Monday, June 13, 2016

Project Updates

Sorry I haven't updated this blog for quite a while - it's due to working on projects over at Hackaday.

I currently have 2 entries for this years Hackaday Prize.
  1. Open Source Neurofeedback (click for details)
  2. Universal Glucometer (click for details)
Challenges I've met along the way:

For my Open Source Neurofeedback project my main challenge continues to be learning to program in Java. 
  • While I do have experience in BASIC, PASCAL, batch files for MS DOS, some C and just a little Python and am reasonably comfortable with linux command line stuff.  While I can read Java programs and understand them, learning to write my own is taking a bit longer than expected.  But, I am starting to get the hang of it.
  • The hardware side of this project is fairly straight forward, even with a few modifications I've made as I've been prototyping.

My Universal Glucometer project has presented me with a number of challenges:
  • While Microchip provides some base code for a glucometer along with a test layout - some parts are no longer available or difficult to find - which goes counter to my idea of a glucometer that can be built from basic parts and adapted to different test strips. Due to these issues I've decided that I need to change code to use a different LCD (the LCD in the Application Note is hard to find - I actually ordered the wrong one -twice - same manufacturer but different pin-out and control protocol).  So, if it is a problem for me to find it now, it'll be worse for others later - need to use an easier to find/source display (maybe a standard 16x2 LCD or a Nokia LCD display - both are easy to get cheap on Ebay).
  • The biggest challenge I've had is figuring my way around Microchip's Microcontrollers: writing code for them and uploading code.  I only recently moved into programming AVR's instead of Arduino's and in hindsight it would have been easier to start with a development board and then worked up to a bare chip (like going from Arduino to AVR's).  It took me awhile, but I finally got MPLAB (Microchip's IDE - Integrated Development Enviornment) installed, along with XC8 (Microchips C compiler for their 8 bit microcontrollers).  I even got the demo program for Glucose Meter to compile. I am still trying to upload it to the actual microcontroller using MPLAB and PICkit3.