A Fun Experiment in Microcontrolers

ArduinoCommander and the ArduinoBT

I’ve recently gotten back into programming my ArduinoBT to do my bidding.  Along the way I decided I wanted to also figure out how to use my Android phone or tablet to interface with the ArduinoBT.

After a brief poke around in the Android Market I found ArduinoCommander.

Unfortunately the instructions for ArduinoCommander are based around using a bluetooth shield rather than the fully integrated ArduinoBT, so needless to say I hit a few bumps along the way getting it to work.  Luckily the developer for ArduinoCommander was very responsive and helpful, and eventually I got it working.  I promised him I would put together a quick walk through, so here it is:

The ArduinoBT seems to have some trouble with the latest Firmata design v2.2 at the time of this article.  I followed the instructions by the developer to get ArduinoCommander working, but the app would never connect to my ArduinoBT board.  The big issues seems to be the baud rate.  The arduinoBT runs at 115200, versus the app authors shield running at 9600.

When I would attempt to connect in the app, the board would stay grey and the  power led on App would just turn yellow.

Luckily Firmata provides older versions of firmata on their site.  So I tried downloading one after seeing a couple forum posts on Arduino.cc indicating a similar issue.  However the older versions of the firmata library will not compile correctly on the latest Arduino software v1.0.

So in order to get ArduinoCommander working, I downloaded an older version of the Arduino Software (0017) that included an older version of Firmata (v2.1).

Make sure if you follow this method that you use the standardFirmata sketch as a base that is included with the older version of the Arduino Software. Or Download here!



You will still need to change the baud rate to 115200 to match the arduinoBT.

Now that you have your Arduino Sketch ready to go, you will need to compile it first using the verify button.  Once your sketch is compiled its time to upload.  Don’t forget to pair your board to your PC/MAC/*nix machine first.

For those familiar with the ArduinoBT you know it takes proper timing to upload your sketches.  You need to hit the reset button on the board just before the sketch is uploaded.

In the newer versions of the Arduino software it seems pretty easy to get sketches to upload, however on this older version your timing has to be more specific.  I’ve had the most luck, holding the rest button, and then clicking the upload button on my computer then releasing the reset button.

Once you have the sketch uploaded, its time to load up ArduinoCommander on your android device.  Assuming you’ve done the above correctly, you should be able to pair your device, and ArduinoCommander goes into full color pretty quickly.  It will even indicate that you are using Firmata v2.1 at the top of the application.

Good luck and Happy Prototyping.

Transformer Prime

So as some of you know I’m a bit of an Android fanboy.  So it will come as no surprise to many of you that I recently got a Transformer Prime.  I’ve had the prime since mid January, so I’ve definitely put it through its paces.  So I though it was time to share a little about my experience with you.

First off the Prime is the snappiest experience I’ve had with Android.  The Tegra 3 processor absolutely smokes every other tablet or phone I’ve ever toyed with.  Plus the tablet is running ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich).  I’m really glad to have a device that is receiving regular updates, unlike my other current android daily the Nexus S 4g.  This is the first time I’ve had an android device and didn’t feel the need to immediately root in order to get the functionality I need.

The screen is crisp and bright, and the touch screen works perfectly well.  There are plenty of folks out there that have had issues with the Prime, but happily I’m not one of them.

The real thing that makes this tablet stand out from the rest is the optional keyboard dock.  This is what truly makes it a Transformer(sorry hasbro).  Without the dock, its a decent tablet, but with the dock its almost a laptop replacement.  I say almost because their is still a lack of some programs that I use daily on my laptop that I just cannot find in the android market.  Primarily coding tools.  But it certainly serves perfectly well to replace my couch surfing needs, and it has some awesome games that make it very worthwhile.

At the end of the day I’m use my transformer daily to monitor FB, G+, Twitter, and even to make posts like this one on the blog.  So its very useful for me.

Want to share your own Transformer Prime Thoughts/Experience?  Leave me a comment below!