Wiring Mini Kits
The Wiring hardware is a small circuit board that includes a tiny computer of the size of a postage stamp known as a microcontroller. This computer can be programmed in the Wiring programming environment to control all kinds of sensors and actuators. Sensors are devices that allow the board to acquire information from the surrounding environment (temperature, light, distance to an object etc.). Actuators are devices that allow the board to create changes (responses) in the physical world (light, movement, temperature, etc.) making possible to create all kinds of interactive artifacts.
A microcontroller addresses some of the difficulties involved in prototyping with electronics by introducing the concept of programming into it. The same unit can behave in different ways, just by doing or modifying a software program to adapt it to a specific purpose.
In order to attach sensors and actuators the Wiring hardware provides a set of connectors known as pins. A pin can be set as INPUT or OUTPUT whether it is used to read a sensor or create responses in the physical world through actuators. Sensors can be of different kinds but they may be grouped into digital and analog. Digital refers to signals with two possible states, ON or OFF, HIGH or LOW, like switches for example or special communication protocols. Analog refers to signals that can take any value in a continuous range, like luminosity or temperature.
The Wiring hardware can be connected to a computer's USB port. This connection is both for uploading into the Wiring hardware a program written in the Wiring programming environment and to communicate the Wiring hardware with a computer for other purposes, like sending data from/to the board to an application running on a PC. The PC recognizes the Wiring hardware as a serial port, being able to read and send data to it from many applications.
There are 3 basic prototyping scenarios Wiring was designed for: standalone interactive objects or spaces, interactive objects or spaces connected to a computer to enhance the prototype capabilities, or networked objects or spaces by communicating multiple hardware devices.
There are two flavors of the Wiring hardware: The Wiring I/O board (left in the diagrams) and the WiringMini (right in the diagrams). Both the Wiring I/O board and WiringMini are based on the powerful ATMEL atmega128 microcontroller, so both have the same power and capabilities. The Wiring I/O board can be used out of the box, it provides a USB port on it which can be directly attached to a computer for uploading programs, no special setup or connections needed to start working with it so it is ideal in the classroom as it is just ready to use. The WiringMini is smaller in size, it is intended for advanced users. It doesn?t include a USB connector so it requires a serial adapter like the Wiring USBAdapter to program it. Because of the smaller size factor the WiringMini can be used directly on a breadboard, it has lower costs so it is ideal for setting up a small-mid production of a project. It fits in tiny places with a very low power consumption.
Digital input/output pins
The Wiring hardware has 43 Digital pins that can be configured and used individually as inputs or outputs from the Wiring language in the Wiring programming environment. When a digital pin is configured as INPUT it can be used to read all kind of sensors that give values ON and OFF, like push buttons, touch sensors, switches etc. When a pin is used as an OUTPUT it can be used to turn ON or OFF all sort of devices like light bulbs, motors, home appliances etc. Pin 48 is used as OUTPUT only and it is connected to an amber LED (Light Emitting Diode) located in the board for quickly test programs or as diagnostics.
Digital input/output ports
The Wiring hardware has 5 digital ports. A port is a set of 8 pins, and can be used to send or receive data to devices in parallel (8 bits at a time). They are useful when using devices like liquid crystal displays or printers. Each port can be configured and used individually as input or output from the Wiring language in the Wiring programming environment.
Analog input pins
The Wiring hardware has 8 Analog Inputs capable of reading voltages between 0-5V. Internally the voltages are translated into numbers from 0 to 1024. These inputs can be used to measure continuous quantities like light intensity, temperature, proximity, position etc.
PWM (analog) output pins
The Wiring hardware has 6 PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) outputs. PWM consists of switching something ON and OFF thousands of times per second simulating the behaviour of an analog output, creating effects like light intensity dimming or controling the speed of a motor.
The Wiring hardware has 2 hardware serial ports. In the language one called Serial and the other called Serial1. The Serial serial port is available on the pins 32(Rx) and 33(Tx) and in the Wiring I/O board is also available through the USB connector. It is used for both programming the Wiring hardware with the Wiring development environment, and to communicate with other devices. The Serial1 serial port is available on I/O pins 2(Rx) and 3(Tx).
Pins with speacial functions
The Wiring hardware provides ISP and TWI (Two Wire Interface) also known as i2c interface. The TWI allows to connect up to 128 i2c sensors/actuators in a network using only 2 wires to communicate with all of them. It is also possible to use those pins to create a network of up to 127 Wiring boards using the Wire library.
External interrupts pin
It is possible to generate and attend external interrupts in the Wiring hardware. There are 8 external interrupts numbered from 0 to 7 so there are 8 pins on the Wiring hardware capable of external interrupts, 0, 1, 2, 3, 36, 37, 38, and 39 respectively. In addition to being regular digital pins, note that pins 0 and 1 are also used for the Wire library (TWI) and pins 2 and 3 are also the Serial1 serial port pins.
Need more digital pins
If more digital I/O pins or a an additional I/O digital port are needed, it is possible to use the analog input section as a digital one, in such case individual pins will continue to be numbered from 40 to 47, and the set of 8 pins is available as port 5.
The Wiring hardware has a power (green) LED indicator that is turned ON when the board is powered. It also has a diagnostic (amber) LED, that can be turned ON or OFF from the Wiring language and is accessed as digital pin 48. The Wiring I/O board also includes LEDs for the Serial serial port (USB) data transmission (light yellow) and data reception (red).
