This week the specs for the very first Digit-LS extension board was proposed and it has been given the go-ahead. This board will be the launching application for the Digit-LS and contain a number of items that will allow new users to get started with their IO interface, learn how all its features can be used and ultimately combine everything into an application that is actually useful!

The specs are not final yet, but this is what we are currently thinking of: Obviously this board will contain a number of LEDs and some switches. This will allow new users to discover the basics of input and output control through USB. To spice things up a little bit, we also added a so-called RGB-LED which is just one LED that can show three different colors: Red, Green and Blue (you guessed it, didn't you?). And this is not just an on-off affair, the three different colors can be controlled in various grades of brightness by using PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) technology. Once you master this, you will not only know how PWM works, but also how to implement it in a PIC microcontroller.

Two optional extras can be connected to this extension: A rotary encoder (which is essentially a digital turning knob) and an LCD character display. When twisted around, the rotary encoder will send out a series of pulses that indicate a number of "clicks" that the user turned it and the direction in which it was turned. But reading these pulses correctly is somewhat more complicated than just reading a basic switch. By implementing this application, you can make full use of the processing power of the microcontroller and only send the relevant data (rotation distance and direction) to the PC. For the LCD character display you will learn to implement a similar construction. From the PC point of view, you will just want to send some text to be displayed. The somewhat complex communication with the display itself including the rather critical signal timing will be handled from the microcontroller itself.

After having discoverd all these individual features, the next step is to put it all into a useful application. Now, remember when you are playing songs on your computer and you suddenly ask yourself what song is playing now and find yourself clicking away all these windows you were actually performing your work in? Or dig through all those windows to find the Media Player window in order to skip that song you really don't like? Or even pause it to answer a phone call? Yes, you are getting the point now, we are building a remote control for Windows Media Player, allowing you to operate the Play and Skip buttons from an external device: the Digit-LS evaluation board. If you get it with LCD-display, you will also be able to read from that display what song is currently playing.

As said, specification is not final yet, but we are currently working hard to develop this board and so far it has been rather succesful. Since The Insider is also doing some work on this, we are pretty sure he (well, or is The Insider a 'she'?) will mention a few things on ehm... ITs weekly diary: The Insider Blog. So keep an eye out for that and obviously as soon as we have the final specs available, you will read about it here!

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