Winners of the Take Flight with Feather Contest

Congratulations to Joey Castillo for winning the Take Flight with Feather contest with the The Open Book by Oddly Specific Objects:

Hackaday: Winners of the Take Flight with Feather Contest

It’s hard to beat the fidelity and durability of printed text on paper. But the e-paper display gets pretty close, and if you couple it will great design and dependable features, you might just prefer an e-reader over a bookshelf full of paperbacks. What if the deal is sweetened by making it Open Hardware? The Open Book Project rises to that challenge and has just been named the winner of the Take Flight with Feather contest.

This e-reader will now find its way into the wild, with a small manufacturing run to be put into stock by Digi-Key who sponsored this contest. Let’s take a closer look at the Open Book, as well as the five other top entries.

You may remember seeing the Open Book back in October when Tom Nardi looked in on early testing for the board. It was prototyped using the Adafruit Feather, which of course was the main requirement of the contest. The controller is now built into the board for standalone functionality with the Feather header providing an opportunity for expansion.

The screen is 4.2″ with a resolution of 300×400. It reads files from a microSD card and uses seven buttons on the front of the board for user input. A dedicated flash chip stores language files with the character sets of your choice. The small LiPo cell can be charged via the USB port, and of course e-paper helps greatly in reducing the power consumption of the reader.

You’ll find a few extras on the back. There’s a headphone jack for listening to audio books, and get this, a built-in microphone and a TensorFlow-trained model allow for voice control! There are STEMMA headers to add your own hardware options, and designs for laser-cut and 3D-printed enclosures.

and checkout Joey on Adafruit Show n Tell last night!

Screenshot from 2020-01-23 11-01-14

Screenshot from 2020-01-23 10-58-16


Open Laptop Soon to be Open For Business

How better to work on Open Source projects than to use a Libre computing device? But that’s a hard goal to accomplish. If you’re using a desktop computer, Libre software is easily achievable, though keeping your entire software stack free of closed source binary blobs might require a little extra work. But if you want a laptop, your options are few indeed. Lucky for us, there may be another device in the mix soon, because [Lukas Hartmann] has just about finalized the MNT Reform.

Since we started eagerly watching the Reform a couple years ago the hardware world has kept turning, and the Reform has improved accordingly. The i.MX6 series CPU is looking a little peaky now that it’s approaching end of life, and the device has switched to a considerably more capable – but no less free – i.MX8M paired with 4 GB of DDR4 on a SODIMM-shaped System-On-Module. This particular SOM is notable because the manufacturer freely provides the module schematics, making it easy to upgrade or replace in the future. The screen has been bumped up to a 12.5″ 1080p panel and steps have been taken to make sure it can be driven without blobs in the graphics pipeline.

via Open Laptop Soon to be Open For Business — Hackaday


Why Do Resistors Have a Color Code?

One of the first things you learn in electronics is how to identify a resistor’s value. Through-hole resistors have color codes, and that’s generally where beginners begin. But why are they marked like this? Like red stop signs and yellow lines down the middle of the road, it just seems like it has always been that way when, in fact, it hasn’t.

Before the 1920s, components were marked any old way the manufacturer felt like marking them. Then in 1924, 50 radio manufacturers in Chicago formed a trade group. The idea was to share patents among the members. Almost immediately the name changed from “Associated Radio Manufacturers” to the “Radio Manufacturer’s Association” or RMA.  There would be several more name changes over the years until finally, it became the EIA or the Electronic Industries Alliance. The EIA doesn’t actually exist anymore. It exploded into several specific divisions, but that’s another story.

This is the tale of how color bands made their way onto every through-hole resistor from every manufacturer in the world.

via Why Do Resistors Have a Color Code? — Hackaday


LC Oscillators, Animated

e wish that all the beautiful animations that are available today to understand math and electronics had been around when we were in school. Nonetheless, they are there for today’s students and [Learn Engineering] has another gorgeous one covering LC oscillation. Check it out, below.

If you are thoroughly grounded — no pun intended — in LC circuits, you probably won’t learn anything new. However, the animations are worth watching, just to admire them, if nothing else.

We were amused by his statement: “… looks as if the capacitor is saying: ‘you take the energy’ and the inductor then says, ‘no, you take my energy.’” Then we were further amused by [Seraph’s] comment which added, “Resistance in the circuit: ‘Alright, I’ll take the energy, then.’”

