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Wifi, bluetooth, wireless tech, phone apps?

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fastline

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I need some guidance! It has become obvious that we NEED this technology for several projects we have going on. However, I have not made one wireless device to date so all this seems rather daunting UNLESS there are some rather "canned" solutions? IE, uCs that have some of this built in? I have contacted OEMs in the past. They are quick to recommend a solution but they rarely provide a cost effective solution. Like here is a $20 chip that will do that BUT there is a $.50 chip plus a $.30 FET that will do the same thing.

To complicate this more, there needs to be an application for phones. Nothing very wild. Just spit out some sensor values. insane simple. However, this is one sector I have never touched but I know kids today can do this. It can't be rocket science, or at least they have made tools to make this easier.

So.... this is tech I need but I'm light on experience here. Can anyone recommend resources? Economical vendors maybe? I would really like to find an EE student that wants something on their resume. Or a company that is easy to work with and can get the problems solved.
 

Pommie

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I would start with a Wemos mini for around US$4. They have WiFi and enough memory to run a simple web server. I used one with a DHT22 to read temp and humidity and display it on a web page. Everything you need to get started is here.

Mike.
 

atferrari

Well-Known Member
I would start with a Wemos mini for around US$4. They have WiFi and enough memory to run a simple web server. I used one with a DHT22 to read temp and humidity and display it on a web page. Everything you need to get started is here.

Mike.
An incredible tutorial.
 

Pommie

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An incredible tutorial.
Yes, one of the best written tutorials I've found. Gets you from go to something very functional in a few short steps. I've recently added some FTP capability and I now have a very flexible solution just waiting for a problem.:D

Mike.
 

fastline

Member
I am looking at this. A friend is pretty good with the PIC but I have not personally got in bed with it. I bought an arduino w usb for my own education as a step towards discreet uC programming but took it to my friends where it sits to this day. He did nothing with it.

I liked how simple the software and such was but I was immediately turned off with the price of the chips. They are just a chip with a bootloader but even the chip was more expensive. At the time $5 with I could buy a better PIC for $.75.

I very much realize this is peanuts for most projects but in cost sensitive ones, it all adds up very quickly!
I appreciate the responses guy, keep them coming! It is going to take a minute to digest and sort this all in my head. I also did not see any bluetooth stuff? I probably would want to focus on the easiest possible tech for right now. Most of my stuff does not really require any real distance from the phone, I just need that functionality to use the phone display to read back values.

However, the project I am focused on right now MUST have an LCD display. No way around that. China has millions of them but when I go looking, the selection is slim and price is ridiculous. This is something where a VERY basic display will get the job done but a nice, big, color display will get a LOT of attraction. I know the second I look at a display unit I have to consider "buttons"..... Crap! Something we have done before but have not yet made a true overlay with membrane buttons. Those are common as dirt in industry and is the direction I really should go with this. I have found overlays to be pretty cheap and possibly I could nearly print at home, just not sure yet.

The reason I mention buttons is the other option is capacitive overlay on an LCD for touch screen? Is this tech just too complicated for someone that cannot even get out of the gate in the wireless world?
 

dr pepper

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I put together a webpage that is a set of contents guages for 3 silo's where I work, I used a wemos, the page is stored onboard using Spiffs.
It works well and is very presentable, and was not hard to do.
However I had to learn Html, Css and javascript for the webpage side.
Before the wemos this was much much harder.
I like to do things with a web browser, the major reason for phone apps for this kinda thing in my opinion is to make money as you have to download them.
 

fastline

Member
rjenkinsgb, where are you finding LCDs? I am in the USA and looking at electronics suppliers, they are quite expensive relatively speaking. I mean, for what it would cost to get a small volume of displays, you can buy many electronics turnkey with a display so I see the price as a bit stiff. Maybe $10-15? And the resolution and such are not exactly good. Probably fine for a one off project, but if I need many, the cost becomes a factor.

I would certainly be interested in the touch screen as this would really simplify the design as I would not need to think about the buttons in a design. Every smart phone out there has the tech so it's nothing that wild really.

I quickly looked for a display. a 3.5" tft with cap touch is $45?
 
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Nigel Goodwin

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rjenkinsgb, where are you finding LCDs? I am in the USA and looking at electronics suppliers, they are quite expensive relatively speaking?
You need to buy from China, try Banggood or Aliexpress - and get the Arduino back, as there are Arduino libraries for such displays (you don't have to use an Arduino, but it makes it easy for initial experiments). You can move to a PIC later, but bear in mind TFT's are pretty memory hungry, so you need reasonable spec PIC's.
 

fastline

Member
I think I probably need some advice if I even want or need tft? I am just trying to find bare bones screens with reasonable resolution so they have a professional look, color would be nice but not mandatory, and touch screen. Is the touch always an overlay?

