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PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 2:22 
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As a noob to programming, I have found this difficult to work out myself... So I'll ask.

Is is possible to include plug-in variables in a driver? Or would it be possible for a driver and a plug-in to share the same port to exchange information?

Whilst the reason for this may seem un-necessary, there is a huge potential for a plan I am developing.... But it all relies on this being possible.

Any programmers wishing to help realise this plan are welcome. ;) And I will explain it all in detail should enough people be interested. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 14:25 
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Yes the interfaces have been designed so that it is possible to combine driver and normal plugin functionality. The reason I did it this way was to allow some future projects that can't even be imagined now. ;)

So succesfull port sharing should be possible this way.

Just let us know what you have been planning and I'll be happy to help and see if LCDInfo plugin SDK is flexible enough to allow this. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 0:04 
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OK... The Idea...

I was thinking that it would be nice to have a Microcontrolled LCD, that could also work with LCDinfo. ie; stick a micro between the LCD and the computer. This micro would have some data aquisition functions, a few Analogue inputs, a few more digital inputs (with timers of course), and possibly even the ability to access add-on data aquisition hardware via a serial interface.

The Micro would be one of these all-in one micro's with everything needed. The embedded software should contain a number of drivers for LCD's, and code with which to set these up. The LCDinfo driver/plug-in should of course become the setup interface. The analogue and digital inputs would be mapped to general plug-in variables. The plugin could be setup to scale the analogue input, taking into account any voltage dividers that are in circuit, as well as have a digital calibration setup. Possible space could be provide to upload either a startup graphic or a screen config for the LCD to display while power is connected, but LCDinfo hasn't taken control yet.

Anyway.. thats the basics... As for the details... well... I can help with hardware, wiring, schematics, and the concept (I like to think I'm an idea's man ;) ). When it comes to software, at the moment, I'm very limited. I know it is all possible... I know it will take a reasonable amount of fiddling, testing, playing and refinement, but it's still all possible.

I was thinking one of the higher end PIC processors would be useful....

And well, the uses? Hmmm lets see... Apart from the obvious PSU voltages and fan speeds, and even temps. It could also be used to measure external sources, and not just related to the PC that drives it. It could be connected to door sensors, security alarms and anything else your imagination could come up with... It would provide a reasonably universal plugin for a number of differant tasks.

As you can see, in this idea, and in other I have posted (such as the Text reader plug-in idea) I am very much for making plugins that can be used for a multitude of uses, not just specific to one peice of software. While I do see the need for the plug-ins for specific software, they are very limiting, and time consuming. If you are going to take the time to program something, think about usage efficiency. ;) Make it usable for a multitude of purposes. :)

I realise that this project would be time consuming to develop, but I feel the outcome would be worth it, and once done, plans and code could be released for enyone to produce. Or... It could be sold as a kit through LCDinfo, to raise funds for future development, webhosting, and other worthwhile enterprizes.

:) Anyway, said my piece.... You all know what to do. ;)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 15:41 
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Sounds like an interesting project.

Also I'm currently working on a project that might provide some building blocks for a device like this.

I'm not really sure what I should add as you explained it pretty well in your post. Of course maybe some more spec could be thought of to figure out how many inputs and outputs should be provided and which kind and then based on this see which microcontroller would be the best fit.

You mentioned timers in your post, how should these work ?

Also that serial expansion, should ìt be like RS-232 or something like SPI ?
Or maybe adding Dallas 1-wire.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 0:04 
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Hmmm More Specs... Well... typical me was thinking about something easy to program (PIC) with a builtin ADC and Multiplexor, enough I/O pins to handle the LCD, a communications port (serial or parrallel), and enough for the serial connection for upgrades.

Also expanding on the idea would have to at least include a 4x4 key matrix input, for furture LCDinfo functions. ;)

I was thinking about that serial add-on... SPI/I2C is probably the best, as it is designed to provide a parrallel upgrade path... Just add another device, with a differant address. :) Could even program the PIC with a very small plug and play function for anything added to the bus. If the Pic is aware of a number of differant chips, then there could be a wide varienty of functions that could be added. :) Although, I have a job requiring me to learn more about Dallas 1-wire here at work... so maybe thats the go. ;) Though I thin SPI/I2C would better suit our purpose.

Now, as for Micro specs, ie; RAM, ROM sizes and Speed. Ummm.... I haven't really thought about that too much. Although looking at what I would like to include in terms of programming, and software functions, I'm guessing it would have to have a reasonable ROM space, and enough RAM/Registers to preform a fair few calculations. It would also either need to have EEROM space that it could write to to save settings and other functions. However, most Micro's these days have that anyway, don't they? (I must admit it's been a few years since I tinkered with Micro's, but I am keen to get back into it)

Is that enough to flesh it out a bit more for you Henri? Feel free to add anything, or even change things. It was only an Idea I had, one which I'm not surprized you also had. ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 14:39 
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Syridian wrote:
Now, as for Micro specs, ie; RAM, ROM sizes and Speed. Ummm.... I haven't really thought about that too much.

Yes and I don't think those are even that important to think now. First think about what kind features should be possible to do and of course do some calculation of how much I/O would be required and then try to find a device that would fit best. Some kind simple expansion bus could keep the I/O requirements in the main device lower and also make it simpler and cheaper. Well I don't think the micro itself would have much effect to the cost but adding more parts to the pcb makes the thing more complex and expensive. Maybe more complex and integrated solution would even be preferred, I don't know yet, there are so many ways to do things.

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Is that enough to flesh it out a bit more for you Henri? Feel free to add anything, or even change things. It was only an Idea I had, one which I'm not surprized you also had. ;)

I have somekind idea in my head what it could be like but I haven't thought about the details that much yet.
Can't start working on it immediately as there are other things to do but it's definately an idea to keep in mind.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 3:05 
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Always.... After all, thats part of the reason for this forum isn't it? For people to document thier idea's so that other who can more easily work something out can offer suggestions, or continue a project past the limitation previously had by the original person...

Hmmm... that got a little drawn out and long winded... ;) Hopefully you get my idea.

As for my previous post... were there any additions you could think of to the I/O? Those 3 that I thought of would pretty much do it... I was thinking of one of the PIC's as a processor... I know a 16C877 has a fair number of I/O pins, as well as some other neat features which we could use. My idea was to keep as much of this project in the micro itself, as that way you could easily breadboard the project if you didn't have access to board etching equipment.

I'm really going to have to start playing with micro's again... I'm so rusty, as it's been a good 4 years since I was playing with them, and even then I had help.

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