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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies, excellent link Dangermouse!

I think I might just get one to play with. If there are any electronics wizards out there, plz get in contact. I have an idea which I've been discussing with PCSlot, need help with the hardware. The goal is to develop a low cost timing system which could be used with analog and digital systems.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Richard,

The lasers I'm thinking of using are straight out of a DVD ROM, the laser diode is very cheap, and speed shouldn't be an issue as they manage to read a DVD at very much higher data rates than we are intending.

Will explore some more
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, now the idea is kind of out...the plan is to create a system that would enable a simple barcode sticker to be used on the chasis of the car, then as the car passes over the laser diode assembly it would scan the car.

This system would work for both analogue and digital systems without modification. Laser diode's are cheap, so providing I can figure out how to turn one of these into a barcode reader it should be a good system.

Each lane will require its own laser diode, I want to get the target build cost to under 50 GBP for the complete system including the CPU board, this would allow for two laser diode assembles, but the system will be scalable to any number of lanes.

Anyone interested in this project please contact either myself or PCSlot.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I will certainly explore other options, such as the RFID. Thanks for the replies.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I think the problem with the RFID idea is the range of the detection, with the barcode reading, the barcode is read when the barcode is directly over the scanner. With RFID the car could be detected before it crosses the race line.

I'm going to investigate making my own scanner using an infared transmitted/receiver from maplins.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I ordered the Arduino Uno 3 yesterday, total cost inc. VAT and deliver £25, arrived today, its very small, plugged it into the system, ran up the free IDE. Loaded one of the Samples 'Blink' which causes an LED to flash on and off...uploaded it and what can I say, its simlicity itself, much simpler than a PIC. Will start playing right away, here is the sample code just so you can see....BTW, a C compiler for a PIC is serious money.

CODE/*
Blink
Turns on an LED on for one second, then off for one second, repeatedly.

This example code is in the public domain.
*/

void setup() {
// initialize the digital pin as an output.
// Pin 13 has an LED connected on most Arduino boards:
pinMode(13, OUTPUT);
}

void loop() {
digitalWrite(13, HIGH); // set the LED on
delay(1000); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(13, LOW); // set the LED off
delay(1000); // wait for a second
}
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm really impressed with this little board, day 2 and I have connected to my PC and Mac book pro and programmed the device from both. I had a play with the USB interface tonight, the pc and mac see the device as a serial port. I ran up a terminal on the pc. Set the Arduino UNO 3 to 57600 and got it to read the USB device as a serial port. When I type different keys on the pc I got the board to light different LEDs. Very simple and worked very well.

Off to buy more components tomorrow so I can play some more. Eventually I will develop a protocol for communicating with the board and publish it so other software packages can interface to it.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you, would be good to develop a joint protocol, I'll post when I get near the time.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hi Graham, to be honest, if you look at the Arduino site there is so many examples and tutorials already written, it isn't difficult at all...
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Bought some components today, bit of breadboard, an infared transmitter and receiver, some LEDs and resistors...got it home 1 hour later got interrupt driven start lights prototyped and working...will have a play with infared transmitter tomorrow.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Its very easy to use the IDE that is free does a lot of the set-up for you so you really only need concern yourself with the actual logic you need for your application. I've tried it on a MAC OSX and Windows 7 and I have to say the MAC version of the IDE is better, the Windows version has some display glitches but nothing that prevents it from working.

There are plenty of examples that come with it, so you should be able to get up and running pretty fast, you should have at lest a basic understanding of the C / C++ programming language.

Also, I've found prices of these vary, I bought mind from Cool Components however I've recently found them on the Maplins web-site, but they are quite a bit more expensive.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·
First project complete
I've written a little class for managing timers, the timers run on an interrupt which is fired every 1 millisecond. Using the timer class I can managed all kinds of things, I'm just using it for switching on some LED's for the start lights. I'm going to experiment now with the Photo Reflector now (http://www.maplin.co.uk/photo-reflector-sy-cr102-12709) see if I can make some kind of barcode reader with it.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #28 ·
First project complete
I've written a little class for managing timers, the timers run on an interrupt which is fired every 1 millisecond. Using the timer class I can managed all kinds of things, I'm just using it for switching on some LED's for the start lights. I'm going to experiment now with the Photo Reflector now (http://www.maplin.co.uk/photo-reflector-sy-cr102-12709) see if I can make some kind of barcode reader with it.
 

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Simon Platten
Joined
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #29 ·
First project complete
I've written a little class for managing timers, the timers run on an interrupt which is fired every 1 millisecond. Using the timer class I can managed all kinds of things, I'm just using it for switching on some LED's for the start lights. I'm going to experiment now with the Photo Reflector now (http://www.maplin.co.uk/photo-reflector-sy-cr102-12709) see if I can make some kind of barcode reader with it.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Sorry for multiple post...had a connection problem, please remove duplicates.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Arduino based raced start lights done. Just ordered a couple of buttons to allow physical mode changes. When started the LED's go on at 750ms intervals then after a random interval between 1.5 and 4 seconds they all go out. I will implement serial messages so you can control it remotely via USB to start, stop and reset sequence and also the unit will send back a message when the race starts containing a timestamp in milliseconds.
 

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Simon Platten
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1,060 Posts
Discussion Starter · #32 ·
If I was to make a start lights unit for around 25 GBP, would anyone be interested in buying one?
 
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