Arduino Basics: 433Mhz
Showing posts with label 433Mhz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 433Mhz. Show all posts

13 March 2017

Prextron CHAIN BLOCKS - Arduino Nano controlled Ultrasonic sensor that switches a motor wirelessly using 433MHz RF modules and a relay board.



In this tutorial, I will be evaluating Prextron CHAIN blocks – a new system that allows you to connect your sensors and actuators to an Arduino NANO using clever 3D-printed prototyping boards that can be stacked sideways. This very modular system makes it easy to connect, disconnect and replace project components, and eliminate the “rats nest of wires” common to many advanced Arduino projects. CHAIN BLOCKS are open, which means that you can incorporate any of your sensors or actuators to these prototyping boards, and you can decide which specific pin on Arduino you plan to use. The CHAIN BLOCK connections prevent or reduce common connection mistakes, which make them ideal for class-room projects and learning activities.

I am going to set up a project to put these CHAIN BLOCKs to the test:
When I place my hand in-front of an Ultrasonic sensor, the Arduino will transmit a signal wirelessly to another Arduino, and consequently turn on a motor.


Parts Required:

You need the following Prextron Chain Blocks

Please note: You may need to solder the module wires to the CHAIN BLOCK protoboard.


Arduino Libraries and IDE

This project does not use any libraries. However, you will need to upload Arduino code to the Arduino. For this you will need the Arduino IDE which can be obtained from the official Arduino website:


ARDUINO CODE: RF Transmitter




Fritzing diagrams for Transmitter






Fritzing diagrams for Receiver





Concluding comments

The purpose of this project was to evaluate Prextron CHAIN BLOCKs and put them to the test. Here is what I thought of CHAIN BLOCKS at the time of evaluation. Some of my points mentioned below may no longer apply to the current product. It may have evolved / improved since then. So please take that into consideration


What I liked about Chain Blocks

  • The design is simple, the product is simple.
  • Once the Chain Blocks were all assembled, they were very easy to connect to each other.
  • I can really see the benefit of Chain Blocks in a teaching environment, because it simplifies the connection process, and reduces connection mixups.
  • It was good to see that the blocks come in different colours, which means that you can set up different colour schemes for different types of modules.
  • You can incorporate pretty much any sensor or Actuator into the Chain block which is very appealing.
  • You also have the flexibility of choosing which pins you plan to use on the Arduino.
  • Projects look a lot neater, because you no longer have the rats nest of wires.
  • The Blocks lock into each other which means that they are much easier to transport/carry.


What I did not like about Chain Blocks

  • In most cases, the Chain Block protoboard lanes were not numbered, which increased the chances of making mistakes when soldering
  • The need to solder modules to the protoboard, may be a discouragement for some people.
  • I would have liked a choice of different size Chain blocks. Some of the sensors did not fit nicely into the Square blocks.
  • Prextron really need to work on their website if they plan to get serious with this product: Webpage has incomplete functionality or irrelevant links etc etc.


Thank you very much to Prextron for providing the CHAIN BLOCKS used in this tutorial, and allowing me to try out their product. If you are interested in trying them yourself, then make sure to visit them at:

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29 October 2016

EspoTek Labrador Review

Have you heard about the EspoTek Labrador ? 

A tiny board which can turn your computer into an
- Oscilloscope
- Waveform generator
- Logic analyser
- Multimeter
- and Power supply.

Great for makers or hobbyists with limited bench space or limited funds. Perfect for students and anyone starting out in the field of electronics

As you will see in the video below, I take a prototype of the EspoTek Labrador for a spin, and try out all of the functions that this board can provide.

I use an Arduino UNO, a couple of 433MHz RF modules, some LEDs and a speaker to see just how useful this board will be for my hobby requirements.

I have been wanting an Oscilloscope for quite some time, and while this board does not necessarily win against a benchtop oscilloscope on a side-by-side comparison of specifications, it does make up for it somewhat in terms of price, space (or footprint), usability, and wide range of functionality. But does it actually function as an oscilliscope? Is it useful ? Will it do what I need it to do?  Or will I still need to buy that expensive oscilloscope that I have been saving up for?

Have a look at my review below, and tell me what you think.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below:

30 July 2014

433 MHz RF module with Arduino Tutorial 4:

WARNING: Please check whether you can legally use RF transmitters and receivers at your location before attempting this project (or buying the components). This project is aimed at those who are looking to automate their home.
There are 4 parts to this tutorial:
To get the most out of this tutorial - it is best to start at tutorial Part 1, and then progress to Part 2 then Part 3 and then do Part 4 last. Doing the RF tutorials in this order will help you to understand the process better.

