WORKSHOP VIDEO #52: Bus Pirate educational kit, VFD tube module

This week some musing over a Bus Pirate educational/learning kit, and we received the PCBs for the VFD tube module of the Nixie Tube thing.

ARDX is an extremely popular electronics learning kit based on the Arduino. It has an Arduino, breadboard, motors, servos, ICs, and jumper wires. Enough bits and pieces for 11 experiments that teach basic microcontroller and electronics concepts. A guide explains each exercise, and printed breadboard overlays show exactly where to put parts. It was designed by the team at oomlout, but SparkFun, Adafruit, Seeed Studio, ProtoCentral, just to name a few, all build a licensed version.

The oomlout team accompanied us on a couple Global Geek Tours and suggested a similar kit for the Bus Pirate. Our kit will have a Bus Pirate and a breadboard, which can be mounted on an acrylic sheet. Wires, chips, and parts needed for about 12 projects, and printed documentation. All in a nice plastic box.

Picking a good mix of protocols and devices is a challenge because everything has to be through-hole (and cheap). Here’s some previous tutorials we’re using to mock up the lesson book, and some new ideas:

We thought of adding the Bus Pirate LCD adapter board to the kit, but it’s too cumbersome to fit inside the case. Instead we could include a few pots and make it and exercise using the breadboard.

Suggestions and comments are welcome. Especially appreciated are chip suggestions with UART, 1-wire, or using logic chips.

*Everyone at oomlout refused to appear in a Geek Tour video, but we did catch some rare Where’s Waldo shots. This week we show four clips where Aaron, founder of oomlout, can be spotted in New York, India, and China. There’s PCB coupons for 10 people who spot Waldo Aaron in other shots.

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  1. LCDs are awesome, so your kit should include one if possible. Maybe you could put in a small 8 by 2 display, as these are cheap and don’t waste precious space. For an example of such a display click here (the problem with this display is, that it has to be connected via flat-flex cable, which requires an adapter for breadboard use)
    The PCF8574 might be a candidate for an I2C chip. It is also very cheap.

  2. Include a DS18S20 1-wire chip, its used everywhere and its in a breadboard friendly through hole package.

    1. You could do it by just ading the PIC16F in DIP and using it without the DAC buffer, although you’d have to sell it with the firmware flashed

  3. I’d suggest a DS1620 (SPI) and/or DS1621 (I2C) temperature sensor. They both are available as DIP packages though an eeprom might be enough (and cheaper) to demostrate these protocols.

    Instead of adding a bunch of logic chips you could throw in your cpld board and add an easy way to emulate different logic chips.

    Another thing I was thinking about was to come up with a C#/ gui application that serves both as an interactive training app and can actually communicate with the Bus Pirate at the same time. Choose the com port, select the chip you are testing and it will run the necessary commands for you while showing an intuitive help text with schematics and pictures of the setup.

  4. No Bus Pirate kit would be complete without the probe kit. Please, nobody should have to do without (even if the key use-case for the kit is breadboarding)

  5. Here my suggestion :-)
    it seems from my “BusPirate Issued #61”, having optional inverted outputs implemented in BP settings seems to be pretty hard to implement, you could also included a plain inverter 74hc04 in your kit :o)
    And it could be an easy first exemple to try :-)

  6. No starter kit would be complete without a 741 op-amp (or equivalent) – and the parts to make a split rail power supply.

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