Shenzhen to Hong Kong on High Speed Rail

Even though Shenzhen and Hong Kong are basically the same city on opposite sides of a border, it’s still a frustratingly long trip to Hong Kong Central for a Reuben at Morty’s Deli. The new high speed rail line linking downtown Shenzhen to downtown Hong Kong makes the trip in just 15 minutes. A lot […]

DIRTY CABLES: a new cable editor

DirtyCables.com has a live preview of a new custom cable builder. This is a from-scratch rewrite of the editor at DirtyPCBs with new features based on your requests: Isometric connector drawings with pin numbers save a trip to the datasheet Improved connector selector with room for additional info One to many “Y” connections. Same connector […]

Trying a quick turn hand-assembly prototype service

These Bus Pirate v5 prototypes were hand-assembled by a random PCBA shop on Taobao. Assembly took two days and cost 80RMB (~$12) for each board, we provided the PCBs and components. Normally we relish a prototype build because it’s a source of so many design improvements, but this was an emergency. The USB Micro B […]

BusPirate.com: Compile PIC and ARM firmware on a cheap server

The Bus Pirate project currently has four firmware builds (v3/v4/v5/vNG1) under two toolchains (PIC C/ARM C). To make this more manageable, we use a cheap VPS to check for new code in our git repo and compile the firmware automatically. Fresh compiles are available for everyone immediately, without any intervention from developers or friendly forum […]

BusPirate.com: Automated documentation updates

Up-to-date documentation makes a project easy to learn about, but its a really boring job that takes a lot of time. Even great documentation eventually has outdated examples and screenshots that don’t quite match the latest version. BusPirate.com has a hacked together toolchain to keep the documentation fresh. It’s a three part process: Test scripts […]

BusPirate.com: A dedicated website for docs, firmware, tutorials

Bus Pirate documentation and demos are all buried in a huge wiki and around the blog, this is less than ideal for such an expansive project. We’ve been working on a new site just for Bus Pirate stuff. This site is full of hacks that automate boring development stuff. Documentation and tutorials are updated through […]

Updated Bus Pirate v3.x concept design

  Development on DirtyPCBs.com is winding down, so I’ve had some time to play with hardware. I’ve said the same thing for a few years now, but this time it really happened! This update of Bus Pirate v3.x crams in a major new feature, and slightly lowers the total cost. Two China-sourced analog switches enable […]

Taobao breakout boards are a mess part 2

Last week we struggled with mislabeled and faulty breakout boards from Taobao. Fortunately purchases from Shenzhen sellers usually arrive the next day, so we’ve already got a bunch of replacement boards to test. HMC5883L/QMC5883 digital compass Last week our HMC5883L breakout turned out to have a non-compatible QMC5883 chip. We need the genuine part to do […]

Dirty terminal sample pack

Crimp Terminals for Cables Crimp terminals lock to the end of a wire and attach to an electrical connection such as a screw or terminal block. There are tons of different styles out there, but we found a handful that every Chinese cable manufacturer stocks. This is important because while reels of crimps are cheap, […]

Dirty Cables price increases and lead times

Its really hard to convince Huaqiangbei market suppliers to cooperate on a project until you can prove value by making a bunch of orders. Our approach is to guestimate a price at DirtyPCBs, send through a few months of orders, and then ask if they’d like to cooperate with us. Generally this will open doors […]

DIRTY CABLES: Cheap custom cables available now

Dirty Cables is a drag and drop cable builder that gives you access to cheap custom cable services from China. Build a custom cable, get an instant quote, and checkout. Your custom cables should ship in 3 to 7 work days. Huaqiangbei is full of cheap custom cable vendors with a big pile of samples […]

How Scotty made his own iPhone in China

Over the past two months we’ve been super excited to follow Scotty’s adventure recycling/refurbishing an iPhone 6S in the used cell phone market just south of Huaqiangbei, Shenzhen, China. Scotty finds all the bits and pieces from various sellers and then follows the iFixit instructions, backwards, to build his own recycled franken-phone. Despite living in […]

CHINA STUFF: Email that works…

Working from China is a constant reminder that the location of internet services is super important. North America and Europe are just a few internet hops from our servers in Hetzner’s carbon neutral, green energy data center in Germany. From China, however, we’re often routed out through Beijing to San Jose, then to New York, […]

Amazon Web Service Beijing woefully inadequate for international use

Amazon Web Service (AWS) is a bunch of server, storage, and other internet resources. AWS datacenters are located around the world so companies can locate websites close to their customers and speed up page load times. A couple years ago AWS started testing a center in Beijing, China. There’s all sorts of benchmarks on speed […]