In case you haven’t noticed, the Hackaday community is making more of an effort to be a community AFK. We’re at VCF East this weekend, have the Hackaday World Create Day quickly approaching, Hackaday | Belgrade a few days ago, and Hackaday Toronto next week just to name a few in close proximity to this post.
As promised, or threatened, depending on which end of the stick you’re on I will be teaching an electronics class at the Dallas Makerspace every 3rd Saturday of the month. The goal of these classes is to help you overcome the barrier between a hardware idea and having that hardware in your hand. I’m not an expert in PCB design or layout, but I’ve found more ways to do it wrong than I’d probably admit too and this is my way of sharing what I’ve painfully learned through trial and error. At the time of writing this article there are still a few spots available in the first class, follow the above link for tickets.
Images of my failed hopes and dreams wonderfully captured courtesy of [Krissy Heishman]
In our first 6 hour session we’ll take a basic, high-level idea and work our way down. For example: our first project will be an AVR development board. This is something common enough that everyone will know what it is (an Arduino is an AVR development board, just in case my mom is reading this). We won’t be making an Arduino clone part-for-part but taking the Arduino idea and making it our own custom board. Maybe we add some terminal blocks instead of DuPont headers or perhaps we want a real time clock and a slide potentiometer on the board. We can do that if we want, you can’t stop us.
So class number 1 is a crash course in Eagle schematic capture and PCB layout. Since this is only 6 hours worth of class time and we need to have boards and parts ordered when we leave we won’t be getting too complicated with our design.
By the time we meet for our second session we should have taken delivery of our shiny new PCBs and our parts order should have long since been delivered from the distributor (Mouser is more or less an hour drive from the Dallas Makerspace, not that we’ll pick the parts up at will-call for this project, but it’s nice to have the option). We will spend the second 6 hour session assembling and testing our boards. If we need to make changes to our boards we can talk about that as a part of the design process. Depending on how long assembly takes we can brainstorm some ideas for the next round of Mrs. Penny’s Driving School classes which will continue the following 3rd Saturday of the month.
The Hackaday Prize meetup at the Dallas Makerspace is this weekend: Saturday March 19th. We will be kicking things off at 7pm with food and drinks followed by lightning talks. If you want to come but have yet to RSVP you can do that via Meetup, please do this so we can have enough food and drinks on site for everyone.
We’ve already lined up a number of lightning talks (5-7 minutes each) to get things started so we aren’t sitting and staring at one another like a junior high dance. But we encourage you to show up and sign up for one on on the night of the meetup. Even if you don’t give a talk you should bring a project to show off afterward.
Lightning Talks Primed With:
[Brandon Dunson] giving a talk about the 2016 Hackaday Prize, [Mike Szczys] will be giving a talk about the Hackaday | Belgrade hardware badge. [Dave Anders] will be talking about his WITCH-E Project and [Bradley Mahurin] is bringing his 450V 1mA PIC based boost converter. Not to discredit the Hackaday talks, but I’ve seen [Dave] and [Bradley]’s work before and you’ll want to see this stuff first hand and get a chance to talk with these guys.
Join us for a Meetup on Saturday, March 19th in the Lone Star State. Team Hackaday will be at the Dallas Makerspace and we want to hang out with you. Bring a hack to show off and come see what everyone else in the area has been up to.
Come join us for food, drinks and lightning talks. If you aren’t familiar with lightning talks it’s pretty simple, they’re designed to be short and to the point talks no longer than 7 minutes. Bring one of your hacks and 5 to 7 minutes of bragging rights to show off. Or perhaps you are working on a new project and need some help, what better audience to bounce ideas off of? Come on out and show us what you got no matter what stage of the project you’re in, we want to see it and hear all about it.
This is a free event and you are not required to be a member of the Dallas Makerspace to attend, however we do want you to RSVP if you plan to come.
We can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on and we want to hear all about it. We will also have a few Hackaday related talks: [Mike Szczys] is giving a talk on Hackaday Belgrade and [Brandon Dunson] is giving a talk on the 2016 Hackaday Prize. The monthly hardware design workshop I will be teaching at the Dallas Makerspace starting in April: Mrs Penny’s Driving School will also be the topic of a lightning talk. Full disclosure: [Mike Szczys] also hinted at giving another talk but we’ll have to wait and see what he chooses to talk about.
For some people to join a new group is an exciting proposal, to meet new people and interact with them to accomplish a goal is their idea of a good time. If this describes you then you’re all set to jump in there and make some new friends! There are other people who see social interaction as not such a good time. They would rather avoid that situation and go on about their normal day, I get it. In general my level of comfort is inversely proportional to the number of people with me. This is not a character trait that I chose, I’m an introvert by nature.
The stereotype depicts hackers, nerds, or geeks as people without many friends who spend most of our time alone or you might just call us “loners”. I should make it clear that I’m writing this article from a table for 1 at my local diner and it would be out of the ordinary if there was another person at this table with me. Just in case someone feels the need to speak to me I’m wearing headphones as a deterrent, audio delivery is not their use at this time (headphone hack). I can feel the first comment brewing so let me nip that in the bud real quick: I’m in a restaurant AND actively being alone because there are often too many distractions at home to get things done in a timely manner. And I like the pancakes.
Before I climb up on this soapbox let me say that many of you are already involved in the community and are doing a great job, in fact I’m pretty sure many of the old-timers I talk about are Hackaday readers. This article is a result of my self reflection regarding my lack of community involvement as of late. I can’t think of any reasons why I shouldn’t take myself down a peg or two publicly, enjoy.
I won’t bother with the “Ra-Ra! Team Spirit!” garbage to get you all jazzed up to be a part of the team. But I will tell you what you’re missing out on by not being active and participating. It’s similar to the saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make that horse join a group of like-minded horses that would all benefit from a wealth of horse-knowledge.” The saying changes depending on where you’re from, that’s how it was told to me.
Remember when building your own 3D printer was a big deal? We’re starting to think that building your own laser cutter might be the next hot topic.
Boasting a 16,000 square-foot facility, the Dallas Makerspace is an impressive collaboration of local artists, engineers, makers, and thinkers. Recently they embarked on building a serious laser cutting machine. They chose to go with the an open-hardware design rather than buying an off-the-shelf unit. What they built is based on the Lasersaur plans. (Another popular open-source build is the buildlog.net unit.)
They ended up with a huge 24″ by 48″ cutting bed and with a laser tube rated for 100 watts continuous output. It can cut 1/2″ plywood and 10mm acrylic with ease. The entire machine is built from 20mm Misumi aluminum t-slot extrusions, making more like a giant erector set then a commercial built machine. We hadn’t seen too many of the Lasersaur builds out in the wild, so we thought you might like to see one too.
Now, before you start ordering parts to build your own, you should know that a top of the line build like this will run you about $7-10k. But by comparison if you were to go with something with the same cutting area and power, you’d be looking at something like the “Epilog Fusion 40” at a whopping $40k. With that said, we expect to see more budget laser cutter builds. Cost can be cut dramatically when you go for a smaller machine, with less cutting area, and less power. With that, you can use less expensive steppers, drivers, and frame. We suspect a little as $700 for a smart shopper could yield a very respectable laser cutter.