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Project Help and Ideas » Biology project (help needed!)

October 23, 2009
by kcen
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Through a friend of a friend, I ended up working with a biology PHd student/instructor. They explained some crap about alge that I didn't understand. Basically, what they would like is for me to build them a temperature controlled vessel hooked up to specialty light sensor. I am going to use a thermoelectric heating system combined with a temperature sensor/microcontroller for the heating system. The issue I have is that I need to be able to take temperature readings from 10-20 of these units at a time using a single PC as well as individually control the temperatures in each. What is the best way to interface with the PC?(preferably ending in excel or labview)

tldr;How do I communicate with multiple microcontrollers simultaneously using a desktop PC?(preferably ending in excel or labview)

October 23, 2009
by mikedoug
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Disclaimer: I'm a serious novice, so take what I have here with a grain of salt. :)

The MPU from the nerdkit has 8 input pins that can be used to take readings off of the temperature sensors. If you wanted to use a single MPU to handle all of the processing, you'd need to do some sort of mosfet based network to switch to different banks of temperature sensors. You could likely get away with tying the readout pins of multiple temp sensors together on a pin, and then power on one at a time for the purpose of the readings.

The easiest way to get the information into PC will be to spit the data out over the RS232 uart and have a process on the PC that dumps it to a CSV or similar type of file. You could then load that into excel.

Alternatively, you could use multiple MPUs (one for each 8 sensors), have a process on that MPU reading from the 8 sensors, transmit the information to a primary MPU over SPI, and then that MPU spits the information out the UART to the PC.

Typing that out... I think the single MPU would be easiest to do -- just figure out the electrical hookup for multiplexing the sensor inputs.


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