Mini-Volt Flasher
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03/30/2012
Earthmen Productions
Earthmen Productions
Dec-00-Mar-12

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated: July 17, 2013

"MINI-VOLT"
3-Channel PC-programmable LED Sequencer w/ R/C Control and LiPo Battery Voltage Monitor

History

Parts

Building

Programming Software !

Testing & Operation

Notes

Note: All pictures that follow are "clickable".  Clicking on them will show you an enlargement!
Under Construction

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 user-programmable LiPo 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) - Under Construction

 

 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 channels)
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... nothing special
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 25-40mA)
 

Parts & Tools List ...

1) ...more coming soon



Building Instructions...

BUILDING 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 resistors.

 

 

 

 

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)

 

 


Mini-Volt Controller and Programming Cable
(+ 16 mating LED connectors, Kit/Parts)
 

 

 

 

Programming Software...

THE PICAXE FIRMWARE FOR THIS PROJECT IS NOT FOR SALE .... SORRY
Pre-programmed Picaxe chips are now available ! 
Click here to purchase one now!

 

 

NEW!
DOWNLOAD THE MINI-VOLT PROGRAMMING
SOFTWARE !
 * 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!)
 

Main Screen
File Menu Screen
Loaded Program Screen
 Sequence Testing Screen
 Download Screen #1
 Download Screen #2
 Setup Menu (Comm port, Test speed, PIC speed)
 Help/About Screen
 Help/How-To Screen
 Channel Menu #1 (click on tiny square button)
Channel Menu #2
 LED Color Menu (click on LED text)
 LED Servo Control Menu (select mask)
Exit Screen
   

 

Testing and Operation Instructions...

I plan to add more information re: this neat gadget as time allows.

TWO OF THESE UNITS ARE BUILT AND ARE CURRENTLY BEING BETA TESTED !!!

 

MINI-VOLT  FAQ
 

Q1. .

A1. ...
 

bullet

TBD
 

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TBD


   
**** VERY LIMITED QUANTITIES ARE AVAILABLE ****
Click Here to visit the


   

Earthmen Productions
Earthmen Productions
Dec-00-Mar-12

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