There’s just one week left until Hackaday Remoticon, our online gathering in place of our traditional in-person conference during this time of social distancing. Joining the more than 20 hands-on workshops that make up the bulk of Remoticon, we’re excited to announce the two keynote speakers who will be taking the virtual stage: Alfred Jones and Kipp Bradford.
Tickets to see these keynote talks, to watch the SMD Challenge, to see hardware demos, and to take part in the show and tell are free, so get yours today!
Joey Castillo is one of those makers that not only seems to have a myriad projects continuously on the go, but also seems to actually make significant progress on them, rather than getting overwhelmed from juggling them in the air — something I’ve been known to end up doing…
Keeping in following with Castillo’s focus on projects that monitor health metrics, his latest work tracks that theme perfectly, but also scales down the size of the hardware to something intended to fit within the form factor of a ring!
When they were invented in the 1950s, Nixie tubes were a huge leap forward in display technology. In the days before affordable LEDs made seven-segment displays a commodity, there were few alternatives to the charming glow of the clear and legible characters inside Nixies. Sturdy and reliable, the cold-cathode displays found their way into everything from scientific instruments to test equipment, and even some of the earliest computers and the equipment that formed the foundation of the Space Race sported the venerable tubes.
But time marches on, and a display that requires high voltage and special driver circuits isn’t long for a world where LEDs are cheap and easy to design with. Nixies fell from favor through the late 1960s and 1970s, to the point where new tubes were only being made by the Russians, until that supply dried up as well. Rediscovered by hobbyists for use in quirky clocks and other displays, any stock left over from the Nixie’s heyday are quickly being snapped up, putting the tubes on the fast track to unobtainium status.
That’s not to say that you can’t get brand new Nixie tubes, of course. Artisanal manufacturers like Dalibor Farný have taken the Nixie to a whole new level, with big, beautiful tubes that are handcrafted from the best materials. Reviving the somewhat lost art of Nixie manufacturing wasn’t easy, but the tubes that Dalibor makes in a castle in the Czech Republic now find their way into cool clocks and other builds around the world. He’ll join us on the Hack Chat to dive into the art and science of Nixies, and what’s going on with his mysterious “Project H”.
Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.
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!