Category Archives: Programming

Computer and micro controller programming in a variety of different languages utilising many frameworks including Kohana, jQuery and CodeIgnitor

ILI9341 and XPT2046 TFT display on ESP8266

For my own future reference more than anything else, to get the ILI9341 (either Adafruit or otherwise) working on the ESP8266 using the Arduino development environment isn’t completely straightforward. I knew I had this working previously, but couldn’t find the info again, so am copying it here.

It would appear that the ILI9341 library currently available through the Arduino Sketch -> Include Library -> Manage Libraries is not currently compatible with the ESP8266. Thus you have to download the working library directly from the Adafruit Github repository. However, I also had issues with this version. Finally I used the examples on to get it working.

Additionally, the XPT2046 library available in the Arduino manage libraries feature does not support Hardware SPI, however there is an alternative developed by [spapadim] on Github. I took the following steps to compile some example code.

  1. Wire up ESP and Touch screen according to
  2. Download the zip file from the end of the page on this includes some working examples
  3. Download XPT2046 library from Github
  4. Go to Arduino IDE -> Sketch -> Include Library -> Manage Libraries -> Search GFX and install the “Adadfruit GFX Library”
  5. Open the example sketch from Nailbuster and compile and upload

I have a feeling these libraries may be a little out of date now so I’ll have a look at whether they can be updated to use the latest versions available from Adafruit.

Thoughts on Graphical/Visual Programming Languages

​I dont see a lot of information on personal blogs/diy projects regarding the use of Visual Programming Languages, but this is what I use in my current role as a Control System Engineer developing engine control and test systems. I actually call them graphical programming languages, so if I use the terms interchangably here then I’m actually talking about the same thing. We use visual programming languages for engine ECU control code and Test Cell control code (Simulink + Stateflow and Labview respectively). I believe graphical programming languages are pretty widely used in the automotive industry, and appear to have massive buy in from plenty of other industries too. I think its easy to see why.

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ESP8266 Successor – ESP32 released with CAN bus support 

So, the interesting little ESP8266 WiFi SoC finally has a younger brother which appears to be even more capable. Among other expansive updates, the 32 bit Dual Core microcontroller still supports WiFi, but also Bluetooth Low Energy, a DAC, many more ADCs, GPIO pins, etc. etc. Lots of good details here: 

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ESP8266 CAN Bus with MCP2515

I have just bought another ESP8266/NodeMCU development board cheapy from eBay (this one) with an ESP-12E chip on board. I’ve also bought an SPI-CAN bus interface with the common Microchip MCP2515 CAN controller to try and create a CAN-Wifi gateway.

The pinout for the ESP-12E NodeMCU board is apparently as below:
ESP-12E NodeMCU Pinout

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ESP8266 Development/SDK Board

Warning: do not connect the DHT11 temperature sensor as indicated in the eBay pictures, it is the wrong way around and will fry your board!

Update: Board has arrived, more details and pinout here

It would seem that the ESP8266 is quickly becoming a pretty well supported WiFI microcontroller within the DIY/hacker community, and certainly presents itself as a pretty good alternative to an Arduino for projects requiring simple IO and WiFi. There’s even a project looking at using compiling the Arduino IDE and compatible code for the ESP8266!

Chinese ESP8266 Breakout board

Chinese ESP8266 Breakout board

I have one of the original versions of these units, but ave struggled to get anything sensible out of it, and so was looking on Ebay for some more items and came across this breakout/development board. For £9.99 I thought I’d give it a go, and ordered it a couple of weeks ago. Will give more details when it arrives. More details and pics after the break

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Arduino ECU By Brenamanf

I was sent a link to this website by the author, who appears to have created an Arduino ECU for spark control. Although the details are a little sparse, It appears that he has developed a lot of the required hardware himself. It looks like the main controller is an Arduino Nano and utilises Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) and a knock sensor to determine the ignition timing on a Peugeot 205 Tu9 45Ch. It would appear that the ECU has been developed over a number of revisions and has been in operation for over a year.

Video Explanation

I’ve made a video of the whole system explaining all of the sensors, actuators and interfaces, and some of the more advanced indicating equipment that I’m using.

A more detailed explanation of the closed loop ignition timing control is given here:

Closed Loop Ignition Timing Control

I have been busy over the last few weeks with various things, but have now completed most of the practical work on my project and am now at the stage of writing up the report/dissertation. I have successfully managed to achieve closed loop ignition timing control by using the Stellaris Launchpad development board to directly interface with the optical encoder on the engine and the pressure sensor charge amplifier (this replaces the AVL IndiSet 620 in my system).

ECU in black on left, angle of peak pressure and optical encoder interface on right. Connected together via serial

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