Products for USB Sensing and Control

Products for USB Sensing and Control

Phidget Projects and Articles

Automate your blinds with Phidgets

A quick introduction to automated blinds.

Phidgets Smart Sprinker Controller with iOS - Part 2

Automate your lawn watering using Phidgets and iOS

Phidgets Smart Sprinkler Controller with iOS - Part 1

Automate your lawn watering using Phidgets and iOS

Current Sense Resistors

A guide to measuring small currents with use of current sense resistors and the VCP1002 Small Voltage Sensor.

Using Transducers Without The 1144

This guide serves to explain the wiring setup in situations where you want to use a 12V power supply instead of the 1144

Phidget Smoker Project #2: Dual Element Bradley Smoker (SmokerPI)

This project is a continuation from the Phidget Smoker Project #1. We replaced the PC with a Raspberry PI, and built an enclosure for the hardware. We also installed a second burner in the Bradley smoker to help it keep up with the strenous Phidget smoking demands.

Phidget Smoker Project #1: Control a Bradley Digital Smoker using Phidgets

This project demonstrates the use of the Phidget JavaScript libraries for node.js to control a Bradley digital smoker. The smoker was modified with an external thermocouple attached to a Phidget 1051_2, and the power to the heating element was interrupted with a Phidget 1014_2 relay. A Linux PC running the Phidget network server and node.js was connected to the 1014 and 1051, and a custom node.js program controlled the smokers temperature.

MURVV Mobile Robot with JavaScript

This project demonstrates the use of the Phidget JavaScript libraries from a web browser. To make things interesting we chose to control MURVV from a mobile device such as a phone or Surface. MURVV is a four wheeled vehicle with independent motors controlling Mecanum wheels, so that adds a little excitement to operate and complexity to implement.

Encoder Velocity: A Common Miscalculation

When working with Phidget Encoders, a tempting method to calculate their velocity is to simply divide the number of pulses (or edges) by the elapsed time given by an event. However, problems arise with this method when the encoder starts and stops, or moves slowly enough that it’s hard to tell the difference.

Accuracy, Precision, And Resolution; They're Not The Same!

Accuracy, precision, and resolution may all sound like different words for the same thing, but there are important distinctions. We'll start with the difference between precision and accuracy. The easiest way to show the difference is with an analogy.

Motor Music: Play MIDI Files using Phidget Stepper Motors

If you've ever played with motors, you've probably noticed their musical hum as they turn at different speeds, but have you ever thought of putting your motors to use as a musical instrument? While this project probably won't be something that'll make you go out and buy motors and controllers, it's a great project to take on if you have some extra material lying around.

LED Display Control with Phidgets

Phidget user hammerstan set out to create a 5-digit display using a single multiplexed 7-segment LED display and minimal electronic components. Without having an extensive electronics background, he’s found using an IC/chips based method overly complex. So, he wired a 5-digit 7-segment LED directly to a Phidget LED 64 board, via 5 PNP transistors

Launching a Web Server for Home Monitoring

Last year we talked about setting up simple home automation. Building off of that, let’s talk about setting up a web server on the SBC to share data on the world wide web.

Specialized Sensor Series #3 – RFID

At Phidgets, we try to make a wide variety of sensors available to our customers. If we can’t make the sensor ourselves, we try to find a manufacturer so we can sell a third-party sensor to fill the gap. However, some types of sensors have such a niche market that it doesn’t make sense to sell them at a (relatively) small store like Phidgets. The purpose of this series of blog posts is to highlight a specific class of unique sensors and walk through what options are out there and which ones will work with your Phidgets devices.

Connect Phidgets to Raspberry Pi

Connecting Phidgets to Raspberry Pi is increasingly popular. The Raspberry Pi allows Phidgets to work in more remote places where a user might not want to put a PC. Last year, we posted about getting started with Phidgets on the Raspberry Pi. The tutorial will walk you through the basic installation of Linux, the Phidgets drivers and then get some examples running in C and/or python

Whitepaper: Choosing the Right Hardware for Prototyping

When prototyping an idea, it’s important to choose components that will help prove the concept, allow the design to be evaluated and give a basis from which the final product can be derived. There are many options for hardware to use in prototypes, from the costly, proprietary packages like National Instruments to the low-cost and open source options like Arduino, and the multilingual, mid-cost solutions like Phidgets.

Specialized Sensor Series #2 – Water Quality Sensors

At Phidgets, we try to make a wide variety of sensors available to our customers. If we can’t make the sensor ourselves, we try to find a manufacturer so we can sell a third-party sensor to fill the gap. However, some types of sensors have such a niche market that it doesn’t make sense to sell them at a (relatively) small store like Phidgets. The purpose of this series of blog posts is to highlight a specific class of unique sensors and walk through what options are out there and which ones will work with your Phidgets devices.

