DIY Vacuum Pickup Tool

We are always surprised how much useful hacking gear is in the typical craft store. You just have to think outside the box. Need a hot air gun? Think embossing tool. A soldering iron? Check the stained glass section. Magnification gear? Sewing department. We’ve figured out that people who deal with beads use lots of fine…

via [Dave’s] Not Just a Member of the Air Club for Tweezers — Hackaday

DIY Vacuum Pickup Tool

Working with Surface Mount Components and BGAs


Surface mount PCBs (Part 1) If you look at a circuit board today, you’ll see a beautiful array of surface mount chips and components, including very fine 0.5mm or even 0.4mm leaded devices and BGAs. Some of these ‘exotic’ devices can contain really advanced technology such as high speed ARM microprocessors, flash and high capacity […]

via Working with Surface Mount Components and BGAs — Intelligent Toasters

Working with Surface Mount Components and BGAs

Versatile ATtiny Programming Adapter

Lucky Resistor designed this programming adapter for ATtiny13 and similar chips:


A Versatile ATtiny Programming Adapter

As mentioned in my article about designing a cheap plant watering sensor, I built a small adapter which can be used to pre-program the ATtiny13A. This is necessary, because once soldered on the board, I only have a debugWire interface, which has to be enabled first.


The adapter has a small 50mil JTAG header, where the Atmel ICE can be connected with the board. There is also room for a USB mini jack, which is used to power the MCU while programming. A small on-off switch is used to power the MCU and a LED is placed as indicator to see if the MCU has power.

One of the DIL/ZIF adapters is mounted on top of the female headers. Most of the adapters for SO-8, SO-14 and SO-16 will work with this board.

To make the board more versatile, I added a number of jumpers and solder points. By default, the adapter is connecting to the right pins for the ATtiny13A, but you can cut these routes and solder wires onto the board to implement any kind of connection you like.

The design files are available on GitHub:

github.png LuckyResistor/ATtinyAdapter

LuckyResistor has shared the board on OSH Park:

ATtiny Adapter

Order from OSH Park

Versatile ATtiny Programming Adapter

ESP8266 Pogo Jig Programming Board

We like the novel orientation of pogo pins that Wing Tang Wong used in this board design:


ESP8266 Pogo Jig Programming Board

Upcycles D1 Mini Wemos board to create a USB connected ESP8266 Pogo pin jig


This is a board designed to take a WeMos D1 Mini board(with the ESP module removed) and use it as a USB interface with built-in reset/flash functionality for bare ESP8266 modules similar to the ESP-12 units.

The design files are available on GitHub:

github ESP8266 Programming D1 Mini Pogo Jig V1

ESP8266 Pogo Jig Programming Board

Vertically Mounted Arduino-Compatible Board

Clovis Fritzen designed this Arduino-compatible, vertically-mountable board that exclusively uses through-hole components:


Vertically mounted Arduino for Breadboard

I personally love the concept of electronic boards connected in “slots” (vertically attached to a horizontal board), like most industrial-grade PLC’s or even our desktop’s expansion cards (video, sound memory): it saves a lot of space and adds more functions to the system, all at once!


The PCB is for sale on Tindie:


Vertically mountable Arduino – PCB only

This is an Arduno-Nano compatible controller that can be vertically mounted to bredboards and boards


Vertically Mounted Arduino-Compatible Board

SparkFun Rotary Encoder Breakout Board


I designed this simple breakout board in KiCad to make it easier to put a rotary encoder on a breadboard.   The KiCad symbol and footprint for the SparkFun rotary encoder was created by mcous on GitHub.  I used an updated version with corrected pin numbering.


Bill of Materials:


The design files are available on GitHub:

Screenshot at 2017-02-14 20-58-40.png pdp7/rotary-encoder-breakout

The board is shared on OSH Park:

SparkFun Rotary Encoder Breadboard Adapter


Order from OSH Park

SparkFun Rotary Encoder Breakout Board


We’re huge fans of Sparkfun’s old school ProtoSnap kits. These include a small support tab with traces running between different sections of the board. They’re great for kit designs, allowing for both immediate out-of-box functionality, and eventual customization.

Due to our shipping and panelization process, this type of board is not fully supported, but can be fabricated with careful consideration and experimentation.

Design Considerations

These designs are almost always unique, since the number of shapes, sizes, and orientation varies wildly. The design also may need adjusting based on the intended user.

in orientation, intended usage, and shape. As a result, a bit of experimentation is always going to be required. However, here’s a few design tips to get things going.

  • Always ensure that after snapping, you can connect the boards together easily. A small header pinout near the tab works most of the time, but some designs might work best with a special connector.
  • Tab width is critical. If the tab is too narrow, it will not hold the board together well. Too wide, and it becomes difficult to break apart. 3-5 trace/hole pairs works best.
  • Hole size / pitch. The best tabs have between 20-30 mil of material between the holes. A hole size of 25 mil generates pretty good tabs.
  • Design permitting, having multiple tabs with 2-3 holes is better than one huge tab with 6 or more connections.
  • Adding traces on both top and bottom of a tab is likely to result in difficult snapping. Consider instead using more tabs, or adding instructions to score the traces.
  • Tab and board placement: Remember that your users has to remove these! If the boards are badly positioned, the tabs aren’t “snapped” as much as they are “twisted”. This can result in unusual failures.

Designing for Failures

Since these typically are for kits, the most likely failure that will occur is a pulled up trace. This is when the trace on the two boards doesn’t break, and starts pulling up traces inside your layout. Not good. Fortunately, the design can account for this in several ways.

Any of these techniques will generate a “stress concentration point” for a pulled up trace. This will cause a the trace to tear in a well-defined place, ensuring that it won’t affect your board.

The simplest one simply having vias near the tab, as seen on the sparkfun board above. A ripped up trace will usually break at the edge of the via pad.


Another option is to actually narrow the trace near the board edge. This takes up less space than a via, but still provides a good weak point in a desirable location. However, make sure you don’t go too far below the design rules!


The last option is less ideal, but may suit certain layouts. Simply jog the trace, creating a 90° bend or two.


Indicating on the design

Here’s the measurements on our typical support tabs. Your design may require different configurations, so these are a rough guideline.

Typical tabs have the following features

  • 20-25 mil drill hits
  • 20-25 mil between the edge of the drilled holes
  • roughly a 40 mil drill pitch
  • 2-5 holes per tab (3-4 recommended)
  • Holes tangent to the original board outlines


Note, the milling tool will add a 34 mil corner radius on the tabs. As a result, you can place the outermost holes tangent to the tab edge.

Failure modes (and how to cope)

  • Pulled up traces? Need to add a break closer to the edge, or score the board before snapping. Try to handle this on a design revision before a full kit.