Perhaps The Ultimate Raspberry Pi Case: Your PC

One of the great joys of owning a 3D printer is being able to print custom cases for boards like the Raspberry Pi. What’s more, if you are using a desktop PC, you probably don’t have as many PCI cards in it as you used to. Everything’s moved to the motherboard. [Sneekystick] was using a Pi with a PC and decided the PC itself would make a great Pi case. He designed a bracket and it looks handy.

The bracket just holds the board in place. It doesn’t connect to the PC. The audio, HDMI, and power jacks face out for access. It would be tempting and possible to power the board from the PC supply, but to do that you have to be careful. Connecting the GPIO pins to 5V will work, but bypasses the input protection circuitry. We’ve read that you can find solder points near the USB plug and connect there, but if you do, you should block out the USB port. It might be nice to fill in that hole in the bracket if you planned to do that.

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Creating KiCad Parts From A PDF Automagically

For anyone out there who has ever struggled finding a part for Eagle or KiCad, there are some who would say you’re doing it wrong. You’re supposed to make your own parts if you can’t find them in the libraries you already have. This is really the only way; PCB design tools are tools, and so the story goes you’ll never be a master unless you can make your own parts.

That said, making schematic parts and footprints is a pain, and if there’s a tool to automate the process, we’d be happy to use it. That’s exactly what uConfig does. It automatically extracts pinout information from a PDF datasheet and turns it into a schematic symbol.

uConfig is an old project from [sebastien caux] that’s been resurrected and turned into an Open Source tool. It works by extracting blocks of text from a PDF, sorts out pin numbers and pin labels, and associates those by the relevant name to make pins. It’s available as a pre-built project (for Windows, even!), and works kind of like magic.

The video demo below shows uConfig importing a PDF datasheet — in this case a PIC32 — automatically extracting the packages from the datasheet, and turning that into a schematic symbol. It even looks as if it’ll work, too. Of course, this is just the schematic symbol, not the full part including a footprint, but when it comes to footprints we’re probably dealing with standard packages anyway. If you’re looking to build a software tool that takes a datasheet and spits out a complete part, footprint and all, this is the place to start.

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Build Your Next Dancing Robot From Empty Soda Bottles

When you think about the materials for your next large dancing robot build, soda bottles might not be the first thing that springs to mind. But they could work, according to TrussFab, a project from a group of students at the Hasso Plattner Instituit. Their system uses empty coke bottles and 3D printed connectors to build large structures, modeled in software that checks their load balance and safety. The team has modeled and built designs up to 5 meters high. Now, the project has taken a step further by adding linear actuators and hinges to the mix so you can create things that move, including a 4-meter high animatronic robot.

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Help For High-Frequency Hobbyists

Dead-bug circuit building is not a pretty affair, but hey, function over form. We usually make them because we don’t have a copper circuit board available or the duty of making one at home is not worth the efforts and chemical stains.

[Robert Melville and Alaina G. Levine] bring to light a compromise for high-frequency prototypes which uses the typical FR4 blank circuit board, but no etching chemicals. The problem with high-frequency radio is that building a circuit on a breadboard will not work because there is too much added inductance and capacitance from the wiring that will wreak havoc on the whole circuit. The solution is not new, build your radio module on a circuit board by constructing “lands” over a conductive ground plane, where components can be isolated on the same unetched board.

All right, sometimes dead-bug circuits capture an aesthetic all their own, especially when they look like this and they do allow for a darned small package for one-off designs.

This Is Your Last Chance To Enter The Hackaday Prize

For the last seven months, we’ve been running the world’s greatest hardware competition. The Hackaday Prize is the Academy Awards of Open Hardware, and a competition where thousands of hardware hackers compete to build a better future. The results have already been phenomenal, but all good things must come to an end: we’re wrapping up the last challenge in the Hackaday Prize, after which the finalists of the five rounds will move on, with the ultimate winner being announced next month at the Hackaday Superconference.

We’re in the final hours of the Musical Instrument Challenge, where we’re asking everyone to build the next evolution of modern music instrumentation. We’re looking for the next electric guitar, theremin, synthesizer, violin, or an MPC. What we’ve seen so far is, quite simply, amazing. One of the finalists from the five challenges in this year’s Hackaday Prize will win $50,000 USD, but twenty projects from the Musical Instrument Challenge will each win $1000. We’ll be figuring out those winners on Monday, where they’ll move onto the final round, refereed by our fantastic judges.

It’s still not too late to get in on the action in this year’s Musical Instrument Challenge. We’re looking for the best musical projects out there, but time is of the essence. This round closes on October 8th at 07:00 PDT. There’s still time, though, so start your entry now.

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Electromagnetic Field 2018: Event Review

This summer’s Electromagnetic Field hacker camp in a field in western England gave many of the European side of our community their big fix of cool stuff for the year.

Some lucky individuals can spend the year as perpetual travelers, landing in a new country every week or so for the latest in the global round of camps. For the rest of us it is likely that there will be one main event each year that is the highlight, your annual fill of all that our global community has to offer. For many Europeans the main event was the biennial British event, Electromagnetic Field. From a modest start in 2012 this has rapidly become a major spectacle, one of the ones to include in your calendar, delivered both for our community and by our community.

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Supercon Talks That Inspire You to Take On Something New

There’s wealth of activities at the Hackaday Superconference but we’ve saved a few for today’s announcement that will inspire you to take on something new and different. Check out the eight talks below that will push you to try the unexpected, to look at old things in a new way, and to propel your hardware adventures for another year.

This is the Ultimate Hardware Conference and you need to be there! We’ll continue to announce speakers and workshops as final confirmations come in. Supercon will sell out so grab your ticket now before it’s too late.

Samy Kamkar
Ultra Low Cost, Low Power, Low Weight, Light-up Mesh Networkings

How to “float” a mesh network with light-up balloons in the air without re-powering.

Carl Bugeja
Building Motors from PCBs

Ongoing design and prototyping experiments that use Printed Circuit Boards (either rigid or flexible) as a coil in conjunction with rare earth magnets to create interesting motors and actuators.

Joan Horvath and Rich Cameron
Hacker Calculus

Travel back to Isaac Newton’s work to rethink calculus and make it intuitive using 3D printed open-source designs.

Rob Ryan-Silva
Making it Matter for Developing Countries

Building hardware in support of foreign aid projects. Learn what considerations really matter when designing for developing country contexts.

Dominic Spill
Ridiculous Radios

RF engineers put great effort into crafting high quality radio systems. I am not one of those engineers. Experimenting with radio protocols using SDR.

Michael Rigsby
Connect the Dots; Choices Make a Life

How does life unfold if you create things? Nothing created is wasted — following your dreams will lead you somewhere (maybe not where you planned), but to a good place. How I quit my engineering job and built interesting things as a career.

Hunter Scott
Why Phased Arrays Are Cool and How to Build One

At the intersection of the two black arts of RF engineering and antenna design is the phased array. But don’t worry, they’re not as hard to understand as you might think.

 

Charles Alexanian
Small Scale Vacuum Tube Construction

Showing the process for the construction of vacuum tubes. Tubes will be built and tested on site using glass working torches and other specialized tools

We Want You at Supercon!

The Hackaday Superconference is a can’t-miss event for hardware hackers everywhere. Join in on three amazing days of talks and workshops focusing on hardware creation. This is your community of hardware hackers who congregate to hack on the official hardware badge and on a slew of other projects that show up for the fun. Get your ticket right away!