Posts 6 comments on tl;dr complete build summary

tl;dr complete build summary

There are a lot of posts to trawl through in this blog if you’ve not followed it from the beginning. Hopefully this summary makes everything a bit clearer…

The first thing I did was to have a look at other cat tracking products on the market.  I found that they all have a big flaw… battery life.  I wanted GPS level accuracy and a battery life measured in months.  Nothing on the market offered that, so it was down to me to design it!

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PCBs, Posts 0 comments on Base station PCBs have arrived – time to solder!

Base station PCBs have arrived – time to solder!

Well, the boards actually arrived several weeks ago, but I’ve only just got round to doing the soldering.  As ever, I’ve ordered all my components from Farnell in the UK.

All of the passive components I’ve used are 0402 sized (0.5mm by 1.0mm).  The advantage of components this small is that you can squeeze a lot into the RF sections of the board, most notably at the output of the CC1125.  This decreases board size and improves the RF performance.  You can go much smaller than 0402 – 0201 is the next size down, followed by 01005 – only 0.2mm by 0.4mm!  Getting decent performance out of an inductor or capacitor that small will be difficult, so it’s a tradeoff between size and performance.

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Posts, Schematics 1 comment on CatTrack Base Station Schematic

CatTrack Base Station Schematic

Now that the CatTrack collar is working, I’ve been designing the schematic for the base station.  The base station is the handheld unit I’m going to use to communicate with the collar to work out where the cat is.  Currently I’m using a CC1125 development board.  More about that here.

The idea is that the base station will mostly live at home, perhaps in my loft (to get decent range) and I’ll be able to communicate with it from my living room via Bluetooth from my laptop.  It should also be portable because if Buttons goes miles I want to be able to take the base station out and about to track him remotely.

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Posts 4 comments on Comparing compilers: CCS C and Microchip XC8

Comparing compilers: CCS C and Microchip XC8

Now that I’ve got CatTrack working, I’ve been having a look at refining the code.  As I previously mentioned, I am using the CCS C compiler, basically because the ‘paid for’ version of their compiler is significantly cheaper than Microchip’s XC8 ‘paid-for’ version.  I did begin to wonder though, just how much bigger would my code be, and how much slower would it run if I used the free version of Microchip’s XC8 compiler?

This is what the Memory usage currently looks like in the PIC16LF18345, compiled with CCS C:

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Posts 2 comments on Choosing a Microcontroller

Choosing a Microcontroller

We’re having a bit of a heat-wave at the minute in the UK!  It has been over 30°C (86°F) for 2 days in a row.  We can’t cope.  It’s too hot.  Buttons particularly is not impressed.  The coolest place he’s found is on top of the water butt – as you can see in the picture.

Anyway, as everyone knows, the best thing to do when it’s nice and sunny outside is sit inside on a computer and look at Microcontrollers.

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