Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

ABC: Basic Connections is a Book Listing Common Circuit Diagrams for Arduino Boards (Crowdfunding)

May 19th, 2017 No comments

PighiXXX is known for their very useful and pretty pinout diagrams, but they’ve now created a book called “ABC: Basic Connections” comprised of a collection of easy to read circuit diagrams that shows you how to connect various circuits to your Arduino compatible board.

The book is in file folder format, so you can easily remove the sheets you need during your project. While you can normally find pretty much whatever circuits you need on the Internet, ABC book’s diagrams looks very neat, and since it comes with 100 A5 pages of circuit diagrams such as LEDs, decoders, shift registers, 7-segment displays, mux/demux, light bulbs, DC motors, solenoids, relays and so on,  you may discover circuits you did not know you needed. Every page of the book also comes with a short URL redirecting to an online tutorial for the circuit with information about the theory, component list, tips, sample code, etc…

The book has been launched via Kickstarter with a $50,000 funding target. You’ll need to pledge 23 Euros to get the book sometimes in August 2017. Shippings adds 7 Euros to the US, 10 Euros to Europe, and 25 Euros to the rest of the world. While it’s a crowdfunding campaign, I’d assume the risk failure is close to zero for that project.

Visualizing Electronics Manufacturing Price Variation with Volume and Lead Time

May 12th, 2017 No comments

Google Android Things developers announced a production hardware sample based on Intel Edison module:

Android Things is focused on helping developers build production ready devices that they can bring to market. This means building custom hardware in addition to the app software running on the Android Things system-on-module (SoM).

As a part of this effort we have released Edison Candle, the first in a series of production samples designed to showcase hardware and software designed to work together. The code is hosted on GitHub and the hardware design files are on CircuitHub.

That’s what the Edison Candle looks like.
It’s just demo hardware to show how to build a product with a system-on-module (Intel Edison) for Android Things with everything released in Github. You can also purchase the board on CircuitHub, but then I saw the price was around $356 for such a simple board (without Edison).

That’s quite a lot for a single board, clicking on “quote breakdown” showed the following:

As expected, manufacturing just one PCB can be expensive, but we can play with the sliders on CircuitHub page to adjust quantity and lead time to see how to it affects the price. Those are the default settings with one PCB, and 17 week days lead time.

Let’s say we only need one board, but we don’t have 17 days, it needs to be ready within 4 days. The price then jumps to $1,353.15. Now let’s say, we want to order 10,000 boards, and we are in no rush, with a 31 days lead time, the price per board drops to $4.7355.

You can play with the sliders to adjust quantity and lead time, and see how it affects unit pricing. The most surprising part was the effect of leadtime, as even just one day difference can make a massive different in price.

Toaster Breadboard Power Supply Supports 3.3V, 5V, and Variable 5V to 16 V Outputs

March 23rd, 2017 3 comments

YwRobot MB102 is a popular power supply for breadboards delivering 5V or 3.3V to both power rails. Bradsprojects’ Toaster power supply offers similar functionalities but beside outputting just 5V or 3.3V, it also adds a 5V to 16V variable output, and takes 5V from its micro or mini USB port.Toaster board specifications:

  • Input Voltage – 5V via USB Mini and USB Micro port
  • Input Current (max) – 1Amp
  • Output Voltage 1 – 3.3 Volts
  • Output Voltage 2 – 5 Volts
  • Output Voltage 3 – Variable 5 Volts to 16 Volts with potentiometer
  • Protection – 1.1Amp Resettable Fuse
  • Output Connection – Standard Dual Rail Breadboard 2.54mm spacing.
  • Dimensions – 50mm x 25mm

You just need a screwdriver and a multimeter to adjust the variable output to your requirement.The Toaster board can be purchased on Tindie for $10 + shipping.

Categories: Hardware Tags: electronics, power

Atomo is a Raspberry Pi Compatible Modular Electronics Prototyping System (Crowdfunding)

March 22nd, 2017 7 comments

Atomo is a modular electronics protyping system comprised of four elements: Control, I/O, Power, and Connector, with the PCBs for each category color-coded with respectively red, blue, green, and black. The connector board connects power, I/O and control(ler) boards together in a way that’s supposed to be neater than most hand made prototypes.

