Bus Pirate v3.8 free PCB build

in builds by DP | 0 comments


@Xjmaas tweeted picture of his free Bus Pirate v3.8 PCB build. The Bus Pirate is an open source hacker multi-tool that talks to electronic stuff.

If you build a free PCB we’ll send you another one! Blog about it, post a picture on Flicker, whatever – we’ll send you a coupon code for the free PCB drawer.

Get your own handy Bus Pirate for $30, including world-wide shipping. Also available from our friendly distributors.

40 Watt Chinese CO2 laser upgrade with RAMPS & Arudino

in hacks, how-to by DP | 0 comments


Dan Beaven has written up documentation on his Chinese K40 Laser upgrade:

I’ve wanted to start playing with Laser Cutter/Engravers for quite a while. I finally happened across a great deal on a Chinese made 40 watt Laser Engraver with the Moshidraw software and control hardware. Wanting something I can modify and that is of better quality I decided to use my spare RAMPS 1.4 and Arduino Mega I had sitting around.  I’ve successfully upgraded the system and here are the details so that others won’t have such a hard time getting theirs up and running. One benefit with this setup is the system is completely standalone.  All you need is an SD card with your gcode files on it (remember to have the .g extension)

More details at Dan Beaven’s blog.

Cool room lights

in DIY, LEDs by DP | 4 comments

Dmitry Grinberg writes, “Lighting a room is always a complicated task. This is especially true if you’re an engineer. You see, we all love blinking lights, RGB LEDs, really any combination of those things. When it came time to figure out the ligting situation for my room, I immediately knew that lots of LEDs would be involved. The room is 4 x 4 meters. WS2812 strips come in 4m length at 60 LEDs per meter. This cannot simply be a coincidence – it was meant to be! This is cool and all, but lots of problems remain to be solved. Luckily, they all were.”

More details at Dmitry Grinberg’s blog.

Via the contact form.

Posted in DIY, LEDs | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Silicone compression molding factory

in Global Geek, Shenzhen by DP | 9 comments

In this video Dangerous Prototypes and Pax Instruments visit a silicone molding factory in Shenzhen, China:

We recently visited a silicone compression molding factory with our friends at Dangerous Prototypes. This is the same technology used for making our silicone keypads for the T400 temperature datalogger.
I put together a short video showing the overall process. The process begins by mixing a base material with colorant using a roller machine similar to a pasta maker. Then chunks of the material are placed in a mold, which then enters a press. The silicone is compressed and takes the shape of the mold. The mold is then heated and the material cures in a few minutes.

More details at Pax Instruments site.

DIY USB line power meter stick

in DIY by DP | 1 comment


A DIY USB line power meter stick from Electro-Labs:

This is an USB stick which measures the supply voltage of the USB port and current drawn by the device connected to the port over the stick. Then it calculates the power consumption of the device and displays the whole information with the help of the small OLED display on the board. The stick itself is also powered from the USB port.

Project info at Electro-Labs.

Via the contact form.

Posted in DIY | Tagged , | 1 Comment

#FreePCB via Twitter to 2 random RTs

in Free PCBs by DP | 0 comments


Every Tuesday we give away two coupons for the free PCB drawer via Twitter. This post was announced on Twitter, and in 24 hours we’ll send coupon codes to two random retweeters. Don’t forget there’s free PCBs three times a every week:

  • Hate Twitter and Facebook? Free PCB Sunday is the classic PCB giveaway. Catch it every Sunday, right here on the blog
  • Tweet-a-PCB Tuesday. Follow us and get boards in 144 characters or less
  • Facebook PCB Friday. Free PCBs will be your friend for the weekend

Some stuff:

  • Yes, we’ll mail it anywhere in the world!
  • Check out how we mail PCBs worldwide video.
  • We’ll contact you via Twitter with a coupon code for the PCB drawer.
  • Limit one PCB per address per month please.
  • Like everything else on this site, PCBs are offered without warranty.

We try to stagger free PCB posts so every time zone has a chance to participate, but the best way to see it first is to subscribe to the RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

Making a PCB business card

in DirtyPCBs.com, PCBs by DP | 0 comments


Ilia Baranov has designed a reference business card:

Back of card includes:

  • Ruler in both 1/10″ and mm.
  • AWG Hole size gauge (not super accurate due to plating, but that is unavoidable)
  • Resistor/capacitor/inductor/diode sizes
  • Common surface mount component sizes
  • Common electrical symbols and shortcuts/equations
  • Common conversions
  • Trace size comparison
  • Quote from Dune!

Project info at Mr.Robot site.  It’s also up on Tindie.

