Tutorial: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

  1. Adrenalynn's Avatar
    Adrenalynn Adrenalynn is offline Banned from posting too much :-)
    Category
    Mod, Hack
    Views
    1,247,455
    Replies
    9
     

    Post Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    Difficulty
    Moderate
    Estimated Time
    30 minutes
    Skills Required
    Basic Soldering
    Parts Required
    SparkFun TTL/RS232 Converter


    Requires a TTL Level Converter for RS232 [optional if you only want TTL]. I used the one from SparkFun ( Found Here) - price at the time of this writing was $14.


    Requires a decent soldering iron


    A female connector with 0.10" spacing to go from the Sparkfun adapter to our new headers

    Warning: This project requires soldering on your Make Controller Interface! You can fry the controller, your fingers, your toes, or your dog. If you are not comfortable with soldering or don't have a decent light soldering iron, please don't attempt this mod. The author accepts no responsibility and grants no warranty, expressed or implied.


    In this mod, we will expose the serial connectivity on the Make Controller. In a future segment, we'll expose the I2C on the processor, losing the USB auto-detect (not all that important and a fair trade, imho. )

    If we look at the Make Controller interface, near the CAN connector, we can see some suspiciously labeled pads. 3.3v, 0v, TX, RX, CTS, RTS. Gosh, what are those there for? They look like TTL serial. Once we put it on the oscilloscope, we see that they are, indeed, TTL serial. All we need is a header to expose them.



    Start off by removing the processor daughter card - the card on the top of the board - and exposing the Make Application Board. Be careful not to bend the pins, it's pretty snug. I used a plastic screwdriver and carefully pried each opposing corner up a teeny bit at a time. It's best we get this out of the way, and there's no reason we should be putting heat stress on the processor for this mod...





    The serial header is highlighted in yellow in this photo.

    Onward and upward!

    (Page 1 of 5)


Replies to Tutorial: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller
  1. Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Carol Stream, Illinois
    Posts
    1,695

    Re: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    WOW Adrenalynn, excellent job

    Now, if somebody could only put up a "getting started with the Make controller" tutorial, hehe

    �In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed�
    - Charles Darwin
        

  2. Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA Area
    Posts
    5,341

    Re: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    Hope it was worth the wait... I'll document the testing and interface this afternoon.

    There are a lot of "getting started" tutorials on the makingthings website. I could knock off something a little more creative, perhaps, a little more robotics-centric maybe. Let me give it some thought.

    The "problem" with something like the Make Controller is that I spin my wheels a lot. Too many opportunities, not enough hours (or boards...).
        

  3. Re: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrenalynn View Post
    Hope it was worth the wait... I'll document the testing and interface this afternoon.
    I like this tutorial, even though I would not attempt these mods on my own. I'd need these mods if I got a Make Controller, so will hold off and hope for an eventual new board version that makes these things easier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrenalynn View Post
    There are a lot of "getting started" tutorials on the makingthings website. I could knock off something a little more creative, perhaps, a little more robotics-centric maybe. Let me give it some thought.
    Oh, I have lots of ideas for ways to use this in robotics and process control. This is the type of controller I could just tinker with for hours on end, because it can do so many different things, even with the stock software. Then, with custom software, ummm, oh, wait, I don't have one of these yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrenalynn View Post
    The "problem" with something like the Make Controller is that I spin my wheels a lot. Too many opportunities, not enough hours (or boards...).
    I would have difficulty deciding what to do next with this controller. I could see using it for a lighting controller, auxilliary robot processor for expanding I/O (like for Hammer), and so many other things.

    8-Dale
    I can handle complexity. It's the simple things that confound me.
    Do everything in moderation, ESPECIALLY, moderation..
    Sometimes the only way to win, is not to play.. -- Stephen Falken
        

  4. Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA Area
    Posts
    5,341

    Re: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    Heck, I'd be happy to mod it for you. Let me figure out what other mods make sense first. Just parts cost, no problems. I did the serial mod, including all the photo-taking, in ten minutes. The I2C mod in 15 mins including photos, most of that under the microscope which slowed it down. I could mod another board with both mods in sub ten minutes tops now.

    When you're ready, let me know and we'll set it up. Just a make controller+app board and a level converter, which is like $12+ship.
        

  5. Re: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrenalynn View Post
    Heck, I'd be happy to mod it for you. Let me figure out what other mods make sense first. Just parts cost, no problems.
    I really appreciate that. All that's required for the serial port mod is installing a header. I can do that one.

    It's the I2C and similar mods I would not want to attempt myself - better to have somebody who can do it better do it instead. Now I just have to get a Make Controller - other things have priority right now though, like unburying my finances. Cost of parts + s&h is more than reasonable. I'd just want TTL level on the serial port though - no need for RS-232 there. I wish I had your abilities in this stuff.

    8-Dale
    I can handle complexity. It's the simple things that confound me.
    Do everything in moderation, ESPECIALLY, moderation..
    Sometimes the only way to win, is not to play.. -- Stephen Falken
        

  6. Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA Area
    Posts
    5,341

    Re: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    Thank you for the compliments! Soldering is just practice and technique. Having good tools doesn't hurt, but really it comes down to practice and developing what works best for you. I was born with a soldering-iron in my hand - I've been soldering since I was 6. When SMT came to pass, everyone said "oh woe is us! That's the end of hand soldering!" - and then we all learned to do it. I reworked the first SMD I ever saw in the wild.

    I would still be happy to do any of the rework when you're ready. Just let me know and I'll pick up a board, rework it, and send it off to you.

    I'd personally still get the RS-232 just to future-proof yourself. It's dirt cheap and then you can swap back and forth whenever you want.
        

  7. Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA Area
    Posts
    5,341

    Re: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    Ok - who didn't like my photos? 'Fess Up! :P
        

  8. Re: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    I just went to read this today... and um, yeah, Who stole Adrenalynn's piccies!!!
        

  9. Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA Area
    Posts
    5,341

    Re: Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller

    Sorry, Sienna. A huge transformer exploded in the DC that I have my servers in, knocked down some walls, and damaged the grid switches. When the generators kicked in with the damaged grid switches - they started more fires.

    Upshot is: No pics from me for a day or two!
        

Closed Tutorial