How would someone with no electrical engineering background learn a little
about the field of work? Are there tutotials on the internet that one can
read and learn a few things? I have a personal project that I would like to
complete but I know that an engineer would cost me a lot more than the whole
project is worth. The project that I want to complete is to create an
interface to steal the data out of an old Arachnid dart machine and export
it to my computer. Once I have the data on my computer I can write
different programs to play different games. Any help for me would be
Thats not electrical engineering..its software.. and what
you want do may be way more trouble than its worth... not
worth your learning curve by afew light years.
Search google for ...'Anrachnid dart', programmers
.....call em on the phone.
It may be 10 to 100 hours or more of work..at $100/hr. You
evaluate from there.
Ok the software part is a total breeze for me that is what I do. The
electrical engineering is what I need to get the data from the board to a
serial/ps2/usb/whatever port. The board has a 16 pin ribbon cable going
from the interface board to the main board which is where the processing is
done. My thought is to engineer a board that will intercept the ribbon
cable and get that data out to an RS232 port. Get my drift. I have done a
lot of reading on the arachnid dart machines and even contacted Arachnid and
they say that the machine was not designed for that and they won't help me.
Assuming you had enough specific info on the ribbon cable signals (which I
seriously doubt you'll ever find), you could design a fairly cheap interface
using a mid-range PIC Microcontroller and a few external components. The PIC
could be programmed to capture, buffer, and convert the ribbon cable's "data"
into whatever format you desire (RS232, USB, etc) for input to a PC. Even if you
manage to capture the desired data, reverse engineering that pure binary data
would be practically impossible unless you can obtain a helluva lot of specifics
about its format.
How long it would take to learn the ee stuff depends on how familiar you already
are with assembly language programming and microcontroller hardware interfacing.
There are a lot of tutorials and free ebooks and manuals (PDFs) on all of that
so you could pick up the necessary brainware.
Google search: pic microcontroller rs232
Download the complete midrange microcontroller manual at
http://ww1.microchip.com/downloads/en/DeviceDoc/33023a.pdf and learn it. Search
around the web for tuts and guides for PIC peripheral interfacing for data
acquisition and communications - there's no lack of info on this stuff. I'd
guess in about 6 to 12 weeks and somewhere around $400 - $800 for some necessary
hardware to play with the (programmer, breadboarding-prototyping kit, etc) you
could be getting the hang of it. The programming software is free (in assembly
language - C compilers cost $125 - $500).
Again, this all assumes that you can obtain a pretty good knowledge of the
ribbon cable pinout, voltage levels, signal timings, etc, of the data you want
to capture. You could get some of that electrical info by purchasing a rather
inexpensive ($500 after all is said and done) Bitscope 300 series - see
http://www.bitscope.com/product/ - to see the signals and timing relationships.
The software is free and can be downloaded and installed to see the interface
functionality. If ya need a couple Ebooks on programming and interfacing let me
know (only if you have a high speed connection). Ask questions at
I get yer drift... you need an electronics guy... not an
electrical engineer typically although many electrical
engineers specialized in electronics.
you will do better ask for an 'electronics engineer'.
contacted Arachnid and
won't help me.
You are probably diving them nuts with a mild case of
cluelessness on the electrical issues, combined w a degree of
competence on the software end that has led you to make
faintly arrogant remarks.
Most of which characteristics will result in no help from the
Hmmm...taking stuff like that off the Internet can be risky.
"Connecting your house to the mains supply, continued... Now that you've
reached the top of the pylon, unroll a reasonable length of 13 amp
cable. Strip about a foot off the live and neutral condutors, and wind
each one around one of the metal wires attached to the pylon. Don't be
put off by the three foot long glass insulators; although the cable is
live, you're safe provided you followed the earlier instruction to wear
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