The whole ecosystem includes 15 different boards:

    • Controllers with 26-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header
      • 2 IO Module Controller (CM-M2K22-A) based on NXP Kinetis K22F MCU
      • 4 IO Module Controller (CM-M4K64-A) based on NXP Kinetis K64F MCU
      • 8 IO Module Controller (CM-M8K64-A) based on NXP Kinetis K64F MCU

        2 IO and 8 IO Controller Boards – Click to Enlarge

    • Connectors
      • 8 IO Module Connector (GM_M8P2_A) – Dim: 145mm x 100mm; power up to 40V @ 64A
      • 4 IO Module Connector (GM_M4P1_A) – Dim: 71mm x 100mm; power up to 40V @ 32A
      • 2 IO Module Connector (GM_M2P1_A) – Dim: 71mm x 65mm; power up to 40V @ 16A
      • 2 IO Module Low-Power Connector (GM_M2P0_A) – Dim: 71mm x 65mm; Good for low power 5V/3.3V designs

        8 IO Modules Connector Board

    • IO Boards
      • Single Stepper Driver with Sensing IO Module (IO-001ST1-A)
      • Triple Stepper Driver with Limits IO Module (IO-002ST3-A)
      • Single Stepper and Heater Driver with Limits and Dual Temp (Thermistor + Thermocouple) IO Module (IO-003ST1TC1-A)
      • Single Stepper and Heater Driver with Limits and Dual Temp (2x Thermistor) IO Module (IO-003ST1TH1-A) with ADC, I2C, SPI, PWM

        Atomo IO-003ST1TH1-A – Click to Enlarge

    • Power Boards
      • 1X ATX Power Module (PM-ATX1X-A) for 1 ATX power supply with support for 3.3V, 5V, 12V plus a higher voltage up to 40V @ 32A
      • 2X ATX Power Module (PM-ATX2X-A) for 2 ATX power supply with support for 3.3V, 5V, 12V plus a higher voltage up to 40V @ 64A
      • 10A 5.5mm Barrel Plug Power Module (PM-VIN10A-A) – Input from 15V, 2A up to 24V 10A. Output: 12V, 5V, and 3.3V
      • 13W POE Power Module (PM-POE13W-A) – Output 12V, 5V, and 3.3V; network data passthrough; auxiliary 5.5mm barrel plug 12V output.

        2x ATX Board

They also have one expansion module with USB input & UART headers, a USB port, an Ethernet port, and a 26-pin header, which you can use if you don’t connect the controller board to a Raspberry Pi.

So now, you have to decide about your project’s power and IO requirements, select the boards, and put it all up together.  That’s what it looks like when the Raspberry Pi comes into play together with four IO modules and one ATX power board.

Now you’ll need to program the NXP Kinetis based controller board using  KDS and MCUXpresso, with low-level drivers using DMA provided by the developer, as well as board profiles with standard pin and clock configurations. ARM mbed compatibility, and RTOS integration are also planned for the future.

The video below introduces Atomo ecosystem, and shows a project with four LED strips.

Atomo has recently launched on Indiegogo, and the developer aims to raise at least $5,000 to fund mass production. Rewards start at $19 for the 2 IO controller board, and up to $48 for the 8 IO controller with the expansion board. The IO, power, and connector boards are not offered through Indiegogo – no wonder the campaign has not raised that much so far -,  but a 10% coupon is included with all perks to purchase them on Atomo Systems online shop.

While Atomo Systems is a one person company, but the project has “Arrow Certification” meaning this campaign has a working prototype that has been certified by Arrow Electronics, so hopefully project failure due to technical or manufacturing troubles is less likely. Shipping is free worldwide, and delivery is scheduled for June 2017.

