If you aren’t familiar with Arduino, it is a great open source platform for doing small electronics projects. The start kit I got has a Arudino Duemilanove, which is the latest basic version of the platform. The Duemilanove has a small processor on it that can be easily programmed over USB, and a lot of input and output pins to play with.
After getting the kit set up and my prototyping board soldered together, I decided that my first project would get seeing if I could get some old 1-wire temperature sensors working. A few years ago, I got a sample of 5 of these sensors but was never able to get them working with my homemade serial adapters. The sensors I got are the DS1820 from Dallas Semiconductor. These are old and have now been replaced by the DS18S20, but they work the same.
Turns out that the Arduino community had already done all the hard work at getting these working, so it only took me a few minutes to get it set up.
Hardware: Each of these sensors has 3 legs: power, ground, and data. If you are only using a few sensors that are close to the power supply, you can instead use parasitic power as I did. This reduces the number of wires to the sensor needed to 2, data and ground. To do this, I shorted the power and ground pins and wired them to ground. I then attached the center data pin to one of the digital IO pins of the Arduino.
Software: The Dallas Temperature Control Library is a library that allows simple control of the 1-wire temperature sensors. All you have to do is download it, put it in your Arduino libraries folder, and open the Simple example.
The example sets up the library and reads the current temperature from the first sensor, printing it out to the serial monitor.
After years of having these sensors sitting around in a drawer, it only took me a few minutes to get them working. Now I just need a larger project to use these in.