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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All talk and schedule information is available on the conference webpage, but here are the things you don’t want to miss (all times are Pacific time zone):
- 11:10 am | Keynote: Elicia White
- 5:15 pm | Hacker Trivia: https://youtu.be/uRpUdQi31tg
- 6:15pm | Bring-a-Hack: Remoticon ticket holders will receive an email on how to join, we’ll also share that info in the Discord
We’ve already unveiled multiple keynote speakers and a slate of fascinating presenters that will be showing off everything from reverse engineering vintage calculators to taking those first tentative steps on your CAD journey for this year’s Remoticon. You’d be forgiven for thinking that’s everything you’ll see at the conference, but there’s still plenty to announce before the two-day virtual event kicks off on November 19th. Normally we’d be promising to make sure you get your money’s worth, but since tickets are cmpletely free, we’re shooting a bit higher than that.
Jeroen Domburg (aka [Sprite_tm]): Rickrolling Buddha: A Deep Dive in Reverse Engineering and Thoroughly Pwning an Unknown Chip
Sergiy Nesterenko: Don’t Flip My Bits: Electronics in Spaaaace
Vaibhav Chhabra: M19 Initiative – A Case of Open Innovation & Distributed Manufacturing at Scale
Arsenijs Picugins: Laptop-Be-Done
While we’ll have to another year for Supercon, prolific badge maker Thomas Flummer is helping to bring the communal hardware hacking spirit to Hackaday’s upcoming virtual conference:
If you would like a badge for Remoticon.2, this project is for you. It’s a design in KiCad, with a bit of space for you to add in whatever you would like to have on your badge (and maybe already have parts for), but still in a look that will make it be part of the visual identity of Remoticon.2
So, compared to a badge that are handed out at an in-person event, this will require a little bit of effort ahead of time. If you want to have a badge for the event, you will need to send if for production fairly soon.
This years color theme matches OSHParks purple PCBs very nicely, and the fine silkscreen details will come out great, as they use a high DPI printing technique.
The KiCad project includes a badge design with a grid of regular 0.1″ spaced pads, but the idea is that you remove all those and add in some circuitry that you think would be cool to have on your badge. And with the current state of silicon parts supply, probably something you already have or at least have found in stock somewhere.
This is ment to to be a fun little extra thing, so no need to spend too long on doing the perfect design, but maybe try to remix something you did previously, or experiment with that little part that you never got to use and is just sitting there on the shelf.
The important part is having fun and sharing with each other.
There are shared projects of this variant at https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/gRSf01dV and the simple version with 0.1″ spaced holes are at https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/YJqAizIf if you don’t want to make your own changes to the files.
The final entry round of the Hackaday Prize begins today, and the theme is… anything! While we’ve guided you through work-from-home, robots, displays, and supportive devices, there are countless great ideas that don’t fit in those boxes. So for this round, just show us what you got!
Entering the Reactive Wildcard round is easy. Publish a page about your project over on Hackaday.io and use the left sidebar “Submit-to” menu on that page to add it to the Hackaday prize. The point is to build a better future, and we can’t wait to see what you think that looks like. Need some inspiration? Check out the four challenge update videos below to see what others have been entering so far this year.
What’s at stake here? Ten entries in this round will each receive a cash prize of $500 and move onto the final round. There, they content with finalist from the other four rounds for the $25,000 Grand Prize, and four other top prizes. There is also the geek cred of making the finals, a priceless achievement, even if we do say so ourselves.
There are still a few days left until the Redefine Robotics challenge deadline on Monday, September 27th:
Challenge 4: Redefine Robots
Entry Period 7:01 a.m. P.D.T on August 23, 2021 – 7:00 a.m. P.D.T on September 27, 2021
Finalists Announced 10/4
Rethink robotics with this challenge, utilizing hardware to create an assistant, a companion, or something else entirely!
Whether it’s a friendly digital face to keep you grounded, or a functional robotic arm to assist you in your projects, we want to see the droids and robots of the future! How can robotic companions or assistants help us thrive in this new normal? Your designs should utilize robotics in a unique way, as a personal assistant, a friendly companion, or something else entirely!