Of course, there are other ways to think of an LC circuit. The math isn’t that hard. Most of us learned that the circuit’s mechanical analog is a mass on a spring or a pendulum. The mass’s potential energy stretches out the spring until the spring then pulls it back until the potential energy of the mass pulls it back down.

If you want to experiment virtually, try the Falstad simulator. Just remember that if you think the sine wave isn’t dampening to look at the scale. As the sine wave dampens, the simulator will adjust the scale so you keep seeing approximately the same size sine wave.

We never get tired of watching the Fourier series explained graphically. Or anything from [3Blue1Brown].

via LC Oscillators, Animated — Hackaday


Hackaday Belgrade: Call for Proposals

Join Hackaday in Belgrade, Serbia on May 9th, 2020 for the Hackaday Belgrade conference!

The biennial hardware conference is just seventeen weeks from now. Early Bird tickets will go on sale shortly, but beginning right now you can hack your way into the conference by submitting a talk proposal. Accepted speakers receive free admission, plus everyone who submits a quality talk proposal will be given priority when tickets go on sale.

Yes, I’m talking to you. Hackaday strives to include first-time speakers in the slate of presenters at our conferences. We’re looking for unique, cutting-edge, whimsical, crazy, formidable, or world-changing topics revolving around hardware creation. From learning new tools or techniques to fabrication adventures, from code-wrangling that firmware project to pulling off an art installation, and from forgotten hardware history to the impossible made possible on your own workbench, we need to hear your stories!

That project for which you went into the deep weeds and worked your way back out again? Everyone at a Hackaday conference wants to hear about it and in the greatest detail possible. After all, we’re your fellow hackers. In fact, you should probably bring the hardware along for the ride.


None of this happens in a vacuum. This is the third Hackaday Belgrade conference, which have now settled into a tick-tock cadence of even-numbered years. The first two both sold out, this one will as well, and the result is always an action-packed, nearly 24-hour marathon sprint of talks, workshops, and hardware hacking. But the only reason this works is because amazing people just like you make it a priority in their life to be there.

via Hackaday Belgrade: Call for Proposals — Hackaday


PoE Powers Christmas Lights, But Opens Up So Much More

Addressable LEDs are a staple of homemade Christmas decorations in our community, as is microprocessor control of those LEDs. So at first sight [Glen Akins]’ LED decorated Christmas tree looks pretty enough, but isn’t particularly unusual. But after reading his write-up you’ll discover there’s far more to the project than meets the eye, and learn a lot about the technologies behind it that has relevance far beyond a festive light show.

The decoration is powered exclusively from power-over-Ethernet, with a PIC microcontroller translating Art-Net DMX-over-Ethernet packets into commands for the LED string. The control board is designed from the ground up and includes all the PoE circuitry, and the write-up  gives a very thorough introduction to this power source that takes the reader way beyond regarding PoE as simply another off-the-shelf black box. Along the way we see all his code, as well as learn a few interesting tidbits such as the use of a pre-programmed EEPROM containing a unique MAC address.

So if your house has CAT5 wiring and you want an extra dimension to your festive splendour, you’ve officially got a whole year to build your own version. He’s featured here before, with his buzzer to break the Caps Lock habit.

via PoE Powers Christmas Lights, But Opens Up So Much More — Hackaday


Hackaday Superconference: An Analog Engineer Dives Into RF

Those of us who work with electronics will usually come to the art through a particular avenue that we master while imbibing what we need from those around it. For example, an interest in audio circuitry may branch into DSP and microcontrollers as projects become more complex. Some realms though retain an aura of impossibility, a reputation as a Dark Art, and chief among them for many people is radio frequency (RF). Radio circuitry is often surprisingly simple, yet that simplicity conceals a wealth of complexity because the medium does not behave in the orderly manner of a relatively static analogue voltage or a set of low-frequency logic levels.

Chris Gammell is a familiar face to many Hackaday readers for his mastery of much electronic trickery, so it comes as something of a surprise to find that RF has been one of the gaps in his knowledge. In his talk at the Hackaday Superconference he took us through his journey into RF work, and the result is a must-watch for anyone with a curiosity about radio circuitry who didn’t know where to start.

via Hackaday Superconference: An Analog Engineer Dives Into RF — Hackaday