New HackadayU Courses Announced for Fall 2020

Exciting announcement from Hackaday:

The fall lineup of HackadayU courses was just announced, get your tickets now!

Each course is led by expert instructors who have refined their topics into a set of four live, interactive classes plus one Q&A session we like to call Office Hours. Topics range from leveling up your Linux skills and learning about serial buses to building interactive art and getting into first-person view (FPV) drone flight.

Checkout the course titles, instructors, and details listed below. If you’d like to hear about each class from the instructors themselves, their teaser videos are embedded after the break.

Read more on Hackaday…

New HackadayU Courses Announced for Fall 2020

nRF9160 Feather: final week on GroupGets

Jared Wolff has design a Feather form factor board with the nRF9160:

nRF9160 Feather

The nRF9160 Feather by Jared Wolff (aka Circuit Dojo LLC) is an electronics development board. It features a Nordic Semiconductor nRF9160-SICA part. This part is capable of both CAT M1 LTE and NB-IoT for communication with the outside world. It’s compatible primarily with Zephyr via the nRF Connect SDK. Other toolchains and languages coming soon to a Github repository near you.

The nRF9160 Feather is a true Feather, and then some, board. As you would expect, It works well across both USB and LiPoly batteries. 

The board is designed to be nice to your batteries. Not only can you take advantage of Nordic’s advanced power states, but you can also put the device into a low power standby state. Laboratory measurements are putting that mode at about 2µA of current. 2µA!

The nRF9160 Feather is also designed to take harness every last mW your battery has to offer. That means from full-to-empty it’s using every last mW your battery has to offer. It runs at 3.3V and can support and work with most Featherwing boards!

nRF9160 Feather: final week on GroupGets

Greg Davill Sinks His Teeth Into ShArc

Tom Fleet writes on Hackster about Greg Davill’s latest adventure:


Greg Davill Sinks His Teeth Into ShArc: A Geometric Technique for Multi-Bend/Shape Sensing.

The work of one such research project caught the eye of Greg Davill recently, when a paper written by Fereshteh Shahmiri and Paul H Dietz was published, after being submitted for the 2020 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020).

This paper goes by the title of “ShArc:A Geometric Technique for Multi-Bend/Shape Sensing,’ and proposes a novel contour sensor, comprised of a flexible, capacitive PCB sensor, a suitable capacitance-to-digital converter, and some subsequent signal processing, allowing a two-layer polyamide FPC circuit to cleverly capture the contours of the shape it is stuck to.

That’s the operation in a nutshell, so why are we covering all this here on Hackster? Well, it’s all about accessibility! This research isn’t relegated to labs where we’ll never see sight of it, until commercialized into a product. Far from it. Davill has shown just how easily we here at home can play along with this project, using the same tools and services that we’d normally look at for our own hobby projects!

He’s not only managed to recreate the capacitance to digital converter needed for this application, but perhaps more of note, he’s even turned his hand to having a go at the flexible sensor electrodes themselves, all fabricated by the one stop shop, whose services seem to keep on growing— our favorite board fab house, OSH Park!

Greg Davill Sinks His Teeth Into ShArc

Hackspace Mag: PCB design – the open way!

My column from the latest issue of Hackspace Magazine:

PCB design – the open way!

You’ve had an awesome idea for a new project, you’ve managed to get your breadboard prototype working and you’re ready to commit to making your design into a shiny new Printed Circuit Board (PCB). To do that, you’ll need to create a schematic and PCB layout using some kind of Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software. Let’s take a look at some of the options.

Altium is Windows-only proprietary software common in professional settings where the company can afford hefty licencing fees. Autodesk Eagle is also proprietary but runs on Mac, Linux and Windows. Eagle has a restricted free version that is popular with students and hobbyists. The commercial licensing is way less expensive than Altium, making Eagle popular with smaller businesses, including many famous Open Source Hardware (OSHW) organizations like Adafruit, Arduino and Sparkfun.

