Intro to KiCad with Shawn Hymel

Digi-Key presents An Intro to KiCad – Part 1: How PCBs Are Made with Shawn Hymel:

Digi-Key Electronics presents: An introduction to KiCad with engineering superhero Shawn Hymel. In the first part of this series Shawn discusses how PCBs are made and the benefits of utilizing KiCad as a design tool. KiCad is a free and open source platform which makes it great for learning how to make your own PCBs while still being powerful enough to do more complicated design work.


Intro to KiCad with Shawn Hymel

Embedded Linux workshop coming to Pasadena and Portland

Screenshot from 2018-03-06 11-38-46.png

Embedded Apprentice Linux Engineer (E-ALE) is a series of 9 seminars over 3 days at existing Embedded Linux conferences:

Are you an Embedded Engineer who is transitioning to using Linux? Attend seminars on how to start with using Linux for Embedded Applications. The Embedded Apprentice Linux Engineer program provides a place at existing Embedded conferences where you can get your questions answered.

Embedded Apprentice Linux Engineer Hands on Workshops at SCALE 16x in Pasadena from Thursday, March 8th to Saturday, March 10th:


Embedded Apprentice Linux Engineer track at The Linux Foundation’sEmbedded Linux Conference in Portlandfrom Monday, March 12 to Wednesday, March 14

Screenshot from 2018-02-08 14-59-02

All the Embedded Apprentice Linux Engineer classes will involve using embedded hardware during the hands-on labs with the PocketBeagle and a BaconBits cape which are included with the $75 USD registration fee for E-ALE at SCaLE61x and ELC.

Screenshot from 2018-03-06 11-00-31.png

Embedded Linux workshop coming to Pasadena and Portland

Optimizing the 5v to 170v Nixie Tube Power Supply Design

From Mark Smith on the Surf ‘n Circuits blog:


Optimizing the 5v to 170v Nixie Tube Power Supply Design

A few years ago, while managing the power management product line at work, I started an initiative with the development team to optimize new products by achieving ESE.  ESE stands for Equations = Simulations = Experimentation.   The idea is centered on the engineering goal of product design to verify that the systems design equations match the simulation results and ultimately the experimental results.

When these three items match, not only do you understand a system, but you have the best chance to optimize a better solution.  I’ll have to say that in today’s mad dash to get new products out the door, achieving ESE is not always possible.    But to break through the ordinary and have a chance for the extraordinary, I would say this is a requirement.    Since this power supply is just a fun design for an upcoming nixie tube clock project of mine, I have the time to achieve ESE.

The updated schematic, BOM, Kicad Layout, and design files are located at Github:

Screenshot from 2018-02-20 12-51-12

surfncircuits has shared the board on OSH Park:


Order from OSH Park

Here is a quick video showing six IN-4 Nixie tubes being powered by a 5v iPhone charger:

Optimizing the 5v to 170v Nixie Tube Power Supply Design

Dock for Onion Omega2

Valerio Backslashnew has designed a small dock for the Onion Omega 2 and 2+:


My Omega 2/2+ dock\new

I needed the smallest dock i could do, that featured:

  • Ethernet
  • Type A USB host
  • Micro USB for power

Here’s what i came up with, i called it dock\new.


It has an onboard linear voltage regulation (i didn’t bother going with a switching one for such low power), magnetics integrated in the RJ45 connector to save space, USB host ESD protection (diode array), USB host PTC fuse.

On the left side there is the RJ45 connector and nothing on the back side of the board, so that you can easily access the MicroSD card on the Omega 2+.

On the right side (the antenna side of the omega) you have the USB type A connector, facing outwards, and the microusb connector for power, facing inwards.

The project is open source (CC-BY-SA 4.0), and the KiCad schematics, board layout and the other files are available on GitHub:



5N44P has shared the board on OSH Park:


Order from OSH Park

Dock for Onion Omega2

What’s Coming In KiCad Version 5

 writes on the Hackaday blog about the recent KiCad presentation at FOSDEM:

What’s Coming In KiCad Version 5

Although recent versions of KiCad have made improvements to the way part and footprint libraries are handled, the big upcoming change is that footprint libraries will be installed locally. The Github plugin for library management — a good idea in theory — is no longer the default. Spice simulation is also coming to KiCad. The best demo of the upcoming Spice integration is this relatively old video demonstrating how KiCad turns a schematic into graphs of voltage and current.

The biggest news, however, is the new ability to import Eagle projects. [Wayne] demoed this live on stage, importing an Eagle board and schematic of an Arduino Mega and turning it into a KiCad board and schematic in a matter of seconds. It’s not quite perfect yet, but it’s close and very, very good.

There are, of course, other fancy features that make designing schematics and PCBs easier. Eeschema is getting a better configuration dialog, improved bus and wire dragging, and improved junction handling. Pcbnew is getting rounded rectangle and complex pad shape support, direct export to STEP files, and you’ll soon be able to update the board from the schematic without updating the netlist file. Read that last feature again, slowly. It’s the best news we’ve ever heard.


What’s Coming In KiCad Version 5

LED ring

Jens Hauke designed this charlieplexed 20 LED blinker controlled by an ATTiny45 for the Hackaday Coin Cell Challenge:


LED Ring

This is a small blinky with 20 LEDs powered by one CR2032 coin cell
and with an ATTiny45 brain. The firmware is written in plain C and
compiled with the avr-gcc toolchain. The PCB is a two layer design made
with KiCad.
Space efficient daisychained LED placing with shared anode/cathode soldering pads.

Firmware and gerbers are available on GitHub:



Jens has shared the board on OSH Park:

LED 20 Ring ATTiny


Order from OSH Park

Here is a video of the LED in action:

LED ring

State of KiCad this Friday

Wayne Stambaugh from the KiCad project be joining Hack Chat on this Friday to discuss upcoming plans and features for 2018:


The State of KiCad

Friday, January 5, 2018 12:00 pm PST

  • What new features are on the roadmap for 2018?
  • What new features were developed since we chatted in January 2017?
  • Under the hood- how KiCad development works
  • How can a developer get started helping out?

Screenshot from 2018-01-02 23-27-04.png

State of KiCad this Friday