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Open Source Hardware

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The Youxia X is just as sleek looking as the Model S. (via Youxia & CNC)

Open source your design/patents… this happens. It’s not the first time, but the most ambitious I’ve seen recently. (See the MakerBot close, TangiBot, for another example towards the end of the post.)


In case you didn't know China has a reputation for producing knockoffs of designer brands, like Gucci and Burberry. You may have seen some of these knockoff purses, but how about a knockoff car? Recently, China revealed the Youxia X electric car made to compete with the Tesla Model S vehicle. If you're thinking it looks familiar, you're right. It appears the Youxia, which is the Chinese name for the Knight Rider series, has copied most of the design for the Tesla car. It's not an exact replica, but many of the same features have been reproduced like the central touchscreen that controls almost all of the analog controls, the body shape, fender badges, and black grill. CEO Haung Xiuyuan is the one behind the car and yes, he is a Knight Rider fan.


Though it may be a clone, the Youxia X does have at least one feature not found on the Telsa: a programmable display grill, which can show emojis and even the iconic sliding ride light from KITT. The operating system is based on Android 5.1 and is called KITT OS ( can you guess why?). This OS allows drivers to select various engine sounds from cars like Ferrari 488 GTB and Jaguar F-Type to replace the near-silence of the electric motor.


When it comes to performance, Tesla is still on top with 315 horsepower and reaching 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The Youxia can put out 348 hp, which is enough for 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds. When it comes to range both cars are pretty similar with the X having 40, 65, and 85 kilowatt hour battery packs. The Model S offers 70, 85, an 90 kilowatt packs. The Youxia is supposed to reach a max range of 285 miles, while the Model S can go 270 miles on a charge.


Those who can't afford the $70,000 price tag of Model S will be happy to know the clone will start at an estimated $32,000 with range-topping models going for $48,000. The catch is the car isn't coming to the US marketplace anytime soon. Production is supposed to begin in late 2016 with deliveries slated for 2017. I have to say… the price is appealing.


It's easy to point out why clones that rely on open source hardware should be avoided. Many consumers worry about cheaper parts and the product not being made well overall, but open source hardware has the advantage of making money for those who use it. Just look at TangiBot, which is a clone of MakerBot 3D printers. Not only does it offer the same performance as the MakerBot, but every component on the Tangibot is compatible the original printer and is cheaper with a price tag of $1,199 compared with $1,749 for the MakerBot. The printer did exceptionally well, so the Youxia X may find the same success. We'll have to wait to find out.



See more news at:


Gesto is the World’s first open-source boards for wearable gesture control with a unique method that combines muscle signals with motion patterns.


There are available two kits:




Gesto Caelum is a ready to go solution. Caelum has all you need to add gesture control/recognition to your project, with a fast and easy setup, without the need to program it. So you can simply configure the gestures in your Android or iOS smartphone to get started right away.


Gesto Stella is a development kit. It is designed to interface to other boards such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi boards, and sends raw muscle data via its SPI interface.


Prosthetic arm controlled with Gesto


Gesto can handle three types of gestures: singular gestures, air drawing gestures, and directional gestures. The technology making sense of the muscle raw data is called “DualBurst” which combines muscle patterns and motion patterns for better accuracy.



Gesto also provide a modular 3D printed band to assemble all the Gesto electronics in your body (wrist, forearm, arm, torso, leg).

Gesto has now been launched on Crowdsupply with a special price:

- Gesto Stella $99

- Gesto Caelum $149

(with delivery scheduled for March 2016)


Check out the video from Gesto's crowdfunding campaign!



I want to introduce a new project of me. It's a usb hid io module with 2 relay outputs and 2 optoisolated inputs. The module based on a ATTINY45 with V-USB stack. It can be combined with any Linux (Raspberry Pi, Beagle Bone) or Windows platform... It fits perfectely in a 3 module din rail enclosure and can be mounted in a cabinet. Please check this link for more information: http://www.hwhardsoft.de/english/simplibox/io/


