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starting out- request for verification of goals

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Newbie level 1
Sep 3, 2009
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Starting Out

OK, I'm just about to go into my second year in university. In my first year I studied computing science and physics. Both courses covered the fundamentals of electronics. The problem with both was that they were all about the theory. So I've decided I'd like to put some of my knowledge into practice.

I have set myself a three aims and would love to hear how I could go about learning to design and build the following.

1) Build a USB lamp that I can control(ON/OFF) using a program I will make in ASM or C/C++

2) Same as above except using a wireless connection(still using a USB connection for the wireless transmitter)

3) I would like to take on of my old console controllers and add to them wireless capabilities to control the lamp.(possibly N64 or ps1 controller)

I know this may sound like allot, since I am just setting out, but if you could point me in the right direction, I am more than willing to read and experiment with anything that you recommend.

Thanks for your time :D:D

Re: Starting Out

If you want to control something using USB then you should know how to use microcontrollers (hardware and software).

For the wireless if you want to build the circuit yourself you need to know about analog or digital communications including design of RF circuits

Re: Starting Out

1- Forgett old controllers. You´re wasting time. Learn about AVRs(Atmel) or PICs(Microchip). There are lots of stuff on the net about them and very cheap assemblers or compilers for them. I can help you if you decide to go to the AVRs.
2- Decide on assembly or C-ANSI for your language. I suggest C-ANSI because modern compilers generate programs that can be even shorter than you can do using assembly.Development time is reduced using C. Furthermore, you can write assembly code inside a C programm if you want.
3- After that choose a microcontroller that has built in hardware to support USB.
4- Learn the basics of analog design. You´ll find lots of application notes from the manufacturers that could help you.
5- Unless this is your specific area of interest don´t try to develop RF circuits at home. They demand special equipment to be tested. Use off-the-shelf modules instead.

Re: Starting Out

andy629 said:
1) Build a USB lamp that I can control(ON/OFF) using a program I will make in ASM or C/C++

Is the "lamp" to be powered from the USB connector, or is it merely controlled by the USB?

Is the "lamp" an incandescent light bulb (or fluorescent bulb), and if so do you know the voltage and current requirements? Or do you mean 1-4 average LEDs?

USB powered devices are limited to 100mA of current, until they negotiate a higher current draw of up to 500mA through a process called enumeration. That is why I asked about the "lamp" type.

I agree that using an Atmel's AVR or Microchip's PIC 8-bit microcontroller that has USB capability is likely the best way to start. Both vendors have free (or free student versions) of development environments. One 3rd-party vendor that might be of interest is **broken link removed**.

A popular online electronics tutorial is likely also very useful for understanding the basics of what you want to do.

I hope that helps, and good luck!

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