I’m very pleased to introduce you  my last present, just arrived.

The “Buggy”, one of the last technological “toys” from MikroElektronika.

I said “toys”, but we can consider the Buggy a complete development system, useful to study a large number of microcontroller.



Mikroeektronika is very attentive to details. The package is very well done, robust and reliable. It is common for all the Mikroelektronika products.

Inside, all the parts are inserted in a foam base, that protect very well any single item


Kit includes :

–  base Buggy board, with 4 wheel+motors

– 3 Click board sockets

– 3 spare PCB parts, must be soldered, in order to give stability

– a 3.3V  LiIo battery

– USB cable

– Manual with schematic


I choose the kit that doesn’t include any Microcontroller board, since I already have a Clicker 2 x PIC32MX and a Mikromedia for PIC32MX

On the picture below, you can see the Buggy base board from the bottom side.

Battery must be installed on the centre of the board, so the Buggy will be balanced very well.


Very impressive the geared motors.

The gear doesn’t include any part in plastic material, all are made by steel or iron. Basically, it not seem the classic “poor” low-cost plastic gearbox.


Prepare the robot is very easy , you just need an iron solder.

Anyway, the manual included describes very well, step by step, all the mounting operations.

On the next days, I will see to prepare a sample firmware example, to give life to my robot.

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Practical use of 3D printer

Finally, a practical use of my 3D printer Prusa I3.
Was sunday morning, when a drama happened on my kitchen.

My girl was warming a cup of milk, suddendly, the microwawe stopped to function.
A gloomy silence filled the kitchen. the girl looked at me desperately and a scream broke the sound barrier.

” it is broke”
followed by a series of misfortunes similar to the invasion of locusts ( how can I warm my breakfast, my soup, the boiled potatoes ) .
STOP, I will fix the microwave – was my only statement.
While she was looking which electronic store were open on Sunday, I spent about half hour to open the microwave box, (I hate the torx screws, not having the correct screwdriver 🙂 )
Once I opened the patient, I have discovered that all was OK ( or , I supposed that ), but …..
the knob…..was only the knob used for time programming…. the center hole was stripped and did not more maintain the position.


The patient


The hole stripped

The hole stripped



IDEA – I can replicate a similar knob with my 3D printer.
Immediately on my computer, launch Design Spark mechanical and draw the my simple knob version.
Very easy and quick design



Then, save the G code file on my Prusa , used a 100 % infill to have a strong and reliable knob.
About 40 minutes and ….dadadadada…. an ” economic” but functional knob was ready.



I will prepare a more complete version, just to avoid any claims from her


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Some parts printed with Prusa I3 & Design Spark Mechanical

Here we can see some parts that I printed with Prusa I3 DIY 3D printer .
All these have been designed with Design Spark Mechiancal, a free 3D CAD, based on Space Claim CAD.

At the beginning I have some issues on have a perfect circle, but, the first failure was due to the low resolution on STL files.

Below, the result is not a perfect circle, I will publish the second version that is better




20150208_113854 20150208_113952

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Adding a Real Clock Calendar to your Arduino UNO

The Arduino UNO  doesn’t have  a little coin-battery-powered ‘Real Time Clock’  (RTC) module, which keeps time even when the power is off, or the battery removed.

So in this project we will show you how to add a RTC Click shield from Mikroelektronika, without the use of iron solder or breadboard.

This is possible using a Click Shield for Arduino UNO ( MIKROE 1581 ) from Mikroelektronika, easily found on  RS Components RS SN 823-1883 and one RTC Click shield RS SN 820-9832 .  You should own an Arduino UNO ( RS 715-4081 ).

We just need to insert the two Click boards as per below images.


The Mikroe Click shield for Arduino let’s permit to interface not one, but two Click shields.

The RTC Click shield uses a very popular Real Time Clock PCF8583 from NXP (ex Philips)
On the web, there are a lot of open source libraries for Arduino, based on the PCF8583 .I have used the following :


Not sure if it is the best, but it worked well on my test.

You just need to :

  • download the library “PCF8583-master” from github
  • unzip
  • copy the unzip files on the Arduino “library” directory ( take care – depending your Arduino IDE version , you should remove the “-“ character from the library name “PCF8583-master”. The newest versions don’t accept this char on the library’s name.
  • launch the “Arduino” IDE
  • upload the example file “ read_write_time.ino” ( from the library “PCF8583master” )


  •           Compile & upload the sketch
  •           Open the serial monitor on the Arduino IDE

  •   On the first time, you could see a wrong date-time
  •   Write on the top bar the date-time to set on the following form “YYMMddhhmmss;”
  •   Send to Arduino
  •   That’s all! – you can now see the correct date-time
  •   Try switching off the UNO board and then switching on, to see if the date-time has been kept

The system should function also with Arduino Leonardo and Arduino Mega, but I didn’t tested these boards

Let’s me say if you are using it , on your application:-)

See my new posts also on :








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A new adjustable endstop for Z axis

Just finished and tested a new adjustable endstop for Z axis
Now it is possible to adjust the endstop with only a screwdriver ( wrenches are not necessary ) 
Turn the M4 bolt to adjust the zero position.
All the parts have been designed with Design Spark mechanical, then adjusted with NetFabb ( to remove the incorrect mesh ) and then printed with Repetier / Slic3r.