Specialized Sensor Series #1 – Flow Sensors

At Phidgets, we try to make a wide variety of sensors available to our customers. If we can’t make the sensor ourselves, we try to find a manufacturer so we can sell a third-party sensor to fill the gap. However, some types of sensors have such a niche market that it doesn’t make sense to sell them at a (relatively) small store like Phidgets.

How the RoboDose uses Phidgets to Safely Deliver Medication

Earlier this year, a group of high school students from Walker Career Center in Indianapolis competed in Phoenix Contact's Nanoline contest. They call themselves the Nano Consultants, and their vision was to build a device that would dispense proper dosages of medications to patients prone to forgetting their medication. They call it the RoboDose.

How to Connect Third Party Load Cells to the Phidget Bridge

There’s a vast selection of load cells available from sensor companies around the world. While all these load cells do basically the same job, there are some subtle differences that are worth clarifying when connecting them to the 1046 Phidget Bridge.

Five Creative Ways to use RFID

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is a useful and affordable way to create interaction. The Phidgets RFID reader offers solutions in near-field applications, allowing tags to be detected within a few centimeters.

How to Use Multiple Phidgets

In many Phidgets projects, more than one Phidget device is required to carry out the necessary functionality. For instance, to have a responsive system that has a motor open a vent when the temperature exceeds a certain limit, you’d need a motor controller and an interface kit with analogue input.

Debugging your Problems with Phidget Logging

Debugging is hard and any help in the process is a welcome respite. When working with a Phidget application, one of the best tools you have available is Phidget Logging. In our API we have a few functions that spit out data about what is happening beneath your code, which gives you very useful information about problems that are occurring. As the technical support for Phidgets, one of the first things I ask people to do when they are having issues is to generate logs and send them to me.

How to Give Your Phidgets a Custom Label

At first glance, the device label property looks simple and maybe even dismissible. If you noticed it at all, you may have even wondered why it’s there, but be assured, there are some really neat things that you can do with it. You can hold device-specific flags, differentiate between multiple Phidgets by giving them meaningful names, or give them custom serial numbers.

Weatherproofing Phidgets

There are many instances where Phidgets might get stuck outdoors: weather stations, RC vehicles (quadcopters, underwater vehicles, robots, etc), outdoor installations, and applications we haven't imagined yet. Some specific examples of Phidgets in the outdoors are a giant drum machine, a sky temperature scanner and precision agricultural monitors

How to Log to USB Flash Drives from the SBC

There are quite a few users making their Phidget SBCs do data acquisition, and perhaps this is the plan you have for yours. Depending on how much data you want to collect, and because of limited space on the SBC itself, you’ll probably end up using something like a USB drive to store your data logs. It’s really easy to set up, but there are a couple gotchas that you might want to consider before writing your program, so let’s go over them and talk about the basics of logging to the USB flash drive from the SBC.

How Phidgets Make Museums More Interesting

While many people prototype their designs with Phidgets, there are a lot of people making one-time installations to work with Phidgets on a long-term basis. These people make museum exhibits, as well as interactive art installations (like Eos Lightmedia). Phidgets help the creation of exhibits that move people from being passive observers to engaged participants in learning.

An Introduction to Flowbotics' Phidgets App

RobotShop and DSP Robotics just launched some new apps to get Phidgets quickly working on your computer. These apps are made with FlowBotics Studio, the new robotics software development platform. The new apps make it really easy to use Phidgets (you don’t even need to install the Phidgets drivers). Just download the Phidget app, and it’ll run, just like that.

How to Set Up Multiple RFID Readers in Close Range

Using multiple radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers in a relatively confined space can be a tricky proposition. We tell our customers that if they want to have multiple readers in their application that they should space them at least 1 meter apart. That is quite a significant distance, and in some cases, it isn’t practical.

How To Avoid Resonance Issues in Stepper Motors

Stepper motors are unique among electronic motors in that they move in a series of discrete steps (hence their name) rather than a continuous motion. This is a useful property since it allows steppers to have positional and velocity control that is both accurate and easy and doesn't even require feedback to maintain (under normal operation). However, one of the primary disadvantages of this style of motor comes as a direct result of this discrete nature and open loop control.

