OK, you don't have to actually throw away your Arduino, but you might wish to consider this slick alternative the next time you're going to build a temperature-sensing microcontroller project. Or, for that matter, a light-sensing project, or a proximity-sensing project, or a capacitance-sensing project.
This "alternative" is a relatively new kid on the embedded design block called PSoC® FirstTouch, from Cypress Semiconductor Corporation. The Cypress PSoC is better known as a programmable mixed signal array or Programmable System-on-Chip (PSoC). While sporting an 8-bit microcontroller clocking in at a maximum 24MHz and supporting 512 bytes of SRAM, 8KB flash, these rather lackluster specs are offset by four analog and four digital customizable advanced peripheral building blocks (known as PSoC Blocks), and the ability to build a crazy-small microcontroller project.
How small, you ask?
Every AVR programmer worth her weight in ATmegas knows about the AVR Butterfly--a ridiculously low cost ATmega169 demonstration and evaluation kit. Lamenting the lack of such a kit for the ATmega168 drove me to design my own demo/eval kit for the Arduino microcontroller family.
After nearly a 30-year absence from the hobby electronics market, the Texas Instruments SN76477N Complex Sound Generator IC is now for sale at BG Micro. It's just like 1973 all over again. Bomb blasts, propeller sounds, snare drums, and sci-fi sound effects will all be back in vogue with the return of this super synthesizer chip.
I/O, I/O, it's off to develop I go!
Sure, it might sound cheesy, but the new UBW32 is a low-cost development board that sports 78 I/O pins! Roughly the size of a big stick of gum, the UBW32 is literally ringed with I/O pins.
Our friends at Evil Mad Science (the storefront for Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories) have created a great little game machine for soothing those financial scars wrought by the recent economic downturn. Forget the line madness on Black Friday and fighting tooth and nail over the local box store's solitary Wii.
Making some noise, triggering a sound effect, or, even speaking a word or two inside a DIY project can be an arduous task of trial-and-error hexadecimal array programming. Sure there’s the digital alternative from Magnevation, SpeakJet, but you still have to tackle that programming chore for converting phonemes into words. Ideally, you should be able to speak a word, “ON,” and it’s in your project, ready for use.
No matter your poison -- coffee, tea, hot chocolate, sake -- take a gulp too soon out of the pot and chances are good that you'll burn your mouth. But build this Smart Coaster and you'll always know when it's safe to sip.
According to my thermometer, common coffee brewers produce a cup of perfect coffee that is positively molten to the tongue, at 160ºF. Even as this marvelous beverage fills your room-temperature cup, temps can still reach a blistering 137.1ºF. Finally, after a couple of minutes cooling, your coffee is safe to drink, at a lukewarm 116.5ºF.
So you've lost your eyeglass case. Yes, again. Gets frustrating, doesn't it? Stop wasting time searching for stuff -- build a device that emits signals you can see and hear, so you can find what you're looking for instantly. Attach remote-control car receivers to any items you frequently misplace, and put the cars' transmitters in a control box that can activate the receivers' lights and sound signals. Then when one of the items goes missing, press the corresponding button on the box, and you'll have it back in no time. Or at least until the next time you need it.