Organized EEPROM storage

Submitted by Evan Boldt on Sun, 02/24/2013 - 12:28


EEPROM is a permanent memory. It will remain even after the Arduino is restarted. It can be reprogrammed around 100,000 times, so it is substantially less resilient than the flash storage or a hard drive. It is also kind of slow (3ms per byte). The Ardiono Uno has 1KB of EEPROM. 

The compiled program is uploaded to flash storage (not EEPROM), which is faster and larger. So, if you can, it is better to write keep as much as possible in the C++ file.

Sometimes it can be convenient or more reliable to use the EEPROM. You could log sensor readings to EEPROM so that the data will still be there even if it loses power. Alternatively, you could use an SD shield and get more, more reliable, and more portable storage.

If you have multiple Arduinos for a project that do the same tasks, but want a way to differentiate them despite having identical programming, you could flash an ID number to the EEPROM.

Character Array to Float

Submitted by Jenn Case on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 08:48


Sometimes it is necessary to turn character arrays into floats. However, precision can be an issue when using some of the current functions. The following function turns character arrays into a float that is split from the front half and the back half. This is one method for a more precise float.

Splitting a String

Submitted by Jenn Case on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 08:44


There are times when a string is recieved, but rather than the entire string, just a piece of the string is desired. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a simple way to handle strings in C++. Therefore, I have devised a way to split a string based on comma separation.

This way of splitting strings is rather crude and refinement for it will be worked on, but for immediate use, the current function is given with two examples of how it can be altered and used.

Reading Numbers From Serial

Submitted by Evan Boldt on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 17:32


Reading numbers from serial on an Arduino is needed surprisingly commonly. Exactly what is happening might be kind of hard to figure out.


Serial communication is digital, which means all data is transmitted in 1's and 0's. Typically, serial communication is done using ASCII letters. This means that, to send a number to the Arduino, the data sent is not the binary version of the number in base 2 (as an integer), but instead a sequence of characters for each digit in base 10 (which is human-readable). It is not an efficient use of bandwidth, but bandwidth is not usually a problem with Arduinos connect by USB.

Long based Decimals

Submitted by Evan Boldt on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 14:58


Arduino has floats that are only accurate to about 6-7 digits. When combined with the fact that floats cannot represent certain decimal values well ( like .1 or .3 ) because they are expressed as negative powers of base 2, you may often see error - especially when full value is printed, or the output is truncated instead of rounded.

I have written a class here that basically stores a whole number into a long. Similar to a float, there is even an "exponent" field that says where the decimal point is in the whole number. Unlike a float, operations are done in base 10 (onto a base 2 number). In exchange for the flexibility of true floating point number in the range of possible values, we gain greater precision in the nearer to zero area - the area firmly within the range of the long (-2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647). The smaller the left hand side (LHS) of the decimal place is, the more precision is available for the right hand side (RHS) of the decimal. 

Kernel - Event driven Delays and Intervals

Submitted by Evan Boldt on Thu, 02/07/2013 - 22:37

Reasons to use Kernel

delay() is Bad

When you use delay or delayMicroseconds in Arduino, nothing else can happen until the delay is finished, which can be a huge problem if you have more than one thing going on simulteneously, as will always be the case when building a more advanced robot.

Imagine that you want to check a sensor once a second. Easy enough. Just delay then check the sensor. What if you want to blink an LED on and off every 40ms, but still checking that sensor. Any delays used by one will mess up the timing on the other. If you delay one second after checking the sensor, the light will not blink during that time. You could make a fixed number of blinks between sensor checks, but that is inflexible and accumulates error.

Serial Commands

Submitted by Evan Boldt on Wed, 01/30/2013 - 17:11


Serial communication through USB can be used to communicate between a host computer (like a laptop, or Raspberry Pi), and an Arduino. Doing so allows:
  • Use of the faster hardware of the host computer for calculations
  • Synchronization of multiple Arduinos
  • Use of other information provided by the host computer, like internet connections or larger data files
  • Creation of a graphical interface using the host's display or web server

Optimized Multiple Pin Reads

Submitted by Evan Boldt on Wed, 01/30/2013 - 17:09

Memory Addressing

First, to understand why things are done this way, it should be known that a bool (boolean true/false) is only 1 bit. 1 for true, 0 for false. However, computers have an addressing system for memory, which cannot go directly to a single bit. An address usually goes to a 8 bit chunk of memory (a byte), which is also usually the same size as an int data type.

Think of it like trying to write a postal address to a room in a house. The address will take you to the house, but not inside. So, we can't just keep it in its own variable.

Furthermore, it would be wasteful to waste 7 bits for every bool declared. 8 bools can be put all into one integer - all next to each other in memory - to save space. How do you seperate them? How do you get just one bit out of a chunk of bits? With boolean logic!