USB IO Module side view

with Raspberry Pi

gehäuse und pcb.jpg



Have you sometimes felt some pains in your wrist? Be careful, because you might get a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) disorder. So what is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a disorder that affects your nerves in the wrist. This disorder makes your nervus medianus compressed when the nerve passes through the tunnel in your wrist (called carpal tunnel, that's why this disorder is called carpal tunnel syndrome).That's why we were inspired to make Attracts, Automatic Treatment for Hand Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Attracts uses Teensy 3.1 as a board. At the first time, we use ATMEGA2560. At that time we created the first prototype with SMD component and it used 0.96" OLED Display. But at that time, it did not work. So next we moved to Arduino Pro mini. It was cool. But the only bad thing is about the speed. It was too slow because our data of exercise and treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome need to be as fast as possible. So then we choose Teensy 3.1 because not only it has a lots of memories besides it has higher clock (Overclock up to 96 MHz !!!). And next we change the LCD display from OLED Display into TFT Display because the screen resolution is better than OLED, besides it is Colorful. we give our smartwatch a lipo charger and lipo battery 3.7V 1000 mAH. And the last thing, we add a Bluesmirf HID Module that we bought from Sparkfun into our smartwatch because we think it will be cool if you have a watch that can be a mouse or a keyboard and you just control it by using your hand and muscle movements. Besides, it can be an exercise of the patient of CTS or non-CTS because you have to move your hand in order to control your computer.

Here is one of ATTRACTS features


For all the hobbyist, maker community, DIY'ers, students and beyond - we're supplying free reference designs that you can work with, take from and build up to make your own designs!    No need to start from scratch!

Linear Technology DC1194A Demo Circuit = 200ma DC/DC Micro Module

Click Here to download now! 

                lt1.PNG    lt2.PNG


Demonstration circuit DC1194A features the LTM®8020, a 200mA DC/DC step-down μModule® regulator. The board is preset to deliver a 3.3V output at up to 200mA load current from an input voltage of up to 36V. The output voltage may be modified by simply changing one resistor.

This PADS reference design data set has 19 files including:

    • Schematic design in xDX Designer format (.prj)
    • Layout design in PADS 9.5 format (.pcb)
    • Bill of Materials for the design ( Bill of Materials.html)
    • PDF of the schematic design ( (Schematic).pdf)
    • PDF of the layout design ( (Layout).pdf)
    • Property definitions file (netlist.prp)
    • PCB Configuration file (pads95.cfg)
    • Land Patterns
    • Schematic symbols


Be sure to check out all 24 Reference Designs found here: http://www.pads.com/reference-designs/?cmpid=9050 can be used with our new inexpensive (PADS based) Designer Schematic and Designer Layout tools now available for the hobbyist/maker community from Digikey !http://www.digikey.com/product-highlights/us/en/mentor-graphics-designer-software/4171?cmpid=9050 as well as our desktop PADS products.

Cheers !    John

Front panels can cost a lot. As an alternative I had a theory that I put to the test this week, and it worked out well. The theory was that for home-built projects, surely trophy/jewellery type engraving could be used for labels.


It turns out that it can be done on enclosures in most high streets/malls as a same-day service - just using the engraving services of a key cutting or jewellers store : )

In the UK, the chain 'Timpson' was used here, on this aluminium enclosurethis aluminium enclosure (these Hammond aluminium enclosures are really great - simple, with a nice finish):




It was very efficient. I just told them the text I wanted and where, just written on a piece of paper along with a quick 30-second pencil sketch.

They figured out how to center it, the font size, etc., based on their experience with their tools.

I think they did an awesome job!! I'll be going back to Timpson for future projects.

I had a wake up call using Eagle Cad and a third party libraries. And I wanted to share how my ignorance caused my boards to fail (for now).

Just for reference the board uses an Atmega328P SMD and i wanted a smaller and cheaper part than a normal crystal. So I went with a resonator, there are a few very cheap and very small. I am not that good on creating parts layout by myself so I searched on the libraries at hand for a resonator with the footprint similar to the one I wanted to use. And very quickly I found a smd resonator on Sparkfun-FreqCtrl library and the part is RESONATOR-SMD. First I was very happy to actually found this part. So I put the part on my PCB and send it to fab for manufacturing. The board came back beautiful red (I had to pay a little more for color selection). Then I notice that around the resonator there were some solder mask missing, but said to myself this must be a size limitation from that cheap Chinese fab. I am like a little kid whenever I get mail, so I ran to get my iron and started soldering. "No need to do any measurement, I am 99.9% sure the design is correct" I said. If fail then I will test, but I wanted to solder right away. So I did.

