As many people have pointed out, what matters with USB-C isn’t just the standard, it’s the implementations. After all, it’s the implementations that we actually have to deal with, and it’s where most of the problems with USB-C arise. There is some fault to the standard, like lack of cable markings from the get-go, but at this point, I’m convinced that the USB-C standard is a lot better than some people think.
I’d like to walk you through a few USB-C implementations in real, open-source, adjacent, and just interesting products. They’re all imperfect in some way – it can’t be otherwise, as they have to deal with the messy real world, where perfection is a rarity.
Today, let’s check out the Pinecil. A soldering iron by Pine64, released a few years ago, keeping the price low and quality high. It sports both a barrel jack and a USB-C port for its power input – a welcome departure from the Miniware iron strategy, where neither the barrel-jack-only TS100 nor the low-power proprietary-tip TS80 irons quite did it. And, given its design around TS100 T12-style tips, it’s no wonder Pinecil took a well-deserved spot in hobbyist world.
Can’t Just Pull The Trigger
Now, you might be thinking that Pinecil ought to be a simple device. The usual way to get high power out of a USB-C port is a Power Delivery (PD) trigger IC, and you could merely use that. However, if you’ve read the USB-C power article, you might remember the 45 W vs 60 W charger scenario, where such an arrangement would fail immediately. Overall, the configurability of trigger ICs is quite low, and when encountering a PD compatibility problem with some PSU, you can’t do anything about it except replace the IC with a slightly-different-logic IC- if a replacement even exists, and it usually does not. This is costly and limiting for a real-world use product. Continue reading “All About USB-C: Pinecil Soldering Iron” →
As the smartphone has eaten ever more of the gatgets with which we once surrounded ourselves, it’s with some sadness that we note the calculator becoming a less common sight. It’s with pleasure then that we bring you [Nekopla]’s keychain calculator, not least because it’s a little more than a conventional model. This is a calculator which uses Reverse Polish Notation, or RPN.
A full write-up in Japanese (Google Translate link) carries an impressive level of detail about the project, but in short, it takes an Arduino Pro Micro, an array of keys, and an OLED display, and packages them on a couple of fiberglass prototyping boards in a sandwich between laser-cut Perspex front and rear panels.
The RPN notation is what makes it especially interesting,a system in which where you might be used to writing
2+2= to get 4, in RPN you would write
2 2 + . It allows the use of much simpler code with a stack-based architecture than that used in a conventional calculator. It’s a system that’s usually the preserve of some pretty exclusive machines, so it’s great to see on something with more of the toy about it.
If RPN interests you, then you might like to read our look at the subject, and even feast your eyes on the teardown of a vintage 1975 Sinclair RPN calculator.
Much of the Northern Hemisphere is currently in the middle of winter, so what better way to brighten a potentially gloomy day than to put this charming, minimalist weather display on your desk.
[Joe] has created a weather gauge that uses two servo motors to position mechanical pointers to indicate weather symbols and time ranges. The electronics consists of a push button and two SG90 servos driven by a Raspberry Pi Zero W 2. The case is 3D printed including the pointers attached to the servos and the button brim of the switch. The Raspberry Pi Zero W 2 is programmed to automatically connect to the OpenWeather API to retrieve the latest weather conditions, with the latitude and longitude being configured into the update script during the configuration and assembly stages.
[Joe] has provided extensive documentation about the build and software setup, in addition to releasing the source code and STL files for anyone wanting to make their own. [Joe] even offers kits for those who don’t want to go through the trouble of putting one together themselves — not that we imagine many in this particular audience would fall into that category.
We love to see these delightful weather builds and we’ve featured others in the past, like a converted weather house for weather prediction or a weather reporting diorama.
Continue reading “Let This Minimal Desktop Weather Display Point The Way” →