Check-out these seven new features in the Arduino 1.6 release

Arduino 1.6.1 Screenshot

The (official) Arduino team has finally released the 1.6 version of the Arduino software. After being in the making for over 2 years, this release is an exciting one!

1.6 marks the end of split releases between the traditional 8-bit boards and ARM based boards. There’s some really cool features built-in, so keep reading to see my take on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Awesome 3D Board (BRD) Viewer for EAGLE

Cytec
3D Render of MSO Demo Board

3D Render of MSO Demo Board

Earlier I posted a PCB Checklist of items to double-check when sending your board out to a fab. The Dangerous Prototypes blog pointed to a 3D EAGLE PCB tool from a Bulgarian-based developer called Cytec that takes an EAGLE BRD file and renders it in 3D for you.

The example board I have above is a render of my MSO Demo Board. And I have to be honest, it looks much like that one! (more…)

PCB Checklist – What to check before you submit

PCB Checklist Banner

Recently I’ve been expanding my retro game collection to include game cartridges imported from Japan. The problem is that I don’t have Japanese game systems (yet). So I’m creating an open source adapter to convert Famicom carts to the NES. Before I submit the PCB to OSH Park, I’m going to run through this PCB Checklist to make sure I don’t forget something silly.

This PCB checklist is something I’ve built over my years of creating boards. If you’ve got tips from your own list, don’t forget to leave a comment letting us know.

PCB Production Checklist

The concepts on this list will apply to almost any PCB software. The tips I give relate to EAGLE, since that is what I use most often. Feel free to comment to add tips for other design software like upverter.com or KiCad.

Keep reading to see the list.

Never trust an autorouter

I am not a fan of relying on the Autorouter in EAGLE — or any PCB CAD software for that matter. When laying out a board, I’ll use the autorouter to get an idea if the part placement is going to work or not. In this case, I was reminded how much autorouters suck! Even after running for while, the autorouter could only route up 50% of the nets (signals).

Never Trust The Autorouter

As Chris Gammell‘s T-Shirt Says, Never Trust The Autorouter.

It only took me about 20 minutes to start over and finish the manual layout. I still want to clean it up a little, but over all, I beat the Autorouter.

What is the board anyway?

In January I visited Tokyo on my annual work trip. While there, I ran over to Akihabara to check out a used media store called Traders. The multi-level store (like all those in Tokyo) sold used video games and movies. Each floor featured different platforms. My favorite was the 2nd floor which was all retro 8, 16, and 32 bit systems. Piles of Famicoms (NES), Super Famicoms (SNES), Mega Drives (Genesis), and other systems were all around. In the middle of the floor were racks of cartridges.

While there I picked up a couple of Rockman (Mega Man) carts, Super Mario brothers, and even Adventure island.

A US-based NES can play Famicom games since the basic hardware is the same. However, the pin outs are slightly different. Also, US-based NES systems look for a lock-out ship (CIC) that Famicoms don’t have. Fortunately I ran across a project that uses the ATtiny (AVRCICZZ) to emulate the lockout chip. So armed with that and some pinouts, I’ve created an adapter.

Keep subscribed, after a few more touches, I’ll post the EAGLE files as an Open Source Hardware (OSH) project.

AddOhms Electronics Tutorials DVD Now Available

AddOhms DVD 1 Banner

When I was in elementary school, I remember Ms. Coker telling us we needed to memorize our multiplication tables because we wouldn’t always have a calculator.  Years later in college I was told, “learn to use the library, it’s not like you can carry the internet in your pocket.”

Buy On Tindie

Seems strange that I always carry 3 devices on me that do both.

Today a generation of people are growing up with the mass of all human knowledge available to them from birth. No formal education is necessary. And the only need is a modern device with WiFi.

However. Not all accessible information is equal. Which is why I created the AddOhms Electronics Tutorial Video series. Instead of teaching Electrical Engineering as an engineer to other engineers, I’ve created a series that uses simple language to explain electronics to anyone.  And now the growing YouTube series, is available for sale on DVD!

Keep reading to learn more about Volume 1 of the AddOhms DVD.

Buy On Tindie

(P.S.  The first batch on Tindie were hand made and include a special thank you…)

Help Adafruit test their #RaspberryPi Bootstrap

Adafruit's Blog
23-JAN-2015

When you first get started with a Raspberry Pi, there are a number of operating system images already available.  The one most people start with is Raspbian, which is based on Debian Linux.

rpi_bootstrap-458x480

 

Adafruit created a fork of Raspbian which they called Occidentalis.  Their aim, of course, was for hardware hacking with the Pi.  Included are some patches that help make accessing the breakout pins easier.

Their latest project is the Adafruit Pi Finder, which makes it easier to configure a Pi over a network.  Check out the details on Adafruit’s blog.

The_Spark_Gap

Karl and Corey run The Spark Gap Podcast which is focused on embedded electronics. On Episode 25 they interview me about Capacitors. We covered all the major types of caps, plus some application bits. Check out their show notes for an impressive array of links on the subject.

Also, my favorite episode of theirs so far is episode 18.  The guys talk about different serial protocols like SPI, I2C, CAN, etc.  Really good stuff.

Date: January 28, 2015
Appearance: Capacitor Questions Answered on The Spark Gap Podcast
Outlet: The Spark Gap Podcast
Format: Podcast

iCircuit’s circuit simulation goes from iOS to Desktop

When it comes to schematic capture and circuit simulation on a mobile device, iCircuit for iOS got it right from the start. iCloud integration, intuitive touch controls, and fast application performance. Now (or Finally?), iCircuit is available for OS X.

iCircuit with 555 Timer

iCircuit is based on the Falstad Circuit Simulator, which sadly, is a Java-based web app. For years I’ve installed the App on my iPhone and iPad almost immediately after turning on iCloud [for Android users, that’s basically the first step of activating an iOS device].

10 Popular EAGLE Libraries

element14
Jan 15, 2015

Having good libraries in EAGLE is critical to making schematic capture and PCB design fast.  Dave at element14 put together a top 10 library link, which includes the list below.

Remember, if you’re having trouble Add Parts, you might want to look at this tutorial on enabling EAGLE libraries.

  1. element14’s RIoTBoard
  2. element14’s Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit
  3. element14’s BeagleBone Black
  4. Linear Technology
  5. Molex
  6. Vishay
  7. Microchip
  8. Atmel
  9. Arduino
  10. Texas Instruments