A lil' history ...
This project, called
"Mini-Volt" (left circuit in picture) is a programmable LED
Sequencer/Flasher and LiPo Battery Monitor that is based around a PIC microcontroller.
It is basically a spin-off of the Mini-Flash Programmable LED Flasher/Sequencer
(shown on right in picture)
which is based around the tiny 8-pin PIC microcontroller. This project also includes the ability to
reprogram the LED sequencer using a PC-based (i.e. Windows) program
that includes a unique and intuitive Graphical User Interface. In fact,
the servo lead which is normally plugged into a spare channel for control, is
also used to reprogram the Mini-Volt flasher/sequencer via a computer's serial port
(9-pin) connection and programming cable. The free downloadable programming software
also allows the user to "test" the LED sequence they develop by use of
software-based graphical representations of the 3 LED channels. The
sequence speed can also be programmed by the user. Each sequence contains
50 events and each of the 3 LED channels can be either ON or OFF for every
events. If the user wants to develop a sequence with fewer events, this
can also easily be programmed.
As if these are not enough features, the
"Mini-Volt" also includes a control for each of the 3
channels that allows the user to use an R/C servo output (from a R/C receiver)
as a "switch" control. This feature allows the user to control (active or
inactive) each of the 3 channels in regards to the position of the servo control
input. If the user uses a stick/slider as the servo input, the user will
be able to define one of 16 "Zone" settings for each of the three (3) LED channel.
And lastly, the Mini-Volt includes a neat
Battery monitor. Unlike the Mini-Flash, the Mini-Volt includes a 5 volt
voltage regulator (7805) and is used to regulate the battery voltage
(11.2v-18.5v) down to 5 volts which is used to power the Mini-Volt circuit.
The Mini-Volt programming software also allows the user to program it (i.e.
"cutoff") for 3s, 4s or 5s battery packs. When the voltage of the battery drops below this
preset cutoff voltage, the Mini-Volt will stop displaying the programmed LED
sequence and will quickly flash (twice a second) all LEDS. The user can
choose (via software) either Auto or Locked warning modes (Locked=when cutoff
first reached, continually flash LEDs; Auto=Flash LEDs when battery voltage is <
cutoff, display sequence when > cutoff). This programmable
warning/flashing alarm allows for
a visual indication that the battery is depleted to a point that you need to
land/stop your model. If you were to drain the battery pack below it's cutoff
point, you can and will probably ruin your LiPo pack, never mind possibly
crashing your expensive model.
Read more about
the Mini-Volt's operation by viewing the
Mini-Volt User's Manual ! (Rev 1) -
Design Criteria Summary:
1) Design a simple and affordable programmable LED
flasher around 8-pin PIC
2) Design so LED sequencing speed and sequence pattern is programmable (3 LED
3) Lightweight and simple to build (diy)
4) Provide an integrated LiPo Battery Monitor (visually indicate issues by
quickly flashing all LEDs)
5) Use servo signal to vary how each LED channel responds (turn programmed
pattern on or off)
6) Design programming software so it's intuitive and provide varying functions
7) Interface to computer using RS-232 (9-pin) connector most computer have...
8) Programmable almost indefinitely... change your sequence pattern/speed &
warning voltage many times... until you are satisfied with the settings.
9) Powers many LEDS (at least 400mA per channel... typical 5-8mm LED uses
Parts & Tools List
1) ...more coming soon
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE MINI-VOLT KIT !
First couple of PCBs developed...
Here's twp pictures (Top & Bottom) of the new "Mini-Volt" (left) and the
original "Mini-Flash" (right).
Here's a picture of the parts (battery wire, servo/control wire, machine pin
connector, PIC, PCB, shrink tubing, 5v regulator, 3 transistors, and 5
Not the layout of the 3 LED output channels...
SORRY... NOT YET FOR SALE!
Mini-Volt Controller and Programming Cable
(+ 16 mating LED connectors, Assembled)
and Programming Cable
(+ 16 mating LED connectors, Kit/Parts)
THE PICAXE FIRMWARE FOR THIS PROJECT IS NOT FOR SALE ....
Picaxe chips are now available !
Click here to purchase
* Click Here *
Screen shots of the Mini-Volt programming
software (Rev1).... pretty slick !
(NOTE: PICS SHOWN BELOW ARE FOR THE MINIFLASH....
MINI-VOLT PICS WILL COME SOON!)
|File Menu Screen
|Loaded Program Screen
| Sequence Testing Screen
| Download Screen #1
| Download Screen #2
| Setup Menu (Comm port, Test speed, PIC
| Help/About Screen
| Help/How-To Screen
| Channel Menu #1 (click on tiny square
|Channel Menu #2
| LED Color Menu (click on LED text)
| LED Servo Control Menu (select mask)
Testing and Operation Instructions...
I plan to add more information re: this neat gadget
as time allows.
OF THESE UNITS ARE BUILT AND ARE CURRENTLY BEING BETA TESTED !!!
**** VERY LIMITED
QUANTITIES ARE AVAILABLE ****
Click Here to visit the