Designing a PCB Ornament

Liz from Blitz City DIY wrote about the process of designing a PCB ornament:

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Designing a PCB Ornament

As the holidays approached this year, I felt a need to create a DIY gift for my family and friends. I struggled at first to find a medium. Should I 3D print something? Should I knit? But then it hit me: everyone loves blinky LEDs and I want to keep getting better at PCB design. I’ll do a PCB ornament!

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If you don’t have a traditional electronics background PCB design can seem scary, overwhelming and something that’s meant for more experienced people that have “real skills”. If you start simple and slowly add-in new methods and design features to your boards you’ll soon realize it isn’t so scary and that much like everything else in life it just takes practice and patience to learn. And once you have your first project on a custom PCB instead of a piece of perf board you’ll be hooked.

Designing a PCB Ornament

Creating a DIP ATtiny85 Watch with the DS3231

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Creating a DIP ATtiny85 Watch with the DS3231

As Douglas Adams explained in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, digital watches are “pretty neat” to us primitive life forms. Something about the marriage of practicality, and sheer nerdiness gets me oddly excited. Somewhere in my fascination I asked myself, “can I make a digital watch entirely of my design?” I did! And it taught me a lot about pcb fabrication, low power programming, and shift registers.

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Probably the most important function of a watch is that it keeps time. While you could use your microcontroller to count the seconds and save on parts, there are some major downsides to this. For one, the microcontroller is much worse at keeping time than a dedicated RTC (Real Time Clock) IC, the time would drift significantly with temperature and battery voltage. Another serious problem is that it would require the microcontroller to always be on, keeping track of the time. This would consume much more current than an RTC IC, draining the battery significantly faster. Thus we employ a DS3231 to casually sit in the background, consuming microamps from it’s own back-up battery (which, at the rate of 200µA, would take 12.56 years to drain).

Creating a DIP ATtiny85 Watch with the DS3231

Reflowduino: Put That Toaster Oven To Good Use

From  on the Hackaday blog:

Reflowduino: Put That Toaster Oven To Good Use

There are few scenes in life more moving than the moment the solder paste melts as the component slides smoothly into place. We’re willing to bet the only reason you don’t have a reflow oven is the cost. Why wouldn’t you want one? Fortunately, the vastly cheaper DIY route has become a whole lot easier since the birth of the Reflowduino – an open source controller for reflow ovens.

This Hackaday Prize entry by [Timothy Woo] provides a super quick way to create your own reflow setup, using any cheap means of heating you have lying around. [Tim] uses a toaster oven he paid $21 for, but anything with a suitable thermal mass will do. The hardware of the Reflowduino is all open source and has been very well documented – both on the main hackaday.io page and over on the project’s GitHub.

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The board itself is built around the ATMega32u4 and sports an integrated MAX31855 thermocouple interface (for the all-important PID control), LiPo battery charging, a buzzer for alerting you when input is needed, and Bluetooth. Why Bluetooth? An Android app has been developed for easy control of the Reflowduino, and will even graph the temperature profile.

When it comes to controlling the toaster oven/miscellaneous heat source, a “sidekick” board is available, with a solid state relay hooked up to a mains plug. This makes it a breeze to setup any mains appliance for Arduino control.

 

Reflowduino: Put That Toaster Oven To Good Use

ATTiny wearable by Facelesstech

tl;dr It’s a foundation for a wearable platform. It’s a Nato watch strap threaded through a PCB with a coin cell battery holder between the PCB and the strap. I’m using a Attiny85 this time around but could be used for most chips/dev boards. This is a proof of concept to iron out any problems […]

via Attiny wearable — Facelesstech

ATTiny wearable by Facelesstech

Building a Giant USB Three Key Mechanical Keyboard

From Jeremy S. Cook on the Hackster blog:

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Ginormous 3-Switch Keyboard Is Awesomely Impractical

As hackers and creators, we sometimes get asked the question “why?” While many of the gadgets we make do have a specific purpose, many of them definitely don’t, and are made because we wonder if something can actually be done. This giant three-key mechanical keyboard would certainly fall into that second category, and though I can’t think of a practical use for it, I still find the device quite entertaining.

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The heart of this device is a trio of “Big Switch” devices from Novel Keys, which are four times larger in length/width/height than what you’re used to typing on. While that might sound only sort of interesting, that translates to 64 times normal size in volume; plus they include similarly ginormous keycaps. Glen Akins, inspired by a similar project on Adafruit, decided to build his own 3-key array, with a PIC18F14K50 chip providing an interface between the keys ans USB input.

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The housing is made out of aluminum, and sits at an angle to the user for excellent ergonomics — if you happen to be a giant, and only use three keys at a time. While the electronics are fairly straightforward, these large keys are electrically quite noisy. Debounce code was added to combat this, reducing the letters per keypress from a range of one to three to only a single character.

Read more on Glen’s own Photons, Electrons, and Dirt blog:

Building a Giant USB Three Key Mechanical Keyboard

Building a Giant USB Three Key Mechanical Keyboard