Hardware Happy Hour (3H) Chicago for January 2019

Screenshot from 2018-12-24 09-50-52

The next Hardware Happy Hour (3H) Chicago is Tuesday, January 15:

January 3H Chicago Meetup

Bring all of your holiday gadgets and gizmos! Did you build a blinky Christmas tree ornament? Did you get a new scope from Santa? Did you take apart some toys? Bring it all to the meetup!

We’re trying out a new location for the new year! Come have a pint, show off your latest project and get to know your fellow Chicago tinkerers.

January 3H Chicago Meetup

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2019, 6:30 AM

Ballast Point Brewing Chicago
212 N Green St Chicago, il

4 Members Attending

Bring all of your holiday gadgets and gizmos! Did you build a blinky Christmas tree ornament? Did you get a new scope from Santa? Did you take apart some toys? Bring it all to the meetup! We’re trying out a new location for the new year! Come have a pint, show off your latest project and get to know your fellow Chicago tinkerers.

Check out this Meetup →

 

Hardware Happy Hour (3H) Chicago for January 2019

Clever Wedges That Will Increase Your PCB Assembly Yield

If there’s one thing that will bring down the yield of your PCB assembly, it’s your solder paste. Put too much on, and you’ll get bridged leads. If you don’t put enough on, that pad might not make good contact. [ScalarElectric] has an amazing trick that’s sure to astonish and astound. Just use wedges and you’ll get better yield with fine-pitched components.

The trick here is to define the cream/solder paste layer of each package as a wedge on each pad instead of the usual rectangle. This gives a few benefits, the largest being the increased gap between paste shapes. You’re also getting a reduction in the total amount of paste applied, and a subsequent improvement in yield. (Reportedly, we’d love to see some data on this.)

via Clever Wedges That Will Increase Your PCB Assembly Yield — Hackaday

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Dominic Spill: Radio Gets Ridiculous

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Dominic Spill of Great Scott Gadgets gave an exciting talk at Hackaday SuperCon last month:

There were plenty of great talks at this year’s Supercon, but we really liked the title of Dominic Spill’s talk: Ridiculous Radios. Let’s face it, it is one thing to make a radio or a computer or a drone the way you are supposed to. It is another thing altogether to make one out of things you shouldn’t be using.

That’s [Dominic’s] approach. In a quick 30 minutes, he shows you two receivers and two transmitters. What makes them ridiculous? Consider one of the receivers. It is a software designed radio (SDR). How many bits should an SDR have? How about one bit? Ridiculous? Then you are getting the idea.

Dominic is pretty adept at taking a normal microcontroller and bending it to do strange RF things and the results are really entertaining. The breadboard SDR, for example, is a microcontroller with three components: an antenna, a diode, and a resistor. That’s it. If you missed the talk at Supercon, you can see the newly published video below, along with more highlights from Dominic’s talk.

via Radio Gets Ridiculous — Hackaday

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Hackaday Podcast: 2018 Year In Review

Did you read all 3000+ articles published on Hackaday this year? We did. And to help catch you up, we preset the Hackaday 2018 Year in Review podcast!

Join us for the podcast, available on all major podcasting platforms, as Editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams attempt the impossible task of distilling the entire year into a one hour discussion. We’ve included every story mentioned in the podcast, and a few more, in the show notes here. But since we can’t possibly mention every awesome hack, we encourage you to share your favorites, and pat the writers on the back, by leaving a comment below.

via Hackaday Podcast: 2018 Year In Review — Hackaday

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iCEBreaker, The Open Source Development Board for FPGAs

From  on the Hackaday blog:

iCEBreaker, The Open Source Development Board for FPGAs

The Hackaday Superconference is over, which is a shame, but one of the great things about our conference is the people who manage to trek out to Pasadena every year to show us all the cool stuff they’re working on. One of those people was [Piotr Esden-Tempski], founder of 1 Bit Squared, and he brought some goodies that would soon be launched on a few crowdfunding platforms. The coolest of these was the iCEBreaker, an FPGA development kit that makes it easy to learn FPGAs with an Open Source toolchain.

The hardware for the iCEBreaker includes the iCE40UP5K fpga with 5280 logic cells,, 120 kbit of dual-port RAM, 1 Mbit of single-port RAM, and a PLL, two SPIs and two I2Cs. Because the most interesting FPGA applications include sending bits out over pins really, really fast, there’s also 16 Megabytes of SPI Flash that allows you to stream video to a LED matrix. There are enough logic cells here to synthesize a CPU, too, and already the iCEBreaker can handle the PicoRV32, and some of the RISC-V cores. Extensibility is through PMOD connectors, and yes, there’s also an HDMI output for your vintage computing projects.

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Vinduino Water-Smart Farming – Now with LoRa

From the Hackaday blog:

Vinduino Water-Smart Farming – Now with LoRa!

Vinduino started with [Reinier]’s desire to better understand what happens to irrigation water under the surface, measuring soil moisture at different depths. This knowledge informs more efficient use of irrigation water, as we’ve previously covered in more detail. What [Reinier] has been focused on is improving usability of the system by networking the sensors wirelessly versus having to walk up and physically attach a reader unit.

His thought started the same as ours – put them on WiFi! But adding WiFi coverage across his entire vineyard was not going to be cost-effective. After experimenting with various communication schemes, he has settled on LoRa. Designed to trade raw bandwidth for long range with low power requirements, it is a perfect match for a network of soil moisture sensors.

In the video [Reinier] gives an overview of LoRa for those who might be unfamiliar. Followed by results of his experiments integrating LoRa functionality into Vinduino, and ending with a call to action for hackers to help grow the LoRa network.

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