View Full Version : [Question(s)] Getting Data In !

06-15-2008, 01:14 PM

A quick question put to the community:

What do you use to get the data from your sensors?

I had a project with some micro-controller with some (limited) analog inputs. I have done a major overhaul of the project and went for a SSC32 and Pico-ITX on a lynxmotion 4WD with a 5DOF arm.
But where problems start is when you have a few IR, a few Ultrasound, pressure ads and so on.

The SSC32 has 4 inputs (yeah great!), but that is pretty much it. Hence I am looking for (preferably ready-made) IO boards that allows me to read a reasonable amount of Analog (8-12 bit should be enough) and digital inputs. Ideally some sort of serial comm with it to read the lot in one go would be great.

Alternatively, maybe I should just use another micro-controller ...but it sounds like overkill or more expensive..are there any other ways?:confused:

Any pointers are (very much) welcome.

Best regards,


06-15-2008, 02:04 PM
I think you'll find that one would be hard-pressed to find an analog input board for a PC that doesn't have an onboard microcontroller. Microcontrollers are ideally suited, with easy access to the I2C bus, for massaging A/D chipsets.

That said, The Serializer is likely the device that will be best suited to your requirements. http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/c/3105-Robotics-Connection-Serializer.aspx

The Serializer has: I2C bus master/slave. Five Analog inputs. 10 general purpose Digital I/O + 4 dedicated encoder inputs.

It's big claim to fame is how it can interface. It has a TTL serial input with "modules" to talk USB, RS232, Bluetooth, and Zigbee. The other thing that places it head and shoulders above for just getting data in is its support. Easy to use libraries. Fantastic documentation. Good sample code. Full support for MSRS.

I also use the Arduino Decimillia (6 * analog + 14 * digital) and the Make Controller (8 analogs), but both of those require more low-level programming and, arguably, more experience in embedded architecture.

I hope that addresses your question - or at least gives you a starting point!

06-16-2008, 05:16 PM
Thanks for the feedback, this is quite interesting.

I was considering the Arduino to make use of the good range of inputs and the I2c connection. The relatively low cost of the controller make it easy to daisy chain through I2C if needed, but by using I2c, you loose some analog inputs ;-(

This is where the Serializer is a strong contender indeed and has a good range of IO and is quite balanced.

Finally, thanks for the pointer to the Make controller. I did not know that particular option 8 analog inputs, that's good!..and I like its USB (the Pico-ITX in a case does not have serial easily accessible, but plenty of USBs).

Now is the time to mull over all this then !



06-16-2008, 05:43 PM
Yup! The make controller has 8 x 10bit Analog inputs in two banks. The 8 digital outputs can be used as motor controllers of 1A each, but may be bonded together in any combination not to exceed 8A. It also has one of the coolest power schemes I've seen, being able to deal with different power sources simultaneously to different devices. I'm addicted to microcontrollers, quite honestly. I have a bundle of them.

Here's the breakdown on the Make:
8 analog inputs - 10-bit resolution and circuit protection.
8 high current outputs - up to 1A each. Can be combined to drive DC and/or stepper motors.
4 servo motor outputs - control up to 4 standard hobby servos.
4 status LEDs - provide visual output for your programs.
DIP switch and trimpot - for simple manual configuration

06-19-2008, 12:45 AM
This may not exactly be what you are looking for.

Phidgets makes a chip called the 8/8/8. It has 8 digital and 8 analog inputs, and 8 analog outputs. I just got one and haven't gotten to play with it yet, but am really looking forward to using it. Also I have a box called an Icube made by a company called infusion systems. THey have a newer version that is a whole lot smaller than the unit that I have, and does a bit more. I believe it has 32 analog inputs. I've never used that many, but I have gotten up to about 16 or so...The weird thing is I believe the Icube spits out midi data. In anycase, check it out at www.infusionsystems.com.


06-19-2008, 01:09 AM
Sure it's midi and not OSC? (I haven't looked yet) OSC (Open Sound) has become pretty popular for passing data around analog boards to PC's these days.

Welcome back, btw, DB!

06-19-2008, 02:30 AM
Yeah...My background was in electronic music. The icube X is actually meant for music applications. They have a blue tooth wireless system...They have some sort of emulator for it that turns it into midi data, that one may not be midi. The one that I have has a midi in and out port on it. There is also a USB version...Again, those may show up as HI objects...

Oh...I haven't been gone...just haven't seen many forums that I felt I could add to.


06-19-2008, 10:14 AM
Are these Icube guys serious with their pricing?


Thats a $12 sensor, charging $83, i've never seen a $71 1m long cable......


06-20-2008, 07:37 AM
I saw you at the show, DB - you can add to any of the threads. :)

Like I said - I hadn't looked at it. Using a MIDI controller to bring in data - suppose that makes some sense. I'd be inclined to save it for music. :)

The 8/8/8 is a great suggestion. I actually haven't used one personally, so can't comment beyond that datasheet. I'm not a huge USB fan, in general. I like the flexibility of RS232. But there's no denying that HID have nearly 100% control of the world! Maybe we should call it an RID? ;)