Project 4 : 433 Mhz RF remote replacement tutorial

Carrying on from my previous "433MHz transmitter and receiver" tutorials (1,2 & 3): I have thrown away the need to process the signal with a computer. This means that we can now get the Arduino to record the signal from an RF remote (in close proximity), and play it back in no time at all.
The Arduino will forget the signal when powered down or when the board is reset. The Arduino does not have an extensive memory - there is a limit to how many signals can be stored on the board at any one time. Some people have opted to create a "code" in their projects to help maximise the number of signals stored on the board. In the name of simplicity, I will not encode the signal like I did in my previous tutorials.
I will get the Arduino to record the signal and play it back - with the help of a button. The button will help manage the overall process, and control the flow of code.
Apart from uploading the sketch to the Arduino, this project will not require the use of a computer. Nor will it need a sound card, or any special libraries. Here are the parts required:


Parts Required:

Fritzing Sketch



Arduino Sketch


Now let's see this project in action !
Have a look at the video below to see the Arduino turning a light and fan on/off shortly after receiving the RF signal from the RF remote. The video will also show you how to put this whole project together - step by step.

The Video


This concludes my 433MHz transmitter and receiver tutorials (for now). I hope you enjoyed them.
Please let me know whether this worked for you or not.
I have not tested this project with other remotes or other frequencies - so would be interested to find out whether this technique can be used for ALL RF projects ??


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20 July 2014

433 MHz RF module with Arduino Tutorial 3

There are 4 parts to this tutorial:
To get the most out of this tutorial - it is best to start at tutorial Part 1, and then progress to Part 2 then Part 3 and then do Part 4 last. Doing the RF tutorials in this order will help you to understand the process better.

Project 3: RF Remote Control Emulation

In the first tutorial, I introduced the 433 MHz Transmitter and Receiver with a simple sketch to test their functionality. In the second tutorial, the 433MHz receiver was used to receive a signal from an RF remote. The RF remote signal was coded based on the pattern and length of its HIGH and LOW signals. The signals received by the remote can be described by the code below:

Code comparison table

The RF remote that I am using transmits the same signal 6 times in a row. The signal to turn the light on is different from that used to turn the light off. In tutorial 2, we were able to "listen to" or receive the signal from the RF remote using the RF receiver. I thought it would be possible to just play back the signal received on the Arduino's analogPin, but the time it takes to perform a digital write is different to the time it takes to do an AnalogRead. Therefore it won't work. You need to slow down the digitalWrite speed.
I would like to find out if it is possible to apply this delay to all 433 MHz signal projects, however, I only have one 433 MHz remote.

If the delay in your project is the same as mine (or different) I would be keen to know - please leave a comment at the end of the tutorial.

We are going to use trial and error to find the optimal digitalWrite delay time. We will do this by slowly incrementing the delay until the transmission is successful. The transmission is considered successful if the fan-light turns on/off. All we have to do is count the number of transmissions until it is successful, then we should be able to calculate the delay.


Parts Required


The Transmitter Fritzing Sketch


RF Calibration - Arduino Sketch

I used an array to hold the RF code for light ON and light OFF. Each number within the code represents a specific sequence of HIGH and LOW lengths. For example, 2 represents a SHORT HIGH and a LONG LOW combination. A short length = 3, a long length = 7, and a very long length = 92. You need to multiply this by the timeDelay variable to identify how much time to transmit the HIGH and LOW signals for.
The short and long lengths were identified from the experiments performed in tutorial 2 (using the RF receiver). Each code is transmitted 6 times. The LED is turned on at the beginning of each transmission, and then turned off at the end of the transmission. The timeDelay variable starts at 5 microseconds, and is incremented by 10 microseconds with every transmission.
In the video, you will notice that there is some flexibility in the timeDelay value. The Mercator Fan/Light will turn on and off when the timeDelay variable is anywhere between 75 and 135 microseconds in length. It also seems to transmit successfully when the timeDelay variable is 175 microseconds.
So in theory, if we want to transmit a signal to the fan/light, we should be able to use any value between 75 and 135, however in future projects, I think I will use a value of 105, which is right about the middle of the range.


  Now that I have the timeDelay variable, I should be able to simplify the steps required to replicate a remote control RF signal. Maybe there is room for one more tutorial on this topic :)

Update: Here it is - tutorial 4
Where you can record and playback an RF signal (without using your computer).

