Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Phoenix is an open hardware (circuit layout freely available) started by Inter University Accelerator Centre, with the objective of improving the laboratory facilities at Indian Universities, and growing with the support of the user community. Basically it is an electronic kit interfaced with a computer which has the following features:

Hardware Features
  • 4 Analog Inputs (10 bit resolution)
  • 1 Analog Output ( 8 bit)
  • 4 Digital Inputs
  • 4 Digital Outputs
  • Frequency Counter
  • Square wave generator
  • Constant Current Source (1 mA)
  • 2 Inverting Amplifiers (gain set plugin resistors)
  • 1 Non-inverting Amplifier
  • 2 Level Shifting Amplifiers
  • RS232 / USB interface
  • ATmega16 micro-controller
Basically its design use was as a helper for performing educational/scientific experiment though is can be used for many things only bounded by your imagination. Phoenix provides Analog and Digital Input/Output capabilities to a computer through the sockets on the top panel. Experiments are designed utilizing these I/O capabilities and suitable sensor elements to convert physical parameters into voltage signals. The program running on the micro-controller makes the measurements as per the commands send from the PC through RS232 or USB links. Users can access all these features by calling functions from a Python library. Python language is chosen due to its simplicity and ease of doing scientific computation and graphics using it.
The figure below shows an actual phoenix kit. Also there is a plot of diode (red LED) characteristics as obtained by connecting to the kit. Also it shows the nice monochrome lcd display which can be used to display small texts. Also visible is a snippet of the code for the same. Notice how easy it is to use, because it was mainly targetted for science students and not hor expert hackers.

Phoenix kit screenshot+photo :