For the successful performance of the following step-by-step instructions some prior knowledge is necessary which is not described in detail. In addition to general computer skills this also includes basic knowledge in programming and electrical engineering. The following points give you an overview of the prior knowledge needed.
General Computer Skills
Dealing with a computer is almost a common knowledge in our time. For the step-by-step instructions you need computer skills for
- Working with the file explorer
- Installation of software programs downloaded from the Internet
- Knowledge of standard interfaces (like USB-port, LAN)
Basic Knowledge in C/C++
The programming languages C and C++ are the most commonly used languages. They are especially helpful in hardware-related context which means to control physical systems by using these programming languages. Do not worry, for the step-by-step guide you do not need profound programming skills. However you should be able to understand the basic syntax of C and C++ to be able to read and adapt some code blocks:
- Adjustment of configuration parameters
(the software can be adapted to use different battery types)
- Flashing the Firmware on the embedded µC (Microcontroller)
Basic Knowledege in Electrical Enginnering
You should have a basic understanding of electrical behavior. What is current, what is voltage and what does electrical resistance mean? We will not explicitly answer these questions. An introduction to that topic can be found in the following Wikipedia entry Electrical Network. You will need the electrical skills for
- understanding the behaviour of the total system
- for measuring of the finished PCB to perform a functional test
Practical Work with electrical components
The handling of electrical components differs from other handcraft activities in the electric current that comes into play and this can be dangerous if it is handled incorrectly. The electric boards which are reproduced with the provided step-by-step guide have a low current flow as long as no solar panels are connected. Anyway, we want to point out the 5 safety rules of electrical engineering.
5 safety rules:
- switch off
- lock against reclosure
- check that lines and equipment are dead
- ground and short circuit phases
- cover, partition or screen of adjacent line sections
One of the most common mistakes when working with electrical components is causing a short circuit. A short circuit means the direct contact of a plus and minus pole without any resistance in between. In the event of a short circuit the maximum current flows and without any fuse the used components will break. Therefore always make sure not to cause direct contact between a plus and a minus pole especially with working with batteries!.
For the board production you need the following previous knowledge in practical work.
- Hand soldering of boards with a soldering iron and solder
- a steady hand for placing the SMD components on the board
- Good eyes for recognizing the characteristics of each component