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ATtiny84 LED display and heater project

Here’s a little project that uses an ATtiny84 microcontroller, programmed with the Arduino software, to build a thermostatically-controlled heater. It allows the user to choose a temperature setpoint, and then displays the current temperature using an Adafruit 4-digit 7-segment LED display over I2C. The youtube video below demonstrates part of the project, where an ATtiny84 processor is used to drive the Adafruit display.

To get the project rolling, I installed the ATtiny core files available from High-Low Tech. The instructions there helped get the ATtiny84 running on a breadboard. I use … Continue Reading

Using Arduino tide predictions

In the previous post, I outlined some Arduino code to generate tide height predictions for a NOAA tidal reference station.

Now let’s do something useful with this newfound functionality. In the experiments I run, it’s useful to keep intertidal animals like snails and limpets on a natural tidal cycle. In addition, some animals like high-shore limpets really dislike being continuously submerged, and will crawl up out of the tank and die when they dry out. In this case, I built a “limpet splasher” system that sprays water in the aquarium for a few seconds at a time with pauses in … Continue Reading

Tide height prediction with the Arduino

A collaborator of mine, Dr. Jeremy Long at SDSU, approached me with the idea of building a system to recreate rising and falling tide heights in his aquaria. One of the keys to making this work was having some way to specify what the tide height should be at any given time. While there is no shortage of websites and software that will give you tide predictions, they generally require an internet connection or a full-fledged computer to run tide prediction software, neither of which were necessarily desirable solutions when we wanted to control tides in aquaria that … Continue Reading

BBQ controller, version 2


The smoker and temperature controller.

A few years back I put together an electronic BBQ temperature controller that regulated the air temperature in my smoker and displayed the air + meat temperatures on a computer in my kitchen, while also posting the temperatures to Twitter. More recently I have decided that setting up my old desktop computer on my kitchen counter is a poor use of space, so I set about making a more compact temperature monitor.

This time around the contraption is based on an Arduino board. … Continue Reading

Book Review: Practical Computing For Biologists

Practical Computing for Biologists
Steven H. D. Haddock and Casey W. Dunn
Sinauer, 2010

Practical Computing for Biologists is an ambitious book that primarily aims to demystify many of the problems that most biologists will hit at some point in their research that can be solved with a bit of simple programming. The book does an admirable job of achieving this goal by exposing the reader to a number of freely available programs and techniques for dealing with text files and other data types. Much of the book (Parts 1-4) … Continue Reading

A thermocouple datalogger based on the Arduino platform

Updated with new Arduino code July 8 2012.

It never hurts to collect more data, and I often find myself wanting to record temperatures from a few extra animals. Most (all?) commercial thermocouple dataloggers that will record temperatures from multiple thermocouples cost several hundred or thousands of dollars. I set out to put together a relatively cheap 8-channel thermocouple datalogger based on the open-source Arduino development platform.

My 8-channel thermocouple datalogger. A single type-T thermocouple is plugged in to one of … Continue Reading

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