Hackaday Links: May Day, 2016

Humble Bundle is a great way to fill up your Steam library – just pay what you want, and get some indie video games. The Humble Bundle is much more than video games, because No Starch Press just put up a bundle of books on hacking. No, there are no books about wearing balaclavas and using laptops with one hand. I haven’t written that book yet. There’s some choice books in this bundle, including [Bunnie]’s Hacking the XboxAutomate the Boring Stuff with Python, and Practical Malware Analysis.

The Raspberry Pi camera – the $25 add-on webcam that plugs directly into the Pi – is getting an upgrade. The original camera was a five Megapixel sensor that was EOL’d at the end of 2014. The Raspberry Pi foundation bought up a lot of stock, but eventually there would be a replacement. The new sensor is a Sony IMX219 eight Megapixel deal, available at the same price. We assume a NoIR version without the IR filter will be released shortly.

Here’s a little hardware review that doesn’t quite merit a full post. The Raspberry Pi Zero is great, and will be even better once production ramps up again and stock lands in warehouses. One problem with the Zero is the lack of USB ports, leading to at least two Hackaday posts with the exact same headline, ‘Yet Another Pi Zero USB Hub‘. Obviously, there’s a market for an easy to use USB hub for the Zero, and this company is stepping up to fill the need. The killer feature here is the use of pogo pins to tap into the USB differential lines, power and ground pads on the bottom of the Pi Zero. The USB hub is based on the popular FE 1.1 4-port USB hub controller, giving the Pi Zero four USB 2.0 ports. Does it work? Yeah, and it’s only $10. A pretty neat little device that will be very useful when Pi Zeros flood workbenches the world over.

It was announced in 2014, released in 2015, but the STM32F7 hasn’t seen a lot of action around these parts. A shame, because this is the upgrade to the famously powerful STM32F4 microcontroller that’s already capable of driving high-resolution displays through VGA, being an engine control unit for a 96 Ford Aspire, and being a very complex brushless motor driver. The STM32F7 can do all of these and more, and now ST is cutting prices on the F7’s Discovery Board. If you’re looking for a high-power ARM micro and don’t need to run Linux, you won’t do better elsewhere.

Need to reflow a board, but don’t have a toaster oven? Use a blowtorch! By holding a MAPP blowtorch a foot away from a board, [whitequark] was able to successfully reflow a large buck converter. There’s a lot of water vapor that will condense on the board, so a good cleaning afterward is a good idea.

A few weeks ago, [Mr. LeMieux] built a 360 degree, all-metal hinge. He’s been up to something a little more dangerous since then: building piles of mini table saws. Small table saws are useful for miniatures, models, and the like. [Mr. LeMieux]’s table saw is a piece of CNC’d aluminum, with a bearing and saw arbor that attaches to an electric drill. Dangerous, you say? Not compared to the competition. Behold the worst forty dollars I’ve ever spent. This Horror Freight mini table saw is by far the worst tool I’ve ever used. The bed was caked with streaky layers of paint, uneven, the blade wasn’t set at 90 degrees, and the whole thing was horrifically underpowered. Trust me when I say the CNC electric drill version is safer.

20 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: May Day, 2016

  1. Sorry for the shameless plug but I also designed a Pi Zero expansion board that connects to the test pads on the bottom of the Pi and provides LiPo operation and charging from either a low-impedance USB charger type input or a high-impedance Solar input, 3 USB ports, optional ethernet, a couple of PWM/Servo outputs, a couple of Analog inputs and a RTC that can wake the system up at a preset time. Along with a business partner we are considering a kickstarter if people think it would be a useful device. It’d be more expensive than a simple Hub though as it has a lot more parts, including the expensive but much higher performance LAN9514 USB Hub chip. I’d be interested in any feedback.


    1. I’d be interested… I can think of 2 projects that such a device would be most helpful in. Even if the intended battery cant run an entire project it would be a handy feature to have back-up power so when the main battery fails it can send a message that primary power has failed and the system is shutting down.

      Your pi platter and a wifi chip? Sounds like a pretty good feature set for building lots of stuff with, especially in that it mounts to the back of the zero leaving the front free to gpio mount to something like a relay and controls board.

    1. Not vaporware. I have two already and (pi-)zero doubts that I’ll be able to get more within the next couple of weeks if I should so desire. Just have to wait a bit for the boats to sail.

      1. Actually- looking at their stock I could buy a $25 zero kit this instant. And by ‘this instant’ I actually mean ‘in the morning when they reopen for business’.

  2. At the very least this reminds me I have a Pi Zero sitting in a drawer that might or might not have been corrupting cards left and right and some new cards to test it with. Fingers crossed that it was the cards being weird and not the Zero cause I’m going to be sad if this thing is just a lemon.

    1. I’ve got an old drill-powered hedge trimmer attachment kicking around somewhere. Find it curious things like that sold. And that I dont have more uncles that are missing thumbs.

  3. Puzzled by the endless USB-HATs for zeros. If I’m buying a Zero then it’s going to be embedded in some tiny thing with no user interface, so what it really needs is ethernet.

  4. Allow me to provide some salient information HaD was apparently too busy to include: 32F746GDISCOVERY 32-boit ARM Cortex M7 w/4.3-inch 480×272 color TFT LCD cap-touch, $50 ea. (Mouser, Digi-Key), 216 MHz capable STM32F746NGH6 uC w/1 MB flash, 340 KB RAM, FPU, DSP, 12-bit DAC & ADC, Eth, USB, CAN, I2C, SPI, TFBGA216 pkg, mbed supported. uC alone runs ~$19 qty.-1, ~$11 qty.-1K. Enjoy…

    1. Soo, when did they actually lower the price of the F746DISCO-Board? Was it not always 50$, and the F429IDISC1 was around 25$?
      We use them in quite large quantities for all kinds of testing around our company. I’m pretty shure we already got over 50 of these boards with custom capes installed to log and stimulate long term reliability tests of our products. Very nice bang for your buck.

    1. hum, are you sure it “works out of the box” that well ? looks like this is one of the many (dirt cheap indeed) DM9601-based ethernet dongles, whose Raspbian driver is prone to crash and it seems that the only known possible fix atm is a tiny patch to usbnet in Linux kernel, as mentionned by some buyers on AliExpress and at the bottom of this page : http://elinux.org/RPi_USB_Ethernet_adapters
      (the sole one in “Problem Ethernet adapters” section, and said to operate in fact at usb 1.1 speed…)
      but thanks for the reminder and the link, i’m gonna get one too :)

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