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Time lapse camera using ArduCAM

My time lapse camera board.

My time lapse camera board.

Design files and code for this project can be found here: https://github.com/millerlp/Time_lapse_arducam

The goal of this project was to build a cheap and power-efficient time lapse camera to monitor some of my experiments in the field. The camera would capture an JPEG image every 30 seconds and write it to a micro SD card, and be able to run off of AA batteries for a day or two at least. To accomplish this, I build an Arduino-like controller board that … Continue Reading

Arduino compile error: the filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect

GetFileAttributesEx D:\Arduino\libraries\SdFat/SdInfo.h
D:\Arduino\libraries\SdFat/SdSpi.h: The filename, directory name,
or volume label syntax is incorrect.
The error message above started cropping up shortly after I upgraded to Arduino 1.6.8 on Windows 7 x64. The cause seems to be due to some folder becoming locked in the Arduino compile pathway. One solution seems to be to close the Arduino software, restart it, and attempt to compile again. The program will compile ONCE, and then lock up and fail on a second compile attempt.

This Arduino forum thread recounts the same error: https://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=366757.0

Another workaround seems to be switching the board … Continue Reading

Building a simple tide clock

Myself and Jeremy Long recently had a paper published in PeerJ (open access, free to read) describing the use of an Arduino microcontroller to predict tides and regulate the water levels in aquaria in synchrony with the natural tides. You can read more about that tide controller system here and further variations here.

As part of the process of putting a poster together on the Tide Height Controller project for a meeting of the Western Society of Naturalists, I whipped up a simple little 3-piece tide clock that shows a live display of the tide for … Continue Reading

Controlling tide height in lab aquaria

A few years back I posted about a set of Arduino libraries I wrote to allow an Arduino with an attached clock to predict the tides for a coastal site. In that post, I showed a variation on the theme that had a motor-driven rack that transited up and down in time with the tide.

Now Jeremy Long and I have published an open access paper in the journal PeerJ (external link) describing our use of that tide-predicting-motorized-rack, which we called the Tide Height Control system. We used the THC system to recreate real tide … Continue Reading

PCB silkscreen sizes

Recently I’ve been getting my printed circuit boards manufactured through OSH Park, and they make good quality (to my eye) boards at a decent price, with less than a 2-week turnaround time. They also take files directly from Eagle software, rather than having to produce gerber files (though this is also an option).

On a recent set of orders I played around with the silkscreen label sizing in my copy of Eagle 7.2. The OSH Park guidelines say that their minimum silkscreen line thickness is 5 mils (0.005 inches). This is the thickness of the lines that make up … Continue Reading

Electronics parts list

Here’s the start of a list of common bits and doo-dads I use for building electronics projects.


That’s all there is to it.

Open Wave Height Logger prototype in the water

I finally got around to deploying a prototype OWHL unit in the real live ocean to log some waves.

The low-tech housing is made of 1.5″ schedule 40 pvc pipe. The pipe snugly fits the D-cell battery holder, while the electronics fit inside the modified 1.5″ end cap.

Components of the housing.

Components of the housing.

Prototype housing

Assembled prototype housing

I try not to rely solely on the tapered threads of the … Continue Reading

OWHL micro SD card current draw tests

As outlined in an earlier post, I found that certain old micro SD cards were performing spectacularly poorly when it came to power consumption because they failed to go into a low-power sleep state immediately after writing data to the card. I recently purchased a few new SanDisk micro SD cards in various capacities to see how they behaved. I purchased 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB SanDisk cards from Amazon in November 2014. These were all tagged as “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” and ranged from $5.99 to $12.99.

The good news is that all 4 cards behaved properly … Continue Reading

Early Open Wave Height Logger battery tests

The Open Wave Height Logger prototype stack.

The Open Wave Height Logger prototype stack.

Following on the previous post about the Open Wave Height Logger project, I’ve been conducting a simple battery life test. One of the prototype OWHLs was powered by a 3 D-cell alkaline battery pack and shoved in the freezer for 32 days. The image below shows the collated daily data files for that time period, during which the data logger was sampling 4 times per second continuously. The black line is pressure in millibar, … Continue Reading

Arduino code for MS5803 pressure sensors

I have recently been developing a library for the Measurement Specialties MS5803 line of digital pressure sensors. These sensors are available in several different pressure ranges from 1 to 30 bar, they are submersible if installed in a proper housing, they communicate via I2C or SPI, and they cost around US$35. It’s fairly straightforward to interface the MS5803 with a microcontroller like the Arduino that can also communicate via the I2C or SPI protocols. They are a surface-mount style chip, meant to solder onto a 1.27mm pitch SOIC-8 layout (like the green board I used in the picture below). … Continue Reading

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