In recent times a free and Open Source software suite called KiCad has been making waves in the PCB design world. KiCad has been around since 1992, when it was created by Jean-Pierre Charras. Until relatively recently KiCad was a small fish in the EDA software pond, but in 2013 the iconic research organisation CERN started to invest in KiCad as part of their Open Hardware initiative

This commitment from CERN improved KiCad dramatically, in terms of stability, functionality and popularity. They worked on crucial features including a push and shove router which is capable of routing differential pairs and interactively tuning trace lengths. These higher end features allowed KiCad to handle more complex designs, including critical hardware controlling experiments at CERN, a complex 64 bit ARM single board computer by Olimex and the MNT Reform, a fully Open Source laptop by Lukas Hartmann. DigiKey is also investing heavily into KiCad, including developing a parts library and releasing a ten part KiCad video series on YouTube with Shawn Hymel.

A great way to get started with KiCad is “Getting to Blinky”, a video tutorial by Chris Gammell.  There’s also KiCon, a conference dedicated to KiCad where you can learn from other designers. The next KiCon will be held online in September 2020.

Like many Open Source software projects, KiCad gets funding for developer time through donations. Hopefully these donations will allow project leader Wayne Stambaugh and other core developers to dedicate more time to KiCad development. If you want to support of professional-quality PCB design tools without cost, functionality or intellectual property restrictions, you can donate to KiCad through the Linux Foundation.

The PDF is available to download from Hackspace.

Hackspace Mag: PCB design – the open way!

Building a DIY Pick and Place with Stephen Hawes

From the new Contextual Electronics podcast hosted by Chris Gammell:


CEP002 – Building a DIY Pick and Place with Stephen Hawes

Today we’re talking with, Stephen Hawes, an electronics engineer and maker who is building his own Pick and Place machine and sharing about the process on YouTube

Building a DIY Pick and Place with Stephen Hawes

Atomized Annoy-O-Tron with Flex PCB

Been working on a tiny version of the Annoy-o-tron ThinkGeek’s prank device.

My design is based on Geppetto Electronics version from tindie…

My version is just over 0.25in round.. so tiny! Even found a tiny piezo to go with it and 3d printed a holder for 2 watch batteries and PCB.

via Atomized Annoy-O-Tron — AtomSoftTech

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Meet the maker: Evil Mad Scientist

We are happy to see Hackspace Magazine feature some of our favorite people, Windell and Lenore from Evil Mad Scientist:


Meet the maker: Evil Mad Scientist

“We started Evil Mad Scientist accidentally. We did not mean to start a business. We went to the very first Maker Faire with our project and people said ‘Ooh, how d’you do that? I want to do that!’ So, we started making kits to make it feasible for other people to do projects like ours. Every time we would do a kit, we would bring money back into the next round of the kits. It grew very gradually, and now it’s our full-time job. It’s been a slow-going, organic, interesting journey.

“That first project was our interactive LED dining table. It had 400 LEDs and a connected series of nodes that had a light sensor on them. When something would change over that sensor, it would change which LEDs were on and how bright they were. For example, when you pass the salt, or move the napkin, or pick up a drink, a sensor would send a message to its neighbour node – I’ve changed, do you want to change? That would trigger a ripple of changes throughout the table.



“We sell components, we sell kits, and we sell plotters. The components tend to be purchased by educators. LEDs for classroom use, pager motors for making art bots.

“They get used, for instance, by model train enthusiasts who want to make their trains more realistic and who want to put LEDs into their trains, but who find it hard to shop for LEDs at a traditional electronics store because there isn’t information, or someone to contact about how to do that. Well, I have a really good article about what resistor you should use with your LED if you’re using an AA battery, for example ( We have niche cases like that where it’s a hobby that’s not necessarily electronics-related, but somebody wants to do something with LEDs or electronic components.

“This is one of the beautiful things about open-source hardware – when you document your hardware well, people can use it for other things. Scientists are always looking for solutions to problems that you and I don’t know exist. They’re looking at very narrow problems in fields that we would never think about our thing being used there.


Meet the maker: Evil Mad Scientist

Applied Ion Systems: open source space propulsion

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Michael Bretti of Applied Ion Systems describes open source space propulsion at the 2020 Open Hardware Summit:

Applied Ion Systems is creating open source electric propulsion systems

Applied Ion Systems initially started out of a personal hobbyist effort to share projects involving plasma systems, particle beams, and and high vacuum projects.   Later, as I began to expand my efforts and meet awesome makers around the world, I began focusing my efforts on open source electric propulsion for small satellites, such as PocketQubes and CubeSats.

