Sometimes you just need a single photo to know that the ensuing project is going to be worth keeping tabs on.
With Glen Akins on my Twitter feed, I’ve been treated to more than a few photos of some very interesting looking work in the area of creating custom, USB-HID control interfaces, and well… just look at the all the fun stuff waiting to go below!
When you know where to look, there are some glorious control interfaces to be found, full to the brim with high quality, and interesting format parts, like key switches that can be illuminated — or even featuring tiny integrated LCD displays.
There’s micro LED dot matrix displays, motorized linear potentiometers, and some panel manufacturers even share supplier chain links with The Empire — is that what looks like a prototype control panel for the Death Star main weapon pictured below…?
Those of us using KiCad for circuit board design know how useful the built-in 3D viewer and associated (rudimentary) renderer is. KiCad renderer is getting better, but if you want to get there fast, and want to create some amazing photorealistic renders of your PCB, then Blender’s the way to go. Blender can be intimidating to start with, so we’ll walk through a couple of simple steps to go from KiCad VRML export to photorealistic Blender renders.
SparkFun has just announced a new modular ecosystem called MicroMod. Targeting rapid embedded development, MicroMod consists of two pieces: a microcontroller board and a carrier board. The interconnect between the two is the PC industry’s M.2 connector.
Look at any embedded device’s block diagram, and you’ll see a microcontroller in the middle with a bunch of stuff surrounding it. That model is probably why the processor gets picked early in development. But, what happens when the design needs a microprocessor with a different architecture? Or unexpected capability, like WiFi, crept into the requirements? In the past, it would take significant effort to change either the processor or, worst case, the rest of the embedded system. With MicroMod’s approach, the hardware change is as simple as swapping modules.
“The processor you start with is not always the one you end with … MicroMod makes exploring different microcontrollers easy.” — Nathan Seidle, SparkFun Founder
Artemis processor MicroMod next to a US quarter dollar.
The most striking physical feature of MicroMod’s processor modules is the size. Their widths are similar to M.2 devices, but their lengths are much shorter. Each processor board contains very few components. For example, the ESP32 board has the SoC, an antenna, a flash memory, and the USB-to-serial chip. That is it! The carrier board contains extra things like a reset switch, voltage regulator, USB connector, and in-circuit programming header. With so much pushed to the carrier boards, it is no wonder SparkFun opted for a high-density, high-pin count, high-speed connector like M.2!
To be clear, while mechanically compatible with the M.2, MicroMod is not electrically compatible. Fortunately, SparkFun has open-sourced the pinout. That step makes it easy to use the pre-made modules or to design your own.
With today’s launch, there are three processor boards and four carrier boards available.
The annual Hackaday Supercon is taking place as Remoticon this year on November 6th to 8th. The talented Thomas Flummer has design a PCB badge based on the SMD challenge that can be further customized in KiCad.
Remoticon is a fully virtual hardware conference with 20+ workshops, 2 keynote talks, and 8 different demos. Join the weekend fun from wherever you are. Remoticon will have instructors teaching workshops from all across the globe, from Australia to India, from North America to the Netherlands.
Meeting virtually provides the perfect platform for more space, more people, and more options. Attend demos about Design Methodology, Robots, Zero to ASIC, Edge-Based Voice AI, and other awesome topics. Join workshops covering topics such as Reverse Engineering, Tiny ML, How to Hack a Car, Glowy Origami, and so many more.
In need of some creative inspiration and socialization with fellow hackers? Come hang out Friday night for a community Bring-A-Hack! There’s even a virtual Hackaday SMD Challenge for those who want to learn and those who want to put their skills to the test.
You’ll never guess the best part. I’m sure you’re thinking, “how could this get any better?” Remoticon Main Track tickets are free! You can also donate with a pay-as-you-wish ticket. Donations will go to charities that feed, house, or educate people.
Attendees only pay $10 to join a workshop. Some workshops do require hardware, which may include things you already have sitting on your workbench.
So the real question is what workshops and demos are you going to pack into your schedule the weekend of November 6-8th? We can’t wait to see you all there!
It’s time to create the enclosure for the CPC2. This is my first foray into the world of 3D printing and it was quite daunting at first. However, free online software like TinkerCad make the process of creating a model fairly simple. I chose to start by creating the base that would hold the main […]
It’s time to create the enclosure for the CPC2. This is my first foray into the world of 3D printing and it was quite daunting at first. However, free online software like TinkerCad make the process of creating a model fairly simple. I chose to start by creating the base that would hold the main PCB as this would likely be the most difficult piece to get correct, mainly because the cut-outs for the ports had to line up correctly. I ended up with this:
When printed, it gave me this:
Not quite right, but almost! The holes for the HDMI and USB don’t quite align. To be fair to me, I was working from the mechanical design, rather than measuring the actual board that I built, so it’s not too bad.
One of the problems I have in testing the board fit is that there are two pin headers on the bottom of the board for the ESP32-Wroom32 and the FPGA, so it won’t quite fit onto the mounting pegs for a flush fitting. My plan is to build a second board that will connect to the main board with pogo-pins and remove the pin headers completely. That way, the same board can sit low in the case when in use and sit on the pogo-pins for testing and programming. This also means it must be easy to remove the board from the case and return it when programmed as it will flop-flop between the test harness and the finished case as needed for system programming.
Without spending time to really understand the capabilities of 3D printing, I opted for a conservative design for the enclosure. It will be a three part-piece comprising the base shown above, the top and the keyboard. It could probably have been done with two pieces, but would require support structures and have been a lot more difficult to print.
In 2020 we conducted the third OSHW Community Survey (see 2012 and 2013), which collected 441 responses. All questions were optional, so you may notice response counts do not always add up to 441. In particular, a number of individuals didn’t feel comfortable with the demographic questions. We ask these questions as part of our efforts to promote diversity in the community, but these too were optional and anonymous.
A few highlights from this year’s survey compared to the 2013 survey:
The portion of people coming to open source hardware from open source software increased from 14.6% to 23.9%
In 2013, 42.8% of respondents indicated they have worked on or contributed to an open hardware project. This jumped to 85.6% in 2020.
While 2013 showed a plurality of people using blogs to publish design files, this year’s survey shows public repositories as the most popular option. The increase in people with open source software experience and improvement in repository collaboration offerings may be contributing factors.
This year’s survey shows a large increase in attendees for the 2020 Open Hardware Summit. This is likely due to 2020 being the first virtual summit. Although it was moved online due to unfortunate circumstances, the virtual platform offered the upside of greatly expanding the audience.
A small gain in the community’s gender diversity was seen, with those identifying as either female or other making up 18% of respondents, compared to 7% in 2013.
Interested in more granular results for any of these questions? Reach out to us at [email protected]