Hatching chicks in a hacked mini fridge

in hacks by DP | 1 comment


Do you need an incubator for hatching eggs?  avgfitfreak shows you how to easily make a DIY egg incubator out of an unused Monster drink refrigerator:

Since an incubator needs to be hot not cold, I installed a piece of heat tape (aka – heat mat for reptiles). This was taped onto the back wall behind the false wall (which unscrewed with a handful of screws). As a refrigerator the fan would pull air over the cool coils behind the false wall to cool the air. Now the coils were replaced with heat tape and the air will be warmed.
Who knows how hot heat tape will get if just plugged into the wall (I am sure someone does but not me)? To control how hot my incubator will get I plugged the heat tape into this thermostat I had laying around. It is designed for reptiles and has a temperature probe which I fed into the inside of the incubator.

Project info at  avgfitfreak ‘s Imgur.  Reddit discussion here.

Via Make.

Posted in hacks | Tagged , | 1 Comment

nodeLHC – ESP8266 development board

in wireless by DP | 0 comments


Pedro Minatel shared us his ESP8266 development board project – nodeLHC:

This board was developed at the Campinas Hacker Lab in Brazil during our weekly IoT meetings. This layout and schematic was developed by Leandro Pereira.
The idea was to develop a easy to use board and to learn how to use this magnificent WiFi module.
We are not selling it but you can build your own board if you want!!!
This board is full compatible with nodeMCU, Arduino IDE, native development and any other firmware avaliable.

Project details at Pedro’s Sistemas Embarcados site and Hackaday.io

Via the contact form.

Posted in wireless | Tagged , | Leave a comment

App note: How to Transport Batteries

in app notes by DP | 0 comments

Lead Acid, Nickel-based batteries and Lithium-based batteries transporting information from Battery University. Link here

Many battery types fall under strict transportation regulation. This is done for the safety of those handling them and the passengers traveling on a common carrier. Incidents of unscheduled battery events govern the firmness of the rules and the largest changes have evolved around lithium-based batteries. Here are the rules in short.

Data compiled by the FAA from 1991 to 2007 states that 27 percent of all incidents occurred with lithium batteries and 68 percent with other battery chemistries. With lithium battery, 68 percent failed by external and internal short circuits, 15 percent by charging and discharging and 7 percent by unintentional activation of devices; 12 percent covers the rest. About 70 percent of non-lithium incidents occurred by short circuit, 11 percent by unintentional activation of devices and 2 percent by charging and discharging; 17 percent covers the rest. In another study from 1991 to 2012, the FAA recorded 132 batteries leading to smoke, extreme heat, fire or explosion.

Free PCB Sunday: Pick your PCB

in Free PCBs by DP | 48 comments


We go through a lot of prototype PCBs, and end up with lots of extras that we’ll never use. Every Sunday we give away a few PCBs from one of our past or future projects, or a related prototype. Our PCBs are made through Seeed Studio’s Fusion board service. This week two random commenters will get a coupon code for the free PCB drawer tomorrow morning. Pick your own PCB. You get unlimited free PCBs now – finish one and we’ll send you another! Don’t forget there’s free PCBs three times every week:

Continue reading →

Posted in Free PCBs | Tagged | 48 Comments

App note: Surface Mount Rework Considerations

in app notes by DP | 0 comments

Old app note from Weller on Surface mount rework. Link here(PDF!).

We know you can relate to the challenges presented by newer and more complex surface mount component packages.  As systems continue to evolve, rework tasks can be increasingly difficult even for the most skilled rework technicians. The process of safely and efficiently removing and replacing components is more challenging than ever. The sheer mass, component density and cost per unit area of printed circuit board assemblies add to the complexity. Things can also get tricky when components need to be carefully removed and repurposed. The key is to select appropriate tools and proven techniques to tackle difficult rework issues.

Your specific application should dictate the tools and techniques used. Before final tool and process determinations can be made, a number of component, printed circuit board, tool, profile and process parameters and requirements should be considered.

Posted in app notes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

App note: Isolation design flow for Xilinx 7 series FPGAs or Zynq-7000 AP SoCs (ISE Tools)

in app notes by DP | 0 comments


Xilinx application note, Isolation design flow for Xilinx 7 series FPGAs or Zynq-7000 AP SoCs (ISE Tools) (PDF!)

This application note is written for FPGA designers wishing to implement security or safety critical designs, that is, information assurance (single chip cryptography), avionics, automotive, and industrial applications, using the Xilinx Isolation Design Flow (IDF). This document explains how to:

• Implement isolated functions in a single Xilinx 7 series FPGA or Zynq®-7000 All Programmable SoC (AP SoC)(1) in commercial-grade or defense-grade using IDF.
° For example, implementation might include red/black logic, redundant Type-I encryption modules, or logic processing multiple levels of security.
• Verify the isolation using the Xilinx Isolation Verification Tool (IVT).

