Hackaday: DIY Scalar Network Analyzer

[Steven Merrifield] built his own Scalar Network Analyzer and it’s a beauty! [Steve]’s SNA has a digital pinout matching a Raspberry Pi, but any GPIO could be used to operate the device and retrieve the data from the ADC. The design is based around a few tried and true chips from Analog Devices. He’s taken some care to design it to be nice and accurate which is why he’s limited it to 1kHz to 30Mhz. We think it’s quite a fetching board once the shielding is in place.

via DIY Scalar Network Analyzer — Hackaday

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The first Adafruit Show ‘n Tell of 2020

Joining Adafruit Show ‘n Tell with Helen Leigh was a fun way to start 2020!

Helen embroidered the CircuitPython-powered Serpente board from Arturo at Chaos Communication Congress (36c3):

I showed Linux running on a RISC-V core in the ECP5 FPGA on the Hackaday Supercon badge:

I gave a shout-out to Greg Davill who got Linux booting the OrangeCrab while at 36c3:

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Greg’s open hardware OrangeCrab board features the ECP5 FPGA in an Adafruit Feather form factor and is capable of running a RISC-V “soft” core using LiteX.

Find out more about Linux on RISC-V using open source FPGA toolchains in the slides from my 36c3 talk

The first Adafruit Show ‘n Tell of 2020

Hardware Happy Hour Berlin this Friday, Jan. 3rd

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Hardware Happy Hour Berlin will be this Friday, January 3rd, at xHain hackspace
Please bring your latest project with you! Anything you’re working on, electrical, mechanical or software works! We want to see the stuff that you’re interested in!
Please bring your latest project with you! Anything you’re working on, electrical, mechanical or software works! We want to see the stuff that you’re interested in
This is special post-Congress edition of 3H at Berlin hackerspace xHain
Apologies for the short notice. I wanted to schedule something this week for people that are visiting Berlin after Chaos Communication Congress (36c3) in Leipzig last weeken
Hardware Happy Hour Berlin this Friday, Jan. 3rd

Bunnie at 36C3: Open Source is Insufficient to Solve Trust Problems in Hardware

On his talk this year at the 36C3, [bunnie] showed a detailed insight of several attack vectors we could face during manufacturing. Skipping the obvious ones like adding or substituting components, he’s focusing on highly ambitious and hard to detect modifications inside an IC’s package with wirebonded or through-silicon via (TSV) implants, down to modifying the netlist or mask of the integrated circuit itself. And these aren’t any theoretical or “what if” scenarios, but actual possible options — of course, some of them come with a certain price tag, but in the end, with the right motivation, money is only a detail.

Sure, none of this is particularly feasible or even much of interest at all for a blinking LED project, but considering how more and more open source hardware projects emerge to replace fully proprietary components, especially with a major focus on privacy, a lack of trust in the hardware involved along the way is surely worrying to say the least. At this point, there is no perfect solution in sight, but FPGAs might just be the next best thing, and the next part of the talk is presenting the Betrusted prototype that [bunnie] is working on together with [xobs] and [Tom Marble]. That alone makes the talk worth watching, in our view.

via 36C3: Open Source is Insufficient to Solve Trust Problems in Hardware — Hackaday

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Ethernet-Powered Christmas Tree

Glen Atkins wrote a blog post about a recent project for the holidays:

It’s an Ethernet-Powered Christmas Tree!

The lighted tree in the video above gets both the power and data for its RGB LED pixels using a single Ethernet cable. Power for the pixels is supplied from an Ethernet switch using the 802.3at PoE+ standard. Data for the pixels comes from software running on a PC that generates Art-Net packets at 40 Hz. Each Art-Net packet contains the RGB levels for all the pixels on the tree. Let’s take a closer look at the technical details and how this tree came into existence.

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post where I reversed engineered some Philips Color Kinetics iColor Flex RGB LED string lights. These lights require an AC power data supply that supplies 24 volts to power the pixels and transforms DMX or UDP packets of pixel data into the protocol used by the pixels. In addition to the power supply, the pixels require a proprietary leader cable to connect them to the power supply.

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In a typical setup, you have to run AC mains power and Ethernet data to the power supply then run the leader cable to the pixels. To avoid having a large stack of power data supplies in larger setups, Color Kinetics makes a rack mount power supply that can power up to eight strings of lights. This rack mount power supply still requires a leader cable for each string of lights.

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I’ve been wanting to build an 802.3af/at/bt Power over Ethernet design for a few years now and have always come up short on ideas and then it hit me, what if the Ethernet cable could connect closer to the pixels in the photo above? With a small box of electronics between the Ethernet cable and the connector on the end of the pixels, the pixels could receive both power and data from the Ethernet switch. No more AC mains wiring and no more proprietary leader cables.

 

Ethernet-Powered Christmas Tree

KiCad round tracks

Want to make curved traces in KiCad?

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The track rounder plugin from KiCad RF tools can help:

RF-tools-KiCAD

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I learned about the plugin thanks to this post on Hackaday:

RF TOOLS FOR KICAD

Recently, [Maurice] has released RF Tools for KiCad which include a collection of plugin’s that address a long felt need for RF design. The suite includes footprint wizards for designing mitred bends, tapered track connectors, and arc tracks (radius bends) for RF layout. These tools work by creating footprints, so it isn’t perfect, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

Also included is a set of action plugins for arc track corners, track length measurement, and a mask expansion tool. The expansion tool lets you adjust mask clearances for tracks and is handy for RF layout and for high current applications where you want to layer up extra solder on top of exposed copper tracks. It may also appeal to the artistic folks who want more control over track layout and visual design. Rounded tracks will also be pretty handy when designing flex PCBs. It’s worth pointing out that the arc action plugin will create segmented arcs while the arc footprint wizard will produce a smooth arc, so both have their pros and cons. If you get stuck, there’s an active thread on the forum for help and assistance. Check out the demo video embedded below.

https://github.com/easyw/RF-tools-KiCAD

KiCad round tracks

Low Power ESP32 Handheld

Max.K on Hackaday.io has created a pocket sized ESP32 display board with 300µW Always On Display:

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Low Power ESP32 Handheld

This handheld board is powered by an ESP32 and features a transflective Sharp memory LCD.  Similar to my previous Chronio smartwatch the focus of this project is on low power consumption.  Using the ESP32’s ULP core, the board can go into deep sleep with an active display.   The software includes a menu interface with a simple RSS reader.

Some of the key features are:
– 400x240px 2.7″ SHARP memory display
– 350 mAh LiPo battery with USB charging
– Always On Display with 300 µW power consumption
– 4-way joystick and buttons
– Date and time using built in RTC with NTP sync
– RSS Feed / Website parser

Layout files and Code on GitHub: https://github.com/CoretechR/ESP32-Handheld


Low Power ESP32 Handheld