All posts in “Technology”

Pixy CMUcam5 – Hands on First Impressions

In late August 2013 I stumbled across
this Kickstarter project for the CMUcam5 Pixy. Almost immediately I realized the possibilities for such a device and was happy to throw my (limited) money at the project. After signing in to my Kickstarter account and navigating back to the project page I decided to back the Pixy + Pan/Tilt mechanism. This backer level gets you the base Pixy, as well as a dual servo assembly that can hold the Pixy and pan/tilt the device to follow an object.

Well today I finally got to lay hands on my CMUcam5 Pixy and this article is just a brief introduction to my first experience with the Pixy. I plan to have more articles down the road as well as a comprehensive post to

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How to Design the Perfect PCB – Part 2

This post continues from “How to Design the Perfect PCB – Part 1.” In part one we covered how to finish the pre-layout work like setting goals, visualizing your design, and selecting parts. In this post we focus more on the physical side of PCB design and discuss the caveats that may trip you up.

The featured image for this post is the Manga Screen designed by Elias Bakken, you can learn more about it and explore his work at Hipstercircuits.

Before we get started, I think it is worth saying that this is NOT a guide on how to use any specific CAD software. This article is meant to serve as a general guideline on how you can design the best possible PCB regardless of your experience level.

When I set out to design my first PCB I was told “Well, it’s your first PCB so it probably won’t work anyways, but that sounds interesting.” Even though this was discouraging to hear, I didn’t let it stop me and I ended up with a working design. I now want to take my experiences as well as the experiences of others and make it as simple as possible for you to design your own PCB.

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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.

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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…

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!

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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!