Getting started with ESP8266 – NodeMCU

ESP8266 is a Wifi  enabled microcontroller on the boom. The  rise of Internet of things and the launch of this chip has taken over many  other wifi modules which are quiet expensive. There are quiet a number of choice of selecting your esp8266 board. I got a couple of them manufactured by Olimex. I just ‘t started working on this chip, sure there will be more post about this one. At the moment I was able to flash  nocemcu lua intertpreter to the chip.

For flashing this chip I used 1. Sparkfun FTDI Basic breakout, wires,Breadboard and ESP8266 module. I connected them like shown below.

Wiring:

 

esp8266wiring

Which looks like this :)

ESP8266 Breadboard wiring

 

Firmware:

I downloaded a nocemcu firmware from here and  flashed it to the controller.

Flashing Arduino Pro Mini 3V using FTDI Breakout

This post is about getting started with Arduino Pro Mini  board. It is a small breakout board which uses the same microcontroller that is used in Arduino i.e Atmega328. To flash the board you need FTDI breakout board, USB Cable and Of course Arduino Pro Mini. It requires a 3.3v power supply and  is powered using the FTDI Board so you dont need an external power supply when it is connected to the FTDI board.

Arduino Pro Mini, FTDI Breakout, USB Cable

The FTDI breakout is designed to fit with the Arduino board such that I dont need any additional  cable or change in pin settings.

From the software side, you need to install the Arduino IDE and open the Blink example. You should also select the board for which the sketch/code should be compiled. It can be done by clicking Tools->Boards->Arduino Pro or Pro Mini (3.3V & 8Mhz) w/Atmega328 . Then you plug the USB cable which is already connected to the FTDI/Arduino circuit and Hit the upload button.

Getting started with RT5350F evaluation board – Internet Of Things

I recently bought a RT5350F evaulation board  to play around with Internet of things. I first got to know about this from a kickstarter campaign named Vocore. Its based on the chip RT5350F from Ralink. The highlight of that chip is that its a Wifi SOC which can run  Linux. The  board I use is RT5350F-OLinuXino-EVB from Olimex. It comes in two parts the Module and the baseboard. The module is a self contained module ready boot up while the base board provides a quick user interface for evaulation and other purpose.

So in order to start using this Linux running  board you need few basic things. 1 Power, 2 serial access. For a typical Embedded Linux PC the fundamental access to the machine is serial terminal, without that its imposssible to get things started.

For this purpose I bought Sparkfun FTDI Basic Breakout – 3.3V  from exp-tech.de . Its nifty tool for getting serial access to variety of devices from microcontroller till Embedded Linux boards. Here is the big picture of all you need.

 

The Big picture

The Big picture

 

Power:

I used a 5V 3A power supply to power the RT5350F board.

Serial Connection:

All you need to do is connect the RX, TX and GND of the EVB to the TX, RX and GND of the FTDI Breakout board.

For connecting the EVB to the FTDI Breakout board, I took a servo motor extender cable with cut it in to two halves and used the female part to be connected to EVB and created a male side using break away headers like this.

Serial connection cable

Here is the schematic of the wiring

cable

And I made a short video of the whole thing.

On the PC side I was using  Lubuntu operating system running minicom serial terminal application. Alternatively you can also use cutecom and if you are running windows you can try Putty serial or Hyper terminal or any other serial terminal program.

Flow Control:

Everything was going good and was able to see the Linux boot messages but I was unable to get the root prompt. This was because the minicom was trying to use hardware flow control but I had used only RX, TX and not other pins which are required for flow control. To solve this I disabled the hardware flow control in the minicom setup. (Type Ctrl-A and then Shift-o to reach the settings menu) and finally I got the command prompt aka shell of the OpenWrt Distro :).

Overall it was a smooth experience in getting started with the board and I was completely satisfied with the initial setup process. What was disappointing for me was the shipment  issue. Yes I ordered couple of boards directly from Olimex to be shipped to Germany. I received the board , opened it and noticed that there was a crack in one of the relays.

Broken Olimex board - shipment

I immediately contacted the support of the olimex website to report the issue. After a couple of email exchange I was pointed to this link https://www.olimex.com/wiki/GTC#Broken_Items_during_shipment .  From the link it was quiet clear that I should  get hold of the guy who delivers the shipment.

Lesson learnt: Never send the delivery  guy until you are 100% sure that nothing is damaged.

Anyway I tested those relays they seem to work fine, its just the outer plastic which got damaged.

But in the meantime, I compared the two shipments the one I got from Olimex and the one I got from Exp-tech. Olimex  shipped in a bubble wrap cover and Exp-tech shipped in a cardboard box.

Exp-tech package:

Exp-tech packaging

 

Olimex Package:

Olimex package

 

Olimex Package

For me its very clear that the shipment will get damaged if one is using a bubble wrap rather than a cardboard box.