Project feasability question

Hi all,

Im completely new to the Arduino technology and not entirely sure if it is exactly what I think it is. I am hoping someone here can enlighten me.

I am attempting to construct a radio telescope. This is not a complicated device in itself (essentially just a sattelite dish) but i have had quite a headache designing control electronics and computer interface. I'm a fairly adept programmer but my knowledge of electronics is very basic.

I have ordered an Arduino starter kit and I intend to use it to control motors which will orientate the dish as well as reading the signal strength (a serial input) from the dish and sending it to the computer. Is this an appropriate use for the Arduino technology?

The program that i am writing, as well as communicating with the Arduino board, uses managed C++ windows forms, openGL, and standard C libraries such as maths, iostream, string etc. This is all necessary to keep track of the locations of all heavenly bodies which are to be observed, present a clear user interface and process the recorded data into an image. I have written it so far using MS visual studio. Can I use visual studio to write code for the Arduino or do I need to use the IDE that comes with the hardware? If I have to use the dedicated IDE, can I still incorporate the other libraries I have included so far?

Any advice or direction would be most appreciated.

Thanks

SmoggieTom

Can I use visual studio to write code for the Arduino or do I need to use the IDE that comes with the hardware?

You have to use the IDE or possibly some other AVR IDE or even command line control of the AVR gcc compiler and tools.

If I have to use the dedicated IDE, can I still incorporate the other libraries I have included so far?

Maybe, maybe not. Keep in mind the very limited SRAM space avalible for variables, arrays and stack useage and that there is no OS to help out. The Arduino is programmed with a real C/C++ compiler, but your code and libraries must be aware of the limited resources compaired to what a PC has.

Lefty

I have ordered an Arduino starter kit and I intend to use it to control motors which will orientate the dish as well as reading the signal strength (a serial input) from the dish and sending it to the computer. Is this an appropriate use for the Arduino technology?

Motor control can be handled by the Arduino, check the motor section for detailed tips, like separate powersupplies, servolibraries etc.

Why not connecting the strength signal directly to the PC? Why should the Arduino in between?

What I am missing is a digital compass and a tilt meter for your dish. These are needed so you can point the dish adequately.

Do you intend automatic sweeps to detect signals ? Will these be PC controlled or Arduino?

In practice I think you should have two different commands for the motor.
(1) You should be able so say pointTo(257, 40) and the Arduino will move the motors so that the dish points to that direction.
(2) There should also be a " correction(-1,0); " command to move the disc a bit to correct for sensor errors.

Personaly I should just use the Arduino IDE for programming the Arduino part to get a better feeling that you workingon a different system. Learn to know it !

Succes!
Rob

In the end you will have two programs. One will be running on the Arduino and one will be running on the PC. The interface between the two looks like a serial port so there is no reason why the PC side can't be written using Microsoft Visual Studio. One step will be to define the serial protocol between the Arduino and the PC.

The program on the Arduino will be easiest to write in the Arduino IDE.

If you are using any visual studio version other than express then you can use the free Visual Micro addin for Visual Studio. The addin allows us to program, compile and upload to any arduino microcontroller using Visual Studio.

Read more... http://www.visualmicro.com/