FOSDEM is this weekend and we will be very busy the two days!
Saturday 01.02.2020 at 10.30 will be my talk in “Open Source Computer Aided Modeling and Design devroom” “Designing and Producing Open Source Hardware with FOSS/OSHW tools”
Sunday 02.02.2020 at 13.00 will be my talk in “Hardware Enablement devroom” “Open Source Hardware for Industrial use”
The great news is that this year FOSDEM organizers let us have whole OSHW room UB4.228 where we will have two days Soldering workshops:
Saturday we will solder PTH components with special board we made for FOSDEM – FOSDEM-MUSIC-BOX
Sunday we will proceed with more advanced SMT soldering workshop of Binary-Watch.
The soldering workshop participation is free as in beer and everyone is welcome.
FOSDEM 2020 is a free event on Februrary 1st and 2nd for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Every year, thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world gather at the event in Brussels:
Are you looking to write code that improves KiCad?
On Friday, Jan 31 (the day before FOSDEM), we’ll be hosting a Learn to Code KiCad session in Brussels, BE. I will be there as will Wayne and possibly a few other of the lead development team. We’ll help you understand how the various KiCad components fit together and work with you to get your favorite feature from idea to committed code.
What you need:
1) An identified bug report (or multiple) that you’d like to address. This can be either a legitimate bug or a wishlist feature that is triaged in our system.
2) A laptop with your development environment
3) A launchpad account
4) A compiling version of KiCad
5) A working knowledge of C++ coding
What we’ll provide:
1) Space, power outlet, wifi
3) A short introduction to the structure of KiCad and how the parts work together
4) Up to 8 hours of development time with others who share your interests
5) Clarifying insights to your KiCad coding questions
At the end of the day, you should be able to get at least 1 and possibly multiple bug report fixes under your belt and into the code base!
If you’re coming to FOSDEM 2020 and would like to participate, please e-mail me directly (off-list to preserve people’s inboxes). Send me your name/contact info and the list of 1 or more launchpad bugs you’d like to work on during the day. I’ll add you to our shared sheet (to deconflict bugs people are addressing) and get you all of the relevant information for the meeting
Here is a talk that Seth gave at KiCon 2019 which talks about their development community:
and also the KiCad developer panel:
Impressive use of Charlieplexing LEDs by Trammell Hudson:
The Charliewatch is an “analog” watch with 60+12 Charlieplexed LEDs. Based on Travis Goodspeed’s GoodWatch21 schematic, using the CC430F5137IRGZR CPU, which doesn’t have the LCD controller of the CC430F6xxx in the GoodWatch. There are also pads for a six pin Launchpad for programming or serial communication.
The designs and code are available on GitHub:
Keith Packard has designed an open-hardware python microcontroller for LEGO:
Learn, Teach, Experiment, and Play with Robots
Snekboard is an open hardware development board that’s designed to let you hook up to LEGO Power Functions* motors and switches so you can build robots out of LEGO and control them with CircuitPython or the simpler Snek programming language.
Snekboard is 48 x 48 mm – the same size as 6 x 6 LEGO studs – so you can easily build a LEGO enclosure for the board and attach it to your creation. It is powered by a 3.7 V, 900 mAh single-cell Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery that fits under the board and charges over USB while Snekboard is being programmed from the host.
Python and LEGO Together at Last
Python is widely regarded as a great first programming language. LEGO products are used in many settings for teaching about robotics. It’s time to bring these amazing learning tools together. Snekboard bridges the two worlds by offering a hardware platform capable of running Python while directly controlling LEGO Power Functions Motors.
Tickets for Hackaday Belgrade 2020 just went on sale. If you’re quick you can grab an Early Bird ticket at half the price of general admission!
Hackaday’s premiere European hardware conference returns for the third time on May 9th, 2020, bringing together talks, workshops, hardware hacking, food and drink, entertainment, and of course the best gathering of hardware geeks you’ll find anywhere. It’s awesome, because you’re awesome — and I do mean you. Whether you’re submitting a talk proposal or just grabbing a ticket to make this the first conference you’ve ever been to, we can’t do it without you.
My column in the latest Hackspace Magazine is an introduction to RISC-V and how it is enabling open source chip design:
When we think about what open source hardware means, we usually think about the board design being freely available. But what about the processor? Is there a way to make hardware that is truly open source? This month’s column is dedicated to an exciting — and surprisingly political — development in chip design.
When you write a program in the Arduino IDE, it is compiled into instructions for the microcontroller to execute. How does the compiler know what instructions the chip understands? This is defined by the Instruction Set Architecture. The ISA is a standard, a set of rules that define the tasks the processor can perform.
Chances are that both your laptop and the datacenter streaming your favorite movie are using an ISA owned by Intel or AMD. The processor in your smartphone is almost certainly using a proprietary ISA licensed from ARM. This is dangerous: proprietary standards can be over-priced, prevent innovation or even disappear altogether when companies change strategy.
Enter RISC-V, a free and open ISA created by researchers at UC Berkeley led by Krste Asanović and David Patterson. “We were always jealous that you could get industrial-strength software that was open,” Patterson explained to VentureBeat at the RISC-V Summit back in December. “But when it came to hardware, it was proprietary. Now, with RISC-V, we get the same kind of benefit. It helps education, and it helps competition.”
Teardown 2020, the hardware hacking conference organized by Crowd Supply, will be June 19-21 at PCC Cascade in beautiful Portland, Oregon!
Teardown is about the practice of hardware: prototyping, manufacturing, testing, disassembling, and circumventing, all while having fun. Leave the marketing glitz and talk of venture capital at the door and come prepared to learn and teach.
Helen Leigh wrote a great Hackaday post about what happened at Teardown 2019!
Chipsat development board for low-power, embedded computing in space
Junebug is a cutting-edge addition to the Feather ecosystem. It acts as a development board for chipsats – an emerging class of space system. It offers unique support for batteryless, intermittent computing. The FPU, DSP instructions, and storage space allow advanced sensor data processing with ML. Junebug is easy to manufacture, with parts selected to allow hand-assembly.
The schematic, PCB design, Gerber and Drill files, bill of materials, and other files are provided in the linked GitHub repository.
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!
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.