Archive for “July, 2013”

Texas Instruments Intern Design Contest Roundup – 2013

With the 2013 TI Intern Design Contest coming to a close, I felt it would be helpful to do a quick roundup of my favorite project entries. This year there were two categories for the design competition, with two awards for each category.

The first category was focused on creating an add-on board for the TI LaunchPad series. This includes the MSP430, TIVA-C, and C2000 platforms. The second category included entries focused on creating an add-on board for the BeagleBone Black.

While there were 50 teams (1-4 people) that originally committed to the contest, it looks like only 40% or so managed to complete their designs and submit a project. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting submissions.

Continue Reading…

Anchored: #2

Every Friday I post a roundup of my favorite links, articles, images and videos from around the web. If you have any suggestions that I may have missed put them in the comments. Links open in a new tab/window.

[Link] Winner: Want a better RSS feed? Trying to learn something novel? Would you like to explore an unfamiliar topic? Give Learnist a shot.

If you don’t look at any more links on this page, at least watch this teaser trailer for Gravity. Who knows if the movie will be any good, but it does a good job of showing how much it would suck to be stranded in space.

[Link] Twitter co-founder says Facebook should go with a freemium model instead of pushing ads that users hate. This is one week ahead of Facebook earnings, should be interesting. I think it’s a good idea, what about you?

[Link] Instructables user xaiobo_ built a cell phone using an Arduino and some add on shields. Impressive work.

[Link] Excellently designed and well built large pixel array from LeonLabs. It doesn’t seem like a particularly difficult design, but I think that’s the point.

[Link] Standing up to grumps in the wild wild world of Linux. Bravery at it’s finest… Seriously though, kudos to her.

[Link] Accomplish things you never thought were possible by building a “mastermind network”. I can’t argue with this idea.

[Link] Confirmed: Rocket engine pulled from the ocean almost a year ago is in fact from the famous Apollo 11 mission.

[Link] Want a water cooled Raspberry Pi?

[Link] MobileWill documents the build process for a homemade reflow oven.

[Link] The Leap Motion controller is what looks like a very high quality motion based controller for your computer. I’m going to wait until a few reviews come out but this may be on the wish list soon.

[Link] Hack-a-day funding campaign is over. The hack-a-day community was not able to raise enough money for a community owned web-site to be feasible. They say there have been a few other offers so the site will go on.

[Link] This Hack-a-day user built a movable camera mount that is controlled by its 3D model in Blender, impressive stuff.

[Link] If you just can’t get enough of learning, here is a list of 20 free resources for learning online.

This crazy cool video shows how one Lifehacker has nearly completely automated his house using NFC and Voice Control.

[Link] Do you have the next big idea but haven’t been able to convince others yet? Well don’t worry, pretty much every new idea was considered crazy at some point.

[Link] If you’re not using Chrome, you should be. If you are using Chrome, check out this list of extensions by Lifehacker.

[Link] Nvidia is trying to bring the next generation of graphics to mobile devices, this looks promising.

[Link] Managing your online reputation, you are who Google says you are. This post from IEEE discusses the importance of establishing and maintaining an online presence.

[Link] Monitoring your sick bird with Raspberry Pi. This one sounds super specific but if you want to do any motion sensing surveillance this may be a good hack to look at.


“I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali

[Link] Google announces Chromecast, which is an easy way to stream content from your mobile to your TV. I’ll take one, please and thank you.

[Link] Apple has been buying AAPL shares like hotcakes. They must be very hungry, at $16 BILLION, that’s a lot of hotcakes. It seems they are extremely confident in their future which could be a good sign for you Apple heads.

That’s it for this week, have a great Friday!

PCB Design in KiCad

How To Design the Perfect PCB – Part 1

This post is the first in a two part series about designing the perfect printed circuit board (PCB). This part focuses on the pre-layout details that may be more important than you realize. The second part focuses more on the actual PCB layout and post-layout considerations.

