30 FPS Flip-Dot Display Uses Cool Capacitor Trick

Most people find two problems when it comes to flip-dot displays: where to buy them and how to drive them. If you’re [Pierre Muth] you level up and add the challenge of driving them fast enough to rival non-mechanical displays like LCDs. It was a success, resulting in a novel and fast way of controlling flip-dot displays.

Read more: 30 FPS Flip-Dot Display Uses Cool Capacitor Trick — Hackaday
30 FPS Flip-Dot Display Uses Cool Capacitor Trick

Stochastic Markov Beats

From Matthew Carlson on Hackaday:

Stochastic Markov Beats

[Attoparsec] has been building intriguing musical projects on his YouTube channel for a while and his latest is no exception. Dubbed simply as “Node Module”, it is a rack-mounted hardware-based Markov chain beat sequencer. Traditionally Markov chains are software state machines that transition between states with given probabilities, often learned from a training corpus. That same principle has been applied to hardware beat sequencing.

Each Node Module has a trigger input, four outputs each with a potentiometer, and a trigger out. [Attoparsec] has a wonderful explanation of all the different parts and theories that make up the module at the start of his video, but the basic operation is that a trigger input comes in and the potentiometers are read to determine the probabilities of each output. One is randomly selected and fired. As you can imagine, there are loops and even dead-end nodes and for some musical pieces there is a certain number of beats expected, so a clever reset signal can be sent to pull the chain back to the initial starting state at a regular interval. The results are interesting to listen to and even better to imagine all the possibilities.

The module itself is an Arduino-based custom PCB that is laid out quite cleanly. The BOM, code, and KiCad files are available on GitHub if you want to make one yourself. This isn’t the first instrument we’ve seen [Attoparsec] make, and we’re confident it won’t be the last.

Stochastic Markov Beats

New Hackaday Contest: Earth Day Challenge

The Earth Day Challenge is now under way! Spin up your take on an Earth-Day-themed electronics project and you’ll be in the running for one of the three $200 shopping sprees at Digi-Key, who are sponsoring this contest.

This is all about raising awareness for environmental projection. You might considered something as direct as measuring and plotting air quality data, or as abstract as weighing your home’s recycling bin and garbage bin and making a game out of generating less waste in general, and boosting your recycling-to-landfill ratio. Find an application that can be moved from grid-power to solar power, or build a carbon-savings counter that calculates the impact you have when choosing your bike over a car. The coolest projects are the ones that make us all think in new ways.

In addition to those $200 prizes for the top three projects, there are $50 Tindie gift cards for the twelve most artistically presented projects. Digi-Key is looking for great images to include in a wall calendar for 2022.

Read more…

New Hackaday Contest: Earth Day Challenge

Feeling the KiCad 6 Electricity

Great post from Kerry Scharfglass on Hackaday on what’s coming up in KiCad V6:

Feeling the KiCad 6 Electricity

In 2018, when KiCad Version 5 modernized the venerable 4.X series, it helped push KiCad to become the stable and productive member of the open source EDA landscape that we know today. It has supported users through board designs both simple and complex, and like a tool whose handle is worn into a perfect grip, it has become familiar and comfortable. For those KiCad users that don’t live on the bleeding edge with nightly builds it may not be obvious that the time of version 6 is nearly upon us, but as we start 2021 it rapidly approaches. Earlier this month [Peter Dalmaris] published a preview of the changes coming version 6 and we have to admit, this is shaping up to be a very substantial release.

Don’t be mistaken, this blog post may be a preview of new KiCad features but the post itself is extensive in its coverage. We haven’t spent time playing with this release yet so we can’t vouch for completeness, but with a printed length of nearly 100 pages it’s hard to imagine [Peter] left anything out! We skimmed through the post to extract a few choice morsels for reproduction here, but obviously take a look at the source if you’re as excited as we are.

Read more…

Feeling the KiCad 6 Electricity

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?