I would probably be ok with an arduino premounted screen for now but I would probably need to incorporate that onto a dedicated PCB design at some point.

Nigel, since you are experienced with PICs, maybe I could ask, once I get things as I need them in Arduino or some other platform, can the coding be somewhat easily converted to C or will I have to start over? Is the PIC the right direction for commercial type apps? I don't tend to see them much in commercial electronics. Seems like other brands are much more common. Maybe once you are working in C code, adapting to another uC becomes easier?
 

Nigel Goodwin

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You see PIC's absolutely everywhere, they are by far the most popular microcontroller from a single manufacturer, so VERY much used commercially.

Converting from C++ to C is fairly straightforward, and you can buy PIC's considerably more powerful than the Arduino for less money.

As far as displays go, if you're wanting reasonable resolution (320x200?) then you're really looking at TFT and colour.
 

rjenkinsgb

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ChrisP58

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Is the PIC the right direction for commercial type apps? I don't tend to see them much in commercial electronics. Seems like other brands are much more common.
The reason that PICs are as cheap as they are, is because they're developed and manufactured in large quantities for the commercial market.

And a lot of the places that PICs go are into products that you may not think about being processor controlled. I do battery chargers and power supplies. Functional control that I used to do with opamps, voltage comparators and a few logic chips, now gets done with with a PIC.
 

fastline

Member
No biggy on PIC, just wanted to make sure that was a good direction. Seems like when I open some stuff up, I see Intel, NEC, and Fujitsu commonly.

I am actually currently combing their website to see what type of integrated solutions they have for wireless? Is that always done outside the chip? The tech is too volatile and changes constantly?

I seem to recall the PIC getting some neat integrations for common stuff.

A friend is pretty well setup to program the PICs but I seem to recall him mention you sort of need to setup and focus on one chip.

Oh, and it appears Microchip bought Atmel a couple years ago? Are we going to see some changes in the Arduino platform?

to be completely honest, I work around CNC machines and program them with gcode. Though I know the code, NO ONE writes the direct code anymore. We all use CAM software for that. the software is intuitive and makes generating 20K lines of code easy. Why is there not a solution like this for a uC or is there? This seems to be sort of how Arduino did it but seems like there could be improvements. I guess because you need both the hardware and software to work, it gets a bit tougher. In CNC, we already know the hardware works.
 
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Pommie

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With the Wemos all you need to be fully setup is a micro USB cable and the Arduino software installed. I also program PICs and to get setup for them you will need a PicKit3 (or clone or more expensive tool - ICD3) - the MPLAB X software and a development board (or breadboard) to plug the PIC into.

Mike.
 

fastline

Member
Mike, I do already have the pickit3 and breadboard available to me and I think a friend has experience with the 16F628I believe.
I just want to make sure I am not taking the long winding road by playing with a technology and then having to start over for a more commercial product.
 

ChrisP58

Well-Known Member
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Oh, and it appears Microchip bought Atmel a couple years ago? Are we going to see some changes in the Arduino platform?
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The Arduino was not developed by Atmel. It was developed by an independent group that just happened to choose an Atmel processor.
 

fastline

Member
Yes, I realize, but it makes you wonder why Microchip bought up Atmel? Do they want to phase them out? Or make it like the appliance market? Whirlpool, Kenmore, frigidaire, it don;t matter.....the same people make them all......lol

I didn't know if MC was thinking to try to change the Ardunios to run a PIC.
 

Nigel Goodwin

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Yes, I realize, but it makes you wonder why Microchip bought up Atmel? Do they want to phase them out? Or make it like the appliance market? Whirlpool, Kenmore, frigidaire, it don;t matter.....the same people make them all......lol
They bought out Atmel 'because they could', Atmel weren't doing that well so it was a relatively 'cheap' purchase, and it instantly enlarged their product range. I went on a MicroChip course the other month, and that was for an Atmel branded ARM processor - Atmel support is been added to MPLABX, and MicroChip support is going to be added to the Atmel IDE.

You keep asking about a 'more commercial product', as already explained the MicroChip PIC is one of the bigger players in the market, and you find PIC's in almost everything. For a simple example, do you know the room fresheners that plug in the mains socket, and periodically give a squirt of perfume? - they run on a PIC.

I didn't know if MC was thinking to try to change the Ardunios to run a PIC.
The original designers of the Arduino wanted to use a PIC, but MicroChip weren't prepared to provide a fully featured free compiler, Atmel were, so they went with Atmel processors instead.

There are already PIC based boards programmable via the Arduino IDE, the ChipKit boards, and they are considerably more powerful than a Uno or Mega.
 
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