A generic 7-13 Volt 800mA power supply with female, center positive connector is required to power the Wiring hardware. It will suit fine for a number of applications, but if more power is required, it is recommended to get a more robust power supply.
For small experiments, with low current consumption devices, the Wiring hardware can be powered from the computer's USB port when the board is connected to the computer.
The Wiring hardware can also be powered from external batteries or regulated power supplies (see the WARNING note at the end of the diagram when doing this).
A USB Cable (generic USB printer cable) is required to connect the Wiring hardware to a computer. The WiringMini requires a serial to USB adapter (like the Wiring USBAdapter) to connect it to a computer.
The Wiring USBAdapter converts the serial RS-232 TTL signal levels to USB. It is based on the FTDI FT232R chip. The small board provides access to all its pins and use it with breadboards and all kinds of microcontrollers.
The Wiring USBAdapter has RX and TX RS-232 TTL lines that can be connected directly to a microcontroller serial lines. The USBAdapter RX and TX lines must be connected to the TX and RX lines of the microcontroller repectively.
The RS-232 standard includes other I/O lines that are also available in the Wiring USBAdapter, even if those lines are not commonly used in many setups. It also provides access to other FTDI232R lines that can be configured for other purposes using the FTDI software utilities.
The Wiring USB Adapter is powered from the USB bus directly, it provides regulated voltage (VCC) output pins for 5V and 3.3V which can be used to power the WiringMini board or other devices that require such voltages to operate.
WARNING The USBAdapter is powered from the USB bus directly ONLY. Do not attempt to use the 3.3v or 5v lines for other than powering other devices, the USBAdapter should not be powered from those lines. Doing this wrongly might damage your USBAdapter permanently. If you are not sure about your connections or need additional support go to the discourse section and ask for help.
The WiringMini board was designed as an alternative for advanced Wiring users to include Wiring in small to mid range production of their projects and prototypes. It is as powerful as the Wiring I/O board but smaller in size, fitting in places where the wiring board might be too big for. The WiringMini can also be plugged directly into a breadboard for flexibility and it can be ordered with or without the pin headers soldered. The WiringMini board does not include a USB connector so the Wiring USBAdapter was designed as well. Many projects do not require the USB plug as a permanent component but just for programming the Wiring hardware, this reduces costs for production and deployment.
The WiringMini board includes a power regulator on it that converts input voltage into 5 volts VCC regulated voltage (to power itself and other components in your projects) making it very easy to power it from non-regulated power sources or batteries with no hassle or having to add extra power regulation circuits.
What's needed? The brand new WiringMini board, a Wiring USBAdapter chip, a generic USB printer cable to connect to the board to a computer and an external generic power adapter (optional).
Power the WiringMini board accordingly. The WiringMini board can be powered from an external generic power adapter that provides voltage from 7-15 Volts, 500-1000mA, center positive; or it can be powered directly from the USB port of a computer by means of the USBAdapter board using 5V. Powering from the USB will fine for small experiments, but consider getting a power supply for connecting several devices to the board or high loads like servo motors. Below there are diagrams ilustrating diferent ways of powering the WiringMini board.
Powering from the Wiring USBAdapter (5 Volts): Note how the +5V from the USBAdapter goes directly into the VCC line of the WiringMini board. Ground (common) goes to Ground. Also note the Tx and Rx lines are connected to Serial serial port Rx and Tx lines of the WiringMini board respectively.
Note: Remember the port used to upload programs into the Wiring hardware is called Serial and it is available on pins 32 and 33. The second hardware serial port is available on pins 2 and 3 and it is called Serial1. Serial1 can be used to connect additional serial devices or even a second Wiring USBAdapter if needed.
Powering from an external power supply (7-13 Volts): In this case the VIN line is connected to the positive V+ line of the external power adapter, this can be done because the WiringMini board has a power regulator included capable of converting higher voltages into regulated 5Volts (VCC). The external power supply ground line is connected to the WiringMini GND line. Note how the GROUND line from the USBAdapter also goes directly into the GND line of the WiringMini board. The Tx and Rx lines are connected to Serial serial port Rx and Tx lines of the WiringMini board respectively.
WARNING, NEVER CONNECT AN EXTERNAL POWER SUPPLY OR BATTERIES WITH VOLTAGES HIGHER THAN 5 Volts DIRECTLY TO VCC, use VIN instead. Doing this wrongly might damage your board permanently. If you are not sure about your connections or need additional support go to the discourse section and ask for help.
Plug the Wiring USBAdapter board to the USB cable and then to the PC, the green power LED on the USBAdapter and WiringMini boards should come ON immediately. Now you are ready to go. By default a small program that blinks the amber LED on the WiringMini board is loaded, so you should be able to see the amber LED blinking a few seconds after powering your board. Now it is time to continue with the software setup process.
About the Wiring USBAdapter
The Wiring USBAdapter board can provide 5 or 3.3 volts VCC regulated power (to power a WiringMini or other components in your projects). The USB adapter is powered from the USB bus ONLY.
Here are some additional setups including the Wiring USBAdapter:
Using two USBAdapter boards with the WiringMini (one on each serial port): In this case one Wiring USBAdapter is used on Serial and the second in Serial1 serial ports. The WiringMini board is being powered from an external power source. The ground signal is shared by all the devices.
USBAdapter connected to the Wiring I/O board Serial1 serial port: In this case one Wiring USBAdapter is used on Serial1 with the Wiring /O board.
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