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Dot to Dot Programming

Dot to Dot Programming

Sporting an 8bit microcontroller clocking in at a maximum 24MHz and supporting 512 bytes of SRAM, 8KB flash, these rather lackluster specs are offset by four analog and four digital customizable advanced peripheral building blocks known as PSoC Blocks, and the ability to build a crazy small microcontroller project.
The entire PSoC microcontroller fits roughly on a 1-by-2-inch PCB, which includes a USB interface and type-A plug! This PCB is called the FirstTouch PC (FTPC) Bridge. It’s encased in a sealed transparent enclosure. But the real magic happens with the interchangeable FirstTouch Multifunction (FTMF) Expansion Card. Although narrower than the FTPC Bridge, the FTMF Expansion Card is bristling with sensors, output indicators, and human interface devices (e.g., an eight-segment capacitance input slider; just slide your finger along the slider for varying your input).

All of this hardware excitement would fall short if not for the nifty drag-and-drop “code-less” programming environment (based on Microsoft’s Visual .NET Framework) that supports the FirstTouch PSoC. Just like the Arduino’s elegant programming language, FirstTouch’s coding interface consists of an integrated development environment called PSoC Express and a graphical user interface programmer. That’s where all other similarity with Arduino’s Processing programming paradigm ends, however

Although the FirstTouch kit does not allow for portable operation, I was able to make my temperature sensor operate independently from a PC’s USB port with a discontinued rechargeable battery pack for an Apple iPod shuffle (1st generation) available from All Electronics. Just make sure to snip the clips off the battery pack’s recharging port cap. This simple modification will make it easier to hold both the FirstTouch PSoC FTPC Bridge + FTMF Expansion Card and the rechargeable battery pack. Now you can run around the office and “sample” temps. Or carry it on the street and let the buzzer shriek as your fingers freeze in the winter.

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