What Makes A Good Antenna?

From Jenny List on Hackaday:

What Makes A Good Antenna?

It sometimes seems as though antennas and RF design are portrayed as something of a Black Art, the exclusive preserve of an initiated group of RF mystics and beyond the reach of mere mortals. In fact though they have their difficult moments it’s possible to gain an understanding of the topic, and making that start is the subject of a video from [Andreas Spiess]. Entitled “How To Build A Good Antenna”, it uses the design and set-up of a simple quarter-wave groundplane antenna as a handle to introduce the viewer to the key topics.

What Makes A Good Antenna?

New features coming in KiCad V6

This epic thread on the KiCad forum tracks new features that are in the upcoming V6 release:

Post-v5 new features and development news

I thought many would be interested in the development status and new features of pre-v6/post-v5 now when 5.1.0 has been released and version 6 development has begun. Add your favorite here if someone else hasn’t done it already.

The most recent post describes curved tracks:

New features coming in KiCad V6

Feather Flipper

Lex Kravitz designed a small PCB for flipping the orientation of a feather board that is useful for flipping the orientation of a camera or screen wing:

Feather Flipper

I wanted to use an Adafruit AMG8833 thermal camera feather wing with the mini color TFT feather wing.  Stacking them together with a Feather doubler board works fine (and the AMG8833 data looks very nice on the tiny screen!) but the problem is that the thermal camera is looking in the same direction as the screen.  When you look at the screen all you see is…. you!

Feather Flipper

A Few Of My Favorite Things: Amateur Radio

From Jenny List on Hackaday:

A Few Of My Favorite Things: Amateur Radio

Hackaday has among its staff a significant number of writers who also hold amateur radio licenses. We’re hardware folks at heart, so we like our radios homebrew, and we’re never happier than when we’re working at high frequencies.

Amateur radio is a multi-faceted hobby, there’s just so much that’s incredibly interesting about it. It’s a shame then that as a community we sometimes get bogged down with negativity when debating the minutia. So today let’s talk about a few of my favourite things about the hobby of amateur radio. I hope that you’ll find them interesting and entertaining, and in turn share your own favorite things in the comments below.

A Few Of My Favorite Things: Amateur Radio

DSLR Camera Interface for Raspberry Pi

From Jo Hinchliffe on the Tindie blog:

Many DSLR camera’s have the ability to have their shutters triggered remotely, this is often useful for keeping the camera perfectly still, but if you can automate the triggering it’s perfect for time lapse photography. This interface sits between a Raspberry Pi and a range of DSLR cameras creating lots of time lapse possibilities.

It’s compatible with Octoprint Octolapse plugin which means that you can use a high end DSLR to create beautiful time lapses of 3D prints magically growing out of your printer bed. Also on the product page there are example python scripts that enable quick setup for high quality time lapse. We note that although it’s sold as a Raspberry Pi interface, this device is happy with a 3.3V or 5V input and that it could be triggered by most micro controllers. If you have a Sony, Canon or Nikon DSLR then this should work out of the box, for other DSLR you might need an audio adaptor to get up and running.

Looking around the marketplace there are other options for remote triggering cameras, this search for camera trigger reveals a plethora of interesting solutions. Sound triggers, lightning sensor triggers, stand alone intervalometer boards and more. We’ve also blogged on similar products previously, for example check out this camera interface kit that sets your camera up to be triggered by a laser pointer.

DSLR Camera Interface for Raspberry Pi

Listen to Star Simpson “On The Metal”

On The Metal is a great podcast for people that enjoy tales of computer engineering and the latest guest is the wonderful Star Simpson!

On the Metal: Star Simpson

Welcome back to the second of our three part bonus season of On the Metal: episodes that we recorded after the end of Season 1 but before the onset of the pandemic.