How to Run Sensor Cables Through USB Cables

You might have noticed that sensor cables don’t come in a convenient round shape, which you sometimes need. A relatively easy solution is to grab a length of USB cable and solder the sensor cable wires onto the USB wires, and here are some easy instructions to get it working:

How to Measure Very Small Currents (Without Current Sensors)

Small voltages and currents pose difficulties when being measured, but solutions for measuring these tiny values do exist. You can use devices like the 1048 and 1051 Phidgets Temperature Sensors and 1046 Phidgets Bridge to read any small voltage. Here’s a quick explanation of how to set up these Phidgets and get them working to measure your small voltages and currents.

Working With Long Sensor Cables

You might have come here because you’re thinking of running a really long sensor cable around your house, to a robot or who knows what. Depending what sensors you use, you could be fine, you could get readings that are slightly off, or you could get completely bogus results.

Wireless Communication on an SBC When an Ad-Hoc Network Won’t Work

Recently, we have had several people reporting that our instructions for setting up an ad-hoc network with the SBC3 do not work. I, as lead support at Phidgets, decided to investigate. Yup, that’s broken.

How To Keep pH/ORP Sensors Accurate

Given the manhandling that goes on in many mail distribution centres, how exactly should one ship a delicate sensor like a pH/ORP electrode, ensuring it stays moist, doesn’t freeze, and doesn’t bump around as to avoid putting the sensor bulb in direct contact with anything. And what about these dried out bulbs? Is it game over for the sensor? Not necessarily. Here’s what we learned through the many trials of shipping pH/ORP electrodes

How to Make a Phidgets-powered Night Light

Use Phidgets to control a night light. In this project a pressure sensitive rug is attached to the SBC digital inputs to turn the LED light on and off. When the light is triggered, the SBC polls a temperature sensor and the lights takes on a colour based on the temperature outside. As the temperature changes, so does the colour displayed by the light. An IR distance sensor allows you to simply reach over and turn the light on (to white light) or off, so you don’t have to step on the rug all the time for light.

Using Steppers In High-Energy Applications

The 1067 can handle approximately 10 joules of kinetic energy on a motor's shaft. Any higher than that, and the voltage spikes that are generated in the event of stalling will overwhelm the board.

How to Destroy a Motor Controller

By far the most frequently replaced board in Phidgets history has been the 1063 PhidgetStepper Bipolar controller. Was it a bad Phidget? No, but motor controllers are often put on the front lines of a project, sandwiched between high voltage power supplies and high torque motors.

How To Avoid Grounding a Thermocouple

If you’ve never seen a thermocouple before, you might think it’s just a cable with some wires inside. Well, it is, in way, but it’s really a tool for measuring extreme temperatures far outside the range of many other types of temperature sensors. A thermocouple has two different conductors that produce a voltage. The voltage is proportional to the temperature difference between either end of the pair of conductor

Giving Your Robot Eyes: Image Processing on the Phidget SBC

Having a webcam is all well and good, but what can we do with it? Well as it turns out, rather a lot. Computer vision (CV) is a big part of advanced robotics and CV algorithms have become the subject of much interest in recent years. Allowing your robot to “see” its surroundings is one of the most powerful things you can do to allow it to perform complex tasks. One of the most prominent tools in CV development is OpenCV. OpenCV is a set of libraries developed by Intel to aid in image processing tasks. Luckily for us, OpenCV works well on the SBC and can be easily installed.

How Phil and Sebastian Roast Coffee With Phidgets

Phil & Sebastian is a small-scale Calgary-based coffee roaster focused on quality coffee that comes directly from the farmers. Two engineers from Calgary, Phil & Sebastian, opened their first café seven years ago, leaving their cushy jobs behind to explore their passion for coffee.

Exploring the Many Methods of Object Detection

There are a lot of different types of sensors out there that can be used to detect the presence of an object or obstacle. Figuring out which one is right for your application can be a bit difficult, and is highly dependent on the requirements of the application. Sensors vary in their method of detection, and each has distinct strengths and weaknesses:

How To Calibrate Phidgets Sensors For Dummies

When using certain sensors and devices, you'll need to do some calibration to ensure accurate measurements. For some sensors, you'll probably want to do your own calibration but some Phidgets sensors will have calibration values written on the back of the board (like the light sensors)

Falcon Robotics: Full STEAM Ahead!

The quality of education, especially the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (frequently abbreviated as STEAM) are regularly raised topics in American politics and media. It's in the context of concerns about the United States education system that the Falcon Robotics program becomes so inspiring.

Steppers with Encoders: When Open-loop Control Is Not Enough

With the increasing popularity of DIY projects such as quadcopters, CNC tables and 3D printers, many people are faced with the decision of which type of motor to use in their project. For applications that require precise control of the position of the motor, the common choices are DC motors with encoders, servo motors, and stepper motors.