Latter after the boards start failing I then went back and did some measurement, just to find some missing solder mask and some exposed copper. The copper exposed then again I thought at first it was because of Chinese fab, but turn to be my mistake not the fab.

Lets see the picture bellow, look the black region is missing red solder mask. And at the borders you can see exposed copper (blue arrows). The missing solder mask (black part) does not causes any problem. However the exposed copper do. It causes my resonator to short to ground making my board fail.



And what was the cause of all? The actual part on the library had instructions to be constructed exactly as it was done. There is a layer in eagle called tStop. The tStop layer is the one that allows solder areas of copper to be exposed. This layer stops solder mask in a specific area. This part has a rectangle over the entire part. The size of this rectangle plus a small isolation in the board causes this tStop rectangle to go over my ground plane, and causes the copper to be exposed. On the image bellow, the big white hatched rectangle is the tStop that caused the problem. This made my twenty boards order to fail.



I have three options:

1. Etch (manually)  out that exposed copper to a distance that I can solder the part

2  Cover with heat resistant tape the exposed copper

3. Paint it over with solder mask (that I do not have at hand).

I am going to get a few pieces of tape, and try to cover the exposed copper in order for me to use these boards. But anyhow I edited my design and send a few more to be made, this project need to be finished and quickly. In about two weeks I should be getting them back and hope this issue is water under the bridge.


Hardware design has its ups and down, but it is well worth it. You win some and loose some and learn a lot during the process.

I should try to contact SparkFun about the part, or submit a pull request with the fix. I am a noob, this might be the right design and I am the one mistaken. Anyhow for PCB with a big ground plane close to this part this is not working. My guess is that the rectangle is intended to avoid ground plane under the part and not to stop the solder mask. This must be a layer mistake.


For the new PCB I did a ground plane cutoff polygon around the resonator, removed the tStop from the part and made the side contacts a little bigger (for easier soldering). When I get the PCB back from fab will post again with the new board. Hope that it work.


This PCB eagle files are not posted now, because this board is for a surprise event. After the event all will be posted. If you want to know, the board is just a usbaspLoader using an Atmega328P with an Arduino header footprint. Nothing revolutionary. Oh and of course, instead of a crystal with two capacitors it is using a 16Mhz resonator.

If you do not know what the ESP8266 is... oh boy. It is a cheap WIFI Uart module (google it).

I have been playing around with the ESP8266 for a few days now. While doing my testing I realized that most of the time my problems are faulty wiring. Yeah I know, noob right. Well what can I say, I am a noob. Anyhow it is frustrating trying to debug software problems while still having hardware issues.

This week while reading on the web found a service that can manufacture a PCB for $5 per square inch for 3 boards and it is made in the US. I am not in continental US but close enough. Also it says the part will be sent back in 12 days (more or less). The service is not important, the important is that my mind ran very quickly.

Would I be able to do a 1x1 inch pcb to interface my ESP8266 delicate 3.3V signals to my strong 5V Arduino ?..... CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

After a few Eagle Cad iterations (about 3 or 4 in 2/3 days) I came up with a simple board that is suppose to be able to do that. BUYA! It shall be called "WifIco".


Ok all this sounds very quickly and it's because it has been. I didn't even mounted a breadboard prototype before ordering. This one goes all or nothing. For a while I have been wanted to do a pcb using smd components and this sounded like a good chance for it. And very important keeping the design on the $5 mark (there is not that much money to spare here you know).


Board Features

  • Power input of 5V
  • RX and TX signals 5V friendly
  • 3.3V regulated output
  • Breadboard friendly pin out
  • Space at the bottom for a mini usb port in case the device is firmware programmed and need a power input from a cell phone charger or something. Wanted a micro usb but I think I have salvaged a mini usb port someplace around
  • GPIO0 and GPIO2 exposed (not 5V friendly, be careful)
  • Connector to plug in the ESP8266 directly to the board.



On the bottom side there are two resistors that should be solder shut to pull RST and CHPD to high. They are just put there in case I needed to use the board for firmware upgrade or needed them. From the schematic capacitor values do not mean nothing. Should check on 3.3V regulator circuit guide lines for actual values. If input voltage is clean you may skip them ( but don't tell anybody I said that).


