Archive for the ‘PCB’ Category

My open-source, do-it-yourself cellphone (built with Arduino).

Monday, August 12th, 2013

DIY cellphone (in hand)

For a little over a year, I’ve been working on an open-source, DIY cellphone as part of my PhD research at the MIT Media Lab. The current version of the phone is based on the Arduino GSM shield and Arduino GSM library. It sports a deliberately low-resolution screen (8 characters, each a 5×7 matrix of LEDs), a laser-cut wooden enclosure, flexure (living hinge) buttons, and a ~1000-line Arduino program that powers the user interface. The phone can make and receive phone calls and text messages, includes a phone book and caller id, and keeps the time. Everything you’d expect from a 20-year old Nokia! (Except snake.) I’ve been using various iterations of the project as my primary cellphone for the past six months or so.

DIY Cellphone (LED matrix variant)DIY Cellphone (LED matrix variant)

The phone is open-source and the design files are available on GitHub (hardware, software). Assembly instructions are on my website, although I wouldn’t recommend making your own unless you have experience with soldering surface mount components.

Second DIY cellphone workshop

Of course, it’s not just me that’s been building these phones. I’ve run two workshops in which other people have made them for themselves. A few people have been building them on their own, including someone who posted his result on Twitter.

Ben Peters' Phone.Dena's purpleheart phoneNadya and Jeff making cellphones

Here you can see some the variations on the enclosure that my friends have made. On the left is a 3d-printed case by Ben Peters, the middle is a CNC-milled purpleheart wood case by Dena Molnar, and on the right is a hand-cut cardboard case by Jeffrey Warren.

DIY Cellphone Prototypes

The phone has undergone numerous revisions as I’ve tried to get it into a robust, useable form. Here you can see some of those variations. I started with an LCD screen like those found on old Nokia phones, but it would break after a month or so in my pocket, so I switched to the more-robust LED matrix. The enclosure has had a few tweaks as well, primarily to find a good design for the flexure buttons.

DIY Cellphone (LED matrix variant)

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the current incarnation. It seems to be relatively robust, simple enough to assemble by hand, and functional enough to use everyday (although a long way from a smart phone). That’s my DIY cellphone.

Othermill on Kickstarter: a robust, personal CNC machine for milling circuit boards and more

Monday, May 6th, 2013

My friend Jonathan Ward and the rest of the team at Otherfab have posted their new CNC milling machine, the Othermill, to KickStarter. This is a robust, low-cost machine for milling circuit boards, wax molds, wood, aluminum and more. The machine is made from high density polyethylene with an ingenious snap-fit mechanism that’s strong, reversible, and easy-to-assemble (although the machines will come fully assembled). There are lots of other clever features to ensure good alignment, minimal / non-existent slop, and quiet / robust performance. The working area is 5.5 x 4.5 x 1.4″ and the machine itself is only 10 inches cubed.

This is a great tool for milling your own circuit boards, something that’s done a lot in How to Make (Almost) Anything and at the MIT Media Lab and Center for Bits and Atoms generally. It handles relatively fine-pitched components (down to 1/64″ or even 0.010″ between traces) and is great for doing arbitrary shapes and cut outs. Here are some examples from the Othermill KickStarter page.

Jonathan has a long history of making milling machines, and I’m excited to see them get out into the world.

Find out more or support the project on KickStarter.

An open robot shield for Arduino

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Open Electronics‘ staff were looking for a common and standard hardware platform usable on different robots they were working on. Their goal was to find a single platform that had to provide power supply to the microcontroller, it had to provide stabilized voltage for the servos, and, finally, it had to be equipped with an obstacle detector and with an IR receiver.

Having chosen Arduino as the target core board, they developed an ad-hoc shield meeting all these requirements, whose detailed description can be found here, together with the BOM and a lot of source code.

[Via: Open Electronics]

XOrduino: an Arduino-compatible board for the OLPC XO laptop

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Dr. Scott Ananian, from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, conceived an Arduino Leonardo-compatible board especially designed for the OLPC XO laptop, with the goal to cut down its price as much as possible, to foster its adoption even in developing countries. From Scott’s blog:

The board uses mostly through-hole parts, with one exception, and there are only 20 required components for the basic Arduino functionality, costing about $5 (from digikey, quantity 100). It is reasonable for local labor or even older kids to assemble by hand.

The board, named XOrduino, is open hardware (schematics and pcb files can be found on github), and can be directly plugged into the XO’s USB ports, which allowed Scott to save the money required for the USB connector. Moreover, its design has been inspired by other open hardware projects, such as SparkFun’s ATmega32U4 breakout board and SparkFun’s Scratch Sensor Board-compatible PicoBoard.