Breadboards are amazing for prototyping and are an invaluable tool to any electronics tinkerer, but when you really want to get serious you will need to learn how to create your own PCB.

Making a PCB is no simple task, however, with the right commitment, a little bit of time, and this guide you will be able to make a working PCB the first time around. If you are persistent it will even look good! Continue Reading…

Anchored: #1

Every Friday I post a roundup of my favorite links, articles, images and videos from around the web. If you have any suggestions that I may have missed put them in the comments. Links open in a new tab/window.

Continue Reading…

SensorCape Version 0.2 Test Boards Have Arrived

I was happy to come home to a nice purple package today. In this purple package were three copies of my SensorCape for BeagleBone Black. I am sending them for assembly tomorrow and hope to have them back early next week to begin testing.

Now that I have received the boards and can look at them in person, I have found a few changes that I think I will make in the final version.

  • Remove the 4 orange LED’s – I still think they are awesome but there are already 4 perfectly capable LED’s on the BeagleBone, no need to be redundant.
  • Move the pressure sensor to where the LED’s are – This will free up some extra space on the board for a better layout.
  • Reduce the number of push buttons from 4 to 2 or possibly replace with a 5 position switch – Either one of these options will free up board space and reduce cost
  • Remember to fill the area around the TMP006 – It looks like I forgot to pour my copper fill before I exported my gerber files, the TMP006 probably won’t work correctly without this but we’ll see.
  • Move the EEPROM to the correct I2C bus – This is an error I noticed before I received the boards, I have the cape EEPROM connected to the wrong I2C header, it should be on I2C2

I think that’s it, enjoy the photos below click for a full picture.

  • The Three Amigos - Bare SensorCape for BeagleBone Black Fresh Out of the Packaging

    The Three Amigos – Bare SensorCape for BeagleBone Black Fresh Out of the Packaging

  • Top View of a Bare SensorCape for BeagleBone Black

    Top View of a Bare SensorCape for BeagleBone Black

  • Bottom View of a Bare SensorCape for BeagleBone Black

    Bottom View of a Bare SensorCape for BeagleBone Black

Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black

Trying to choose between the Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black? This article will help you decide which one is best for the job.


There are already many articles out there comparing Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and BeagleBone Black; this is not one of those articles. I believe it is clear that Arduino is in a different league than the Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black, and serves an entirely different purpose. What I was looking for and couldn’t find was a comprehensive article that would summarize all of the pros and cons of the Raspberry Pi and the BeagleBone Black, and what each platform is best suited for. When I couldn’t find that article, I decided to write it myself.

I begin by giving a short introduction to each platform and then we will take an in-depth look at the two platforms side-by-side to determine which one is best for each category. The categories covered will be:

  • Raw Comparison
  • Unboxing
  • Ease of Setup
  • Total Cost
  • Connections
  • Processor Showdown
  • Graphical Showdown
  • Audio Showdown
  • Power Consumption
  • Expandability
  • Hardware Accessibility
  • Community

Let’s get started!

Continue Reading…

The Form 1 3D Printer

Form 1: The Highest Quality Affordable 3D Printer I Have Ever Seen

Browsing through Kickstarter this evening I stumbled across a ridiculously over-funded project called Form 1. I don’t know how I missed this before it was funded but I’ve found it now.

The Form 1 is what appears to be a very thoroughly Engineered 3D printer which, as far as 3D printing goes, is very affordably priced. Go check out their Kickstarter page to learn more about it, as of right now the Form 1 has received just short of $3,000,000 dollars in Kickstarter funding, which far exceeds their goal of $100,000.

At just over $3000 the Form 1 is still fairly expensive, but all 3D printers are. I’ve added this to my wish list and will be planning it as my next big purchase after I finish my Pilot’s License. It begins shipping in October 2013 and if you want one you better get on the list.

So what are your thoughts on this bad boy, am I excited over nothing? Let me know what you think in the comments!