XMEGA and HD44780 LCD

Character LCD are one of the easiest and cheapest way of adding output to a microcontroller system. The world of character LCDs has mainly standarized on HD44780 controller chip, which was designed to be interfaced with the rest of the system by a parallel bus, but today simple bit-banging does the job.

One of the obstacles to using HD44780 with XMEGA are different supply voltages. Displays usually require 5V, while XMEGA is 3,3V-only. Continue reading “XMEGA and HD44780 LCD”

Reliable storage of settings in EEPROM

Embedded systems often require permanent storage of some configuration parameters eg. radio channel, volume in a radio etc. All settings must be saved and read reliably, otherwise the device may become unpredictable. Imagine a variable frequency drive (an “electric motor controller”) set to a certain speed, that after a power cut reads bad data from it’s memory and overspeeds an expensive piece of moving machinery leading to physical damage.
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Using XMEGA hardware CRC generator for CRC-16 CCITT

CRCs are useful for checking if data received from outside or read from memory is not corrupted. This is especially important in embedded systems, as it could take just a single bit-flip to drastically change the configuration of the system. I needed to protect configuration structure of my new project when it is being saved and read from EEPROM. To make sure that the data I read from EEPROM is exactly what I have written I decided to use CRC-16 CCITT across the whole structure.

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AVR fuses for beginners

Fuses in AVR microcontrollers have a bad reputation among beginners, because a wrong setting can lock you out of accessing the chip. With the right tools they are not scary. 🙂

Fuses are just a special name for three bytes of EEPROM-like memory (they are not “conventional OTP” fuses at all) that set the most low-level features of an AVR like:
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MG-log 0.6 for Android


I released MG-log version 0.6 to Google Play store this week. It is now a quite practical app. I made my own log for Android, because I could not find a QSO logging app that would be easy to use during portable operation and not cluttered. A log for me must be build of several text fields, a decent database backend and some GUI-glue. Logging should be as easy as typing the callsign, report, optionally QTH, some remarks and pressing enter at the end.
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Serial port redirection from Windows to Linux with socat

My work computer is a Windows machine running several virtual machines with Linux and FreeBSD via VirtualBox. A part of my work requires developing software that interacts with hardware. Most of the time I have successfully used VirtualBox USB filtering to redirect USB devices to the virtual machines, but recently I got a USB device (CDC-ACM class) that refused to be forwarded to the VM.
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