Here the complete vision
a better image of the parts
board plate that attach the original Prusa Z endstop plastic
plastic part that sustain a M4 nut, developed with Design Spark mechanical
Here the same part, adjusted with Netfabb
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Prusa i3 rework ready

After about 2 months, using the free time on evening ( and night ) , I can say that my Prusa I3 rework is finished and I’m pretty satisfy of the final result.
I made some small changes from the original design,  in order to improve :
–  the Z axis zero regulation
–  to give some  light /illumination
–  add a blower for the PLA

Some pictures , to show the Z axis zero regulation :

this is the Z axis zero regulation

below the blower and the illumination .

I have used a series of LED smd, soldered below the fan :
Fan and LED light
Below, the LCD board with the SD card socket :
On the next days, I will post some other info.
See you
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Adding a Real Clock Calendar to your Raspberry PI

The Raspberry Pi doesn’t have a little coin-battery-powered ‘Real Time Clock’  (RTC) module, which keeps time even when the power is off, or the battery removed.
To keep costs low and the size small, an RTC is not included with the Raspberry Pi. If your Raspberry Pi is connected to the Internet via Ethernet or WiFi, the time/date will be automatically updated from the global ntp (nework time protocol) servers.
For stand-alone projects with no network connection, you will not be able to keep the time when the power goes out.
In this project we will show you how to add a RTC Click shield from Mikroelektronika, without the use of iron solder or breadboard.
I have used Click Shield for Raspberry PI and a RTC Click Shield from Mikroelektronika, easily found on RS Components .These boards are just for example ( they don’t need any iron solder to connect ) , since this tutorial could be considered valid for any other boards using PCF8583 with Raspberry PI.

We just need to insert the two Click board as per below images.

A Raspberry PI with Pi Click shield ( on the left ) and a RTC Click shield ( on the right )

The RTC Click shield inserted on the PI Click shield

The 3 boards ( Raspberry PI ( on the bottom ) – Pi click Shield ( on the middle ) – RC Click shield ( on the top )

Now that we have the module correctly inserted we can set up the module, configuring the I2C :
If you are using Raspbian, you will need to open LXTerminal and enter the following command:
sudo nano /etc/modules
and add these two lines to the end of the file
After editing the file, you will need to reboot for the changes to take effect.
The I2C bus allows multiple devices to be connected to your Raspberry Pi, each with a unique address, that can often be set by changing jumper settings on the module. It is very useful to be able to see which devices are connected to your Pi as a way of making sure everything is working.
To do this, it is worth running the following commands in the Terminal to install the i2c-tools utility.
sudo apt-get install python-smbus
sudo apt-get install i2c-tool
Depending on your distribution, you may also have a file called /etc/modprobe.d/raspi-blacklist.conf If you do not have this file then there is nothing to do, however, if you do have this file, you need to edit it and comment out the lines below:
blacklist spi-bcm2708
blacklist i2c-bcm2708
.. by putting a # in front of them. Open an editor on the file by typing
sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/raspi-blacklist.conf
.. then edit the file so that it appears as below, and then save and exit the file using CTRL-x and Y.
Once this is all done, reboot!
sudo reboot
Now when you log in you can type the following command to see all the connected devices (if you are running a 512MB Raspberry Pi Model B)
sudo i2cdetect -y 1
This shows that one I2C address is in use – 0x50.
Note that if you are using one of the very first Raspberry Pis (a 256MB Raspberry Pi Model B) then you will need to change the command to:
sudo i2cdetect -y 0
The Raspberry Pi designers swapped over I2C ports between board releases. Just remember: 512M Pi’s use i2c port 1, 256M ones use i2c port
Now we will set the RTC
Now that we have the module wired up and verified that you can see the module with i2cdetect, we can set up the module. First, load up the RTC module by running
  • sudo modprobe rtc-pcf8583
Then, as root (type in sudo bash) run
  • echo pcf8583 0x50 > /sys/class/i2c-adapter/i2c-0/new_device (if you have a rev 1 Pi)
  • echo pcf8583 0x50 > /sys/class/i2c-adapter/i2c-1/new_device (if you have a rev 2 Pi)
You can then type in exit to drop out of the root shell.
Then check the time with
sudo hwclock -r
which will read the time from the PCF8583 module. If this is the first time the module has been used, it will report back Jan 1 2000, and you’ll need to set the time. Can also happen that it will report an invalid data.
First you’ll need to get the right time set on the Pi, the easiest way is to connect it up to Ethernet or Wifi – it will automatically set the time from the network. Once the time is correct (check with the date command), run
sudo hwclock -w to write the system time to the RTC.
You can then verify it with sudo hwclock -r.
Next, you’ll want to add the RTC kernel module to the /etc/modules list, so its loaded when the machine boots. Run sudo nano /etc/modules and add rtc-pcf8583 at the end of the file.
Then you’ll want to create the PCF8583 device creation at boot, edit /etc/rc.local by running
  • sudo nano /etc/rc.local
and add:
echo pcf8583 0x50 > /sys/class/i2c-adapter/i2c-0/new_device (for v1 raspberry pi)
echo pcf8583 0x50 > /sys/class/i2c-adapter/i2c-1/new_device (v2 raspberry pi)
sudo hwclock -s (both versions)
before exit 0 (we forgot the hwclock -s part in the screenshot below)
That’s all! Next time you boot the time & date will automatically be synced from the RTC Click shield module
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