OSHW room and soldering workshops at FOSDEM this weekend

FOSDEM is this weekend and we will be very busy the two days!

Saturday 01.02.2020 at 10.30 will be my talk in “Open Source Computer Aided Modeling and Design devroom” “Designing and Producing Open Source Hardware with FOSS/OSHW tools

Sunday 02.02.2020 at 13.00 will be my talk in “Hardware Enablement devroom” “Open Source Hardware for Industrial use

The great news is that this year FOSDEM organizers let us have whole OSHW room UB4.228 where we will have two days Soldering workshops:

Saturday we will solder PTH components with special board we made for FOSDEM – FOSDEM-MUSIC-BOX


Sunday we will proceed with more advanced SMT soldering workshop of Binary-Watch.

The soldering workshop participation is free as in beer and everyone is welcome.

via FOSDEM 2020 Bruxelles 1-2 of February OSHW room and soldering workshops — olimex


Learn to code KiCad before FOSDEM in Brussels

FOSDEM 2020 is a free event on Februrary 1st and 2nd for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate.  Every year, thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world gather at the event in Brussels:

Screenshot from 2020-01-07 12-33-42.png

The Friday before FOSDEM, January 31st, will be an event for those that want to learn about KiCad development from project leaders like Wayne Stambaugh and Seth Hillbrand:

Learn to Code KiCad at FOSDEM 2020

 Are you looking to write code that improves KiCad?

On Friday, Jan 31 (the day before FOSDEM), we’ll be hosting a Learn to Code KiCad session in Brussels, BE. I will be there as will Wayne and possibly a few other of the lead development team. We’ll help you understand how the various KiCad components fit together and work with you to get your favorite feature from idea to committed code.

What you need:

1) An identified bug report (or multiple) that you’d like to address. This can be either a legitimate bug or a wishlist feature that is triaged in our system.
2) A laptop with your development environment
3) A launchpad account
4) A compiling version of KiCad
5) A working knowledge of C++ coding

What we’ll provide:

1) Space, power outlet, wifi
2) Coffee
3) A short introduction to the structure of KiCad and how the parts work together
4) Up to 8 hours of development time with others who share your interests
5) Clarifying insights to your KiCad coding questions

At the end of the day, you should be able to get at least 1 and possibly multiple bug report fixes under your belt and into the code base!

If you’re coming to FOSDEM 2020 and would like to participate, please e-mail me directly (off-list to preserve people’s inboxes). Send me your name/contact info and the list of 1 or more launchpad bugs you’d like to work on during the day. I’ll add you to our shared sheet (to deconflict bugs people are addressing) and get you all of the relevant information for the meeting

Here is a talk that Seth gave at KiCon 2019 which talks about their development community:

and also the KiCad developer panel:

Learn to code KiCad before FOSDEM in Brussels


Impressive use of Charlieplexing LEDs by Trammell Hudson:



The Charliewatch is an “analog” watch with 60+12 Charlieplexed LEDs. Based on Travis Goodspeed’s GoodWatch21 schematic, using the CC430F5137IRGZR CPU, which doesn’t have the LCD controller of the CC430F6xxx in the GoodWatch. There are also pads for a six pin Launchpad for programming or serial communication.

Trammel-Hudson-Charlieplex-wristwatch (1)

The designs and code are available on GitHub:




Snekboard: Python microcontroller for LEGO

Keith Packard has designed an open-hardware python microcontroller for LEGO:

Screenshot from 2020-01-21 20-15-24 - 1


Learn, Teach, Experiment, and Play with Robots

Snekboard is an open hardware development board that’s designed to let you hook up to LEGO Power Functionsmotors and switches so you can build robots out of LEGO and control them with CircuitPython or the simpler Snek programming language.

Snekboard is 48 x 48 mm – the same size as 6 x 6 LEGO studs – so you can easily build a LEGO enclosure for the board and attach it to your creation. It is powered by a 3.7 V, 900 mAh single-cell Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery that fits under the board and charges over USB while Snekboard is being programmed from the host.


Python and LEGO Together at Last

Python is widely regarded as a great first programming languageLEGO products are used in many settings for teaching about robotics. It’s time to bring these amazing learning tools together. Snekboard bridges the two worlds by offering a hardware platform capable of running Python while directly controlling LEGO Power Functions Motors.

Snekboard: Python microcontroller for LEGO

Hackaday Belgrade Early Bird Tickets On Sale Right Now

Tickets for Hackaday Belgrade 2020 just went on sale. If you’re quick you can grab an Early Bird ticket at half the price of general admission!

Hackaday’s premiere European hardware conference returns for the third time on May 9th, 2020, bringing together talks, workshops, hardware hacking, food and drink, entertainment, and of course the best gathering of hardware geeks you’ll find anywhere. It’s awesome, because you’re awesome — and I do mean you. Whether you’re submitting a talk proposal or just grabbing a ticket to make this the first conference you’ve ever been to, we can’t do it without you.

via Hackaday Belgrade Early Bird Tickets On Sale Right Now — Hackaday


Intro to RISC-V in Hackspace Mag

My column in the latest Hackspace Magazine is an introduction to RISC-V and how it is enabling open source chip design:

Open-source chips:
Breaking free of chip design monopolies with RISC-V

When we think about what open source hardware means, we usually think about the board design being freely available. But what about the processor? Is there a way to make hardware that is truly open source? This month’s column is dedicated to an exciting — and surprisingly political — development in chip design.

When you write a program in the Arduino IDE, it is compiled into instructions for the microcontroller to execute. How does the compiler know what instructions the chip understands? This is defined by the Instruction Set Architecture. The ISA is a standard, a set of rules that define the tasks the processor can perform.

Chances are that both your laptop and the datacenter streaming your favorite movie are using an ISA owned by Intel or AMD. The processor in your smartphone is almost certainly using a proprietary ISA licensed from ARM. This is dangerous: proprietary standards can be over-priced, prevent innovation or even disappear altogether when companies change strategy.

Enter RISC-V, a free and open ISA created by researchers at UC Berkeley led by Krste Asanović and David Patterson. “We were always jealous that you could get industrial-strength software that was open,” Patterson explained to VentureBeat at the RISC-V Summit back in December. “But when it came to hardware, it was proprietary. Now, with RISC-V, we get the same kind of benefit. It helps education, and it helps competition.”

To read the rest of the column, download the free PDF or order to the print edition.

To learn more, watch this excellent keynote by Megan Wachs at Hackaday Supercon:
Intro to RISC-V in Hackspace Mag

Teardown 2020: hardware hacking con in Portland this June

Teardown 2020, the hardware hacking conference organized by Crowd Supply, will be June 19-21 at PCC Cascade in beautiful Portland, Oregon!

Screenshot from 2020-01-25 11-04-12

Teardown 2020

Teardown is about the practice of hardware: prototyping, manufacturing, testing, disassembling, and circumventing, all while having fun. Leave the marketing glitz and talk of venture capital at the door and come prepared to learn and teach.

Helen Leigh wrote a great Hackaday post about what happened at Teardown 2019!

Teardown 2020: hardware hacking con in Portland this June