We rarely take a moment to consider the beauty of the components we use in electronic designs. Too often they are simply commodities, bought in bulk on reels or in bags, stashed in a drawer until they’re needed, and then unceremoniously soldered to a board. Granted, little scraps of black plastic with silver leads don’t exactly deserve paeans sung to their great beauty – at least not until you cut them in half to reveal the beauty within.
We’ve seen a little of what [Tube Time] has accomplished here; recall this lapped-down surface-mount inductor that [electronupdate] did a while back. The current work is more extensive and probably somewhat easier to accomplish because [TubeTime] focused mainly on larger through-hole components such as resistors and capacitors
What if there were something like a KVM switch for your micro programmer, logic analyzer, and other various tools? There was a time when KVM switches (keyboard, video, and mouse, by the way) were metal enclosures surrounding an absurdly complicated rotary switch.
Brandon Satrom writes on the Particle blog about the process of taking the Brew Buddy project from prototype to PCB and cloud-based control panel:
A few weeks ago, I detailed my process for upcycling a Photon-based project of mine—the Brew Buddy—to the new Particle Argon. I covered creating a new breadboard prototype, adding a few new features not in the Photon version, and the process of converting the firmware to work with the Argon.
In this post, I’ll cover the second half of the project: from prototype to PCB and cloud-based control panel. As with the first part of this project, I’ve been live-streaming all my work on this project over on Twitch, so if you want to watch the replays, or join me for future projects, head over to my page and give me a follow to get notified.
DESIGNING A NEW PCB WITH EAGLE AND OSH PARK
Having the ability to breadboard a new project is amazing, but once I get everything working, I can’t wait to get rid of that rats nest of wires and replace them with a fancy, custom-designed Printed Circuit Board (PCB). My original Brew Buddy project saw several PCB revisions over its early life, so of course I had to spin another board for this Argon-based iteration.
ToorCamp is a five-day open air tech camping event held every two years somewhere around the northwest corner of Washington state. Think of it as something like Burning Man, except you can survive for three hours without water, there aren’t a whole bunch of scenesters and Instagram celebs flying in on private planes, and everyone there can actually build something. Oh, and ToorCamp has delivery drones that will send you creme brulee. These mini creme brulees were probably made with the hot air gun hanging off a soldering station. Don’t worry, you’re getting fresh air that’ll balance out the heavy metal poisoning.
For last year’s ToorCamp, the biggest welcome sign was a 40-foot-long illuminated ToorCamp sign. This was designed, built and coded by Zach Archer, and he was at the 2018 Hackaday Superconference to give us the details on how he made it and how it was coded.
Sporting a new wristwatch to school for the first time is a great moment in a kid’s life. When it’s a custom digital-analog watch made by your dad, it’s another thing altogether.
As [Chris O’Riley] relates, the watch he built for his son [Vlad] started out as a simple timer for daily toothbrushing, a chore to which any busy lad pays short shrift unless given the proper incentive. That morphed into an idea for a general purpose analog timepiece with LEDs taking the place of hands. [Chris] decided that five-minute resolution was enough for a nine-year-old, which greatly reduced the number of LEDs needed. An ATtiny841 tells a 28-channel I2C driver which LEDs to light up, and an RTC chip keeps [Vlad] on schedule. The beautiful PCB lives inside a CNC machined aluminum case; we actually commented to [Chris] that the acrylic prototype looked great by itself, but [Vlad] wanted metal. The watch has no external buttons; rather, the slightly flexible polycarbonate crystal bears against a PCB-mounted pushbutton to control functions.
Here’s a fun project from Glen Atkins:
In this project, I mount the electronics from my single-key USB keyboard project to the back of an industrial mushroom push button switch. The finished big red button now activates my screensaver with a single overly-large button press. The biggest issues in this project were where to mount the USB electronics and how to connect the USB cable between the button and my computer.
check out the software and schematic for the single-key keyboards on Github.
The KiCad project has released a new version:
The KiCad project is proud to announce the release of version 5.1.0. This is the first ever minor version release of KiCad and was developed primarily to resolve compatibility issues with Linux GTK3 and long awaited support for python3.
In addition to the primary focus, there have been many important changes that make this release a substantial improvement over the 5.0 series and a worthwhile upgrade for users on all platforms. Included in the improvements are:
- Improved 3D model library path configuration.
- Cairo canvas is now used for printing support on all platforms.
- Schematic and symbol library editors now use the modern canvases for rendering.
- Symbol pin table is now editable.
- Pcbnew scripting support for Python 3 has been added.
- Snapping for graphical object drawing in board and footprint editors.
- Significant user interface improvements.
- Major dialog box improvements.
- Both the footprint and symbol library editors now share the same user interface paradigm with a library tree view pane.
- Symbol, footprint, and 3D model library improvements.
- Documentation and translation improvements.
- Less pain for Linux package maintainers, now all features should be easy to support.