This is how WifIco will looks like (at least from the images from the OSHPark web site):


Top Side


Bottom side


My eagle design files are here. All is on Public Domain licensing if anybody wonder. I do not need mention nor credit for nothing you do with this.


This may or may not work, in a few weeks I will know! If you don't ever build it or at least try it you'll never now.



I received an email from the manufacturing service that says, the board was sent to factory on Nov 10 and should be back from factory on Nov 20. After that I guess mailed back to me (+5 more days). My guess is that in best case scenario I will be posting on results back somewhere during December (I hope). Still I am exited about the success of this project and hope you are too.


Update 2 (Nov20):

I received a new email that says, board was received from factory and was shipped to me. This occurred on nov 19, 2014. Today is the 20th. Normally this things take anything from 2 days to 7 days to get here. As soon as I have it with me, the plan is to do a continuity test on the contacts and solder the parts for full testing.


Update 3 (December)

The board were shipped to me and received. I did my best soldering the components to the board. I made big errors on the silk screen. But important connections seems to be ok.

I soldered the components to the board as best as I could. and this how it looks like.




I am sending signals from an Arduino to the ESP8266 board and it seems to be receiving them ok. However it is not consistent when receiving communication from the ESP8266 back to the Arduino. My guess is faulty soldering on one of the transistors, but have not tested.


My Errors (for now):

1. Error in silk screen ( Vin is Vout, GND is not ground, TX is RX... )

2. Solder pads should be bigger to allow hand soldering correctly. Specially on Tantalum capacitors, they cover the entire pad so soldering is pain.


There is the issue that I should have tested the design before ordering the pcb but that is part of the adventure. It is a risk I had to take and do not recommend but do not regret.


Possible fixes I would do to this.

1. Fix Silk Sreen

2. Bigger solder pads

3. Change bottom usb connector to be micro usb.

3. Add a mounting hole if space available.

4. Do similar board for the ESP8266-03 board.

5. Add level shifting to digital IOs to make them 5v tolerant also.

6. Add smd switch in the bottom for firmware update mode.


There is so much to do with the board without actually making it bigger. I love adding features but is hard to do in so limited space.


A physical bitcoin made by Casascious. I suppose as an attempt to make it easier to use? That coin could be have been worth anywhere between $300 - 1200 USD this past year! (via Casascius)

While bitcoins aren’t backed by a government body or well-known bank, the digital currency is still gaining ground in some communities, who will not let the concept die without a fight.


One community that’s taking a huge risk on the concept is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Next fall, MIT will give each student $100 worth of bitcoins to see how the digital currency fairs in a real-world setting. It only makes sense that MIT would sponsor such a project – after all, it does have a Bitcoin Club.


MIT Bitcoin Club President Dan Elitzer and colleague Jeremy Rubin organized the experiment, which includes raising half a million dollars from alumni and other donors to make the project possible. Any leftover money will go to the university to continue to enhance programs for undergraduate and potentially graduate students.


Elitzer hopes the experiment makes MIT the biggest bitcoin-based community on the planet. If the project is a success, it could send the value of bitcoins through the roof, as the value fluctuates based on demand, much like stocks. If you were thinking about getting in on the investment, now would be the time.


But what about security? While there hasn’t been specific word on just how secure use of the currency will be on campus, MIT computer scientists and faculty are working hard on preventing digital hacks, as the currency is not insured and when stolen the owner is simply out of luck.


The students hope that this project is the first step towards making bitcoins a widely-accepted form of currency and compare the concept to the early stages of the internet (let the kids dream), but they aren’t the only ones predicting a bright future for the electronic form of payment. A plethora of bitcoin-based gadgets are also under development, like MEVU’s wearable bitcoin bracelet.


While bitcoins would really have to catch on in order for the product to sell, MEVU created a Bluetooth-powered bracelet that enables users to pay for their purchases with bitcoins by a simple flick of the wrist.



The silicon bracelet is a prototype and some adjustments must be made before it ever reaches stores. For one thing, it’s based on the iOS, but most Apple apps are no longer supporting bitcoins. What is more,, most retail locations are not yet accepting bitcoins, making purchasing the bracelet to shake your band at your computer a hard sell. Nonetheless, it shows forward thinking and a lot of confidence in the technology overall.


