dropController V2


If you are building your own device please build version 3.

 
dropController version 2 started as a simple 3 valve controller controlled by a host computer over USB. I later added Bluetooth and an Android app and finally added 3 more valves. Due to how the device developed certain parts were a compromise. For example, the pins used for the solenoid valves.

Rather than redesign version 2 I moved to version 3 and redesigned the controller from scratch. Version 2 is still in use by many people though so I want to keep it alive and still make updates and bug corrections.

I created new apps for version 3 which I have made backward compatible with the version 2 device and so I now only support 1 Android app and 1 Windows app. Previously V2 and V3 had separate apps.

Breadboard version of a 3 valve dropController V2

dropControllerBT Bread Board
You may notice that the breadboard version has LEDs, to show when the camera and the solenoids are active, and switches for draining the valves. These are not required and do not feature in the circuit diagram.

 

Perf Board Version of a 3 valve dropController V2

dropControllerBT Perf Board
Since the perf board version is intended to go inside a box there no activity LEDs. I also removed the valve drain switches. Draining the valves is done through the app so no physical switches.

dropControllerPC_finalBox_01_800


 

Build Guides

Build guide for the 3 valve breadboard version.
Build guide for the 3 valve perf board version.

not traditional electronic build guides but enough information and photos to enable just about anybody to build a dropController.

Please note the guides are for a 3 valve version. After the guides were created 3 more valves were added to pins D4, D5, and D6.
D4 – valve number 4.
D5 – valve number 5.
D6 – valve number 6.

Here is the circuit for a 6 valve version.
dropController_6ValveCircuitDiagram_1600

I was never happy about the pins used for the extra solenoid valves but wanted to keep the original pins for consistency. The pins can be moved if desired. The pins are defined in the sketch starting at line 140. and only these lines need to be changed to move the pins around.

const byte LED_ACTIVE_PIN        = 3;
const byte LED_WAITING_PIN       = 2;
 
const byte CT_SHUTTER_PIN        = 10;
const byte CT_FOCUS_PIN          = 11;
 
const byte FT1_PIN               = 12;
 
const byte ST1_PIN               = 7; 
const byte ST2_PIN               = 8; 
const byte ST3_PIN               = 9; 
const byte ST4_PIN               = 4; 
const byte ST5_PIN               = 5; 
const byte ST6_PIN               = 6;

CT = Camera Trigger
FT = Flash Trigger
ST – Solenoid Trigger

 

Arduino Sketch

The dropController uses a regular 5V Arduino Nano and the code (or sketch) was created using Arduino IDE V1.8.5. The sketch can be downloaded below.

I don’t go in to the details on how to install/upload the sketch to the Arduino. This is covered by many many other sites and a Google search will get you started.

dropControllerV2_ArduinoIDE_01

 

Windows App

The Windows app can be used to control the dropController over a USB cable or by Bluetooth. Once connected all usage is the same for both methods. The dropController uses Bluetooth 2 which creates a regular COM port the same as a USB connection.

dropControllerV2_WinApp_001

dropControllerV2_WinApp_002

dropControllerV2_WinApp_003

dropControllerV2_WinApp_004

The Windows App requires Windows XP or later and the .Net framework version 4 or higher. It is written in VisualBasic using Visual Studio 2017.

The same app is used for dropController V2 and dropCopntroller V3. Select the version of the device you are using on the Settings tab:
dropControllerV2_WinApp_005

 

Android App

The Android app is used to controller the dropController from any Android device over Bluetooth. Sorry, no IOS/Apple version. The latest app is not yet on the Play Store and will need to be side-loaded.

dropControllerV2_AndroidApp_01

dropControllerV2_AndroidApp_02

dropControllerV2_AndroidApp_03

dropControllerV2_AndroidApp_04

The same app is used for dropController V2 and dropCopntroller V3. Select the version of the device you are using on the About tab:
dropControllerV2_AndroidApp_05

 

Setting up a Bluetooth HC-06 module

I have a mini guide that explains how to set up the Bluetooth module.