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Parts & Components: PICAXE28X2 microcontrollers TINI microcontroller Copper printed circuit board for widget construction External DC power supply to provide sufficient current to widgets EasyPIC5 development system for PIC chip development Metal insulated wiring for circuit construction.

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Motivation

  • Parts & Components:

  • PICAXE28X2 microcontrollers

  • TINI microcontroller

  • Copper printed circuit board for widget construction

  • External DC power supply to provide sufficient current to widgets

  • EasyPIC5 development system for PIC chip development

  • Metal insulated wiring for circuit construction

Motivation:

The idea behind this project was to create a platform for easily and inexpensively testing user interfaces. A good user interface is a layout in which users can easily accomplish a desired task. In the example shown below, we have two examples of a stove top. By merely changing the layout of the stove top, not the underlying technology, we have made the stove more usable.

Senior Project – Computer Engineering - 2012Next Generation WidgetsSam TremlettAdvisors – Prof. Hedrick, Prof. Cass and Prof. Fernandes

Current Prototype:

Good Usability

Bad Usability

Design:

The system was designed using the 1-Wire ProtocolTM. The 1-Wire Protocol is a Master-Slave technique where each slave has a unique address which the master uses to send specific instructions to the slave devices. In our system, a microcontroller, the TINI, was used as the Master which puts instructions on the bus. The slave devices, hardware we call “Widgets,” listen to the bus, waiting for their address to be on the bus. This design allows us to move addresses with the widgets and have “location independence,” or in other words, one program can be written for multiple layouts since the location of the widgets do not need to be programmed into the software.

Results:

The first step in my project was to get the board in a state where I could start experimenting with PIC chips. To do this, I had to replace the center bus which was causing problems. The next step was to create several testing programs to be run on the system for better debugging practices with the project. After this was completed, a development board had to be created so PIC chips could communicate with the rest of the system so PIC chips can be tested during development. This was accomplished by replicating the existing system on a bread board and using a ribbon cable to connect this system with the PIC chip development environment. Once we had done this, we could begin working on PIC chips communicating with the 1-wire protocol and the rest of our system.

  • Future Work:

  • Constructing PIC chip widgets

  • Use PIC chips to make a bus “sniffer” for better debugging practices

  • Make the board larger

References:

Axelson, Jan. Designing and Programming Small Devices for Networking. Madison: Lakeview Research LLC, 2003. Print.

Eisenreich, Dan, and Brian DeMuth. Designing Embedded Internet Devices. Burlington: Elsevier Science, 2003. Print.

Mendelsohn, Dan, “A Pedagogical Tool for Usability Science” March 19, 2011

PIC Chip, http://www.microchip.com/stellent/idcplgIdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=2551

PIC Axe, http://www.picaxe.com/

Predko, Myke. Programming and Customizing the PIC Microcontroller. 3rd. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2008. Print.

Stevens, Roger L. Serial Communications. 3.0. Kelseyville: Square 1 Electronics, 2002. Print.

Verle, Milan. PIC Microcontrollers. 1st. Beograd: Mikroelektronika, 2008


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