Eventually, this effort evolved into the world’s first and only open-source home-based electric propulsion program, working on cutting edge plasma and ion thrusters for small satellites on a hobbyist level budget.

My main objective was to provide intensive engineering resources, data, and system designs for the community to help lower the barriers of entry into the field, and allow enthusiasts to follow along the journey of creating and testing these advanced systems, with the ultimate goal of developing low-cost, easy-to-use, fully integrated space-qualified thrusters.

Applied Ion Systems: open source space propulsion

Official Arduboy Upgrade Module Nears Competition

We’ve been big fans of the Arduboy since [Kevin Bates] showed off the first prototype back in 2014. It’s a fantastic platform for making and playing simple games, but there’s certainly room for improvement. One of the most obvious usability issues has always been that the hardware can only hold one game at a time. But thanks to the development of an official add-on, the Arduboy will soon have enough onboard storage to hold hundreds of games

Even the rear silkscreen was a community effort.

The upgrade takes the form of a small flexible PCB that gets soldered to existing test points on the Arduboy. Equipped with a W25Q128 flash chip, the retrofit board provides an additional 16 MB of flash storage to the handheld’s ATmega32u4 microcontroller; enough to hold essentially every game and program ever written for the platform at once.

Of course, wiring an SPI flash chip to the handheld’s MCU is only half the battle. The system also needs to have its bootloader replaced with one that’s aware of this expanded storage. To that end, the upgrade board also contains an ATtiny85 that’s there to handle this process without the need for an external programmer. While this is a luxury the average Hackaday reader could probably do without, it’s a smart move for an upgrade intended for a wider audience.

The upgrade board is currently available for pre-order, but those who know their way around a soldering iron and a USBasp can upgrade their own hardware right now by following along with the technical discussion between [Kevin] and the community in the “Project Falcon” forum.

via Official Arduboy Upgrade Module Nears Competition — Hackaday


Hackaday Remoticon: Our 2020 Conference is Packed with Workshops and We’re Calling for Proposals

We’re proud to announce the Hackaday Remoticon, taking place everywhere November 6th – 8th, 2020. It’s a weekend packed with workshops about hardware creation, held virtually for all to enjoy.

But we can’t do it without you. We need you to host a workshop on that skill, technique, or special know-how that you acquired through hard work over too many hours to count. Send in your workshop proposal now!

What is a remoticon?

The Hackaday Remoticon achieves something that we just couldn’t do at the Hackaday Superconference: host more workshops that involve more people. Anyone who’s been to Supercon over the past six years can tell you it’s space-limited and, although we do our best to host a handful of workshops each day, those available seats are always in high demand.

We’re sad that we can’t get together in person for Supercon this year, but now we have an opportunity to host more workshops, engaging more live instructors and participants because they will be held virtually. This also means that we can make recordings of them available so that more people can learn from the experience. This is something that we tried way back during the first Supercon with Mike Ossmann’s RF Circuit Design workshop and 140,000 people have watched that video. (By the way, that link is worth clicking just to see Joe Kim’s excellent art.)

Now I’m not saying that your workshop will have a view count into six digits. What I am saying is that you have skills worth sharing, and people are hungry to learn. Since traveling to massive conferences is on pause for a while, spinning up a way to share your experience with others is a superb use of your time.

We need you to submit a workshop proposal! This can take any shape that makes sense for your topic, but here’s the gist of how this might work. Each accepted workshop makes a list of necessary materials and where to get them so that participants can order ahead of time and follow along. Live workshops will be held via video conference, with periods of instruction, work time, and recap that lets participants ask questions and show results as they go.


Wait, wait, wait. Before you click away to the next awesome Hackaday article, don’t assume you have nothing to teach. In fact, do the opposite. Assume you have rare and specialized knowledge on something (because you do!) and seek that out. Then unleash your mind to form a workshop idea around it. Hackaday is filled with weird, wild, and interesting projects, and we always want to see more of them. Share the wealth so that more people begin to walk the path of the hardware hacker

via Hackaday Remoticon: Our 2020 Conference is Packed with Workshops and We’re Calling for Proposals — Hackaday