With this application note, designers can develop a fail-safe single chip solution using the Xilinx IDF that meets fail-safe and physical security requirements for high-grade, high-assurance applications.

Schlumberger 4002 signal generator

in reversed by DP | 0 comments


Mario wrote an article on reverse engineering a Schlumberger 4002 signal generator:

What I got was a Schlumberger 4002 signal generator. It ranges from 0.1 to 2160 MHz with 10-20 Hz tuning accuracy, selectable output amplitude from -138.9 dBm up to +13 dBm in 0.1 dB steps, auto-sweeping and several extras like an OCXO for stability, 20 dB of linear attenuation range without using the step attenuator, an internal modulator and IEC bus remote control. If you looked at the photo closely, you will have noticed that the frequency range is written as “0.1…1000/2160 MHz” on the front panel. The reason for this is the optional doubler module included in this instrument. If the module is installed and detected, the software switches over to extended range without any further changes. Else, 1000 MHz is as far as it goes..

Details at Mario’s blog.

PCB stencil jig

in PCBs, tools by DP | 0 comments


Gonazar’s PCB stencil jig:

My solution to making a PCB stencil jig.
I need this to do a run of ~30 small boards I got from DirtyPCB who also provided me with the stencil. However, I know that I’m going to be making more later with a new revision so I wanted a jig that I could later reuse with a new design.
One of the challenges of making a pcb jig is alignment and finding something to lie next to the pcb so the stencil doesn’t bow/bend from unsupported areas.
So my design uses two 1/8″ thick acrylic frames on a hinge. The top frame has a large opening to work with the stencil and the bottom frame has a fixed rectangular hole. This hole is for placing a 3D printed jig that perfectly matches the PCB shape and thickness. It’s also exactly the dimension of a 8.5″x11″ cut into 8 pieces. This way I can lock in my PCB and align my stencil, then adjust the height by shimming it with pieces of paper underneath.

Via VHS Talk.

Posted in PCBs, tools | Tagged , | Leave a comment

ESP8266 LED display

in LEDs, wireless by DP | 0 comments


Evan writes:

This is my proof-of-concept for using mqtt with the esp8266.  I saw this LED display sitting around and I couldn’t imagine why no one was using it, the answer was no one knew how to talk to it.  Easy, I think.  Looking at the board it’s just an 8031, a serial level shifter, and a bunch of display-centric parts.  The pile of capacitors around the max232 equivalent was the give-away.  capacitors external to the chip are needed in the voltage boosting/negative voltage generation circuits for rs232 levels (until recently, I hear someone put them on-die).  Tracing those signals is easy and I found they went to UART pins on the 8031.

Details at Evan’s Techie-blog.

American a pillar of Shenzhen maker culture

in Shenzhen by DP | 1 comment


Tully Gehan’s home is a maker’s space. The three-room Bao’an district apartment looks more like a factory than a living space.
There is a wall of blue boxes filled with electronics, dozens of paper cups with screws and bolts, and a laser-cutting machine in the corner.

Gehan, 41, from America, made his own knife rack and a wall-mounted drying rack customized to fit the bowls in his home.
He designs everything on the computer before using a laser cutter to make them.

“This is the beauty of being a maker — I make my own things,” he said.

Gehan, who has been in Shenzhen for five years, is well known in the city’s circle of makers. He used to work for Seeed Studio and co-founded the Chaihuo Maker Space. He’s made several products and is best known for his Doomsday Clock, which is sold Internet retailer Amazon. Continue reading →

Posted in Shenzhen | Tagged , | 1 Comment

RePhone kit: World’s first open source and modular phone

in open source by DP | 0 comments


Seeed Studio has announced that RePhone, an open source and modular phone kit  is now being offered on Kickstarter!

With Rephone you can:
1.Create your own phone in minutes with the slim MODULES, accessible SOFTWARE, and customizable Phone Enclosures.
2.Hack anything around you, giving inanimate objects the power of cellular communication. Have a conversation with your pets, plants, toys, motorcycle helmets, robots, or drones through RePhone’s GSM and 3G functions.

RePhone is a set of tools and components that allows everyone including students, teachers, makers, hackers, geeks, artists, developers and engineers rethink, remix, redesign and remake the phone.
RePhone comes in three kits RePhone Core Module GSM + BLE, RePhone Core Module 3G and RePhone kit Create.

You can visit the Kickstart page for more info.

Check out the video after the break. Continue reading →