Author Archives: Erik Zandboer

Electronics and Waterworks in a Cabinet How?

The next issue I faced was one I remember well and I think you may actually “feel” as well: You add stuff and add more stuff in the cabinet underneath, and at some point it is just wires, tubes, pipes and devices… Completely inaccessible.

I wanted to do these things differently this time. What did I come up with? Why not install a slider drawer inside the cabinet! I can put all electronics on one side, water-related stuff (osmosis, heating, valves and pumps) on the other side. If I add enough length to all wires and hoses, I’d be able to pull out the entire
“module” to do work on without banging my head ever again! As a picture says a thousand words:

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The Birth of a new paludarium – Palu2022

Yes, I am back! Ok, ok, I can hear you saying: “Yeah we are in 2023 and you are building a 2022 model”. Well true, but these things take a LONG way before they actually see the light of day, especially given the nature of the paludarium projects I run. Every single time there is more pipes, more sensors, more lights, more stuff. This project was started over a year ago…

WHY? Well, welcome to the age of Zoom and Teams calls

I have come to the realization that things will not change much after the pandemic. Especially in the world of IT where I am still part of (#IworkForDell !) the movement back to how things were are slow or maybe even absent. Where I used to be on a plane like once a week I am now cooked up in my house doing online calls. Also, it doesn’t help that I do have a room where I can work, but it is in the “Mancave” and it has NO outside windows. Yuck!!

So what to do?

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Adding software features to Artemis

New things! Everything is progressing nicely. Did additional testing on the 230VAC detection circuit and wrote software to read SHT31 digital humidity/temperature sensors. Also added a ClosedLoop function so analog inputs can be used to compare to store values and have an outputs act on the comparison.

230VAC detection

Finally I had the time to properly measure the mains voltage inputs. No shorts or anything… So I decided to go on and plug in the mains voltage into the Artemis.

The 230VAC detection circuit is connected to D48 (ICP5 on the Arduino), which mean I could potentially measure the exact frequency of the mains AC voltage. Still, I do not require to have that, so instead I built a simple timer that resets if the phase comes up, and counts down if the phase disappears. This way I always have a stable reading on the signal, even when the Artemis accidentally measures on an exact phase zero crossing.

        if (digitalRead(PIN_230V_DETECT) == LOW) // Active? Reset Timer.
        {
                TIM_50HzDetect = 10;
        }
        else
        {
                if (TIM_50HzDetect) // Not active -> count 2 zero and stay.
                {
                        TIM_50HzDetect--;
                }
        }
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Putting Artemis through it paces

The hardware is finally in! This post is a geeky tech post as a result 😉 I had some issues soldering an SMT component that was not in stock at the PCB manufacturer… So I needed to solder that manually. After that the rest of the THT components were soldered, and then it was test, update software, test, update software.

Just like the computer render – but this time it is for real! The first prototype is just about ready to go!

Manually soldering a TSSOP28

As I quickly discovered – no fun. The Chinese PCB manufacturer mounted all SMT components, except one: The PCA9685 PWM timer which was out of stock.

So I ordered the chips separately and manually soldered the thing. Using a soldering iron and soldering flux I managed to get the component soldered. Up close it is REALLY ugly, but eh, it works:

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Artemis hardware ordered!

After looking at the schematic, looking over it again and once more, then at the PCB once more… I decided there could not be too much wrong with the design as-is… So I pulled the trigger and ordered five PCBs including SMT parts!

After Artemis v1.00 was almost sent to production I did make some last minute changes. That resulted in v1.01 of the hardware. Yesterday was a big day: I finally uploaded my design to jlcpcb.com and progressed with the order!

Exciting! The PCB or Artemis v1.01 finally went into production.
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Final tweaking to Artemis, the smart paludarium controller

Getting ready to have the main PCB built in China, I discovered some things that made me rethink… And make some pretty radical changes to the PCB… Enter v1.01!

Change 1: PWM for LEDs in high-res

The most major change “came to light” when I played with a prototype to control my new LED panel. Right now it uses PWM directly from the Arduino, so that is 256 steps (8 bit resolution).

But especially at lower light intensities I can see the LEDs take their steps. As I also have 16 channels controlled by a PCA9685 chip which is 12 bit resolution (so 4096 steps), I decided to use the PCA9685 outputs to run lighting. This in turn meant I needed to rethink which outputs work on 12V and which ones work on 24V. In the end I solved the puzzle and came up with a clean design:

Artemis v1.01: Changes to the layout of 12V and 24V power feeds and connectors. Note the large 6 pin connectors on the left: They are 24V RGB-CCT outputs now run from the PCA9685 PWM chip.
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Paludarium 2.5: Small but nice

Yes I admit. I have been building a paludarium without writing about any of it..! So trying to make things right, here is my current setup.

My last post on the current paludarium was around building a new cabinet under “some new paludarium”. Well, that paludarium was actually completed quite a while ago, and here it is!

Paludarium 2019 (or version 2.5). 50x50x120cm, 30cm of water.

So this paluadarium has been running for over a year already, in fact almost two years at the time of this writing. It was inspired by my wife: “Designing something you want will take years. Why not build a simple version that you can enjoy NOW while designing something new?”. And I did just that.

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Paludarium 2020: Electronics!

I admit… I have failed to post any new blogs on my current Paludarium setup. I posted the construction of the wooden cabinet… And then it stopped. I did however finish the build, and maybe I’ll add a post on that one later. In this post I introduce a new paludarium design, and it is getting ready to be actually build! It is going to be bigger, better, faster, more! ehhh… more automated than EVER.

The problem with these larger projects is that there are SO many bits and pieces to put together. Today I am writing up part one as I am almost ready to push the button on ordering a complete PCB that will contain practically all electronics required for my new Paludarium 2020 build!

Requirements for the electronics

I wanted to be sure I’d create a PCB that has all stuff on board I might be needing, without overdoing things. Still, I ended up with a huge amount of speeds and feeds. Here they are in random order:

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Building paludarium 2.5

Yes, paludarium 2.5. Not 3.0 (yet). It was taking too long to construct version 3.0, so now I’ve started to build version 2.5, which is a high-tech version but not in the new acrylic houseing. It will be a classic glass construction like the ones I’ve built before.

Building the wooden table

The glass paludarium is already here, and it is 50cm x 50cm x 100cm (length x depth x height) in size, with 28cm of water. Before building the paludarium out I wanted to construct Read more »

Paludarium 3.0: Designing the new “canopy”

Thinking back on Paludarium 1.0 and Paludarium 2.0 I cannot stop wondering why on earth I ever thought that introducing 230VAC on top of a paludarium was a good idea. Powe failure would cause the canopy to “condensate up” and cause huge issues when the power came back. This and a hundred extra issues. So now is the time to set things right in version 3.0. The hood on top used to be a very “smart” lighting (and more) system I called “the Canopy”. Now it is time for a drastic new approach: Canopy 3.0!

Minimalistic design

The new Canopy will have as little as possible electronics inside. All stuff need to be driven through either pipes or wires, and all of the pumps and electronics can sit Read more »