Sunday, April 2, 2017

An AVR ATmega R/C control signal reader - Method/01

The Radio Control (R/C or RC) is the method of controlling remote devices using radio frequencies.
Most of the time the RC signal uses RC servo signals.
Servo signal is a square PWM signal, usually with a period of 20ms and a duty time between 1ms and 2ms. More info on the wikipedia page here:

This library implements a method to read an RC signal and eventually map this to a 0..100 number.

It's developed on an ATmega8 running at 16Mhz.
It makes use of the external interrupt PIN and a timer to count the duty period time.
It's customizable to fit the user preferences. Configuration can be found in rcin1.h header file.
Theory of operation: each time a rising edge interrupt it is raised, a timer starts counting until the falling edge happens. Then the number of ticks counted between interrupts is transformed to us spent in duty time.
Input PIN is INT0.
The RC signal it is measured and then mapped to a speed value from 0 to 100.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

An Arduino Knight Rider Rainbow dice that uses WS2812B RGB leds

This project implements a Knight Rider / Rainbow effect Random Selector.
It uses an Arduino UNO and a WS2812B RGB led strip.
A friend of mine needs a random selector for train scale model.
I've developed this using the Arduino framework, because he would like to modify the sketch "the Arduino way".
Unluckly I have not any picture or video of his build. So I've built a dice selector by using an old clock frame. I would like to thank my friend Matteo for cutting vinyls out for this project.

This project uses the Adafruit "NeoPixel library" (
For the Knight Rider Rainbow effect I took inspiration from the technobly "NeoPixel Knight Rider" project (
The circuit for this project is really simple, there is just a Start switch connected, and a WS2812B led strip.

When the user press the start switch, the  Knight Rider / Rainbow selector starts, and a semi-randomic led is choses.
After a while, a Rainbow effect starts powering on all the leds.


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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Duck DNS ESP8266 mini WiFi client

This is a Duck DNS ESP8266 mini WiFi client.

Duck DNS ( is a free Dynamic DNS (DDNS) service.
It as a few client available for many operating system and a few routers.
A friend of mine runs a router that does not support any of the Duck DNS update mode. Instead of loading his operating system with the Duck DNS updater, or installing an openwrt router, I've implemented an ESP8266 client.

It is powered by USB, it can also be powered by the router USB port.
It's built on a pretty old ESP-01 board.
It has two led, one is the ESP-01 WiFi connection status embedded one, the other is connected to the GPIO2 port, and it's used for the DNS update status.

We need just a 3.3 voltage regulator to run this board using any 5V USB power output capable of 200mA.
The code is written using the Arduino IDE + ESP8266 core, to me that's the fastest and simple way to work with ESP8266.

The WiFiManager library ( is used to facilitate the WiFi connection of this module.

Also it runs a web server that allow any user to setup the DuckDNS connection parameters.
User can set the DDNS domain name and token, and also the update interval and the module hostname, that way one can just forget the module IP and open the web configuration page by board name. The default board name is espduckdns001, so the web page address is http://espduckdns001


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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Mivar Samo UCM/591 vacuum tube radio repair

Mivar is an italian factory funded by Carlo Vichi in Milan, near to my house.
Some times ago I've found a 1960 vacuum tube radio, the Mivar UCM/591. It's really a nice looking device to me. Unluckly something in this radio is broken, so I've try to fix it. I'm not a vacuum tube expert, people from helps me fixing this. Electrons at sunset, is a forum and a site devoted to beautifull but outdated technology.

WARNING! - The project described in these pages utilizes POTENTIALLY FATAL HIGH VOLTAGES. Do not attempt to build circuits presented on this site if you do not have the required experience and skills to work with such voltages. I assume no responsibility whatsoever for any damage caused by the usage of my circuits.

This radio has an annoying noise and whistle at low and high volume.
Before repairing a radio like this, keep in mind that it runs on high voltage, this device also is dangeros because of the power transformer type, that is an autotransformer. The case is connected to the main voltage grid, and no ground connection is provided. Autotransformer where usually installed on those cheap old radio. Pay attention to this is you are looking at an old tube device.
Below the schematics for this radio.

After checking the circuit, the first noticeable thing is the cathode electrolic cap on the power amp tube (the UL84) damaged.

I've changed it, but noise still exists. Checking things around UL84, I've noticed that the anode to ground cap (the 4k7 one) was missing. Likely this radio was repaired by someone that eventually forget that cap. Noise went down, but still is there. The next step was checking the cathode resistor, it was a 220ohm by color codes (even if the circuit I've found online list it as a 150ohm one), but it meausre more than 500ohm, I've replaced it. At this stage noise was almost gone, voltage on the UL84 grid is now 12.5V, but there's still an high whistle on low volume. Checking all the paper caps I've found that none of them is in range. Some are up to 300% out of their nominal value. I've to replace all (almost a dozen).

Paper cap where replaced by disk ceramic caps, cause i do not have old stock paper caps, electrolitics cap where replaced by new one. I've try to install caps from old device I've here in my junk box, just to mantain the old look of this device. Below a picture of the defunct components.

I've tested it, voltages are next to the schematics one, now all is working.
So, thanks again to people from elettronialtramonto that helps me.

The repaired board looks like the picture below.

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