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.
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.
[K6ARK] likes to operate portable, so he puts together very lightweight antennas. One of his latest uses tiny toroids and SMD capacitors to form trap elements. You can see the construction of it in the video below.
You usually think of toroid winding as something you do when building transmitters or receivers, especially small ones like these. We presume the antenna is best for QRP (low power) operation since the tiny core would saturate pretty quickly at higher power. Exactly how much power you should pass through an FT50-43 core depends on the exact application, but we’ve seen numbers around 5 watts.
Oregon State University must be a pretty good place to go to school if you want to hack on robots. Their robotics club, which looks active and impressive, has a multi-part video series on how to solder surface mount components that is worth watching. [Anthony] is the team lead for their Mars Rover team and he does the job with some pretty standard-looking tools.
The soldering station in use is a sub-$100 Aoyue with both a regular iron and hot air. There’s also a cheap USB microscope that looks like it has a screen, but is covered in blue tape to hold it to an optical microscope. So no exotic tools that you’d need a university affiliation to match.
Even if you’ve done a lot of SMD soldering, you can always pick up new tips and tricks. There’s lots of flux, of course, and careful alignment before you secure the component down. We know the feeling of leaving a bad solder joint long enough to go secure the other pads and then cleaning it up at the end.
Live streaming events open to the public will begin on Saturday at 10:00 PST with open remarks and Kipp Bradford’s keynote talk. Workshops and the SMD Challenge will live-stream all day. And Alfred Jones will present his keynote at 18:30 PST followed by the Hackaday Prize Ceremony. Follow our media channels to be notified of all live streams:
User [mircemk] presents his “MiliOhm Meter” project which you can build with an Arduino, a handful of common parts from your lab, and a cigar box. It doesn’t get much simpler than this, folks. While this is something you won’t be getting calibrated with NIST traceability, it looks like a fun and quick project that’s more than suited for hobbyist measurements. It’s not only easy to build, the Arduino sketch is less than thirty lines of code. This is a great learning project, plus you get something useful for your lab when its finished.
Anyone who’s ever put together a bill-of-materials for an electronic device will be familiar with the process of s USBcouring supplier catalogs and data sheets for the best choice of components. The trick is to score the best combination of price and performance for the final product, and for those unused to the process, there are always seemingly identical products with an astonishingly wide variety of prices. It’s a topic [Timon] explores in a Twitter thread, examining a 20-cent in quantity of 100 USB-C socket alongside one that costs only 5 cents, and his teardown provides a fascinating insight into their manufacture.
The parts look so nearly identical that while it’s possible to differentiate between them visually, it’s near impossible to work out which was the cheaper. Some tiny features such as a crack in a metal fold or a bit less plating on the contacts emerge, but even then it’s no guide to the quality as they don’t appear on the same part. It’s only when the metal shell is removed to expose the underlying plastic moulding that more clues emerge, as one moulding is more complex than the other. The more complex moulding provides a better and more reliable fit at the expense of a much more costly moulding process, so at last we can not only identify the more expensive part but also see where the extra cash has gone. It’s a subtle thing, but one that could make a huge difference to the performance of the final assembly and which makes for a fascinating expose for electronic design engineers.
There’s just one week left until Hackaday Remoticon, our online gathering in place of our traditional in-person conference during this time of social distancing. Joining the more than 20 hands-on workshops that make up the bulk of Remoticon, we’re excited to announce the two keynote speakers who will be taking the virtual stage: Alfred Jones and Kipp Bradford.
Tickets to see these keynote talks, to watch the SMD Challenge, to see hardware demos, and to take part in the show and tell are free, so get yours today!
The annual Hackaday Supercon is taking place as Remoticon this year on November 6th to 8th. The talented Thomas Flummer has design a PCB badge based on the SMD challenge that can be further customized in KiCad.