Never trust an autorouter
Autorouters Suck: Autorouter: 0. Baldengineer: 1

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.

An example of when comments would have helped

What was one of the first things you were taught, when learning to program?  “Comment Your Code!”  And of course, like all programming students, you ignored that advice.  Or, if you are like me, you made vague comments as the lines of “variable called var.”

Tonight I opened up some code I haven’t touched in two years.  Code that when I wrote it, made perfect sense to me… at the time.

The code was for my binary clock project, BinBoo.  So I need your help, check out the code below and see if you can help me remember what it does!

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Learn how to use a Mixed Signal Oscilloscope

When I teach the Electronics Measurements class at the TechShop in Austin, I take a lot of pride in showing off the Mixed-Signal Oscilloscope.  We have a Rigol DS1102D as well as a standard DSO.  To help illustrate the power of the combined digital and analog channels, I  created a Mixed Signal Oscilloscope Demo Board, based on a counter,  that has an issue that could be turned on or off.  This board is also my first time making use of OSH Park’s PCB service.

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Minor updates to the Open Source Reflow Oven Project

The next stage of the reflow oven project is moving to a custom PCB for the controller electronics.  Overall the board is based on the ATmega32u4 with a DS3231 RTC.  The LCD module is intended to be driven by one of Adafruit’s Serial backpacks.  There is an area of LED indicators (something I learned from a previous project) and some extra VCC/GND pins sprinkled about.

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MSO Demo Board

MSO Demo Board

Last Update:  09/24/2013

Status:  Done

Github:  https://github.com/baldengineer/Mixed-Signal-Oscilloscope-Demo-Board

Abstract

As a member of the TechShop in Austin, TX I teach a class on Electronics Measurements.  The class includes a variety of test equipment like power supplies, DMMs, and Rigol oscilloscopes.  One of the oscilloscopes is a Rigol DS1052D which is a “Mixed Signal Oscilloscope.”  In addition to the two 100MHz analog channels, the scope also include 16 digital channel channels.  It is a logic analyzer and oscilloscope in one!

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Prototyping quadrotor arm mounts with MakerBot Replicator 2

While practicing the Quadrotor‘s motor mounts on a Shopbot gave me experience in how to register two sides for milling, I didn’t want to invest the time required for the arm mounts.  So I decided to make use of the MakerBot Replicator 2 to print physical samples in PLA.  Time per piece went from about an hour to about 15 minutes.

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Building a custom Quadcopter from scratch

A couple of years ago I started looking at what it would take to make a quadcopter.  At the time, I only had the limited tools at the Austin hackerspace available to me (which I don’t think even has a space anymore).  So I shelved the idea since I didn’t see a time effective way to make any of the components.  Fast forward to a few months ago when I joined the TechShop in Austin.  Now I have no excuses to not make a custom Quadrotor.

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Custom Made Quadrotor – Overview

Custom quadrotor 3d modeled

Status:  Active, In Progress (Updated: 4/18/2013)

Abstract

Pictures:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmiyc/sets/72157633185131473/with/8653034709/

This Quadrotor project is a collaborative effort between Mike Kurdziel and I. The unique twist on this collaboration is that he is located in Menlo Park, CA and I am in Austin, TX. We’re collaborating remotely while doing most of work on the TechShop locations in each of our towns.

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Revision 2 of the open source reflow solder oven is done!

One of the projects I really wanted to get back to when I joined the Austin TechShop was my Reflow Oven based on a Toaster Oven.  The first prototype I made was a mess of AC wiring boxes with an Arduino sitting on the side.  While the oven did work, it was far from pretty.  Making use of the laser cutter, large workspaces, and friendly members at TS Austin, I was finally able to put together my 2nd prototype.

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