If you read some of the earlier posts on this blog you will quickly see that the times were much simpler four years ago when it comes to iGaging scales: there was only one kind and red wire was "Vcc", black wire was "Ground", and so on. Since then iGaging has gone through several revisions of the original DIgiMag scales and has introduced AbsoluteDRO and EZ View scales. My goal for this post is to explain what are the different iGaging (and generic scales made by Shahe) that TouchDRO supports and how to connect them to the BlueTooth DRO controller.
I started offering pre-made controllers/DIY kit earlier this year, and have received a number of emails asking to clarify which DRO controller to chose and why. At the time of this writing I offer three versions of the controller hardware: two as a pre-assembler board and one as a DIY kit. Each controller is designed to interface with specific set of scales and uses firmware that is specifically optimized for that particular hardware. The purpose of this post is to explain what each controller was designed for and what are the benefits/tradeoffs of using it as opposed to the other controllers.
I'm really excited to finally say that after many months of "Beta" testing, version 2.5 of TouchDRO has been released to "Production". Even though it didn't earn a full digit reales number of 3.0, this version encompasses a lot of major changes under the hood. Many of the changes were made in response to your feedback and requests, while others lay groundwork for future functionality, so let's take a look at the most noteworthy changes in the new version.
Last Monday I shipped the first batch of orders for the Mixed Scale DIY DRO Kit, so those of you that have placed an order have likely already received it. I know that many of the people who ordered the kits have electronics experience and won't need a step-by-step assembly instructions. With that said, I designed the kit to be very beginner-friendly, so in this post I will go over the assembly process in some detail, so someone with limited electronics experience should be able to follow it and end up with a working DRO controller.
Mixed Scale Controller DIY DRO Kit is designed to simplify the build process of the "Mixed Scale" DRO controller. As the name suggests, this version of the controller comes as a do-it-yourself kit that consists of a bare printed circuit board, MSP430 microcontroller pre-programmed with the "Mixed Scale" firmware, BlueTooth transceiver, and all of the necessary parts to build the voltage shifter circuit. The board is primarily designed to run the Mixed Scale firmware and interface with 1.5V and/or 3.3V scales and calipers, but can be easily tweaked to work with quadrature encoders instead.
TouchDRO Quadrature board is designed to interface standard quadrature scales to TouchDRO Android application. It supports up to four scale inputs, directional tachometer, and touch probe input. All inputs are buffered and 5V-tolerant. Scale inputs can be either single-ended, or differential (for better noise immunity).
Those of you that follow the TouchDRO Users G+ community know that I've been working on a pre-made adapter board for iGaging scales. Today I finished testing the first batch of the boards and will ship them out to the people that ordered them. The intention of this post is to clarify what the board does and doesn't do, as well as provide some basic instructions how to set it up.
I test TouchDRO on a number of devices ranging from 10" Galaxy Note Tab to an old LG phone with 4" screen. One of the reasons being that there are subtle differences between devices, event if the OS version and build are the same and some devices work much better than others. For years I've been recommending Google Nexus 7 or Galaxy Tab 7. I use both devices for development and in the garage and stand behind my recommendation. Unfortunately those tablets aren't cheap. Up until now the alternative was to get a no-name Chinese tablet. While these tablets cost half as much, quality of software and hardware varies wildly. For some time I've been looking for an inexpensive tablet that is readily available and offer consistent and reliable performance and finally I found one that fits the bill: Amazon Fire 7" tablet for $49.99.
For almost a year since the last major release of TouchDRO (v2.0) I've been working on the new features and enhancements that will be released in v2.5. Some of the changes are pretty deep under the hood and will not be immediately obvious, but there is a number of features that will make the application more flexible and more convenient to use. This includes a complete revamp of the low-level readout processing with better metric mode support, new functions, improved graphical mode and several quality-of-life enhancements.