Class 480
Quarter Fall
Year 2012
Project Contact Organization NASA Ames Research Center
Project Contact Email
Project Contact Name Jeff Mulligan

Several years ago, one of the engineers at Ames designed a micro-controller based LED controller for me. At the time I didn't really know anything about microcontrollers, so he made all the design decisions and wrote some sample firmware. I subsequently rewrote the firmware to suit myself, and in the process discovered that the part he had selected didn't have enough memory to do some of the things I would have liked to do. I also discovered that I have no talent for soldering surface-mount components. So I selected a comparable microcontroller with more memory, and ordered some parts in conventional DIP packages more appropriate for my humble assembly skills. But the project pretty much died there. The biggest hurdle to writing the first working program is making sure the thing is initialized properly. The code that I have is a reasonable model but the new part inevitably has some differences and it will likely require careful reading of the manual and some trial and error to get it to work. Not sure if something like that would appeal to CS students or if I would be better off shopping it in EE? The parts are PIC microcontrollers (MicroChip), I assemble the firmware using free software (gpasm). The circuit is pretty simple, there is the controller, and LED driver chip, an RS232 interface and a video sync separator, plus a crystal and a handful of discrete components. Plus some power supply stuff.