Hackaday Links: November 22, 2015

There’s a new documentary series on Al Jazeera called Rebel Geeks that looks at the people who make the stuff everyone uses. The latest 25-minute part of the series is with [Massimo], chief of the arduino.cc camp. Upcoming episodes include Twitter co-creator [Evan Henshaw-Plath] and people in the Madrid government who are trying to build a direct democracy for the city on the Internet.

Despite being a WiFi device, the ESP8266 is surprisingly great at being an Internet of Thing. The only problem is the range. No worries; you can use the ESP as a WiFi repeater that will get you about 0.5km further for each additional repeater node. Power is of course required, but you can stuff everything inside a cell phone charger.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the most common use for the Raspberry Pi is a vintage console emulator. Now there’s a Kickstarter for a dedicated tabletop Raspi emulation case that actually looks good.

Pogo pins are the go-to solution for putting firmware on hundreds of boards. These tiny spring-loaded pins give you a programming rig that’s easy to attach and detach without any soldering whatsoever. [Tom] needed to program a few dozen boards in a short amount of time, didn’t have any pogo pins, and didn’t want to solder a header to each board. The solution? Pull the pins out of a female header. It works in a pinch, but you probably want a better solution for a more permanent setup.

Half of building a PCB is getting parts and pinouts right. [Josef] is working on a tool to at least semi-automate the importing of pinout tables from datasheets into KiCad. This is a very, very hard problem, and if it’s half right half the time, that’s a tremendous accomplishment.

Last summer, [Voja] wrote something for the blog on building enclosures from FR4. Over on Hackaday.io he’s working on a project, and it’s time for that project to get an enclosure. The results are amazing and leave us wondering why we don’t see this technique more often.

9 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: November 22, 2015

    1. I think the issue there was that he had the headers but already soldered another circuit board to them leaving only tiny nubs to attach to. Offset pins wouldn’t have helped here. If he designs the header in from the getgo, sure. But this hack was after the fact.

  1. That Starforce Pi doesn’t look good, it looks superb!

    In amongst my retro games collection I have a whole bunch of 80s VFD tabletops including Firefox F7, Scramble, Astro Wars, Caveman, Galaxy Twinvader and of course Tron, and the Starforce Pi almost like it was designed by Epoch themselves. Really glad he put a fresnel lens in front of the screen, great nostalgia touch.

  2. I took my inspiration from Dave Jones (EEVblog) and used extruded aluminum chassis with PCB front and back bezels. The result is absolutely fantastic (if I do say so myself).

    The only warning is if you use DirtyPCBs to fab them, watch out that they don’t put their order tracking number on the part of the “board” that faces out (which probably means inverting your gerbers).

  3. I buy pogo pins by the hundred count from SparkFun, but that’s because I sell a pogo pin AVR programming adapter.

    It’s really made a difference for me. Because of the pogo pins, I use a modified library part that uses 4 SMD pads and 2 through holes (so that the pogos can sort of self-align to some extent), and that means that I can route on the bottom layer right under most of the header. Really helps it stay out of the way far more, for when you’re really space constrained.

        1. I guess my confusion is about what that $9.95 price is for. Is it for one pogo pin or a bag of 100? If it’s a bag of 100, then that’s an order of magnitude *less* thank SparkFun. I’ve written them to ask for clarification.

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