Voltlog #287 – Switching From Eagle To Kicad

Welcome to a new Voltlog, today I’m gonna talk a bit about my process of switching from EagleCad to Kicad. So i’ve been an EagleCAD user for years, I’ve practically learned how to do pcb layout in eagle cad so there is that emotional attachment to a piece of software because it’s what I used while developing this skill. And to be honest there wasn’t any better alternative years ago, Eagle was the first decent piece of cad software to offer a freeware license and it quickly became popular for hobbyists. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles of the expensive software like Altium or Candece but it did the job while being user friendly.

Since it quickly became popular for makers and hobbyists it also meant there was an abundance of support on the forums as well as many user generated scripts and libraries freely available. It was similar to the popularity Arduino got but it was never open source and if you needed some extra features like 4 layer layout or pcb sizes larger than 8x10cm you needed to pay for a license.

Voltlog #275 – CO2 Concentration Measurement System With MH-Z19B & CCS811

Welcome to a new Voltlog, you might remember these two sensors from a previous mailbag, this is the MH-Z19B and this is the CCS811 both of these report CO2 levels but they measure this differently and I’ll explain this in a moment. I got these two sensors in order to monitor CO2 levels in my home, to determine if the levels rise too much at night, especially during the winter time when we tend to keep the windows closed most of the time. I live in an old apartment building where there isn’t much provision for ventilation and so I suspect the air I breath during sleep is high in CO2 levels as it builds up over night.

In this video I’m gonna show you how I built the monitoring system using an ESP32 board that reads the sensor data and then sends it over the network to an MQTT server running on my raspberry pi. I then use node-red to insert the data into InfluxDB and then finally Grafana to monitor all of this data in a nice graphical user interface. The beauty of this setup is that all of this software is free to use and open-source.

Voltlog #265 – FT232H USB to JTAG/I2C/SPI Interface With Python & PyFtdi

Welcome to a new voltlog, today we’re going to be talking about this little board which I designed and assembled myself, it’s a breakout module for the FTDI FT232H which is a usb to serial converter but with a nice twist. This particular chip from FTDI has the built-in Multi-Protocol Synchronous Serial Engine (MPSSE short) which allows you to run a variety of synchronous serial protocols like JTAG, I2C, SPI or simple bit-banging of IOs. You can imagine it can be really useful to be able to interface with a sensor over I2C or SPI straight from your computer over USB through this interface. You wouldn’t need an arduino or other controller in the middle if you plan to do some data acquisition for example.

Voltlog #229 – What’s The Smallest Digital RGB LED?

Welcome to a new voltlog, today we’re talking about RGB LEDs. Everyone knows and probably uses digital RGB LEDs these days because they’re convenient, you only need a single pin to control then, they can be chained one after the other creating long addressable RGB strings, you don’t have to worry about driving them with constant current, in fact they even have digitally controlled brightness settings so they’re pretty convenient.

Since these are digital, they have a built-in controller chip, and if we take a closer look at one of these LEDs which comes in a 5050 package, we can see the driver chip and the 3 LEDs red, green blue with their corresponding bonding wires. There are two popular drivers chips the WS2812 and the SK6812 and each of these might have different revisions as well. The WS2812 was the original one on the market and then the SK6812 appeared and is considered a clone of the WS2812 but brings some improvements. The SK6812 has doubled the pwm frequency at which it drives the LEDs which is always welcomed as it helps with reducing flicker and also the timing requirements are a bit tighter but existing WS2812 libraries should work fine with the SK6812.

Voltlog #126 – How fast can you update an e-paper display?

Welcome to a new voltlog, today we are going to answer the question how fast can you update an e-paper display, is it suitable to display live updating values from a sensor for example? Some people asked these questions in the comments of previous videos so I am doing some tests to try and answer these questions.

Now there will be a big difference between trying to update the whole screen and trying to update just a small section. And that delay might also be related to how fast the processor can send the information to the display. So for example measuring the time passed between sending the first byte of data to the display and the last byte going out is not that relevant, it might just be a slow processor, and the display could accept data much faster.

Also in the case of an Arduino the ram size is very limited so a full buffer could not be implemented. This means sending of the data to the display is done inefficiently increasing the time it takes for a full update.

Link e-paper display black/white:

More resources below: