Category Archives: Tutorial

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Using the new Bean Loader CLI from PlatformIO

Last Thursday PunchThrough, the people behind the LightBlue Bean and Bean+ boards, released their new Bean Loader, the application that allows you to upload new sketches to your beans. The great news about this is that, for the first time (!!!) the Bean Loader supports Linux!!! Yeeeha!

So I quickly looked for my 4 Beans that have been sad and forgotten in a components box for the last 2+ years and put them to work. It was not smooth, but there is a happy ending. So keep reading.

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Manage and persist settings with Embedis

For months I’ve been searching for a settings manager for my Arduino and ESP8266 projects. There are basically two issues to take care of:

  • On memory settings or how do you access to the configuration values from your code
  • Persistence or how do you store the configuration across reboots

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Optimizing files for SPIFFS with Gulp

The ESP8266 flash layout defines a series of blocks of memory for each “partition”. There is a block for the user code (the “sketch”), there is a block for the OTA update file, another one for the emulated EEPROM, another for the WIFI configuration and one for the File System.

This last one uses Peter Andersson’s SPIFFS (SPI Flash File System) code to store files in a similar fashion our computers do, but taking into account the special requirements of an embedded system and a flash memory chip.

This is great because we can store a whole static website there (html, css, js, images,…) and use the official WebServer library that comes with the Arduino Core for ESP8266 project to serve files and execute server side code that updates our static site via AJAX or WebSockets, for instance.

But the ESP8266 is nothing more than a (powerful) microcontroller and the WebServer library has its limitations and if you start to work on a complex website, with multiple files (stylesheets, scripts,…) it will soon fail…

Too many files

Size is not that important, but the number of files is. Too many files lead to failed downloads and long rendering times…

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PCB etching at home using vinegar

PCB etching is another big topic in the electronics DIY world. It’s something every electronics tinkerer ends up trying sooner o later. Even thou it’s a fairly simple procedure it requires some self confidence (or bravery) since it involves strong, smelly and hazardous chemicals.

Any etching procedure you read about can be described in 5 different steps: designing, transferring, etching, assembly and reuse or disposal. For every one of these five steps there are different options and there are thousands of web pages with instructions, recommendations, how-to’s… well, this is yet another one of those pages 🙂

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