With the Arduino mini, there is a need for a USB to UART controller to upload your sketches and this could also be used for the ESP8266.
This project is inspired and based off the Sparkfun’s FT231X breakout board design. I’ve created this project because 1. I like designing and soldering electronics 2. Try to create a cheaper alternative to the popular FT232RL and also add 1 or 2 features to the current FT231X breakout board.
BILL OF MATERIALS
For the bill of materials, its pretty straight forward. I’ve attached links to digikey for each component as I find them easier to order from but you could also get the parts from arrow or mouser as well.
Below I’ve attached an image of the schematic but i’ve also attached the original kicad files and a PDF version of the schematic at the end of the post.
If you feel like you want to get this board made, I’ve attached a link to my oshpark project. With oshpark, I find they make great quality boards at a great price for small sized boards.
I know this was a short post and project but I found it important to share another option for those’s who want to find a cheaper solution and want to learn along the way. You can find a lot cheaper solutions on amazon that are china made but i’ve read stories in some cases that they were not genuine FT232RL ICs. If you wish to build your own, its very easy and rewarding at the same time.
In the next revision I will add LEDS for TX and RX indication as for this version I eliminated to save some cost and space.
Arduino and the implementation of GRBL has allow for amazing things to be created. One of those things are low cost CNC machines that enable us to create anything we want.
I bought myself a low cost CNC engraver from amazon and after modifying it, it has been one of my best investments because as en electrical engineer I can create PCB boards to test my designs here at home and verify before getting them sent out. One problem I usually have is that I use my laptop to run the gcode software and my laptop is really big and sometimes a hassle to keep on my desk.
My solution was to create this project and make a standalone CNC machine controller to run the gcode software in a compact package. I tried fiddling around with using a raspberry pi 2 as my main PC but I’m still a beginner with raspberry pi’s and I had issues getting the settings right. My next option was to use a windows based machine and luckily I found just the solution.
In this tutorial I will explain how I put this together and what improvements could be made.
Here is the block diagram for how this project is wired. With the exception of the enclosure itself and the usb power board, everything was bought ready to go. I’ve added a fan as a just in case because the computer stick does generate some heat so the fan will prevent the system from over heating but so far it does not seem to be an issue with heat and therefore is an option.
The 5V and 12V supply are coming from my 24V power supply that powers my Arduino GRBL shield. What I did was use two step down converters 1) For 5V step down and 2) For 12V step down. I realized this might not be idle but it is my first revision of this project.
SCHEMATICS/ CAD DESIGN
The only schematics I have is for the USB power board and I created that using Kicad. The board was basic, since both the screen and the windows computer stick ran on 5V via micro USB, I needed to distribute power from one source into two loads. To add some safety, I did add a TVS 5VWM diode to prevent over voltage spikes from destroying the devices along with some filtering capacitors.
If its a little blurry don’t worry because all original files will be included in a download link at the end.
Now for the enclosure, I designed it using Fusion 360. Honestly, I am not a Mechanical engineer/Designer so this was my first attempt at designing something in a CAD software. Mine you its really just a box but Fusion 360 makes it really easy to design for someone who had no prior experience.
I designed this in two pieces:
The bottom portion of the enclosure:
The Lid for the enclosure:
For material used for making this enclosure, I used my Maker Select V2 3D printer with PETG filament for the temperature resistance and flexibility.
I will include the STL files so you guys can 3D print this yourself.
Now for the fun part, putting this thing together and hoping everything works without the magic white smoke lol jk. This was actually very easy to put together though there were a couple of design hick ups.
Since I wanted to get the print out as fast as possible, I sacrificed quality of the print which is why it looks the way it does but its very function.
As I mentioned I did have some design issues after I was putting this thing together. If you look at image 3, you can see that the usb power board is tilted up and thats because I placed the cooling fan to close. The board was able to fit but I could not connect anything because the fan was blocking the connectors.
I decided to use hot glue to hold everything down because it wouldn’t be a DIY project if hot glue wasn’t involved.
In image 4, you can see I used some basic terminal block connectors to attach my 5V and 12V supply. You can also see the USB port to connect the arduino grbl controller board.
Overall I enjoyed putting this project together. It’s made my project efficiency increase dramatically because I don’t have to take it out and set it up every time I want to make a board.
