Joined: 30 Apr 2006
Posts: 134

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted to update this topic as I made progress, but everytime I worked on a certain part, it ended up not working. As the semester comes to a close, most of it is fixed. I made another board to mount to the PIC, accelerometer, and RF transmitter, but I still need to make a board to house the RF receiver and USB interface. I'll post the final results after everything is completed and hopefully working.

For more information: http://filebox.vt.edu/users/dkaplan/picts/embed/
# IMG_1210.jpg - My test setup:
Left: PIC programmer
TOP: Xilinx FPGA dev board
Bottom: Sensor/PIC board
Right: USB board
# IMG_1211.jpg - Completed Sensor/PIC/RF board
# IMG_1212.jpg - RF Receiver
# IMG_1214.jpg - Closeup of Xilinx Board
# IMG_1215.jpg - Closeup of USB Board
# embed presentation.pps - Slides from the poster I had to make. It gives some basic information.

P.S. If you go to the parent directory of that URL, do so at your own risk. There are some things that may not be safe for work. Despite that, MVI_1015 is an avi of the LCD of a temperature sensor system I made for my PC. Enjoy.
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Nginuity
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Joined: 13 Nov 2006
Posts: 224
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks good! And I do mean that coming from a Ram to a Hokie Very Happy

Just one thing I wanted to ask, and in no way is this a slam, because I think you have a GREAT idea here. Why not choose a PIC that already had onboard USB capability? The more I research it, the more I like the idea because some of the units allow you to program them via USB because they have onboard bootloaders in most cases.
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BronzeG3
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Joined: 30 Apr 2006
Posts: 134

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the complements. Very Happy

I'm not exactly sure what you mean with your question. The PIC i'm using for USB is an 18F4550, which does have onboard USB capability. The tutorial from http://piccoder.co.uk was a great help getting everything USB working. The PIC I'm using on the train I selected due to its small size and low cost. The Xilinx board I'm using is required for the class. It has a USB port, but I have no idea how to access it from software.
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Nginuity
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Joined: 13 Nov 2006
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Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, I understand....Sorry, I didn't read carefully enough. I was originally under the impression you had a separate PIC just for the USB. I apologize for the misunderstanding. Are you using the Xilinx starter kit software, or an alternate method? I could ask around and see about how to access the USB port. A few of my Ham Radio friends are looking to build their own Software Defined Radio, and I think I heard them say Xilinx this or that at one point.
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BronzeG3
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Joined: 30 Apr 2006
Posts: 134

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's all good.

The board is the Spartan-S3E, and I'm using Xilinx Platform Studio. This is my first time dealing with an FPGA with this much power.

One of my TA's from a previous class was doing research into software defined radio. That is some cool stuff.
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Nginuity
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Joined: 13 Nov 2006
Posts: 224
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BronzeG3 wrote:
One of my TA's from a previous class was doing research into software defined radio. That is some cool stuff.


Ask him if he did much "bit banging" in his microcontroller code Smile Software Defined Radio uses a lot of that.
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