ATXMega32E5 adapted for a breadboard

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ATXMega32E5 breakout board

The ATXMega32E5 is the next step up for those experienced with the AVR series of microcontrollers from Microchip (formerly Atmel). They use the same compilers and libraries as the rest of the AVR 8- and 16-bit families, but they can run at 32 MHz and have an amazingly powerful set of internal peripherals that can take your projects to the next level and beyond.

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For prototyping, however, the disadvantage is that the XMega chips are not available as through-hole parts. That’s where this breakout board comes into play.

nsayer has shared the board on OSH Park:

ATXMega_E5 breakout v1.0

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Order from OSH Park

ATXMega32E5 adapted for a breadboard

EasyPWR

From mcu_nerd on Hackaday.io:

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EasyPWR

A small, easy to assemble board that makes use of old wall warts.

 

Like many of us, I had a bunch of various wall-warts lying around, but sadly though none of them produced a regulated 5V/3.3V. I had some 78xx regulators around, so I went into KiCad and made a board to make those wall-warts useful! Changing the world by saving old wall warts from the dumpster!

EasyPWR

Ultrasound Imaging with Raspberry Pi

 writes on the Hackaday blog:20170529_203924_notes

Best Product Entry: A HSDK for Ultrasound Imaging

As an entry into this year’s Best Product portion of the Hackaday Prize, [kelu124] is developing a hardware and software development kit for ultrasound imaging.

Ultrasound is one of the primary tools used in modern diagnostic medicine. Head to the doctor with abdominal pain, and you can bet you’ll be seeing the business end of an ultrasound system. While Ultrasound systems have gotten cheaper, they aren’t something everyone has in the home yet.

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[kelu124] is working to change that by building a hardware and software development kit which can be used to explore ultrasound systems. This isn’t [kleu124’s] first rodeo. HSDK builds upon and simplifies Murgen, his first open source ultrasound, and an entry in the 2016 Hackaday prize. [kelu124’s] goal is to “simplify everything, making it more robust and more user-friendly”.

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The system is driven by a Raspberry Pi Zero W. A custom carrier board connects the Pi to the pulser block, which sends out the ultrasonic pings, and the analog front end, which receives the reflected signals. The receiver is called Goblin, and is a custom PCB designed [kelu124] designed himself. It uses a variable gain amplifier to bring reflected ultrasound signals up out of the noise.

 

Ultrasound Imaging with Raspberry Pi

Programming Surface Mounted Chips

Ken Olsen writes in a Surface Mount Challenge project log on Hackaday.io:

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Programming Surface Mounted Chips

A majority of my projects to date have used DIP package Attiny85, 84, and Atmega328. These are usually programmed beforehand using a ISP shield on an Arduino, or afterwards using the ISP header. My first PCB design, was in fact, a shield which could be used to program the variety of AVR chips I was using. Breadboarding up an Arduino-as-ISP circuit time every time I needed one was error-prone and frustrating.

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It occurred to me that since not all projects have ISP headers, there should be some way to program the chips prior to installation. With a little googling, I found SOIC to DIP adapters which can be used to mate up with a DIP ZIF fixture. A SOIC 20 allows me to program the AVR 8-pin, 14-pin, and 20-pin packages!

Programming Surface Mounted Chips

Hack Your Hot Air Station

It used to be hot air soldering gear was exotic, but not anymore. There are plenty of relatively inexpensive choices. Many of these appear to be the same despite having different brand names and model numbers. One that is common and inexpensive is the 858D. These run about $50. [Gabse] has one and decided to…

via Hack Your Hot Air Station — Hackaday

Hack Your Hot Air Station

Hackaday: Cheap Helping Hands

We think of helping hands as those little alligator clips on a metal stand. They are cheap and fall over, so we tend to buy them and don’t use them. However, if you are willing to put $35 or $40 into it, you can get the newer kind that have–well–tentacles–on a heavy base. [Archie_slap] didn’t…

via Cheap Helping Hands: Just Add Time — Hackaday

Hackaday: Cheap Helping Hands

Castellated Edges

Castellations are small plated edges, typically used for making circuit boards into small PCB modules. These are often seen on wireless modules, such as the ESP8266-12E.

While we don’t offer full support for castellations, they can be fabricated if you don’t mind a few minutes of rework and verification of the PCBs.

Design Considerations

It’s helpful to include a fallback hole near the edge. The ESP8266-12E boards, are a great example here. The extra via allows easy connecting of wires for rework, and makes it easy to salvage a module if the fabricated PCB doesn’t turn out perfectly.

ESP2866-12E
ESP2866-12E, available at Adafruit.com

Indicating in the design file

Castellations are simple to call out in most design tools. Simply include a via on the PCB, so the board outline goes through it.

However, due to our panelization process, the castellated vias must be indicated with round pads for copper and stop mask. The pads must also not extend more than 40 mil from the board edge. Square pads or pads that extend far beyond the edge will be trimmed, and the via will not be plated.

It’s also helpful to use a 10 mil wide line for the board outline. With our milling tolerance of 5 mil, this provides a good visual indicator of where the physical board edge might be. The fabricated edge can be anywhere within that line. This is very helpful for fine-pitch castellations with smaller holes.

Callout as seen in a design tool
Callout as seen in a design tool

Rectangular castellations can be made by using vias with round pads as noted above, and adding overlapping rectangular SMD pads. Since these pads are inside the board outline, they will not be trimmed, and will provide additional area for soldering (see below for example).

Cleaning up the final boards

We make a best-effort to minimize support tabs on castellated edges, but it sometimes happens. In these cases, you’ll need to file the tab off of your edge.

Additionally, the via plating may not be fully removed during the milling process. In some cases it’s smashed next to the edge, where it can cause unwanted connectivity between vias. In others, it’s smashed inside the via, where it will prevent good solder flow. A fine point file or hobby knife will help remove excess plating.

An unreworked castellated PCB, with visible plating stubs
An unreworked castellated PCB, with visible plating stubs
Another version, with tabs on castellated edge and modifications for rectangular pads
Another version, with tabs on castellated edge and modifications for rectangular pads
Castellated Edges