Home Automation With Phidgets

This simple project will take you through the basics of getting some interior sensing and home automation set up. The project runs from a Phidgets SBC, will read light and sound and turn a light on and off remotely. You can really grow this project to monitor and control your home, but to keep from getting too wordy, this just shows a couple of examples to get you started.

Noise and Drift in Load Cells

When it comes to measuring forces, we here at Phidgets are of the opinion that load cells are best. We do sell thin film force sensors, and understand that they are required for certain applications that lack the room for a load cell, and which do not require a precise force or weight value.

How To Get Your Phidgets SBC3 Up And Working

This tutorial gives first time Phidgets SBC3 users a quick guide for getting started. Learn all about the web interface, get your packages installed, get your feet wet with some ssh and run a couple of examples in both C and Java.

Introducing Videos to Get You Started with Phidgets

It's actually really easy to set up Phidgets on your computer and get some programs running. Before you know it you'll be controlling motors, turning on lights, reading sensor data and all sorts of stuff… but first, let's go through the basics.

Run Phidgets on the Raspberry Pi

How to get started with phidgets on Raspberry PI

How To Make Your Own Phidgets Analog Sensor Cables

Many Phidgets customers have come forward asking how to make their own analog sensor cables. Today, we finally answer this nagging question. Phidgets Analog Input cables use connectors compatible with Molex “C-Grid SL” connectors. Crimping cables manually is delicate work. Normally, crimping cables like this is done by a machine. As you proceed, make sure to inspect your work carefully each step of the way.

Interactive Garden Project

It begins as a grand idea. A flowering archway welcomes you onto a curving pathway. Fields of grass alight around your ankles, towering trees sing above your head and benches respond to your pressure, colouring a digital sky complete with a custom soundtrack. The landscape would take up a mere 1000 square feet.

Discovering How Easily Phidgets Work with FlowStone

Having recently learned that there is a graphical programming platform named FlowStone that supports Phidgets devices out of the box, I decided to download it and see what it is capable of. It turns out that FlowStone is visually pleasing and easy to use once the basics are learned. I set to work creating a program that controls a servo using the Phidgets AdvancedServo 8-Motor Controller, and a Mini Joystick Sensor connected to an InterfaceKit

The Interactive Creations of Eos Lightmedia

On a recent trip out to Vancouver, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Shaun August from Eos Lightmedia to talk about some of their projects that use Phidgets. He's the director of design, the one in charge of programming, and the main guy using Phidgets.

Max/MSP And Phidgets Disco LED

This project will introduce you to how Max works with Phidgets Interfaces. This tutorial will give you the basics so you can develop more complex projects on your own. The possibilities are countless.

An application guide on DC Motors - PID Control

Since DC motors can ordinarily only be told how fast to go you need to program a control system. First, you need a motor that has a feedback device such as an encoder.

Linear Actuator - PID Control

Since DC motors can ordinarily only be told how fast to go you need to program a control system. First, you need a motor that has a feedback device such as a potentiometer

Linear Actuator - Velocity Control

Since DC motors can ordinarily only be told how fast to go you need to program a control system. First, you need a motor that has a feedback device such as a potentiometer

Keyless Access Control with Phidgets RFID

This project will help you set up a keyless entry system for any door in your house that will unlock when a recognized RFID tag is detected

SBC3 Wifi Testing

Testing the performance of WiFi adapters on the PhidgetSBC3

Image Processing On The SBC

This guide walks you through setting up OpenCV, and writing a small program that detects red objects in an image

Ad-Hoc Networks On The SBC

How to to communicate with your single board computer wirelessly and without using your home network.

MURVV: Building a Mobile Robot with Phidgets

This project uses the SBC as a functional brain for a mobile collection of Phidgets in the form of a wheeled robot.

Simple Spatial Experiments with Phidgets

This project is a simple data recording program for the Phidget Spatial. We play with the program and record data to learn things about our environment.

Data Logging With A Thermocouple

This project is a data recording program for the Phidget Temperature Sensors. We play with the program and record data to learn things about our environment.

Live Data Graphing

This project uses various Python libraries for creating a MATLAB-like graphing program, which scrolls the graph in real time.

Weather Station with Phidgets

The project described here is a simple weather station that measures air temperature, humidity, and surface temperature of the ground below the weather station.

Web Page On The SBC

This project creates a website hosted on the Phidget Single Board Computer. The website can serve both static pages, as well as pages that can send simple requests back and forth to the Phidgets attached to the SBC.

Use Phidgets Wirelessly With The SBC

The project described here is a basic network control program for an LED plugged in to an SBC.