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Landed in Shenzhen, China

I’ve now arrived in Shenzhen, China, which is the electronics capital of the world. I’m busy recording video and taking photos so that I can show everyone what it’s like here in the most high-tech city in the world.

This was the view from my hotel room window when I arrived last night:

Click the image for a larger version. It’s worth it!

The octagonal building you can see to the left that disappears above the top of the photo is SEG Plaza, the heart and soul of the electronics industry here. Every other commercial building you can see in that photo (and going out many blocks in every direction) is directly related to electronics manufacturing. There are entire buildings full of nothing but LED vendors. Buildings for case manufacturers. Buildings for cell phone parts. Buildings for LCD panels, both bare (OEM) and retail ready, and every stage in between.

If you’re interested in electronics and you haven’t heard of Shenzhen or the Huaqiangbei markets before, the next few videos that I upload will be eye-opening.

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Intermittent shipping during November while I’m in China

I’m heading off to Shenzhen, China, on Friday November 10th and returning on the 18th.

During that time I’ll have someone looking after shipping, but it will probably only be processed every few days.

Any orders placed today will be shipped before I leave, but after that there may be some delays until I return.

Hopefully I’ll come back with plenty of video of one of the most amazing cities in the world.

Thanks for your patience!

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Latest chapter in State of Electronics: The Rise of the Maker Movement

For many years now my friend Karl von Moller has been interviewing people within the Australian electronics industry to build a picture of the state of the industry, and to report on where it’s going.

The latest chapter is now up on YouTube. It features many local engineers and Makers, including myself, so you can see what I looked like when I briefly had the start of a beard! Karl will be travelling to Shenzhen, China with me at the end of next week, and this episode is a prelude to what will be reported back after that trip. The video thumbnail is actually me watching my DIY pick-and-place machine populating an ESP-8266 based PCB, and much of the background footage (including footage of Angus from Espressif working on that same board) was recorded in my lab.

Enjoy!

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Interfacing Arduino with MATLAB

MATLAB is a very popular tool often used by engineers for technical computing, data visualization, simulation and algorithm development. What many people don’t know is that it is possible to connect an Arduino compatible board to MATLAB. This can be achieved through the MATLAB Support Package for Arduino which allows MATLAB to communicate to the Arduino through the USB cable. Not only does this give you to power to blink LEDs from MATLAB, but you can also configure your Arduino to easily collect data and send it into the MATLAB environment where it can be processed using the full power of your PC. Using the MATLAB environment it is also possible to create graphical interfaces to control hardware attached to your Arduino board, and much more! If you want to learn more about how this can be done there are many tutorials available including this one from from All About Circuits or this video series from Mathworks (the creators of MATLAB).

MATLAB

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Writing an Arduino Library

Have you ever written some code that you thought would make a great library but didn’t know where to get started? This tutorial will be perfect for you!

If you haven’t used libraries before they provide a really simple way to extend the functionality of the Arduino environment. For example there are libraries that make it very easy to connect to Ethernet, control servo motors or even work with LCD displays.

Writing a library

So how do you create your own library? First you will need to create two files, one header file (.h), which lists everything that is inside the library, and the source file (.cpp) which contains the actual code. After this you will need to take your existing sketch and appropriately fill out the header and source files. Fortunately this is quite a simple process and there is a great example available on the Arduino website.

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Arduino Interrupts

Interrupts are a fantastic tool to help increase the efficiency of your Arduino code and are typically very underutilized! So what exactly is an interrupt? In simple terms, interrupts are a mechanism found on Arduino (and many other microcontrollers) that simplify the process of reacting to real time events. This is achieved by constantly monitoring the status of a pin and immediately executing code, interrupting whatever was currently running, when the state of a pin changes (or on a rising or falling edge as desired). As you can imagine, this is significantly more efficient than having to wait for your code to reach the specific line where it checks the status of an input, and it frees up your Arduino to focus on other tasks rather than monitoring the state of a pin. To learn more about interrupts and how you can use them in your projects check out the video below from Core Electronics.

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Hockey Sin Bin Management System

At SuperHouse Automation we love it when our fans share their own projects with us. Ben Lennard from Lennard Electronics recently got in touch and shared his great project. Using four Freetronics dot matrix displays, Ben has built a sin bin management display for the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington. Whilst the system is used to display the time and various advertisements, the primary use is to keep track of how long different players have been in the sin bin.

The displays

Ben’s project uses four DMD’s which are chained together and controlled by an Arduino Uno. The Uno receives commands from a Raspberry Pi powered touchscreen controller box, via a Bluetooth link. The outdoor display is housed in a custom built fiber glass case, which has special vents built into it to allow air to flow in and out whilst still keeping dust and water out. Thanks Ben for sharing!

The touch screen controller

The Hockey Statium

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DIY Soldering Station

Most hobbyists start off with a cheap and nasty soldering iron which takes minutes to heat up, and provides no temperature control. Whilst a decent soldering station is a significant upgrade from a typical beginners iron, the cost can be prohibitive. Thankfully, GreatScottLab has put together a great instructable detailing how you can build your own fully controllable soldering station.

The parts required to build a DIY soldering station.

Not only is building your own significantly cheaper than buying a soldering station, but the process of building the electronics and 3D printing the enclosure provides a fantastic educational opportunity! To find out more about how you can get started building your own soldering station checkout the following link.

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Inspired to start work on this project? Are you working on a project you would like us to feature in this blog? The team at SuperHouse Automation would love to know! Tell us about it in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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I2C For Arduino

The I2C or “I squared C” bus is a simple way to transfer data between different integrated circuits, boards or sensors in your Arduino project. I2C stands for “Inter-Integrated Circuit”. One of the great things about I2C is that it only requires two connections to your Arduino, SDA (data) and SCL (clock), and you can easily connect multiple devices to the bus. If you want to learn more about the I2C bus checkout this tutorial from tronixstuff, or this tutorial from How To Mechatronics.

I2C

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Arduino Easter Egg Decorator

Happy Easter from the team at SuperHouse Automation! Decorating eggs is a great Easter tradition.  Curtis Swartley has built a great random easter egg decorator. The project uses servos and a stepper motor controlled by a number of Arduino boards which control the spin of the egg and the position of the drawing pen. If you want to make your own decorator or see it in action checkout the following link.

Want to keep in the loop about the latest in home automation? Subscribing to SuperHouse Automation on YouTube is the best place to start!

Inspired to start work on this project? Are you working on a project you would like us to feature in this blog? The team at SuperHouse Automation would love to know! Tell us about it in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.