Ever want to interface with a computer? I don't mean in the regular way either, I mean the real down and dirty strip wires and plug stuff in kind of interfacing! Yeah! No? Then this Instructable isn't for you and you should move on now
Oh you're still here? Good! In this article I'd like to present a project where I did just that. Now I should say right up front that you can just buy these things and they're called Break Out Boards (BOB) and one will set you back anywhere from $25 to say maybe $50 or more depending on the features, or how greedy the seller is etc. My board cost me about $6 to make but I had some of the most expensive components on hand to work with. Namely the barrier terminal strips, which if you're creative you don't even really have to use.
These boards aren't much more than glorified terminal strips anyways but we'll be addressing just exactly what is going on here throughout the article. These are the features of this project:
Low port micro-ampere current draw
Reliable known output source or sink current of 24ma
OK now I know that doesn't sound like much and it really isn't but that isn't to say that this is trivial or unimportant either. I thought long and hard about the mysteries of the Parallel Port before I built mine and what this board primarily does is remove a lot of the unknowns from the interface. Unknowns such as just how much current can I draw from a Parallel Port? Go out and search I dare you to get a straight answer. Come back when you're as confused as I was and we'll talk about it.
Hook my board up and it is a cut and dried 24ma. If you draw more you're probably only out a 50 cent IC too. That alone HAS to be worth the price of admission! But wait there's more, it slices, it dices, it julians fries ... OK maybe it doesn't do those things. What it does do though is plug into a parallel port and give you convenient buffered connection points.
Like I said they sell these things commercially so it can't be that stupid. It really isn't either.