OpenSCAD is a fantastic free tool for 3D modeling, but it’s far less intuitive to use for non-programmers than mouse-driven programs such as Tinkercad. Powerful as it may be, the learning curve is pretty steep. OpenSCAD’s own clickable cheat sheet and manual comes in handy all the time, but those are really more of a reference than anything else. Never fear, because [Jochen Kerdels] had quite the productive lockdown and wrote a free comprehensive guide to mastering OpenSCAD.
[Jochen]’s book opens with a nice introduction to OpenSCAD and it’s user environment and quickly moves into 10 useful projects of increasing complexity that start with simple stuff like wall anchors and shelf brackets and ends with recursive trees.
There are plenty of printing tips along the way to help realize these projects with minimum frustration, and the book wraps up by covering extra functions not expressly used in the projects.
Introduction to Antenna Basics — Instructor Karen Rucker teaches the fundamentals of antenna design as if it were your first year on-the-job. She’ll cover the common types of antenna designs and the fundamentals of radio frequency engineering that go into them. Begins Thursday, May 6th.
Raspberry Pi Pico and RP2040 – The Deep Dive — Instructor Uri Shaked guides the class through the internals of the RP2040 microcontroller, covering system architecture, hardware peripherals, and dipping into some ARM assembly language examples. Begins Wednesday, May 5th.
Designing with Complex Geometry — Instructor James McBennett helps you up your 3D modelling game with a course on using complex geometries in Grasshopper3D (part of Rhino3D). Dive into Non-uniform rational B-spline (NURBS) and go from simple shapes to incredibly complex objects with a bit of code. Begins Tuesday, May 4th.
Each course includes five weekly classes beginning in May. Being part of the live class via Zoom offers interactivity with the instructor and other attendees. All tickets are “pay-as-you-wish” with a $20 suggested donation; all proceeds go to socially conscious charities.
For the benefit of all, each class will be edited and published on Hackaday’s YouTube channel once this session has wrapped up. Check out our playlists for past HackadayU courses, or watch them all in one giant playlist.
You might also consider becoming an Engineering Liaison for HackadayU. These volunteers help keep the class humming along for the best experience for students and instructors alike. Liaison applications are now open.
Read more New HackadayU Classes
As the pandemic edges further into its second year, the tedium of life under lockdown is taking its toll. We may be fighting the spread of infection by staying home and having our meetings over video conferencing software, but it’s hellishly boring! What we wouldn’t do for our hackerspaces to be open, and for the chance to hang out and chew the fat about our lockdown projects!
Here at Hackaday we can bring some needed relief in the form of the Hackaday Remote: Bring-A-Hack held via Zoom on Thursday, April 8th, at 1pm Pacific time. We know you’ve been working hard over the last year, and since you’ve been denied the chance to share those projects in person, we know you just can’t wait to sign up. Last year’s Remoticon showed us the value of community get-togethers online, with both the team soldering challenge rounds and the bring-a-hack being particular event highlights, so it’s time for a fresh dose to keep up our spirits.
It doesn’t matter how large or small your project is, if it interests you other readers will also want to see it. Be prepared to tell the world how you made it, what problems you solved, and a bit about yourself, and then step back, take a bow, and be showered with virtual roses from the adoring masses. There’s a sign-up link if you have a project to show off. Don’t hold back if you’re worried it’s not impressive enough, a certain Hackaday scribe has submitted an OpenSCAD library she’s working on.
Hackaday is hosting a remote Bring-A-Hack on April 8th:
Are you working on an awesome project that you want to share with the Hackaday community? We want to hear from you! Sign up to share your project during the community meetup, Hackaday Remote: Bring-A-Hack, on April 8th, 2021.
From the Hackaday blog:
Physical access to electronics generally means all bets are off when it comes to information security. But in special cases this is just unacceptable and a better solution must be found. Consider the encryption keys used by point of sale machines. To protect them, the devices incorporate anti-tamper mechanisms that will wipe the keys from memory if the device is opened. One such technique is to use a mesh of traces on a circuit board that are monitored for any changes in resistance or capacitance. [Sebastian Götte] has been researching in this area and wrote a KiCad plugin to automatically generate tamper-detection mesh.
Nostalgia seems to be an inevitable consequence of progress. Advance any field far enough into the future, and eventually someone will look back with misty eyes and fond memories of the good old days and start the process of turning what would qualify as junk under normal conditions into highly desirable collectibles.
In some ways, those who have been bitten by the computer nostalgia bug are lucky, since the sheer number of artifacts produced during their period of interest is likely to be pretty high, making getting gear to lovingly restore relatively easy. But even products produced in their millions can eventually get difficult to find, especially once they get snapped up by eager collectors, leaving the rest to make do or do without.
Of course, if you’re as resourceful as Tube Time is, there’s another alternative: build your own retro recreations. He has embarked on some pretty intense builds to recapture a little of what early computer enthusiasts went through trying to build useful machines. He has built replicas of early PC sound cards, like an ISA-bus AdLib card, its MCA equivalent, and the “Snark Barker”— or is it the “Snood Bloober”? — which bears an uncanny resemblance to the classic Sound Blaster card from the 1980s.
Tube Time will join us for the Hack Chat this week to answer questions about all his retro recreations, including his newest work on a retro video card. Be sure to bring your questions on retro rebuilds, reverse engineering, and general computer nostalgia to the chat.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, March 17 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.
Hackaday has announced a new contest:
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.
Next, consider Schrodinger’s dataset: if the data is never used does it actually exist? Grab some attention with how you use this data. That automatic donut slicer you built can be used to slice up a tasty pie-chart of the minutes you spent on the elliptical this week. Your energy consumption can be plotted if you connect that OpenCV meter reader up to your favorite cloud service to visualize the data or a NodeRED dashboard if you’d rather keep things local. You could also make some of that data permanent, like this blanket that encoded baby’s sleep patterns in the colors.
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.
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.
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
From Matthew Carlson on Hackaday:
[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.