Saturday, June 11, 2011

Prototyping Update

Lots of progress this week. 

I managed to finish two boards and send those to the Fab shop. After a few mix-ups, and footprint errors, the third board was sent to the shop as well. Also, went and purchased some of the parts for the boards from my local electronics store. Ran a bill of around $90 US, but thats because I bought in triplicates, quadruplicates and more to have a ton of spare parts in case I want to make several boards. I'll find out just how many sets I actually bought for once I start assembling the boards, which should be in a couple of weeks, when the new boards come in. Unfortunately I couldnt find the 30A relays I need at the local shop, only 20A, and they are the wrong footprint, so I wont be able to use them (but to keep handy just in case).

The LAMP server is now operational, with remote access enabled so I can work on it without needing to keep switching back and forth to it on the monitor (remote access would be disabled once the system is operational with a touch-screen interface). This makes my life easier. Only thing I havent tested is the MySQL Database, so thats still on my to-do list. Also I'll have to get a domain name and a DNS account to be able to go live with this server...but thats in the future when I want to connect remotely to the system. Now that I know that it works for the most part, I can start writing code to interface with the microcontrollers.

The wonderful thing about the Efika is that you can leave it running overnight, and you dont even know that its still on except for the little LED button that tells you the power is on. Its just that silent. There are no fans, and no mechanical hard drive, so zero noise. Even cooler is that fact that it produces so little heat (haha the pun was intended), so I can put it in my bedroom and just leave it, or connect it anywhere it my house and it runs safely and silently. And with the WiFi card built in, all you need is the power plug, and it just sits there with nothing else plugged in. I admit, you'd have a really clean desktop if you used this as your computer. I have been having quite a bit of fun with this little thing. Only thing I'm not enjoying is the UBoot Bios that doesnt show on the screen while its loading. So you're not privy to some of the features and hardware settings you would normally have access to in a regular computer. But I dont need the fancy options just yet (WiFi WoL), until sometime in the future.

So next up is completing the Arduino shield for the gas sensors with built in power management to keep the heaters at the right settings all the time. I'll try to wrap up the remaining board today to get it in with Laen by Monday's panel. Also I'll try to visualize what the prototype modules will look like to get an idea of things. Gas sensor modules (Fire Detection System) will probably look similar to current smoke/CO detectors, and will have a built in piezo siren.

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