With anything we do, there’s always room for improvements. In a future version of this project I plan to improve the way I connect my external 5V and 12V supply instead of using the terminal blocks. I might possibly use some type of molex connector that can easily detach. To reduce the amount of external connectors, I could switch out the 12V fan with a 5V fan and run it with only one step down converter. I’m going to also move the fan placement so that I do not have to angle the usb power board.
Lets build a WiFi temperature data logger!! The reason this project came to mind was because I needed to monitor the temperature of an outside enclosure box that will eventually house a couple of lithium ion batteries. Can’t have the box get too hot or else we will end up having a nice backyard campfire.
This temperature data logger consist of three sections:
The WiFi web server
The temperature sensor
The sleep controller
Lets get into the project now 🙂
Schematics, PCB, Arduino Libraries can be downloaded Here
I’ve designed this project to consist of two microcontrollers. Its not the most efficient way of doing it but it is effective. The heart of this project is the ESP8266-ESP01 IC. It will take in the data from the BMP180 sensor over I2C and send the data over to a web hosting site Thingspeak.com
The schematic is not that all complicated but it is very effective at trying to save as much battery as possible and deliver my data for viewing purposes.
In order to have this be powered by 2x AA batteries and last longer then a couple of days or weeks, I needed a couple of things to make this possible which is where the second microcontroller comes into play.
First, we need to make sure we have a stable power supply that can provide up to at least 0.3A and have a minimum quiescent current in the low uA range.
Before we get started into writing the code on the ESP8266 we need to set up an account at thingspeak.
Click on the signup and fill out the information:
Click on new channel:
The most important information to fill out is the fields, in our case we will fill out field 1 and type in temperature. The name could be any name you want, for this purpose we will write Temperature Data Logger. Once finish, scroll down and click save.
The final piece of information we need is the API key, for this just click on the API Keys button and copy the Write API Key.
Now we can move on to the code.
Click here for step by step on installing the ESP8266 arduino addon.
Its time to show you my 3.3V output boost Converter design. In one of my earlier post I showed you step by step on how to design your own boost converter and if you haven’t read that yet then click here.
You can purchase this board fully assembled by clicking here. 🙂
Lets get started:
First of all, why do we even need this converter? Well every sensor, microcontroller, arduino, ESP8266, and various other digital components need a constant voltage. A constant voltage is necessary to maintain proper operation of these components.
Here we will see the advantage of this boost converter.
Below are the operating specs for this converter
Note: Different Vin voltages gives you different max power output
Bill of Materials.
Here is a screenshot of the bill of materials. I added the suppliers on the spreadsheet because I’ve found that some sites have better pricing than others.
Using octopart.com, you can actually find the best value for the component you’re looking for. I highly suggest you go look at the site.
Attached here is the schematic for this project. All the original files are available for download at the bottom of the page.
I figure I’d help you guys out a bit if I added the layout for this board. My approach for this layout was to minimize the overall size in order to get a better price for manufacturing the board.
Here comes the fun part, actually testing what you designed. Now one thing that took me awhile to learn was that design and theory never really match reality. There are a lot of different parameters that are not accounted for when designing in theory.
A couple of the major issues that could make or break your design is parasitic elements. One of the biggest parasitic elements is ESR for output capacitors. This is the equivalent series resistance of the capacitor that is not taking into account when designing. In my post that covers the design of a boost converter, I emphasizes this topic to make you aware of this parasitic element.
Now, my design parameters consisted of loading the converter at 3 different voltage inputs (1.8V, 2.0V, and 2.4V). Each input voltage was loaded starting at 0.1A and ending at 0.4A. This load all depended on which input voltage was tested because the lower input voltage cannot provide the max output power.
First test – Vin: 1.8V @ 0.2A
Will add soon.
Next test – Vin: 2.0V @ 0.3A
Last test – Vin: 2.4V @ 0.4A
After completely the voltage ripple test, I also conducted a load regulation test at max load for each input voltage. I got a 1.5% voltage drop from calculated voltage meaning at full load, my output voltage was 3.25V at the lowest.
Designing a boost converter sounds complicated and intimidating, well that was always my impression when it came to this topic in school. In reality, the design and testing of a boost converter is a lot easier than meets the eye.
Here I will walk you step by step on designing your first boost converter and how the datasheet is your best friend when designing. For this tutorial we will be using the L6920DC IC Boost converter from skyworks.
Download the Boost Converter excel spredsheet from the Resources page.
This information was referenced from TI reference report.
First and foremost, download the highlighted datasheet, datasheet-l6920dc. This has all the highlighted paremeters that you will need when designing a boost converter.
