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Old 07-18-2008, 03:05 AM #1
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Default silly microcontroller question

I've never really worked with microcontrollers before, and I'm not 100% on the basic principles of electronics, so pardon my ignorance if this is a dumb question.
Is there a way to digitally control resistance via a microcontroller?

I thought it would be a neat idea to have a set of "up" and "down" buttons on a driver to adjust current in say 10mA increments.


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Old 07-18-2008, 03:21 AM #2
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Default Re: silly microcontroller question

they make components called digital potentiometers, it's basically a small chip with a ton of resistors inside it connected to a bunch of transistors and assorted logic, you power the chip and apply a direction signal (up or down) and a clock signal to move the virtual wiper

short answer: yes
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Old 07-18-2008, 07:37 AM #3
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Default Re: silly microcontroller question

you could also program a microcontroller to pulse a transistor on and off to get an average current, then smooth it out with an inductor and capacitor.
in effect it would be a 'buck' smps

but it would take a lot of programming experience to get it to work.
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:33 AM #4
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Default Re: silly microcontroller question

The easiest thing to do is use the digital pot. They're not too expensive and have decent resolution. Many use the SPI protocol, so it'll be helpful to find a microcontroller that supports that natively. You may also wish to use a non-volatile version so it remembers its setting when you power down.
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Old 07-19-2008, 01:04 PM #5
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Default Re: silly microcontroller question

Quote:
Originally Posted by woop
you could also program a microcontroller to pulse a transistor on and off to get an average current, then smooth it out with an inductor and capacitor.
in effect it would be a 'buck' smps

but it would take a lot of programming experience to get it to work.

AKA, PWM
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:04 PM #6
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Default Re: silly microcontroller question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Things

AKA, PWM *
indeed, but you need feedback for proper current control.
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