With so many hackerspaces in the world, it can be difficult to keep up with them all. It must certainly be a headache for the maintainers of hackerspace directories, with new arrivals as well as spaces sadly closing meaning that a directory can only be as current as its last update. For those of us who follow the world of hackerspaces professionally it’s a struggle to keep on top of them all, and we know there will always be that amazing project posted on a hackerspace website that will pass us by.
Here’s where SpaceAPI can help: by providing a standard JSON interface to the space properties. This holds not only all the static details such as location and contact details, but also the address of the space’s project repository, and most interestingly an indication of whether or not the space is open. The JSON can be a static file, but in many spaces it’s generated by the space itself depending on whether or not there is someone in it.
OSHWA recently sent a response to the 5G Challenge Notice of Inquiry published by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the US. The Notice of Inquiry focuses on the development of an open-source software stack for 5G wireless communication. In our response we highlighted the role that Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) can play in the path from the radio receiver to the 5G software stack and conversely from the software stack to the radio transmitter. FPGAs can cope with very high data rates, for which pure software solutions can be suboptimal.
It is therefore important that FPGA designs are made part of the challenge, and also that these designs be open-source for the same reasons that it makes sense to open-source the software stack. FPGA design is typically done using Hardware Description Languages (HDLs). HDL code is fed to synthesis, place & route and bitstream generation tools. The bitstream file then configures the FPGA, so its logic gates and flip-flops implement the circuit specified in the design. HDL code is sometimes called “gateware” (a reference to the logic gates it targets) to distinguish it from software.
If researchers and developers are going to collaborate on common open-source gateware and software, they would ideally do so using an open hardware platform. This would democratize access, enlarging the talent pool which can contribute to the effort. It would also protect the development against vendor lock-in and save time and effort on porting to different imperfectly-compatible platforms.
Finally, this could be an opportunity to improve the Free and Open Source Software tools for gateware design. There are thriving communities of open-source software-defined radio and FPGA tool developers, and we believe including them in this challenge and having hardware and gateware in the picture will result in a better 5G for everyone.
A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to sign up for the Zero to ASIC course offered by Matthew Venn. This is a really exciting prospect as it is not every day that you get to design your own custom silicon! I had always though of chip design as one of those things that only big corporations filled with academics could do, which is the same way that I though of designing and building computers until a few years ago. Looking through the syllabus for the course, though, it certainly looks like it is within reach for mere mortals like myself. At the end of it I can submit my design, and if I am lucky, I will end up with a few pieces of silicon with my own circuit on it.
I will be updating this blog as I make my way through the course, highlighting anything of interest, or bits I struggle with, or giving some details about some of the choices I make. There will also be a series of interviews on YouTube after each section of the course where we discuss how things are going, what I’ve learned and maybe other stuff. The first episode is available on YouTube now;
It’s true to say that we are spoilt for choice when it comes to wonderful LED badge designs on Tindie. However, the luxuriously-coloured Nautilus Blue from n°Garage stood out to us and we wanted to show it off!
It’s a lovely design that’s sold fully assembled. It doesn’t have the usual badge pin or clip but rather has a small mount hole at the edge of the PCB and as such lends itself to being worn as a key chain or perhaps a pendant. There’s seven cool blue LED’s around the design, driven by a logic inverter IC and powered by a coin cell in a holder on the reverse. We also notice on the reverse there is another LED that we can see casts a little back lighting glow through some of the via’s on the PCB.
It’s the perfect accompaniment for a night out or a fancy dress outfit in need of illuminaton and perfect for oceanic, aquatic, or seaside-themed get togethers!
Definitely take the time to have a look around the n°Garage store as they have created and curated a gorgeous range of badges. They use a real variety of techniques to get wonderful and very wearable effects.
We’ve all been there, poking a hot soldering iron at a component on a PCB and then the PCB shifts and components fall as your set up of tape and binder clips slide across the desk! Whilst PCB vice ideas are common, these Board Braces take a slightly different but very inventive approach.
The idea is pretty straightforward; each post is a large standoff with a screw clamp arrangement at the top of the post to hold your PCB in a groove. It’s a good approach as it adapts well to a range of PCB thicknesses and sizes. The base of the posts contain a strong magnet, so you have to work on a ferrous metal work surface (not supplied) and we like that that means the posts can accommodate PCB of many shapes and dimensions.
If the global pandemic caused you to find yourself working from home, I’m sure it’s been quite a ride. Maybe you learned what your spine feels like after hunching over a MacBook in bed for 40 hours. Others discovered that the commute had been silently serving as a power-down sequence for your “work brain” — without it you never stopped thinking about, or more likely worrying about, work. And without that change in venue, it’s far too easy to feel like you were now living at work. So let’s invent the things that can make us productive from home while maintaining physical health and preserving our sanity.
You sure do learn a lot when life suddenly makes it impossible to go into the office and asks that you instead do the same work remotely. Sure, there are the obvious challenges like needing a device to do the work on and an internet connection that’s not going to melt down when family or roommates are trying to Zoom at the same time as you one-on-one with the boss. But there’s way more to it. The Refresh Work-From-Home Life challenge takes this on as the next phase of the Hackaday Prize gets under way this morning.
Ten entries in this challenge will be awarded with $500 and ushered into the final round where the grand prize of $25,000 and four other top prizes await. What kind of things are we looking for? The best ideas are the ones we haven’t had yet, but I can spitball a bit to get things rolling.
Modern smart watches have some incredible features, but they still don’t stack up to what science fiction promised us, both in size and capabilities. Fortunately, [Zack Freedman] has set out to change that with the Singularitron, a modular wearable computer that is less Apple Watch and more Pip-Boy.
The most striking features of this monstrosity is its size and the out-of-production four-line VFD display. The inputs consist of a row of large RGB-illuminated buttons and a rotary encoder mounted at an angle to curve around the wearers arm. On the inside are a pair of PCBs with an integrated Teensy 3.2, BLE module, motion processing module, haptic driver and power circuitry drawing from a removable 18650 battery. The armband is from a commercial wrist mounted barcode scanner which attaches to the Singularitron with a quick-detach mount.
While supplies last, sign up as a new OSHWA member at the General Membership level or higher and get a 2021 goodie bag! We have 15 partial bags left over from the summit that contain about 90% of the items. You must have an address in the U.S. for shipping and customs. See our membership level options and enter your shipping address at checkout.
The goal of the “Rethink Displays” challenge is to envision interesting ways to visualize data. How many times an hour do you reach for an unlock a smartphone just to get a small bit of data — current temperature, upcoming appointment, the next street to turn on, or how much time is left on your soufflé. There must be another way!
This doesn’t need to be a final product. Ten entries will be selected to receive a $500 prize and move on to the final round at the end of October. So if you spend this weekend pulling together a proof of concept, and do a superb job of telling the story of what you’re building, you’ll be firmly in the running! Finalists will have plenty of time to work on completing the designs.