Femto-ize it! There’s no gender bias with the Femtoduino; it’s just a really small Arduino Leonardo clone.
Ho-hum, another clone you say? Not so. The Femtoduino packs on board Bluetooth (BLE), accelerometer, altimeter and a USB port into a 34.54 mm (1.36 inches) wide PCB. At USD $75.00 a pop, it’s obviously more than the price of an Arduino. Or any super-powered MPU, for that matter. But with this kind of form factor, there’s no excuse for big ugly prototypes.
As wonderful a platform as the Beaglebone Black is, the board is a piker compared to the add-ons available for the Arduino. The Bone’s universe of capes is limited and pretty pricey.
A current device from an engineering team in Germany, though, caught our eye and opened our wallet on Indiegogo: a low-cost daughterboard that makes it possible to use nearly any Arduino shield on the Beaglebone Black. They promise shipping by May, so it should arrive in time to write about it in my upcoming book, A Beaglebone Black Cookbook: Seventy-Five Recipes for Making Things with a Microcomputer (Packt Publishing, pub. date Fall 2014).
If you’re at the early Maker stage, understanding the fundamentals of prototyping can be daunting. AdaFruit’s Collin Cunningham delivers a quick (5-min) — and quirky — intro for taking your design from a flat schematic to the next steps of breadboarding, then semi-permanent protoboard.
Easy to use Paste Press solder dispenser from Pieco.
It’s Cake Boss meets the world of DIY Printed Circuit Boards.
Pieco’s “Paste Press” solder paste dispenser makes applying all the super-fiddly solder bits onto your custom PCBs far simpler and less sploogy. The design from NYC-based Pieco feels solid to the grip and dramatically reduced production time on my current Arduino knock-off PCB. More tasty tools like this, please!
Ever sketch out an idea for a circuit on a napkin and then never did anything with it?
Now, with Circuit Scribe — a wonderful new project on Kickstarter — there’s no longer any excuse for getting those iterations going. Circuit Scribe is a rollerball pen that writes with conductive silver (and safe!) ink. It’s a marvelous way to draw your ideas for your circuits on a regular piece of paper, then immediately start testing the idea…using the paper sketch itself.
Maybe it’s more a beta than a true 1.0… But it works!
Our first stab at creating a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) from scratch was a thrill, especially because it DOES something. It does anything an Arduino Due can do, to be more precise, since the board’s a close clone. Up at Haythem Elawary’s excellent Zahn Center incubator lab @ CCNY, Manhattan maker Jonathan Hirschman led a small group of PCB designer newbs. It was soup-to-nuts across two (very long) classes: from building the schematic based on a raw Bill of Materials to doing the copper pour via DipTrace, with final design layout shipped off to Osh Park for milling.
The PCBs came back all squeaky and ready for solder. Despite the loss of a few diodes after an ill-timed sneeze, we got everything pasted and baked. The ultimate test? Does it really work, starting with that “Hello World”-ish chestnut, the LED blink? And…
Hudsonhardwear “HudsonDuino” PCB v1.0
So it’s now a reality: bona fide DIY PCB and a working Arduino clone for just a few bucks. Next stop: smaller, leaner version designed with only required components for our wireless, rugged webcam.