visual basic barcode scanner input INTERFACING THE ALARM TO A COMPUTER in Software

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INTERFACING THE ALARM TO A COMPUTER
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Assuming that the board works with the 5 vdc applied, your hacking is basically over, and you can proceed to interface the alarm with a computer port or microcontroller. By way of example, we ll assume that a simple microcontroller that periodically polls the input pin is connected to the smoke alarm circuit board. The program, checks the pin several times each second. When the pin goes HIGH, the smoke alarm has been triggered. If your microcontroller supports interrupts, a better scheme is to connect the smoke alarm circuit board to an interrupt pin. Then write your software so that if the interrupt pin is triggered, a special I smell smoke routine is run. The benefit of an interrupt over polling is that the latter requires your program to constantly branch off to check the condition of the input pin. With an interrupt, your software program can effectively be ignorant of any smoke detector functionality. If and when the interrupt is triggered because the smoke alarm circuit was tripped, a special software routine takes over, commanding the robot to do something else. See 28 for more information on using interrupts in microcontrollers. Rather than connect the output of the smoke alarm circuit board directly to the input pin, use a buffer to protect the microcontroller or computer against possible damage. You can construct a buffer using logic circuits (either TTL or CMOS) or with an op amp wired for unity-gain (with unity-gain, the op amp doesn t amplify anything). The buffer is optional, but I do recommend it. Note also that the smoke alarm circuit board derives its power from the robot s main 5 vdc power supply and not from the microcontroller. Alternatively, you can use an opto-isolator. The opto-isolator bridges the gap between the detector and the robot. You do not need to condition the output of the opto-isolator if you are connecting it to a computer or microprocessor port or to a microcontroller. Several opto-isolator interfacing circuits are shown in Appendix D, Interfacing Logic Families and ICs.
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SMOKE DETECTION
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FIGURE 39.3 Use a 5.1 zener diode to ensure that the smoke alarm output does not drive the computer/microcontroller input above 5 vdc.
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Once the smoke alarm circuit board is connected to the microcontroller or computer port, test it and your software by triggering the Test button on the smoke alarm. The software should branch off to its I smell smoke subroutine. For a final test, light a match, and then blow it out. Wave the smoldering match near the smoke detector chamber. Again, the software runs the I smell smoke subroutine.
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You should be aware of certain limitations inherent in robot fire detectors. In the early stages of a fire, smoke tends to cling to the ceilings. That s why manufacturers recommend that you place smoke detectors on the ceiling rather than on the wall. Only when the fire gets going and smoke builds up, does it start to fill up the rest of the room. Your robot is probably a rather short creature, and it might not detect smoke that confines itself only to the ceiling. This is not to say that the smoke detector mounted on even a one-foot high robot won t detect the smoke from a small fire; just don t count on it. Back up the robot smoke sensor with conventionally mounted smoke detection units, and do not rely only on the robot s smoke alarm.
DETECTING NOXIOUS FUMES
Smoke alarms detect the smoke from fires but not noxious fumes. Some fires emit very little smoke but plenty of toxic fumes, and these are left undetected by the traditional smoke alarm. Moreover, potentially deadly fumes can be produced in the absence of a fire. For example, a malfunctioning gas heater can generate poisonous carbon monoxide gas. This colorless, odorless gas can cause dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, and if the concentration is high enough even death. Just as there are alarms for detecting smoke, so there are alarms for detecting noxious gasses, including carbon monoxide. Such gas alarms tend to be a little more expensive than smoke alarms, but they can be hacked in much the same way as a smoke alarm. Deduce the signal wires to the piezo disc and connect them (perhaps via a buffer and zener diode voltage clamp) to a computer port or microcontroller.
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