Scott designed also a second board, which is even cheaper than the first one, called XO Stick:

It’s based on the AVR Stick using the ATtiny85 processor and costs only $1/student. It’s not quite as user-friendly as the Arduino-compatible board, but it can also be used to teach simple lessons in embedded electronics.

A longer description can be found here, while detailed release notes can be found on github.

It’s very exciting to see how open technologies, such as open hardware and open source software, contribute to the way education and creativity can take place around the world, especially regarding their promotion in developing countries.

[Via: Ossblog, OLPC blog, Scott Ananian's blog]

WISP: a WiFi module for the Internet-of-Things

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

embdSocial™ is an Internet-of-Things (IoT) platform usable to provide communication support to smart objects and devices. embdSocial™ is based on WISP™, an electronic module that can be connected to any microcontroller-equipped device (such as an Arduino board, by means of ad-hoc shield) to exploit several communication services:

Each WISP™ allows real-time bi-directional communication through our secure, globally accessible API. In addition to merely providing internet connectivity, embdSocial™ provides one interface and architecture that simplifies common tasks through the use of plug-ins:

  • Tweeting/receiving @messages
  • Updating Facebook statuses
  • Sending/receiving emails
  • Sending/receiving SMS text messages
  • Manipulating files in your Dropbox

Each WISP™ is equipped with a 802.11 network interface (with support to WEP, WPA and WPA2 protocols) which allows the device to be easily connected with the embdSocial™’s servers; moreover, its configuration is completely web-based.

More information can be found on the embdSocial™ homepage, together with a couple of videos presenting its capabilities.

[Via: HackADay and embdSocial]

Arduino based Quadrotor on a PCB

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

There are many Quadrotor Projects out there. But, they require a hobbyist to deal with the Frame Designing (Mechanical), a bit of Microcontroller knowledge as well as dealing with the Motor Control (Power Electronics). You may purchase a commercial Radio and a readymade Kit for flying. But, to Do-It-Yourself, is an achievement in itself.

4pcb Quad

Here is a picture of a Quadrotor designed by Shane Colton using Arduino Pro mini as its flying brain. Shane is a Ph.D Student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On being asked about the Project, he replied:

I heard about Arduino some time in 2007/2008 and have used it for a few projects since then. I built the quadrotor for fun / hobby (not related to research). I wanted to build my own (quadrotor) from scratch because I could integrate all the parts onto a single circuit board, and because I like designing the control system myself.

(more…)

How to make a shield for your arduino

Friday, February 17th, 2012

As a hobbyist, we often want to extend the functionality of our arduino board. In order to minimize wires and maximize functionality, we design special need-based ‘shields‘. A useful step by step tutorial that I found here , breaks down the process into the following stages:

 

1) Part selection

2) Prototyping the board

3) Schematic design

4) PCB Layout

5) PCB Fabrication

 

[Via: krisbarrett]

Circuit Milling Workshop With Massimo

Friday, January 27th, 2012

BetterNouveau is organizing a promising workshop about circuit milling with Roland iModela in Turin. Massimo is going to walk you around milling your own shield.

[...] you’ll learn to design and create your very own Arduino shield (‘shields’ are boards that can be plugged on top of the Arduino extending its capabilities). We’ll start from schematics, create the layout and make real prototypes on-site: become a pro Arduino user and learn to design circuits with the Eagle PCB software and make your own Arduino Shields using the Roland iModela desktop milling machine. D.I.Y shields are the best way to move your project from a breadboard-based approach into a professional prototype.

The Workshop is held on February 17-18-19.

via [Better Nouveau]

Circuit Milling With Roland iModela, Now Available on Arduino Store

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

[Enrico Bassi] from FablabTorino brought to the extent the use of the Roland iModela, using the little (and inexpensive) desktop milling machine for pcb milling.  (in the picture we milled the overexposed Fritzing Parking Assistant).

He wrote some Scuola Lessons (here’s the first) to explain how he realized the pcb, starting from Fritzing.

Roland iModela is now on sell on the Arduino Store.

source [FablabTorino]

TinkerKit! Gyroscope Now Available

Monday, October 10th, 2011

New fellows in the TinkerKit!  family: [T000060] and [T000062] are two versions of the same gyroscope module (1x / 4x sensitivity) based on the LPR5150AL from ST Microelectronics. We are sharing example codes and a visual UI in Processing (hosted on Scuola)