You need to decide what are your specifications. These are the key parameters:
n = efficiency; Most boost converters average around 85 to 90% under medium load and up to 95% on heavy load. We will use the lowest percentage to be safe.
n = 87% or 0.87
With your specifications, next step is to find your DUTY CYCLE:
We calculated the duty cycle for both lowest input voltage and highest input voltage.
Lowest input voltage gives you the highest switching current you will see
Highest input voltage gives you the highest output current your converter can produce
Next we will estimate the switching current or CURRENT RIPPLE of the Inductor:
ΔIL = = 0.22A
ΔIL = = 0.165A
Next we calculate the minimum INDUCTANCE we need:
– This is the switching frequency that the converter will operate at.
We would select the highest inductance value to meet our input voltage rage of 1.8V-2.4V
When selecting the inductor, the key parameters you need to look for is low DCR, package size, and max current the inductor can handle.
DCR – Is the resistance in the coil because at the end of the day, an inductor is still a wire. When you keep this value at a minimum, it will increase your effieciency and the ability to provide a higher output power.
In step 7 , you will calculate the maximum current the inductor will see and there you will have all the necessary parameters needed to chose the inductor.
Now that we have our inductor value, we can calculate the actual CURRENT RIPPLE of the Inductor:
ΔIL = = 0.19A
ΔIL = = 0.18A
Next we need to calculate the MAX OUTPUT CURRENT the boost converter can output:
– This is the current switch limit of the boost converter.
= = 0.33A
= = 0.45A
Next we will calculate the MAX SWITCHING CURRENT, the Inductor will see. This value cannot exceed the ILIM value of the boost converter:
Note: value cannot exceed which can be found in the datasheet. In this example we see that with a low input voltage, the switching current exceeds the limit in the datasheet. The boost converter might still be able to output the desired current at that low input voltage because is the minimum switching current it can handle. But better to be safe than sorry.
Here you can see the inductor will see a max of 0.94A at its lowest input voltage. Now we can chose the inductor for our design.
For this design I went with,MSS5131-472MLB, a 4.7uH inductor from coilcraft.
Since I chose an inductor that has a higher value than previous calculated, the inductor current ripple and output power will be slightly lower but it will not effect your design negatively.
This step is only if your boost converter has an adjustable output voltage.
(This boost converter is a fixed output and does not require these resistors. Step 8 values are dummy values but the process )
Here we will find R1 AND R2 values for the feedback network:
– This is the current that the feedback resistor draws.
– This is the feedback reference voltage
Next l, we will calculate the INPUT CAPACITOR and OUTPUT CAPACITOR needed to minimize the ripple going in and out of the system:
First, you find your input capacitor:
: Typically this value is 4.7uF to 10uF
Next, we need to first to look at these two equations below:
– This is the maximum on time of the boost converter. It is also written as
ESR – All capacitors are not ideal capacitors and therefore have what is known as Equivalent Series Resistance. This is an important parameter that you need to consider when choosing the right output capacitor.
Cin = 10uF
First, we need to choose a voltage ripple that we can live with. Here I chose 50mV, and if we rearrange the first equation, we get:
Now we have a couple of options to choose from when it comes to materials for capacitors.
Most common are ceramic and electrolytic capacitors. Each have there own pro and con.
Ceramic capacitors offer lower ESR for lower ripple but they typically do not have the bulk capacitance.
Electrolytic capacitors have bulk capacitance but generally have a high ESR that adds to ripple.
In this case I decided to go with both, getting the benefit of bulk capacitance and low ESR.
I went with a 1206 package, 10uF ceramic capacitor and a 47uF Electrolytic in parallel. For the electrolytic, they also have an aluminum polymer that has high capacitance with the added benefit of low ESR. I went with a 47uF that has an ESR of 40mΩ.
Now we plug in the values we got back into the equations and we get:Special Note: For ceramic capacitors, you need to be careful of which class and package size you choose because you only see a certain percentage of your nominal value (ex. 1206 10uF X7R will see 73% of 10uF). Click here for more info. I generally go with 1206 or 1210 with capacitors.
Always refer to the datasheet and compare recommended value vs calculated
You’ve now designed your own boost converter regulator. See it wasnt too hard :).
I will post this project soon that has the schematic and bill of materials, it’ll be under the projects menu bar, stay tuned!!
Feel free to comment below and correct me if anything seems incorrect to you.