[time-nuts] Controlling FEI 5680A

Jim Lux jimlux at earthlink.net
Fri Oct 19 00:54:50 EDT 2012

On 1/14/12 9:18 PM, Chris Albertson wrote:
> Not over kill at all.   It is worth paying a few $$ not to have to
> design a PCB.  Worse then that is that most will take shortcuts and
> design it so that you need a sppepcial IC programmer to program the
> PIC.  Thee $20 development boards allow you to download the firmware
> over USB so users can do it themselves.
> I'm looking at this pair of boards:
> http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoEthernetShield
> http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardUno
> Ethernet and and SD card slot might seem overkill too.  But I want to
> track performance, read out the phase difference over time and so one.
>   So I want to be able to connect a desktop computer and a USB cable is
> to short.  Ethernet will let me check from work or with my phone.
> the SD card can be used to log data.   Likely hold a two years of data
> on a 8GB card.

I've got just that pair.. several of them.

It's great..what's nice about Arduino is that you can just go buy one at 
Radio Shack.  For a lot of applications, it's a nice simple solution 
with minimal hassles and fooling around.

Examples get you started with things like simple webservers, etc.

The Arduino language is a sort of C, and for some reason Arduino land 
uses non standard jargon (sketches, shields), but it's not too bad.

I had a summer intern who had never programmed before in his life turn 
one into a controller to cycle three solenoid valves in a couple weeks.

If you like PICs, that works too. There are off the shelf boards, etc. 
that work fairly well.

What all of these don't do well is complex stuff.  If your program gets 
over, say, 1000 lines, you're probably trying to do too much for that 
little machine.  It's not a multitasking operating system with disk 
drives, etc.   Even if there ARE a lot of libraries that make it seem 
like a full-up environment (e.g. BSD sockets, file systems on SD) it 
really isn't.  it's still a little embedded microcontroller.

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