Have you invested in bitcoins? It may be time to make the jump.



See more news at:


I want to share with you some nice developing story: We are developing a open source platform for 3D printing and CNC - the T-Bone.


First of all it is just an 5-Axis stopper motor motion controller for the BeagleBone. But if you digg a bit deeper into the details I think it is quite awesome. By relying on othe open source implementations for this topic we were able to integrate all the best solutions in a fraction of time to develop everything ourselves:

- The motion planning is adapted from the awesome TinyG software, the 3D printing adaption from the Marlin firmware

- The web Interface for the 3D Printer is using the excellent Octoprint GUI

- The schematic integrated the open source Arduino Leonardo as realtime MCU

- We borrowed ideas and solutions from the RAMPS board and the Replicape


By reusing everything that was the same as other CNC and 3D printing boards we could focus on implementing novel features. First of all we created a very special architecture which reduced the real time requirements for the beagle bone massively so that we can implement all 3D printing and CNC features easily in Python. Second we can use all features of the great Trinamic chips we have used. This enables for example homing without having mechanical end switches wired – magically by detecting the motor load while carefully touching the mechanical frame!


And giving back this solution as Open Source (CC-BY-SA for the hardware and AGPL v3 for the software) gives the warm fuzzy feeling of contributing some really cool solution …


Currently we are trying to find enough funding for our first production run on indiegogo. So if you like this project support us by buying a board, t-shirt or sticker.


I hope you like this project. What do you think? Is such a high level programming approach something you could use in your work and projects??

bitcoin logo.JPG

(via bitcoin.org)

Speaking of open source, the Bitcoin cryptocurrency source code is open. Hence, all the crazy digital currencies that have come out.


Bitcoins have received a fair share of criticism, but it seems most critiques of the electronic currency are a thing of the past. The digital currency is gaining widespread acceptance, including the installation of bitcoin ATMs at various locations throughout the world, the ability to pay in bitcoins at casinos in Las Vegas and even the ability to pay for tuition in the virtual coin. Goodbye paper dollars, hello bitcoins.


Robocoin recently created its very first Bitcoin ATM and competitors are following suit. Genesis 1 announced the creation of its bitcoin ATM, which it will feature at the 2014 ATM Industry Association U.S. Conference February 11-13 at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Bitcoin ATM manufacturer Lamassu has also joined the trend. It sold its 100th bitcoin ATM in December and has 120 order already placed for 2014.


The enthusiasm has crossed into Las Vegas, where this week two casinos announced they will be the first in the industry to accept bitcoins as currency. Both The D and Golden Gate hotels, along with select gift shops and restaurants on-site, reported they will accept the electronic currency as cash. Each cashier station at the establishments will be equipped with the electronic payment service BitPay to make the transaction seamless.


While it may not be a surprise that bitcoin ATMS are popping up everywhere, most probably wouldn’t assume that universities would accept the virtual coin as cash, until now. A private university in Cyprus led the charge and now the United Kingdom announced its first university to accept bitcoins. Students at the University of Cumbria can currently pay for up to two classes in bitcoins, what the university calls an experiment.


While there are still concerns about the security of bitcoins compared to physical currency, it certainly seems the virtual coin is catching on. Will bitcoins replace physical currency? Only time will tell.



See more news at:


EDN has a great post on the Open Hardware Summit 2013:


Open-source hardware in the creative world

Open Hardware Summit attendees packed the Kresge Auditorium at MIT last Friday with eyes and minds wide open to hear from engineers and makers on their open-source designs and overall thinking on the concept of sharing ideas and knowledge.


EDN spent the day at the Open Source Hardware Association-run event and shares a few of its finds here. Some of the following designs may at first strike one as quirky one-off successes but broader thinking shows extensive opportunities beyond these examples.

I'm glad the article highlights my favorite device from the Summit:

If you want to go far fast, go open hardware


When Ryan Fobel wanted to automate biomedical engineering research at the Wheeler Lab at the University of Toronto, he realized he would have to build his own system. He enlisted the help of his brother Christian, who has a PhD in computer science, to build the Dropbot.


Dropbot is an open-source digital microfluidics (DMF) platform built around an Arduino-based instrument and controlled by Microdrop, a custom software interface.





I had the plesure of attending the Make: Hardware Innovation Workshop last week prior to Maker Farie.


