When boards were larger and components mostly through hole, designers could put a lot of information on the silk legend – reference designator, values, additional text and so on. But with surface mount components becoming smaller and board real estate at a premium, modern boards do not have a lot of information marked on the silk layer. If you are building and distributing a short run of kits, perhaps for a round of beta testing, then [Adam Greig]’s StickerBOM python script for KiCad can be really handy. StickerBOM is a KiCad BOM exporter designed for people stuffing boards by hand. It generates a PDF for printable sticky labels, where each label reflects one BOM line from a supplier. You then stick these labels on the bags from your supplier, and they show you where the parts go.
The labels get printed with the reference designator, quantity, component value, package, vendor and part number. It also adds a drawing of the PCB with the relevant parts highlighted for easy location identification. To use it, schematic symbols must have the supplier field and part number added. The script can be run from the command line, or from the BOM manager in eeschema. The script is set up for Avery L7164 labels, but this setting can be changed. It’s still work in progress so there’s a couple of bugs to be aware of. It cannot process the bottom layer of the board, and the result is only as good as the data you provide. And if you have a large board with components spread all over, the resultant graphic printed on the label may not be ideal.
We are hoping this, and other scripts such as the Part generator and Cost spreadsheets or the script for mechanical CAD export, get added to future releases of KiCad. The KiCad version 5 Developer’s road map document already has some really nice feature additions in the works.
These geeky Superbowl decorations glow thanks to the EL panel hack which [Becky Stern] created. It’s almost impossible to make out in this image, but the EL panels have been applied to the surface of the helmet. On the San Francisco helmet you can just make out the black connector and cord at the bottom of the F.
El panels are a lot like EL wire (but they’re flat) in that the phosphors are excited when connected to a high voltage AC supply. You can cut the panels into shapes without a problem. The technique used here is to create a black vinyl mask to go over the top of the panel. This makes cutting the panel a lot easier.
The mask sticker is made on a vinyl cutter. [Becky] is a master at using the vector tool as you can see in the video after the break. She outlined each team logo with paths to create a file which the cutter can use. From there it took several tries to get the sticker just right as the curve of the helmet distorts the logos just a bit. Once it was dialed in she stuck the vinyl on the El panel and cut around the perimeter.
The Adafruit team sure loves to use electroluminescent accents.
Continue reading “Glowing Super Bowl helmets”
This toner transfer method uses a different material than we normally see. The red sheet being peeled back isn’t toner transfer paper. It’s printable vinyl used for both the resist and the silk screen.
The application process is almost the same as any other toner transfer PCB fabrication material. The printable vinyl stick is first adhered to a piece of paper before feeding it through a laser printer. It is acceptable to clean the vinyl with alcohol before printing if you think there may be a finger print or other oil on its surface. After printing it is carefully aligned with the board and ironed on.
[Mincior Vicentiu] thinks there are a few big benefits to this material. It seems that as you heat the toner it expands and hardens, but the vinyl actually softens to make room for this. We can imagine that this helps alleviate the smudging that sometimes occurs when ironing toner that is simply printed on paper. The other advantage is that the vinyl peels off quite easily after ironing, where as you need to soak paper in water and carefully massage it off of the toner.
[via Dangerous Prototypes]
The Hack a Day store is still going strong. We’re really enjoying the fact that when you buy a Hack a Day item, it was made by one of us. We hope we can keep this up. It makes our merchandise mean so much more, we think.
We’ve been getting tons of requests for other colors of stickers as well as other products. Other colors of stickers is easy enough, we now have black, white, both gloss and matte, light grey, and just starting today, glow in the dark. We’ll be updating the store as we run out, or buy new colors. We only have a little bit of the glow in the dark right now, so if you don’t want to have to wait for more to come in, you better place your order quick.
We have also received a steady flow of requests for T-shirts. Unfortunately, we just don’t have all of the equipment yet. So, we’ll begin taking pre-orders for t-shirts today. As soon as we have roughly 30 pre-orders, we should be able to start making the shirts. To begin with, we’ll be doing white logo on black shirts. There’s also a Custom shirt option that gets your name placed on the front of the shirt as well, though that does come at some additional cost. Maybe after he gets all the kinks worked out, [Jakob] will grace us with shirts to sell as well.
There is also a product that has been the source of a lot of discussion between the staff. A new logo, designed by [Caleb]. You can see it above. Some feel that we should adopt it as our new logo, since the old one is kind of a generic biker symbol. The new one reflects a little more what we do. [Phillip Torrone], the founder of Hack a Day and designer of the old one likes it and says ” love it … i say go for it – evolve or die :)”. What do you guys think? Even if it never becomes the site logo, it will be for sale in the store.
[update: Judging by the feedback, we’ll be sticking with our original logo. Custom designs will be available in the store though. Email me directly(firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss getting your design on there. ]
Since the beginning of the universe we’ve been getting requests for stickers, shirts, coffee mugs, etc. Well, several of the writers have the ability to produce this stuff in their homes. The boss liked that and gave us his blessing to start selling Hack a Day stuff.
In the interest of keeping the cost as low as possible, right now the store is located inside of my personal online store. The only products we have right now are stickers, since I make them myself. Though if enough of you pester him, maybe [Devlin] will make up a batch of those Hack a Day badges.
Please be patient with the store. It is fairly untested and tossing this many people at it at once is somewhat frightening. If you have any problems at all, please contact me (caleb@) and I’ll take care of it. You can get to the store by clicking the new button on the right of the screen, labelled “store”. You can see a few more pictures after the break.
Note: Thos of you who are outside of the US, please just contact me directly. I have to figure out your shipping outside the system. Don’t go fill out an order.
Continue reading “Hack a Day store now open”