Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Upgrade your HDSP clock to an NTP-synchronized WiFiChron

So you have the simple HDSP clock but you wish you had the NTP-based time synchronization and the weather feature of the WiFiChron (not to mention the alarm). The "solution" is to buy the WiFiChron kit :)

The alternative "solution" is to hack your HDSP clock, by adding a proto-shield with an ESP8266 module, a 3V3 regulator (e.g. MCP1700) and a buzzer, the components that make the difference between the two clocks.

Before building the ESP8266 proto-shield, perform the following 4 modifications (highlighted in the next photo) on the HDSP board:
  1. isolate the FTDI's CTS pin (second from the top) by cutting its traces to the ground;
  2. wire the newly isolated FTDI pin 2 to pin 16 of the processor (D10, used for the buzzer);
  3. cut the trace connecting pin 1 of the LED display (RST) to pin 3 of the processor;
  4. solder the right angle FTDI male header on the back of the board, towards the USB plug.

The small proto-shield, that looks like in the photos below, will plug in the FTDI header. Naturally, the same FTDI header is used for either the FDTI breakout (to upload sketches) or the ESP8266 proto-shield.

Besides the hardware, one little software change (of the original WiFiChron sketch, available here) is required as well, due to the second button connected to A3 (instead of A1 as in WiFiChron):

    #define PIN_BTN_UP 17  // A3 in hacked HDSP
// #define PIN_BTN_UP 15  // A1 in WiFiChron

Since the 3rd button ("Down") is missing on the HDSP board, only the "Up" button function will be available (the left button).

Follow this post to set up the network connection.
And remember, the ESP8266 baud rate MUST be lower than 115200 (set it to 38400), since the ATmega328 with internal clock cannot handle this speed reliably (according to the datasheet, the drift is about 8%).