27 June 2014

433 MHz RF module with Arduino Tutorial 2

There are 4 parts to this tutorial:
To get the most out of this tutorial - it is best to start at tutorial Part 1, and then progress to Part 2 then Part 3 and then do Part 4 last. Doing the RF tutorials in this order will help you to understand the process better.

Project 2: RF Remote Copy

In the previous project, we transmitted a signal wirelessly from one Arduino to another. It was there to help troubleshoot communication between the modules. It was important to start with a very short distance (1-2 cm) and then move the RF modules further apart to test the range. The range can be extended by soldering an antenna to the module, or by experimenting with different voltage supplies to the modules (making sure to keep within the voltage limits of the modules.)
In this project - we aim to receive a signal from an RF remote. The remote that I am using is a Mercator Remote Controller for a Fan/Light. (Remote controller code is FRM94). It is important that you use a remote that transmits at the same frequency as your receiver. In this case, my remote just happens to use a frequency of 433MHz. I was able to receive RF signals from from a distance of about 30cm without an antenna (from my remote to the receiver).


Here are the parts that you will need to carry out this project:

Parts Required

Remote Controller

You can quickly test your remote, by pressing one of the buttons in close proximity to the RF receiver (using the same sketch as in Project 1), and you should see the LED flicker on an off in response to the button press. If you don't see the LED flickering, then this project will not work for you.

Here is a picture of the remote controller that I am using:


Arduino Sketch - Remote Receiver

The following sketch will make the Arduino wait until a signal is detected from the remote (or other 433 MHz RF device). Once triggered, it will turn the LED ON, and start to collect and store the signal data into an array.
I did my best to keep the signal reading section of the sketch free from other functions or interruptions.The aim is to get the Arduino to focus on reading ONLY... and once the reading phase is complete, it will report the signal data to the Serial monitor. So you will need to have the Serial monitor open when you press the remote control button.
The remote control signal will be made up of HIGH and LOW signals - which I will try to illustrate later in the tutorial. But for now, all you need to know is that the Signal will alternate between HIGH and LOW signals, and that they can be different lengths.
This sketch aims to identify how long each LOW and HIGH signal is (to make up the complete RF remote signal). I have chosen to capture 500 data points(or 250 LOW/HIGH combinations).You may wish to increase or decrease the dataSize variable to accomodate your specific RF signal. In my case, I only really needed 300 data points, because there was a "flat" signal for the last 200 data points (characterised by 200 repetitions of a LOW signal length of 0 and HIGH signal length of 255)


Receiver Fritzing Sketch


After pressing the button on the RF remote, the data signal is printed to the Serial Monitor. You can copy the data to a spreadsheet program for review. This is an example of the signal produced after pushing the button on the remote for turning the fan/light on.
The following code was produced from pushing the button responsible for turning the light off:
The code sequence above may seem a bit random until you start graphing it. I grabbed the LOW column - and produced the following chart:
The chart above is a bit messy - mainly because the timing is slightly out... in that sometimes it can squeeze an extra read from a particular signal. But what is important to note here is that you can differentiate a LONG signal from a SHORT signal. I have drawn a couple of red dotted lines where I believe most of the readings tend to sit. I then used a formula in the spreadsheet to calibrate the readings and make them a bit more uniform. For example, if the length of the signal was greater than 4 analogReads, then I converted this to 6. If it was less than 4 analogReads, then I converted it to 2. I used a frequency table to help decide on the cutoff value of 4, and just decided to pick the two values (2 for short, and 6 for long) based on the frequency tables below. I could have chosen 5 as the LONG value, but there were more 6's overall.

  **The meaning of "frequency" in the following tables relate to the "number of times" a specific signal length is recorded.

And this is the resulting chart:

You will notice that the pattern is quite repetitive. I helped to identify the sections with vertical red lines (near the bottom of the chart). In other words, the signal produced by the remote is repeated 6 times.
I then did the same for the HIGH signal column and combined the two to create the following chart:

You will notice that the HIGH signals also have a repetitive pattern, however have a Very long length at the end of each section. This is almost a break to separate each section.
This is what a single section looks like zoomed in:

SL = [Short LOW] signal. - or short blue bar
SH = [Short HIGH] signal - or short yellow bar
LL = [Long LOW] signal - or long blue bar
LH = [Long HIGH] signal - or long yellow bar
VLH = [Very long HIGH} signal - or very long yellow bar (~92 analogReads in length)

  You will notice that there are only about 6 different combinations of the signals mentioned above. We can use this to create a coding system as described below:

We can use this coding system to describe the signals. The charts below show the difference between turning the LIGHT ON and LIGHT OFF.


