Centrifuge Project

My team and I are currently working on a hydraulic centrifuge project for school, we will be controlling strain gauges, linear actuators, and various pumps. My question is, what micro-controller would you guys suggest using? We were considering using the Xbee, but we are new to these arduino micro-controllers and we want to go wireless. Thanks

Choosing between the various arduinos, prime considerations are how many pins your devices will use and how much memory (both flash and SRAM) your project will need. If your system is likely to be computationally heavy, clock speed may matter too, though it seems unlikely in your case. It likely comes down to a choice between the uno or the mega - how many devices are you going to attach and what are they?

Like wildbill said, it depends on how much calculation you need to do within the micro processor. If you are doing a lot of floating point calculations in a short period of time, none of the Arduinos are really suitable as all floating point arithmetic is emulated. However, I suspect that you really won't need to do a lot of those types of calculations. Instead, you likely will need to do things like run this actuator for n milliseconds, read some input, etc.

Besides the AVR based Arduinos like the Uno and Mega, you are starting to see Arm based processors like the Due or the third party Teensy 3.0 that are somewhat faster and have more memory. Above these you have a whole plethora of Arm based micro computers and single board computers. Rasberry Pi is perhaps the best none, and is fairly cheap. The R-PI is not as suited as controlling multiple devices like the Arduino, and I've seen several boards where it has both an R-PI for the calculation and 1 or more Arduinos for controlling the machinery.

But before you start spending your money, it is probably a good idea to step back and figure exactly what you want it to do. How many digital inputs do you need, how many analog inputs, how many digital outputs, and do you need any pure analog outputs (or is PWM enough where you turn on/off the output fast enough to put out a variable amount of power). It is sort of like telling us you need a car, but you haven't thought whether you need a fast car or you need to carry lots of stuff, and you also don't want to tell us a budget. In the camera forums, I once snarkily answered a question about somebody wanting the 'best camera' that perhaps the person needed a $10,000 camera body and several $5,000 lenses.

XBee's only talk to other XBee's they don't work with WiFi. You can get an XBee adapted for your PC. Or you can get a WiFly module which does use WiFi and has the same footprint as the XBee.

Mark

wildbill:
Choosing between the various arduinos, prime considerations are how many pins your devices will use and how much memory (both flash and SRAM) your project will need. If your system is likely to be computationally heavy, clock speed may matter too, though it seems unlikely in your case. It likely comes down to a choice between the uno or the mega - how many devices are you going to attach and what are they?

Well for this project we will be using 2 linear actuators, 3 liquid pumps, 2 vacuum pumps and 2 strain gauge sensors.

My suggestion is to first develop that application without using a wireless link, just use the USB serial link to prove out all the hardware and sketch code you will have to develop. Only after that is all proven would I work on a wireless link.

Lefty