Tag Archives: platformio

Automated unit testing in the metal

Unit testing your code is peace of mind. It has two main direct benefits that impact on your confidence about the code you are writing:

  • Testing expected behaviors
  • Avoiding regressions (i.e. breaking something that was working fine before)

Unit testing embedded systems is a bit more involved since there is the additional constraint of the hardware itself, sometimes more than one device or even different platforms. Quitting (or not even thinking about it) is the easy answer to the problem. All of us have debugged expected behaviors with inline prints. But automating some of these tasks have a huge benefit on the code quality and development speed.
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Arduino MKR WAN 1300

I’ve been testing quite a few LoRaWan nodes lately for TheThingsNetwork.cat, some based on HopeRF RFM95W (over AVR, ESP8266, ESP32,…) others using Microchip’s RN2483 (an old friend of mine). I have a RAK811 waiting in the INBOX but the last one I’ve been playing with has been the new Arduino MKRWAN 1300 (so new there is no product page yet) and I liked it, quite a lot.

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Grid-eye camera (sliced, of course)

Tindie is a great place to find uncommon electronic components or weird/interesting boards. I use to stroll around it’s products to basically see what’s new. It’s like Kickstarted but for real. One such uncommon and new electronic components is the Panasonic’s Grid_EYE AMG88 [datasheet, pdf] infrared sensor. And I first learn about it through Peasky Products breakout board at Tindie.

And if you have been reading me lately you might know I’m going through my own LED fever. My latests “sliced” projects are not the only ones I’m working on at the moment. So it was not surprise my brain immediately linked an 8×8 IR array with an 8×8 LED matrix display. You see?

So what do you have if you throw in a box an IR sensor and a LED matrix, add a small microcontroller, a LiIon battery and a charger and a step-up to power the LEDs? Well, in my case the outcome has been a bulky but nice camera (albeit a very poor resolution one).

I know there are commercially available IR Cameras like this one [Ebay]. They have 300k pixels and can overlay a normal image over the IR image and other fancy stuff, but they are also more expensive (around 200€ the best deal) and waaaaaay less fun to build.

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Magic Home LED Controller ESPurna’d

Following the bright path (sic) of the Ai-Thinker AiLight / Noduino OpenLight I wrote about a few weeks ago, now it’s turn for one of those devices you purchase but once they arrive they are stored in the TODO box until they eventually come back to life.

The Magic Home LED Controller [Aliexpress, also available from Ebay] is an ESP8266 based single-color RGB(W) LED strip controller. It works with every 5050 LED strip [Aliexpress] out there. Just be careful since even thou some LED strips are waterproof [Aliexpress] this controller is not.

Being able to flash custom firmware in the controller lets you really own the device. Why? Because:

  1. You are not required to install a proprietary app on you phone to manage it
  2. You are not limited by the options the developers of that app have decided you will need
  3. You can make it interoperate with other devices at home
  4. You, and only you, know when you turn on your lights
  5. And if all the previous points are not enough: it’s so much fun!

mosaic

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Playing slow catch with the Bean

A while ago I wrote about how to use PlatformIO with PunchThrough Lightblue Bean in a post here on how to use the new Bean Loader CLI from PlatformIO. Of course the reason for that was not merely being able to do it, but having a agile development environment to do something useful with them.

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I’ve been looking for a paper I had read a few weeks before I started playing with the Beans. But I have not been able to find it. A few weeks before I had read the doctorate thesis [PDF] “Designing wearable and playful accessories to encourage free-play amongst school aged children : conception, participatory design and evaluation” by Andrea Rosales where she wrote about using sensors and controllers to create simple but fun games for the kids. One of the projects described in the paper was a “play catch” game where the kids had to chase each other trying not to trigger and alarm they had on a bracelet with an accelerometer. If they ran too fast or move too sharply an LED would flash and they had to stop until it went off.

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