OSHWA is hiring a Program Coordinator

The Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) is looking for a Program Coordinator to assist with a new program designed to engage open hardware in academia. The new program will give grants to academics to document the process of creating successful open hardware projects in academia. The Program Coordinator will be responsible for assisting in building out the program, managing the day-to-day deadlines of grantees, answering questions, scheduling meetings, and generally facilitating the development of the network. Ideal candidates will have an understanding of academic operations, typical academic outputs, budgets, and open source hardware.  However, candidates do not need to be situated in academia.

OSHWA is a steward to the community of people who create, study, and use open source hardware. Open source hardware is hardware whose intellectual property is open rather than closed, i.e. patented. OSHWA is a US based 501(c)3 non-profit. OSHWA aims to foster technological knowledge and encourage research that is accessible, collaborative and respects user freedom. 

OSHWA believes that the open source hardware community is strengthened by its diversity and, as such, encourages people of color, women, the LGBTQIA+ community, persons with disabilities, and people at intersections of these identities, from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods, to apply for this position.

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OSHWA is hiring a Program Coordinator

KiCAD 6.0: What Made It and What Didn’t

Dave Rowntree writes:

I’ve been following the development of KiCAD for a number of years now, and using it as my main electronics CAD package daily for a the last six years or thereabouts, so the release of KiCAD 6.0 is quite exciting to an electronics nerd like me. The release date had been pushed out a bit, as this is such a huge update, and has taken a little longer than anticipated. But, it was finally tagged and pushed out to distribution on Christmas day, with some much deserved fanfare in the usual places.

So now is a good time to look at which features are new in KiCAD 6.0 — actually 6.0.1 is the current release at time of writing due to some bugfixes — and which features originally planned for 6.0 are now being postponed to the 7.0 roadmap and beyond.

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KiCAD 6.0: What Made It and What Didn’t

This USB-C Connector Is Flexible

From Hackaday:

The USB-C standard with its smaller connector has so far mostly escaped this trend, though this might be about to change thanks to the work of [Sam Ettinger]. His own description of his USB-C connector using a flexible PCB and a BGA-packaged ATTiny84A microcontroller is “cursed”, but we can’t decide whether or not it should also be called “genius”.

Key to this inspired piece of connector fabrication is the realization that the thickness of BGA and flex PCB together comes to the required 0.7 mm. The BGA provides the necessary stiffness, and though it’s a one-sided connector it fits the space perfectly. There are several demo boards as proofs-of-concept, and the whole lot can be found in a GitHub repository.

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This USB-C Connector Is Flexible

KiCad 6.0 released!

Congratulations to the KiCad development team on the release of KiCad 6.0.0 and a big thanks to everyone that contributed! 🎉

The KiCad project is proud to announce the release of version 6.0.0. This is the first major version release of KiCad since 5.0.0 was released in July of 2018.

KiCad binaries are available for download for Windows, MacOS, and Linux or will be in the very near future. See the KiCad download page for guidance.

There have been many important changes that make this release a substantial improvement over the 5.x series and a worthwhile upgrade for users on all platforms. There are hundreds of new features and improvements, as well as hundreds of bugs that have been fixed. Below are some of the highlights of the new release.

Thank you to all the developers, packagers, librarians, document writers, translators, and everyone else who helped make this release possible. We hope you enjoy the latest release of KiCad.

Until January 15th, every donation to KiCad will be matched!

KiCad 6.0 released!

Sniffing Signals To Teach Old Speakers New Tricks

All Jay Tavares wanted was for his Bose Cinemate speakers to turn themselves on and off as needed. It seems like a reasonable enough request, and indeed, is exactly the point of HDMI’s Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) feature. But in this case, it would take a bit of custom hardware to get similar functionality.

Unfortunately, the speakers [Jay] has only support optical audio; so any interoperability with HDMI-CEC (hacked or otherwise) was immediately out the window. Still, he reasoned that he should be able to detect when the TOSLINK audio source is actually active or not, and give the speaker system the appropriate signal to either power on or shut down. You might think this would require some kind of separate stand-alone device, but as it turns out, all the necessary information was available by reverse engineering the connection between the receiver and the subwoofer.

