FETCH THE WEATHER WITH
THE MAKE CONTROLLER
This easy starter project displays your
local forecast. By Brian Jepson
In the expanding universe of microcontroller boards,
the MAKE Controller Kit fills the space between
the easy, cheap Arduino and the more complex,
powerful Gumstix devices. The low-power Arduino
runs 8-bit machine code and can only do one thing
at a time. The Linux-based Gumstix can do what a
Linux-powered PC can do.
The MAKE Controller has the advantages of both,
thanks to its FreeRTOS operating system; it can
run multiple tasks simultaneously but also lets you
allocate processor time more explicitly than you
could under Linux. Because you need to know C, it’s
a little more complicated to program than Arduino,
but still easier to use than the Linux-based Gumstix.
138 Make: Volume 11
Making the Physical Connections
Once I got my hands on a MAKE Controller, I saw
that it can talk to things in my house with its serial
port, and talk to things on the internet with its
Ethernet port. My first project was simple: download the Weather Underground’s RSS feed for my
hometown, yank out the forecast, and display it
on a little LCD.
You need to solder your own headers or jack to
the MAKE Controller’s serial port contacts, a group
of 6 holes, marked 3.3V, 0V, TX, TRX, RTS, and CTS.
To be able to talk to my Serial LCD, I only had to
make 3 connections: power ( 3.3V), ground (0V),
and serial transmit (TX).
Photograph by Corbis