Hardware Happy Hour Chicago tonight, KiCon tomorrow!

Exciting times for people in Chicago that like hardware!

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Tonight, Thursday, April 25th is Hardware Happy Hour (3H) Chicago at Ballast Point!  It’s an informal hardware show ‘n tell that is a lot of fun:

April 3H Chicago Meetup (KiCon eve!)

Thursday, Apr 25, 2019, 7:00 PM

Ballast Point Brewing Chicago
212 N Green St Chicago, il

38 Members Attending

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!

Check out this Meetup →

And KiCon 2019 begins tomorrow!  Come learn more about designing circuit boards with KiCad.

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There is also a party at Chicago hackerspace Pumping Station: One on Friday night and then a Bring-A-Hack party with Hackaday on Saturday night.

Look for our Drew Fustini (@pdp7) in purple at all the above events!

Hardware Happy Hour Chicago tonight, KiCon tomorrow!

Hackday launches Flexible PCB design contest

We are excited to see what people create in this new flexible PCB design contest on Hackaday.io:

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New Contest: Flexible PCBs

The now-humble PCB was revolutionary when it came along, and the whole ecosystem that evolved around it has been a game changer in electronic design. But the PCB is just so… flat. Planar. Two-dimensional. As useful as it is, it gets a little dull sometimes.

Here’s your chance to break out of Flatland and explore the third dimension of circuit design with our brand new Flexible PCB Contest.

We’ve teamed up with Digi-Key for this contest. Digi-Key’s generous sponsorship means 60 contest winners will receive free fabrication of three copies of their flexible PCB design, manufactured through the expertise of OSH Park. So now you can get your flex on with wearables, sensors, or whatever else you can think of that needs a flexible PCB.

HOW TO ENTER

Go over to Hackaday.io and create a project with images of your flexible circuit board design, and be sure to tell the story of how and why you came up with it. When the project is published, look for the “Submit project to…”  link in the left sidebar and submit it to the Flexible PCB contest.

AWARDS

  • 60 contest winners will receive an OSH Park code for 3 complimentary boards from OSH Park shipped to them (there’s a size limitation detailed below). Please allow 8 weeks after the close of this contest.
  • 3 Tindie gift certificates of $100 each will be awarded for:
    • Best Project
    • Best Social Media Picture or Video
      • You can post a picture or video of your device, of you working on your device, or anything related on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, or any other social platform. You must post a link to the video in the comments on this page.
    • Best Documentation

REQUIREMENTS

Here’s the small print on those free flexible PCB awards: If you’re one of the lucky 60 (yay, that’s a lot!) winners, you’ll receive a coupon that will cover the cost of a PCB up to 2 square inches (13 square centimeters) in size. If your design is larger you can still use this coupon and choose to pay the portion of the cost beyond that size. The best part is that OSH Park delivers three copies of the board from each order! See the contest page for complete rules.

WHAT SHOULD I BUILD?

Pretty much anything that needs a flexible PCB qualifies. Use your imagination! Folding cell phones are all the rage now, so use that for inspiration. Perhaps you’re into wearables, which are begging to be made from flexible materials. Repair a wonky laptop display with a new flexible connector? That counts. Working on something so small that a traditional PCB is just too bulky? We want to hear about it.

We’ve lined up some resources to help you get started. Check out OSH Park’s Flex PCB FAQ for all the technical details on flexible PCBs. If you’re new to PCB design, Brian Benchoff’s excellent Creating a PCB in Everything series covers everything you need to know.

Still stuck? Here are a few recent projects featuring flexible PCBs that might get the creative juices flowing (not all of which would necessarily fit the qualifications):

 

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How a Microcontroller Hiding in a USB Port Became an FPGA Hiding in the Same

 

Now Tim’s onto the next big thing. He’s adaped the Tomu form factor to an FPGA board called Fomu with an active crowd funding campaign right now. The board will ship with a RISC-V core already loaded that can be programmed using DFU (or possibly mass storage). This is a popular move right now since a lot of people want to play with RISC-V or FPGA and here’s a way to do both without actually having to haul around extra equipment with you.

Some might think: what can you do with an FPGA where it’s kind of hard to connect external circuits? You could practice adding peripherals to RISC-V and other cores, but maybe what you should be thinking is: what could I do with my laptop if I had some dedicated parallel processing available? The board carries a Lattice iCE40UP5K, 1 MB of flash, 128 kB of RAM, runs at 48 MHz, and is compatible with the open source IceStorm toolchain.

via How a Microcontroller Hiding in a USB Port Became an FPGA Hiding in the Same — Hackaday

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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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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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