$79 Digilent OpenScope Open Source Multi-function Programmable Instrument Works over USB and WiFi (Crowdfunding)

February 1st, 2017 8 comments

Digilent OpenScope is an open source, portable, multi-function programmable instrument used for capturing, visualizing, and controlling analog and digital signals, that works with your smartphone or computer over USB or WiFi, and it can also be used in standalone mode as a development board, like you would use an Arduino or Raspberry Pi board.

OpenScope MZ key features and specifications:

  • MCU – Microchip PIC32 MZ (MZ2048EFG124) MIPS Warrior M-class micro-controller @ up to 200 MHz with 2048KB flash, 512 KB RAM
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Wireless Connectivity – WiFi module
  • USB – 1x micro USB for power and programming over FTDI
  • Programming / Debugging – micro USB port, programming header
  • Expansion – 30-pin Fly Wire connector with:
    • 2x scope channels with 12 bits @ 2 MHz bandwidth and up to 6.25MS/s sampling rate
    • 1x function generator output with 1 MHz bandwidth and up to 10MS/s update rate
    • 10x user programmable DIO pins up to 25 MHz update rate
  • Misc – 4x user LEDs, programming and reset buttons
  • Power Supply – via micro USB or ext pin; programmable power supplies up to 50 mA and +/- 4V

The platform can be used with (soon-to-be) open source, web based Waveforms Live multi-instrument software written in JavaScript and allowing you to  use OpenScope as an oscilloscope, a function generator, a logic analyzer, a power supply, or a data logger.

Since the software runs in a web browser it will work with most operating systems including Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Android or iOS. As mentioned in the introduction, OpenScope is also a development board, and can be programmed using the Arduino IDE or Microchip MPLAB-X IDE. The company will provide  a programmer’s guide, and make PIC32MZ firmware, the agent source code, the browser app for Android & IOS, the communication protocol, and the JavaScript API available on Github

Digilent launched OpenScope on Kickstarter, where the board can be backed together with a 3D printed enclosure for $79. An “OpenScope Learning Edition” is also offered for $150 with a “parts kit with workbook example”, but no details have been provided for the latter. Delivery is planned for June or August 2017 depending on selected reward, and shipping is free to the US, but adds $20 to the rest of the world.

MacroFAB FX Development Board is an Open source Audio Electronics Prototyping Platform (Crowdfunding)

January 31st, 2017 No comments

A couple of years ago, I wrote about a Linux multi-effects guitar pedal, and if you are interested in such audio projects, another company called MacroFab, specializing in manufacturing & assembling PCBs & electronic device, has now designed open source FX development board for audio electronics prototyping, that can be used for audio effects “guitar” pedals, and let you design your own tones.

Key features of FX development board:

  1. Potentiometers
  2. 9V battery holder
  3. ¼” Input and output jacks connected to breadboard
  4. True bypass 3PDT switch
  5. User selectable power supply connections
  6. Dual solderless breadboards with power rails selectable by jumpers
  7. Adjustable 9 V power supply
  8. Power supply with 2.1 mm dc input jack for use with AC-to-AC wall wart; +/- 15 volt @ 200 mA power supplies with over-current protection; +1.25 to 9 V @ 150 mA adjustable power supply; Split voltage rail (1/2*9 Volt Rail) @ 15 mA for use as a virtual ground

The board can be used for audio applications by guitar FX designers, electronic audio hobbyists, and music creators, but also for any kind of electronics projects. The company will provide pedal templates and schematics available for download on site. The company also encourages makers to design their own PCB after prototyping, and send them the gerber files for manufacturing.

FX Devboard project has now launched on CrowdSupply where the company aims to raise at least $25,000. A $150 pledge should get you the board with a power adapter, but if you want a case and a wire jumper kit, you’ll need to pledge $190. Delivery is planned for April 14, 2017, and while shipping is free to the US, it adds $20 to the rest of the world.

ReflowR is a $99 SMT Reflowing Tool for Makers and Students

December 15th, 2016 6 comments

You can solder SMT components to your custom board by hand, but it would be much faster if you could get a reflow tool instead to “bake” your board after placing the components. ReflowR SMT reflowing tool offers just that in a small and affordable form factor.


