DIY digital spirit level

A simply digital spirit level using a LIS302DL accelerometer from nkcelectronics coupled with a seeeduino for processing and a 2x16 character LCD display for output.

Sketch is available for your convenience. Note the Sketch includes an extra feature: PWM backlight on pin3.




RIP DSE, Greetings Futurlec

Dicksmith Electronics is dead to me now. Dead as a door nail, dead just like Tandy.

When I was growing up, Tandy and DSE were the two places I went to get my electronic parts and information. The Engineer's Mini Notebook series and Getting Started in Electronics sold at Tandy were treasure troves of tips, tricks, and insights. The best thing was of course I could buy nearly any component mention in the book at either DSE or Tandy.

Those days are no longer. Tandy degenerated into a specialised consumer electronics retailer long ago, and now DSE has suffered the same fate. Take for example my wasted journey to Burwood DSE: I had searched on DSE's website for some pin headers, and was inform Burwood store had them in stock. 30 minutes later I was there, and lo and behold: they no longer have an electronics section. Only a few years ago I would frequent Burwood DSE because they were the only component retailer I could reach with relative easy by public transport. Now there is nothing but the shiny and vacuous desert of electronic bling.

How the mighty have fallen.

Currently Futurlec is my supplier of choice. Not only do they have reasonable prices, they also have a fantastic range of components, boards and hardware, a better range than Jaycar with a easier to use website too.

I am torn to use Futurlec - Jaycar has been an excellent business in encouraging the next generation to get into electronics, and I really want to support them. But their website leaves much to be desired, and their range in recent years has been slowly been invaded by consumer electronic bling. Will Jaycar fall like Tandy and DSE before it? Maybe if they stayed out of the hands of the Woolworths...




2x16 character LCD displays

2x16 character LCD displays can be tricky beasts. I got mine working today with my seeeduino (an arduino compatible board with more awesome), and really wished I had known that:

  1. The contrast pin needs to be in the same power network as the power and ground pins. The contrast pin at 0v provides highest contrast, which means you can probably just ground it normally.

  2. The timing between LCD driver power up and commencement of device programming appears to be important. I had the LCD power independently, and this gave me garbage on screen. When the LCD shared the same power supply as the seeeduino everything worked perfectly.