It's often a power supply problem. Especially if it can't be.

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I've been working on an an air quality sensor that we are hoping to attach to a lamp post somewhere in Hull. I’ve got the hardware just about sorted (as you can see above) and the software should work fine.

But it doesn’t.

As soon as I connect everything together the serial interface to the host computer stops working. This is not a problem in operation, but it makes it hard to configure the device. I spent a little while trying to find out how the software could behave in this way and failing. After all, it works fine in other devices that I’ve made. And then I realised a very important aspect of embedded development.

“It’s often a power supply problem. Especially if it can’t be.”

The problem appears when I connect the SDS011 sensor. This is not particularly greedy in power terms, but it does take a bit more out of the device and this seems to tip something over the edge and stop it from working. If I add a second power rail to a different point in the circuit all is well. Now, it might be that the Heltec that I’m using is sensitive in this way, but we can’t have unreliable devices. I think I’m going to have to acquire some PCB design skills and make a proper carrier board with sends the power to all the right places.