I remember having a phone conversation a couple of years ago with my friend Joe Farr while he was on a train on his way back from work on a Friday afternoon in London. I was looking for a cunning way to control a huge number of LEDs. This was before I discovered Adafruit's NeoPixels, which I'm using in my Inamorata Prognostication Engine.
Joe and I bounced a few ideas back and forth. I thought it would take some time before anything came into existence, but Joe is an absolute expert with Microchip's MCUs. By lunchtime the following day, he had designed and built a circuit board featuring a Microchip MCU. He had programmed the MCU and gotten everything working, and the little beauty (the board, not Joe) was boxed up and ready to ship to me that Monday.
More recently, with regard to my ongoing robot platform project, I ran into a problem with my ultrasonic sensors. Most robot platforms have a front side; if they are equipped with an ultrasonic sensing capability, this will involve only one or two sensors pointing forward. My robot platform doesn't have a front per se. Its three-wheeled design uses special omnidirectional, so it can -- rather disconcertingly -- move in any direction.
I want to have nine ultrasonic sensors pointing in all directions. The problem is that the cheap-and-cheerful SRF04 ultrasonic sensors, which cost only $3 each, require an external MCU to do the bulk of the work. If I were to use my main Arduino for this, it wouldn't have any bandwidth left over to control the robot. I really want SRF08 sensors, each of which has its own onboard MCU, but these little rascals cost $55, which becomes really expensive when you want to use nine of them.
I mentioned this to my friend Duane Benson. Again, by some strange quirk of fate, this occurred on a Friday afternoon. By the next day, Duane had whipped up a small circuit board that featured a Microchip MCU, cost only a couple of dollars, and could make my cheap-and-cheerful $3 sensor look exactly like its $55 counterpart. (See Making a $3 SRF04 Ultrasonic Sensor Act Like a $55 SRF08.)
The reason I'm waffling on about this is that I just heard that registration has opened for Microchip's 18th annual Worldwide MASTERs Conference at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix. The main conference will take place Aug. 20-23; a pre-conference will be held Aug. 18-19.
This conference is a great chance to meet Microchip's subject-matter experts, their technical partners, their distributor's FAEs, design partners, and other users. I would really like to go to this event. I wonder if I can persuade my bosses to send me.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting