Hackaday Links: July 7, 2019

Like modular synths? Sure you do, and you need another hole to throw money into! For the last few months, Supplyframe has been hosting synthesizer and electronic music meetups in San Francisco. This week, the HDDG/Piqued meetup will have a great talk with the creator of VCV Rack. VCV Rack is an Open Source, virtual, modular synthesizer — basically a bunch of Eurorack modules inside a computer and it costs a whole lot less. The talk is this Thursday evening in SF. You should come!

The W600 is a new module (you can get it from Seeed, although it’s produced by Winner Micro in various formats) that is basically an ESP32, except it uses an ARM Cortex-M3 instead of a Tensilica core. [ultratechie] recently got their hands on one of these modules and got started with MicroPython. This seems like a capable module and it’s only three dollars, but will that be enough to catch up to the ESP32?

Purple gorilla enters art gallery. At the Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam there is a new exhibit featuring the, ‘destructive beauty of the computer virus’. The curators are detailing the historical progress of the computer virus from innocent DOS viruses to Melissa to Stuxnet and ransomware.

USB C has been around for a while, but 2019 is the year everything started to become USB C. Case in point: the Raspberry Pi 4. The only problem is that the Raspberry Pi Foundation messed up their implementation of USB C. Not a problem, because here’s how you design a USB C power sink. Basically, you give each CC line its own resistor. Don’t even think about it, just copy the USB C spec. You don’t know more about USB C than the people who designed it, and you’re not really saving a ton of money by deleting one resistor. Just copy the spec.

Tiny Cheap ARM Boards Get WiFi

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the value of putting tiny WIFi-enabled microcontrollers on a module that costs a dollar or two. Those smart light bulbs in your house probably have an ESP8266 in them, and you can build a WiFi-enabled anything with one of these chips for next to no money. Now there’s a new module that takes the design philosophy of, ‘a reasonably powerful microcontroller, on a module, that does WiFi’ to its logical conclusion. It’s the W600 module from Seeed Studios. It’s got an ARM Cortex-M3, it’s FCC and CE certified, it’s got WiFi, and it’s cheap. This is what the people want, so somebody’s got to give it to them.

This product seems to be the followup and/or refinement of the Air602 WiFi Development board released by Seeed late last year. While the module itself grew a few more castellated pins and an RF can, the other specs look to be the same. Compared to the ESP-8266, which this module is obviously competing against, the Air600 is more than capable of pulling its own weight with five GPIO pins that do PWM, a decent amount of Flash, and all the WiFi support you could want.

The W600 is part of an entire family of boards, with the module itself readily available, but there’s also a few breakout boards that add connections for power and serial, a bigger breakout board that’s trying really hard to forget the pin misalignment of the Arduino Uno, and since this is Seeed, a board that connects to everything via Grove connectors. What’s a Grove connector? It’s power, ground, and either I2C or serial over a connector I couldn’t buy the last time I checked.

The W600 and its family of boards will be shipping shortly — China is shutting down for two weeks soon, after all — and there are plans for support for the Arduino IDE, Micropython, and an SDK for the tool chain of your choice.

Is the ESP8266 still the go-to for putting WiFi? Probably. But here’s some more competition.