PLEASE NOTE: You may notice when you copy the signals from the Serial monitor that you get a series of (0,255) combinations. This is actually a timeout sequence - which generally occurs after the signal is complete.

 Here is an example of what I mean.

This is the end of tutorial 2. In the next tutorial, we will use the code acquired from the remote to turn the FAN LIGHT on and off (using the 433 MHz RF transmitter).

Click here for Tutorial 3

23 June 2014

433 MHz RF module with Arduino Tutorial 1

There are 4 parts to this tutorial:
To get the most out of this tutorial - it is best to start at tutorial Part 1, and then progress to Part 2 then Part 3 and then do Part 4 last. Doing the RF tutorials in this order will help you to understand the process better.

If you are looking for a way to communicate between Arduinos, but don't have much cash at your disposal, then look no further. These RF modules are not only affordable, but easy to use. They are much easier to set up than an XBee, plus you can use them without the need of a special shield. Before you rush out and buy a ton of these modules, make sure that you are not breaking any radio transmission laws in your country. Do your research, and buy them only if you are allowed to use them in your area. There are a few [OPTIONAL] libraries that can be used to help you and your particular project.

I will mention at this point however, that I did NOT use any libraries in this particular tutorial. That's right. I will show how easy it is to transmit data from one arduino to another using these RF modules WITHOUT libraries.

Also if you are looking for an easy way to record the signals and play them back without a computer - then jump to this tutorial.


Project 1- RF Blink

Firstly we need to test if the RF modules are working. So we will design a very simple transmit and receive sketch to test their functionality. We will use the Arduino's onboard LED to show when the transmitter is transmitting, and when the other Arduino is receiving. There will be a slight delay between the two Arduinos. You can solder an antenna onto these modules, however I did not do this, I just kept the modules close together (1-2cm apart). I also found that I was getting better accuracy when I used 3V instead of 5V to power the receiver. While using 5V for VCC on the receiver, I would get a lot of interference, however with 3V, I hardly got any noise. If you find you are getting unpredictable results, I would suggest you switch to 3V on the receiver and move the transmitter and receiver modules right next to each other. Remember this is just a check... you can experiment with an antenna or a greater distance afterwards.

Here are the parts that you will need to carry out this project:

Parts Required


The Transmitter and Receiver Fritzing Sketch

The Transmitter

The transmitter has 3 pins

 Notice the pin called "ATAD". It took me a while to figure out what ATAD stood for, when I suddenly realised that this was just a word reversed. It should be DATA (not ATAD). Nevertheless, this is the pin responsible for transmitting the signal. We will make the Arduino's onboard LED illuminate when the transmitter pin is HIGH, and go off when LOW as described in the following table.


And this is the Arduino Sketch to carry out the data transmission.

Arduino sketch - Transmitter


The Receiver

If all goes to plan, the onboard LED on this Arduino should light up (and go off) at the same time as the onboard LED on the transmitting Arduino. There is a chance that the receiver may pick up stray signals from other transmitting devices using that specific frequency. So you may need to play around with the threshold value to eliminate the "noise". But don't make it too big, or you will eliminate the signal in this experiment. You will also notice a small delay between the two Arduinos.


Arduino sketch - Receiver

When a HIGH signal is transmitted to the other Arduino. It will produce an AnalogRead = 0.
When a LOW signal is transmitted, it will produce an AnalogRead = 400.
This may vary depending on on your module, and voltage used.
The signals received can be viewed using the Serial Monitor, and can be copied into a spreadsheet to create a chart like this:

You will notice that the HIGH signal (H) is constant, whereas the LOW signal (L) is getting smaller with each cycle. I am not sure why the HIGH signal produces a Analog reading of "0". I would have thought it would have been the other way around. But you can see from the results that a HIGH signal produces a 0 result and a LOW signal produces a value of 400 (roughly).

Tutorial 2

In tutorial 2, we will receive and display a signal from a Mercator RF Remote Controller for Fan/Light.

Tutorial 3

In tutorial 3 - we use the signal acquired from tutorial 2, and transmit the signal to the fan/light to turn the light on and off.

Tutorial 4

In tutorial 4 - we use the information gathered in the first 3 tutorials and do away with the need for a computer. We will listen for a signal, store the signal, and then play it back by pressing a button. Similar to a universal remote ! No libraries, no sound cards, no computer. Just record signal and play it back. Awesome !!


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