Available to order as a PCB from OSH Park or a completed unit from Tindie, this compact Arduino-compatible aims to make BLE a cinch.
PeskyProducts and Tlera Corp have designed an open-hardware development board for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) projects, built around STMicro’s STM32 microcontroller and boasting full Arduino IDE support: the Firefly BLE.
“This is a small, open source hardware implementation designed to make using and customizing the STM32WB55 easy for everyone,” Tlera Corp explains of the Firefly BLE’s design. “It supports iBeacon, NUS, BlueST protocols as well as standard and custom BLE services and characteristics.
“For several years we have been making use of ST’s STM32L4 family of ultra-low-power MCUs in a variety of applications including development boards, asset trackers, and environmental monitors. Often we include a BMD-350 (nRF52) module for BLE connectivity with smart devices like Android and IOS phones, etc. With the new dual core STM32WB55 MCU, we can now make devices similar in cost, size, and functionality to those we have been but also have the added benefit of embedded BLE connectivity.”
[Tommy]’s POLY555 is an analog, 20-note polyphonic synthesizer that makes heavy use of 3D printing and shows off some clever design. The POLY555, as well as [Tommy]’s earlier synth designs, are based around the 555 timer. But one 555 is one oscillator, which means only one note can be played at a time. To make the POLY555 polyphonic, [Tommy] took things to their logical extreme and simply added multiple 555s, expanding the capabilities while keeping the classic 555 synth heritage.
The real gem here is [Tommy]’s writeup. In it, he explains the various design choices and improvements that went into the POLY555, not just as an instrument, but as a kit intended to be produced and easy to assemble. Good DFM (Design For Manufacturability) takes time and effort, but pays off big time even for things made in relatively small quantities. Anything that reduces complexity, eliminates steps, or improves reliability is a change worth investigating.
For example, the volume wheel is not a thumbwheel pot. It is actually a 3D-printed piece attached to the same potentiometer that the 555s use for tuning; meaning one less part to keep track of in the bill of materials. It’s all a gold mine of tips for anyone looking at making more than just a handful of something, and a peek into the hard work that goes into designing something to be produced. [Tommy] even has a short section dedicated to abandoned or rejected ideas that didn’t make the cut, which is educational in itself. Want more? Good news! This isn’t the first time we’ve been delighted with [Tommy]’s prototyping and design discussions.
POLY555’s design files (OpenSCAD for enclosure and parts, and KiCad for schematic and PCB) as well as assembly guide are all available on GitHub, and STL files can be found on Thingiverse. [Tommy] sells partial and complete kits as well, so there’s something for everyone’s comfort level. Watch the POLY555 in action in the video, embedded below.
Efabless wants to enable everyone to produce chips. As previous talks in the FOSSi Dial-Up series have shown, getting to this point requires solving a huge amount of technical, legal, and financial challenges. Taken together they made it unthinkable for hobbyists, many in academia, and even for small companies to produce their own chips. Thankfully these initial hurdles are of the past. Once the innovative power of the open source community was unleashed, many of the projects associated with the Open MPW shuttle saw an exponential rise in interest.
With interest exploding there was a lot to learn for everybody involved. Efabless, Google, and SkyWater prepared for that even before the Open MPW program was announced by producing three test chips, which were intended to validate the tooling and especially the SRAM components of the chip. An experience that paid off when they put together the Caravel Harness SoC, a “frame” with a 10mm² space in the middle for the actual chip design.
What are we gonna’ do with all this data? Let’s make it something fun! That’s the point of the just-launched Data Loggin’ contest. Do something clever to automatically log a data set and display it in an interesting way. Three winners will each receive a $100 Tindie gift certificate for showing off an awesome project.
Data logging is often an afterthought when working on a project, but the way you collect and store data can have a big effect on the end project. Just ask Tesla who are looking at a multi-thousand-dollar repair process for failing eMMC from too much logging. Oops. Should you log to an SD card? Internet? Stone tablets? (Yes please, we actually really want to see that for this contest.) Make sure to share those details so your project can be a template for others to learn from in the future.
You probably already have something harvesting data. Here’s the excuse you need to do something silly (or serious) with that data. Tells us about it by publishing a project page on Hackaday.io and don’t forget to use that “Submit Project To” menu to add it to the Data Loggin’ contest.
The Data Fitness Connector (DFC) data broadcaster is a Bluetooth device that allows Peloton bikes to communicate with fitness watches, head units, and apps—a feature that’s not available on stock Peloton bikes. It reads power and cadence data in realtime, through a cable connected to your bike, and broadcasts them to nearby devices, including those built around non-Peloton platforms like Zwift and Garmin. This allows you to enjoy the built-in functionality of your bike while simultaneously utilizing features and services that depend on third-party platforms.
One of our goals for this project is to make it easier for hobbyists to design and build hardware that interacts with fitness machines, which is why we’re offering a Maker Edition of DFC. Sure, if you’re trying to start the next indoor fitness revolution, you probably have your own hardware team. But what if you just want to crank up the music and cue some heroic lighting when you hit your pace? Or progressively inflate a balloon so you know your workout’s over when it pops? DFC lets you bring your quirky idea to life and take it for a ride on the handlebars.
Or you could do something practical! If you must. Add a dedicated display and use it to chart realtime metrics that Peloton doesn’t display. Or log your raw data offline for the last word in platform independence. Or attach an array of sensors and see how your performance is affected air quality, humidity, and other indoor environmental factors.
Trill Flex brings flexible touch sensing to your maker projects. Trill Flex comes with a one-axis multitouch sensor printed on flexible PCB, but we designed this sensor to be detachable so you can create entirely custom sensors perfectly suited to your own projects.
In this tutorial we will create a custom 30-button flexible touchpad. You will learn how to set up a KiCad project and include the Trill design files, draw the pads, add a ground plane, and get your design ready to be printed. (Every purchase of Trill Flex comes with a unique discount code for $20 off flex PCB printing with our friends at OSHPark.com.)
The AtomDuino is basically an Arduino Pro Mini but the size of a dime. It has just about everything the arduino mini has including reset button, power supply/regulator, all pullups and caps along with pins for a FTDI programmer. The pins are not exactly the same but you have to wire this anyway. Its way to tiny for headers.
If you want to build cool things these days, you’ve probably had to master surface mount electronics. However, for many people, ball grid array (BGA) is still intimidating. Have a look at [VoltLog’s] video about his techniques for soldering BGA and inspecting that you managed to do it right.
He’s got quite a few tips about things like surface finish and flux selection. It looks easy when he does it. Of course, having a good PCB with good registration markings will help too.
You can’t get a soldering iron under the part, of course. A hot plate provides heat from underneath. A gentle push from a hot air gun will push the solder balls over the melting edge. Even taking the part off the hotplate requires a special technique.
Without seeing the result, how can you know if it was successful? Pros can use an X-ray machine, but you probably don’t have one of those sitting in your shop. [VoltLog] uses a DVM and tests the internal protection diodes that the chip almost certainly has on its pins. However, to do that, you need to put the chip on a bare board. If you were repairing an existing board, the technique wouldn’t be useful since other components on the board would throw the measurements off.