On this episode of On the Metal, we interview Star Simpson, autonomous aviation visionary, insatiably curious engineer, and relentless optimizer. Join us as we learn how a pirated C++ compiler at an impressionable age pushed Star towards electronics, how a friend jockeying for Hacker News karma landed her work on late-night TV — and why you definitely didn’t want to be test pilot on the Piasecki PA-97. And if you find yourself hankering for a good read, you’re in luck: this episode ends with a flurry of book recommendations sure to sate your inner aviation buff.

Listen to Star Simpson “On The Metal”

Meet the PyCorder

Joey Castillo is well-known for the awesome OpenBook e-reader project and has recently announced a new open source hardware project: the PyCorder!

It uses the microcontroller to sense capactive touch keyboard:

And has add-on sensors like moisture to monitor soil:

And pulse oximetry:

Meet the PyCorder

Open Hardware Summit CFP

News from the Open Hardware Summit coming up in April:

Open Hardware Summit (Edition 11), Call for Proposals

Link to Apply: https://forms.gle/RNXUfWaZBpohdq5Y6

The Open Hardware Summit (OHS) invites talk proposals for the eleventh annual summit! This year’s summit is virtual and will be held online on Friday 2021-04-09, 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM EDT.

The Open Hardware Summit is for presenting, discussing, and learning about open hardware of all kinds. The summit examines open hardware applications, practices, and theory, ranging from environmental sensors to 3D printable medical devices to open hardware processors and beyond. We are interested in open hardware on its own as well as in relation to topics such as software, design, business, law, and education. Past talks have featured topics such as advances in space propulsion, humanitarian projects, right to repair legislation, open hardware in education, and open hardware marketing.

For our eleventh edition we are especially looking for speakers who can offer insights around the role of open hardware in the COVID-19 pandemic, open hardware medical devices, and related topics.

We invite talk proposals from individuals and groups. Submissions are due by Thursday 2021-02-11 at 11 PM EDT.

Open Hardware Summit CFP

Circuit VR: Even More Op Amps

In the last Circuit VR we looked at some basic op amp circuits in a simulator, including the non-inverting amplifier. Sometimes you want an amplifier that inverts the signal. That is a 5V input results in a -5V output (or -10V if the amplifier has a gain of 2). This corresponds to a 180 degree phase shift which can be useful in amplifiers, filters, and other circuits. Let’s take a look at an example circuit simulated with falstad.

Last time I mentioned two made up rules that are good shortcuts for analyzing op amp circuits…

Read more: Circuit VR: Even More Op Amps — Hackaday

Circuit VR: Even More Op Amps

Open Hardware Needs Policy Attention Now

From the Journal of Open HW:

Open Hardware Needs Policy Attention Now

Increasing government attention to “open” agendas, complemented by growing community capacity, have laid the groundwork for driving policy attention towards open hardware. The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the ability of open hardware communities to mobilize for disaster response, including through the design and production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies when traditional supply chains failed. A new Administration offers an opportunity to build on lessons learned from this unforeseen and extensive experiment in scaling open collaboration on hardware and also to revisit what has worked in the past for related fields such as community science and open source software. A whole-of-government approach to elevating open hardware, including for scientific research and disaster response, feels both timely and necessary in order to amplify effective activities and provide scaffolding for an even more impactful future.

To better understand potential opportunities, researchers and practitioners from the Wilson Center, Open Environmental Data Project, and University of Cambridge convened a workshop on October 28, 2020 to bring together members of the open hardware community, such as those involved in GOSH and OSHWA. Beginning with the question What are you most excited about in open science hardware right now, the workshop focused on establishing a value proposition for open hardware as a matter of public policy as well as elucidating open challenges that might be addressed by policy interventions. One goal of the workshop was to develop high-level consensus around “key messages,” for policy makers and a list of eleven suggestions was subsequently ranked by participants. This exercise made it clear that to refine these further, more work was needed to understand specific accelerators and barriers to the adoption and use of open hardware, and to align perspectives between the policy community and diverse developers and users of open hardware from academia, industry and community organisations operating across a broad range of disciplines.

Read more…

Open Hardware Needs Policy Attention Now