Things were easy when iGaging "Remote DRO" were the only scales Android DRO supported. Now that it can work with most of the common scales things are becoming a bit more confusing, judging from the number of emails I've been getting lately. With other things being equal, the choice of scales will have the biggest impact on you DRO's performance. There is a number of options, ranging from cheap Chinese calipers to glass scales and other quadrature encoders. Although I can't definitively answer the question "which scales should I use for my DRO setup", in this post I'll try to explain which parameters matter most in a DRO application.
As the interest in the Android DRO project grows, so does the number of questions I get each day. Some of those questions keep coming up regularly, and since it’s been almost a year since I posted the “Android Digital Readout Micro FAQ”, it’s time to post another one. This post will not cover every question you might have, but hopefully it will address most of the common ones.
Recently I've been working on a new version of a DRO controller that will be able to read a combination of different scales. Although the project is taking much more time than I anticipated, I’m making steady [but slow] progress. Last week I had some free time, so I was finally able to button-up some stability issues with the common “Chinese” scales. Unfortunately I still haven’t finished a truly universal version, so you won’t be able to mix glass and capacitive linear scales (yet). Never the less I posted two versions of the firmware: one that read up to four scales and one that reads the common capacitive linear scales. Links to both versions are posted on the DRO Project Downloads Page.
A few weeks ago I posted the build instructions for an adapter board that can be used for interfacing various digital scales to the MSP430 Launchpad DRO controller. Following those instructions you will end up with a base adapter board that still needs to be configured for your particular setup. This includes providing each scale with an appropriate power supply voltage, hooking them up to the corresponding “virtual ground”, and connecting the adapter to the MSP430 Launchpad. In this post I will use the DRO unit I built for my own mill as an example of a mixed-scale setup.
Last post covered the design considerations for the Voltage Shifter required for the Mixed Scale DRO Controller. As promised, in this post I will provide detailed build instructions for this circuit. The board is designed to work with up to four scales and has three power rails. One provide 3.3V power supply to the comparators and [potentially] iGaging scales; the other two can be set to any voltage between 1V and about 18V. Although the firmware doesn’t [yet] support glass scales or tachometer input, this board is ready for them.
|3"x4" 1200 hole stripboard|
with a track cutting tool
|Mixed Scale DRO Controller with MSP430 Launchap|
So far the DRO controllers I’ve designed have been able to read only the IGaging (Shahe) Remote DRO scales. Lately I’ve been getting an increasing number of requests for a firmware that could read the standard “chinese” linear scales.A few months ago I started working on a new version that would do just that. Although the project is still a bit rough around the edges, I’m pretty sure that the hardware will stay unchanged and any future updates will be done via firmware. Rather than holding off until the whole shebang is done, I decided to post the stable version of the firmware. In the next few posts I will provide details for the project, design considerations, build instructions and firmware implementation.
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