Power Manager: Soft Power Control of USB and Low Voltage Devices

One frustrating aspect of firmware or kernel development on commodity hardware, such as cheap evaluation board or production devices, is the necessity of power-cycling the target device to reboot it every time the developer needs to load and run a new software build.

It sometimes happens that a development board is designed with proper management electronics to ease software development or automated testing, but in most cases the developer has reset the board manually, and sadly quite often reset buttons are unaccessible or just non-existent, requiring the developer to unplug and replug the power cable. If this ends up in your workflow and at the end of the day your fingers hurt, something is wrong.

This project is a small AVR/V-USB based board to control the power supply of development boards and other low voltage and USB powered devices. It allows to program a sequence of events for the output ports, has LED indicators for port status, and additionally provides power measurement on both USB and main power channels, and uses a bootloader for easy firmware upgrade… All in a solid and funny looking Hammond blue box!


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HP Wi-Fi Direct Mouse on Linux

In my last post I took apart an HP Wi-Fi Direct mouse based on the OZMO2000 controller from Ozmo Devices.

OZMO based devices are officially supported on Windows 7 platform only, rendering them completely useless as nobody uses Windows anymore… right? Well, it turns out most of the code to use them in Linux is already in place, just waiting to be enabled!


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Wi-Fi direct support in Linux is quite young and still considered as experimental, so read on if you dare to try!

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HP Wi-Fi Direct Mouse Teardown

Wi-Fi Direct (also known as Wi-Fi P2P) is an extension of the 802.11 stack, allowing compliant devices to communicate directly, without requiring their disconnection from the main access point. The technology re-uses many existing standards and can be seen as the capability of a wireless device to have multiple logical interfaces in different modes, including some in master/softAP mode with WPS.

Wi-Fi Direct attracted the interest of gadget device makers, as it allows to re-use existing network cards to connect external devices wirelessly and without the need for an additional dongle.

One of the first device to appear on the market is the HP Wi-Fi Direct Mouse… Want to see what makes it tick? Keep reading!


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Eagle Library for Hammond 1551 Boxes

Hammond Mfg is an American company who makes many different product boxes, mostly famous for their aluminum “Stomp Box” series, widely used for both DIY and commercial guitar effects units.

Browsing through the company’s products, you can find a whole range of small translucent plastic boxes that are really well suited for small electronic PCBs, and can give a good product-ish look to any hobby project.

In this post you’ll find some hints for designing PCBs for Hammond boxes, and an Eagle library with PCB outlines for some of them.

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USB Current Meter

…or USB power meter?
…or USB KEY AVR Tiny split core interface?

Call it however you want, this project is a small USB key sized circuit to interface an USB system with a single split core current sensor using an ATtiny85.

These non-invasive sensors are widely available on eBay and similar for a reasonable price (around USD$ 30 for the one I used) and let you measure the current flowing through an alternate voltage line, like house mains. This can be used to get a gross measure of instantaneous power consumption, allowing you to make a graph out of it and plot your power usage profile, or just to check how much power a device is using.

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A friend of mine is using this one side-by-side with its photovoltaic inverter to upload his data on pvoutput.org, a nice website for photovoltaic plant monitoring.

This also shows a rectifier circuit to acquire data from an alternate voltage source without dual power rails.

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Making Time Lapse Video with IP Cameras

What happens when you find yourself with two IP cameras which you don’t really use? You just make some funny stuff with them!

This post shows how to use an Axis IP camera and a netbook to record a timelapse video of a car travel… including a 15 minute timelapse of car trip from Italy to Germany!

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DIY Cheap Internal WiFi Antenna

Some time ago I put my hand on a couple of broken Axis network cameras which were about to be trashed. These cute small devices have an image sensor with a plastic lens, a wired and a WiFi interface to connect to an external network, and many other nasty features.

The cameras had a busted Marvell power supply, which probably broke ahead of time because of the high working temperature, and once replaced with an LD1117 (I know, not the best of choices…) they were as good as new.

The one thing I did not like about these cameras was the cheap WiFi antenna, which is mounted far away from the casing and gives an old bulky feeling to the device.

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This post is a tutorial on how to build an internal WiFi antenna to modify this kind of devices!

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