Some people have tried to use DIY solutions to bake their board, but results may vary. ReflowR has been specifically designed to heat PCB offering constant results. It supports reflow, rework, MSD bake, or rework pre-bake, and follows JEDEC reflow profiles. You can also add a WiFi extension to monitor the tool from your smartphone and set the temperature profile. Two version are available:

  • Smart ReflowR – Compact 600W system for for makers and learners.
  • Large ReflowR – Larger 1200W system for professionals


“STEM Inspiration kits” are also offered without a ReflowR kit, but with multiple components, solder paste, a few PCBs, tweezers, and more for people to get started with electronics and SMT reflow soldering. The video below shows how it works, and how you can adjust the components while baking.

The project was successfully funded on Indiegogo last month, but the campaign is now in “In demand” mode, and you can purchase Smart ReflowR for $99, Large ReflowR for $179, and the STEM inspiration kits for $19 and up. Shipping is included in the price, and delivery is scheduled for January 2017.

Categories: Hardware, Video Tags: electronics, hardware

$46 TS100 Digital Programmable Soldering Iron is Controlled by STMicro STM32 MCU

December 5th, 2016 11 comments

I’m now using a $4 soldering iron which works most of the time for what I’m doing, but sometimes it does not seem to heat quite fast enough which may cause problems. I’m not soldering that often, so I did not think about getting a better one, but I’ve just come across an TS100 digital & programmable soldering iron with a OLED display showing the current temperature, and controlled by an STMicro STM32F103T8U6 micro-controller.


The soldering iron also includes an accelerometer which allow the soldering iron to know when you are using it, so the temperature drops if it is inactive for over 5 minutes (sleep mode), and after 10 minutes of inactivity, the soldering iron automatically turns off.

TS100 soldering iron key specifications:

  • OLED Display
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for configuration
  • Temperature Range – 100 to 400 °C; 15 seconds to heat to 300 °C @ 19V; Sleep mode temp: 200 °C (default)
  • Power – 65 Watts (max @ 24V); 40W using 19V power supply
  • Supported Tips – TS-D24, TS-K, TS-BC2, TS-B2
  • Misc – 2x buttons to adjust temperature, calibrate temperature, and enter DFU (firmware update) mode
  • Power Supply – 12 to 24 V via DC5525 connector (an old laptop power supply will work provided it has a 5.5/2.5mm jack)
  • Dimensions – 96 x 16.5 Φ mm for operating unit, 72+33 mm x 5 mm Φ for heating unit
  • Weight – 33 grams

If you connect the TS100 to you computer via its USB port, you’ll be able to change config.txt to adjust default settings like temperature, temperature steps, sleep time, and so on, as well as change the boot logo, and update the firmware.

TS100 is also listed on Tindie where you’ll find a user’s manual, schematics, and source code for your STM32 soldering iron. The manufacturer also has a forum mostly in English, where people exchange ideas, and for example they released a firmware for left handed people.

I discovered the soldering iron thanks to a video by Andreas Spiess comparing irons of different price points: a 30-years old Weller Magnastat, Aoyue 968 A+, two cheaper soldering irons, namely 907 constant temperature soldering iron and Mustool MT223 not-so-adjustable temperature electric soldering iron, and of course TS100.

For each soldering iron, he tested the actual power draw during heating, whether the set temperature (360°C) is the actual temperature, heating speed, heat transfer, and showing special features of each iron. The video is really interesting to watch, but if you don’t have time that’s the summary at the end.

soldering-iron-comparison-tableTS100 performed really well for the price, although there’s about a 30 °C delta between the set and real temperature. I really like small form factor, fast heating and automatic power off feature. I’m pretty sure it will solve the issue I had with my $4 iron, so I was convinced an bought TS100 on Banggood for $45.55. I’ll use a laptop power supply to power it up, but if you don’t have a spare one DSY404-19V-2 power supply is recommended, and sells for $22.02 on Banggood.

Thank you Nanik!

Categories: Hardware, Video Tags: electronics, tools