After some investigation, [Jay] found that not only was the content of the TOSLINK audio source being sent over this DB9 cable, but so were the control signals required to turn the system on and off. So he designed a simple pass-through device with an ATtiny85 and a couple passives that latches onto the relevant lines in the cable.

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Sniffing Signals To Teach Old Speakers New Tricks

“Purr Module” Flex PCB for Companion Bots

From Alex Glow at Hackster:

furry companion robot that can purr? For me, a roboticist who can’t have pets, my newest bot will make the winter months so much more cozy! I’ve designed this module in KiCad to provide a soothing purring interaction, complementing my Companion Core. It runs on 5V and can power two or four haptic vibration motors.

Plus, it has a neat bee design! Buzz buzz. 🐝

“Purr Module” Flex PCB for Companion Bots

Case study on Miniature Propulsion System

We enjoy following the journey of Applied Ion Systems to develop plasma and ion thruster systems for nanosatellites at a hobbyist-level budget. Xometry published a case study on AIS:

More than half a century later, at 5:30 pm EST on March 22 of 2021, Michael Bretti was sitting in his living room. He was eagerly watching a live stream of a satellite launch. The satellite, christened “Care Weather Hatchling Veery 1U Cubesat”, was equipped with an AIS-gPPT3-1C Micro Pulsed Plasma Thruster. This plasma thruster would help the satellite make very small maneuvers in orbit. Michael built that thruster through months of trial and error. And he did it in the basement of his New York home.

“It was unreal. What started as a hobby led me to build something that is now in orbit. I got to see the payload separate from the rocket. When you know something you built and touched is now floating in the atmosphere, it’s a cool feeling.”

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Case study on Miniature Propulsion System

The 555 Timer Contest Returns! — Hackaday

The Hackaday 555 Timer contest has returned:

The short of it is you just need to use a 555 timer and you qualify for this contest.

The longer story is that we want to see just about anything 555-related. In fact, projects that don’t use a 555 are fine as long as they are based on the idea. So, if the global chip shortage has you struggling to even find one of these, just build the parts of the internal circuit yourself and you’re golden. The real trick here is to explain what you’re doing and why.

Find out more…

The 555 Timer Contest Returns! — Hackaday

Watch Blender Plugin Make Animated PCB Traces

Donald Papp writes on Hackaday:

[Staacks]’s Blender plugin to animate growth is behind the sweet animation seen above. It’s an add-on that cleverly makes creating slick growth animations easier when using Blender. It isn’t limited to PCB images either, although they do happen to make an excellent example of the process.

The idea is that one begins with an image texture with a structure showing a bunch of paths (like a maze, or traces on a PCB), and that gets used as an input. The plugin then uses a path finding algorithm to determine how these paths could grow from an origin point, and stores the relevant data in the color channels of an output image. That output is further used within Blender as the parameters with which to generate the actual animation, resulting in the neat self-creating PCB seen above. That PCB isn’t just for show, by the way. It’s the PCB for [Staacks]’s smart doorbell project.

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Watch Blender Plugin Make Animated PCB Traces

ThunderScope, the Open Source Software-Defined Oscilloscope, Is Coming to Crowd Supply

James Lewis writes about the ThunderScope which features to 350 MHz analog bandwidth with 1 G/s sample rate streamed to a PC at 1 Gb/s:

Oscilloscopes can be an electronics engineer’s best friend. These highly versatile tools are helpful, from basic debug to verification tests to compliance checks for standards. Not only are their measurements varied, but so are their form factors. Two common styles are “bench” scopes, which go on a bench, and PC-based oscilloscopes, which, until now, have primarily used USB. An Ontario-based EE graduate student, Aleska Bjelorlic, is launching a Crowd Supply campaign for an open source software-defined oscilloscope. The four-channel ThunderScope has up to 350 megahertz of bandwidth and can stream acquisition data to a PC at one gigasamples per second.

Since we last covered ThunderScope, Bjelorlic and friends have further developed the hardware to a near-final state and have continued extensive work on the software side.

ThunderScope comes in an unassuming box that is just large enough to house 4 BNC connectors, a compensation output, four fully-functional front-end stages, an ADC, and an Artix-7 FPGA to capture the data and transfer it to the PC.

ThunderScope, the Open Source Software-Defined Oscilloscope, Is Coming to Crowd Supply