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

Hackaday Remoticon: KiCad to Blender PCB Renders

In this workshop, Anool Mahidharia takes the output of KiCad’s VRML export, gets it rendering in Blender, and then starts tweaking the result until you’re almost not sure if it’s the real thing or a 3D model. He starts off with a board in KiCad, included in the project’s GitHub repo, and you can follow along through the basic import, or go all the way to copying the graphics off the top of an ATtiny85 and making sure that the insides of the through-plated holes match the tops.

If you don’t know Blender, maybe you don’t know how comprehensive a 3D modelling and animation tool it is. And with the incredible power comes a notoriously steep learning curve up a high mountain. Anool doesn’t even try to turn you into a Blender expert, but focuses on the tweaks and tricks that you’ll need to make good looking PCB renders. You’ll find general purpose Blender tutorials everywhere on the net, but if you want something PCB-specific, you’ve come to the right place.

Read more…

Hackaday Remoticon: KiCad to Blender PCB Renders

Recap of Hackaday Remoticon

Ish Ot Jr. writes about their Hackaday Remoticon experience:

I Attended Two Dozen Hackaday Remoticon Sessions So You Don’t Have To! (And Why You Should Anyway!)

The Hackaday Superconference typically takes place in Pasadena, California around this time each year — but like so many events in 2020, COVID threw a decisively un-jolly wrench in that plan, forcing the event online under a new moniker: Hackaday Remoticon.

Things kicked off casually on Friday night with the Community Bring A Hack, hosted on the Remo Conference platform. The platform attempts to recreate networking spaces common to in-person conferences, with “tables” and “sofas” where participants can double-click to “sit” — which in this virtual world initiates audio and video communications with other “seated” parties. While the technology itself worked fairly well, it seemed as though many participants were either confused as to how it worked, or unwilling to interact — I successfully engaged in two conversations throughout the event, otherwise happening mostly upon attendees whose audio and video was not enabled. And much like real-life events, the popular folks were unobtainable (in this case due to a six-person table limit), so it was mostly a case of looking out for people you knew, or trying to be brave and make new friends (both of which I was lucky enough to be able to do!).

The 11:15 (Eastern) slot had three workshops to chose from, and since attending two simultaneously was already pretty extreme, I had to sit out Sebastian Oort’s Soldering, nothing to be afraid of! — which thankfully is not a phobia I find myself afflicted with.

One topic I did want to learn more about was Anool Mahidharia‘s KiCad to Blender > Photorealistic PCB renders. I’d attended Mahidharia’s KiCad course on HackadayU, and have such high respect for his skills that I’d gladly have attended a session called “Photorealistic paint drying” if he was teaching it! But I’d seen some of Mahidharia’s renders already, and was so comprehensively blown away by them that I wanted to learn how he’d made them, plus, like him, I’ve been putting off learning Blender, and thought this might motivate me to get on with it! While the video for this session is not available yet, Mahidharia has written up a handy cheat sheet, and the accompany GitHub repo is full of glorious renderings that will probably make you want to give it a try too!

Recap of Hackaday Remoticon

Alfred Jones Talks About the Challenges of Designing Fully Self-Driving Vehicles

Hackaday editor Mike Szczys writes about a recent Hackaday Remoticon talk:

Alfred Jones Talks About the Challenges of Designing Fully Self-Driving Vehicles

The leap to self-driving cars could be as game-changing as the one from horse power to engine power. If cars prove able to drive themselves better than humans do, the safety gains could be enormous: auto accidents were the #8 cause of death worldwide in 2016. And who doesn’t want to turn travel time into something either truly restful or alternatively productive?

But getting there is a big challenge, as Alfred Jones knows all too well. The Head of Mechanical Engineering at Lyft’s level-5 self-driving division, his team is building the roof racks and other gear that gives the vehicles their sensors and computational hardware. In his keynote talk at Hackaday Remoticon, Alfred Jones walks us through what each level of self-driving means, how the problem is being approached, and where the sticking points are found between what’s being tested now and a truly steering-wheel-free future.

Check out the video below, and take a deeper dive into the details of his talk.

Alfred Jones Talks About the Challenges of Designing Fully Self-Driving Vehicles