Friday Hack Chat: Making Modular Hardware

The future of wireless is decentralized. Mesh-type networks are slowly making their way into the WiFi standard, and soon enough we’ll be dealing with decentralized phones. That’s wireless, but what about electronics? For most embedded work, we’re dealing with masters and slaves, but what if we didn’t have to deal with that? This is the challenge of modular electronics, and this week’s Hack Chat is going to be talking all about that.

Our guest for this week’s Hack Chat is [Asaad Kaadan], an electronics engineer from Seattle. [Asaad] holds a Masters and PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. For his day job, he builds high-end camera controllers for Freefly Systems. By night, he designs Hexabitz electronics prototyping modules. What are Hexabitz? That’s where this is about to get interesting.

Hexabitz are, as you would expect, tiny little hexagons packed with electronics. Every hexagon has a microcontroller on board, and these hexagons connect together through solder pad connectors along the edges of the board. Before you ask, yes, there are pentagonal Hexabitz, so yeah, you can do that.

During this Hack Chat, we’re going to be talking all about modular electronics and [Assad]’s Hexabits. We’re going to be covering questions like:

  • How to design connectors for testing boards
  • What the protocol for mesh electronics looks like
  • How to use modular electronics together in a system

You are, of course, encouraged to add your own questions to the discussion. You can do that by leaving a comment on the Hack Chat Event Page and we’ll put that in the queue for the Hack Chat discussion.join-hack-chat

Our Hack Chats are live community events on the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week is just like any other, and we’ll be gathering ’round our video terminals at noon, Pacific, on Friday, July 27th.  Need a countdown timer? Yes you do.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io.

You don’t have to wait until Friday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

5 thoughts on “Friday Hack Chat: Making Modular Hardware

  1. agreed, the problem with modular is that inevitably the interface between modules becomes too complex for simple devices and not complex enough for complicated devices. It is the least common denominator problem.

  2. I have a solution I use, it requires 2 serial ports per system, so 4 pins, and operates in a dual redundant loop. The exact physical interface I use is rs232, mostly because its cheap, fast enough, only uses 2 pins, did I mention cheap? Modern ARM processors like the SAMD20/21 series come with 6 ports , so giving up one two and gaining full redundancy is, I consider, worth it.
    The entire project is going open source soon. There is a small army of test boards on my desk as we speak.

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