Arduino, Programming

Arduino IDE Alternatives

Ok the original Arduino IDE is good but not great. It’s pretty basic as it’s intended to be. I needed something better, something advanced. I didn’t try every alternative out there. I tried using Eclipse (it’s actually an eclipse plugin, see here) but I couldn’t get it work. I believe it didn’t work because I needed 32 bit Java. Anyways, I tried Visual Micro. This is something I liked. It’s also a plugin for Visual Studio. (FYI Visual Studio now comes in a free community edition, see here) Two things I didn’t like:
1) Creates too many files, that’s just how Visual Studio works. It creates several folders and files which I don’t need.
2) Some of the compilation errors didn’t show up. I was pulling my hair trying to figure out the cause of the error. I eventually figured out it after I compiled it using the original Arduino IDE.

The other “problem” for me was that I’m using a PC and laptop (it’s one of those convertible tablet/laptop) for development. I wanted to same the software on both systems. I didn’t want to install a big IDE like Visual Studio (with Visual Micro) on my laptop (it doesn’t have much space).

So I have decided to use Notepad++ for development and then use the original Arduino IDE with the “External editor” option activated.

Arduino, Programming

FTDI RX TX lights are reversed

I bought an XBee USB Adaptor (looks exactly this one but I bought from eBay) with an FTDI chip for USB to Serial comms and I noticed that the RX & TX lights are reversed. Don’t worry it can be fixed 🙂

  1. Download the “FT_Prog” program from here.
  2. Extract and install it
  3. Connect your FTDI board to your PC
  4. Run FT_Prog
  5. From the FT_Pro window, click on “Devices” and then “Scan and Parse”
  6. Go this:
  7. Notice C0 & C1 has RXLED#  & TXLED# (your setup might be the other way), swap them around.
  8. Click on “Devices” and then “Program”. This will bring up a new window.
  9. Click the “Program” button. It only takes a few seconds. It will provide a success message at the bottom of the window. Don’t ask me what to do if it shows an error message (sorry!).
  10. Press “Close” and close FT_Prog.
  11. Unplug the board from your PC and plug it back in.
  12. Voila! 🙂

NOTE: Each time you flash the FTDI, the port number changes and the serial number.


Windows 10 and Num lock

After you install Windows 10 you’ll notice that the num lock will be off during start up. Use this Registry hack to fix that:

  1. Open regedit.exe
  2. Go to “HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Keyboard”
  3. Find the key “InitialKeyboardIndicators”, it should be “2147483648”
  4. Change it to “2147483650” (which is just the old value + 2)

Voila! 🙂


Samsung SSD

The SSD I bought is a Samsung 850 EVO and it appears to be very fast. Make sure you install Samsung Magician software. It’s a nice tool for benchmarking and optimizing your SSD. All those optimizations that I mentioned in my previous post which I did manually, you can do that from the Magician.

Here is a screenshot of my benchmark:

SSD Benchmark



Windows 10 and SSD

My Windows 7 desktop was getting a little slow and since I had reserved my free copy of Windows 10 I decided to upgrade. I also decided to switch to SSD. Since the Windows 10 upgrade was free there’s no license key so you have to upgrade your Windows 7 installation and then you can do a clean install.

Here are my steps:

  1. Backup my Windows 7 hard drive
  2. Upgrade to Windows 10
  3. Download the Windows 10 ISO
  4. Switch to SSD
  5. Install Windows 10
    1. When it asks for you a license key, press skip. Windows will activate automatically.
  6. Voila!

After that I followed these instructions to optimize the SSD usage; move pagefile, disable indexing, etc.

I also moved the entire User profiles directory to my second drive with these instructions. Additionally I noticed that some apps (OneDrive) was still looking for C:\Users so I created a symlink back to D:\Users.