Here's my gallery:



And my YouTube playlist of videos I shot during the Innovation Showcase:



I particulary liked this PCB mill called OtherFab:





I recently started working the BeagleBoneBeagleBone, an Open Source Hardware Single Board Computer (SBC).  For those not familiar:

BeagleBone is a low-cost credit-card-sized Linux computer that connects with the Internet and runs software such as Android 4.0 and Ubuntu. With plenty of I/O and processing power for real-time analysis provided by the TI Sitara™ AM335x ARM® Cortex™-A8 processor, BeagleBone can be complemented with cape plug-in boards which augment BeagleBone’s functionality.

source: BeagleBone Quick Start Guide


The BeagleBone 101 slideshow does a good job of introducing the BeagleBoard, the BeagleBone and BoneScript.  I've been impressed by how easy BoneScript makes it to control physical hardware with JavaScript.  I am going to walk through some basic BoneScript examples, but first I'll describe the experience of connecting the BeagleBone to my computer for the first time.


The Bone does come with a preloaded microSD card with Angstrom (the default Linux distro for the Bone).  However, I wanted to make sure I had the latest software, so I downloaded the latest Angstrom image and flashed it onto the microSD card.  The BeagleBone Quick Start Guide has more info on how to do that.


Next, I connected the BeagleBone to the USB port on my laptop (running Ubuntu Linux 12.04).  This provides power to the Bone which then boots up off the microSD card.  The BeagleBone initially shows up as a USB mass storage device:


The contents include drivers for Windows users to continue with the next step.  Luckily, no additional drivers are needed for Linux:


Upon ejecting the BeagleBone USB mass storage device, the BeagleBone will then appear as Ethernet-over-USB interface:

afustini@lappy486:~$ ifconfig eth1

eth1      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr d4:94:a1:92:59:57 

          inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:

          inet6 addr: fe80::d694:a1ff:fe92:5957/64 Scope:Link


          RX packets:233 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0

          TX packets:252 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0

          collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000

          RX bytes:35937 (35.9 KB)  TX bytes:66085 (66.0 KB)

The kernel messages on my laptop:

Feb  8 00:52:15 lappy486 kernel: [211558.726102] cdc_ether 2-1.2.2:1.0: eth1: register 'cdc_ether' at usb-0000:00:1d.0-1.2.2, CDC Ethernet Device, d4:94:a1:92:59:57

Feb  8 00:52:15 lappy486 kernel: [211558.760561] ADDRCONF(NETDEV_UP): eth1: link is not ready

Feb  8 00:52:15 lappy486 kernel: [211558.760784] ADDRCONF(NETDEV_UP): eth1: link is not ready

Feb  8 00:52:16 lappy486 kernel: [211558.786409] ADDRCONF(NETDEV_CHANGE): eth1: link becomes ready

Feb  8 00:52:16 lappy486 kernel: [211558.787311] martian source from, on dev eth1

Feb  8 00:52:18 lappy486 kernel: [211560.786518] martian source from, on dev eth1

Feb  8 00:52:18 lappy486 kernel: [211560.792507] martian source from, on dev eth1

This allowed me to then ssh into the BeagleBone:

afustini@lappy486:~$ ssh root@

root@'s password:

root@beaglebone:~# uname -a

Linux beaglebone 3.2.34 #1 Wed Nov 21 14:17:11 CET 2012 armv7l GNU/Linux

root@beaglebone:~# cat /etc/issue


|       |                  .-.           o o       

|   |   |-----.-----.-----.| |   .----..-----.-----.

|       |     | __  |  ---'| '--.|  .-'|     |     |

|   |   |  |  |     |---  ||  --'|  |  |  '  | | | |

'---'---'--'--'--.  |-----''----''--'  '-----'-'-'-'

                -'  |



The Angstrom Distribution \n \l


Angstrom v2012.05 - Kernel \r


root@beaglebone:~# ls



Here's a screenshot:


The BeagleBone also presents it's self as a USB serial device, too.  A terminal emulator (I use gtkterm on Linux) can then connect to the BeagleBone's console.


In my next post, I'll show the slick built-in web-based IDE, Cloud9, and how Javascript can be used to control circuits connected to the BeagleBone using the BoneScript library.




eagle.jpgThe line between 'Technology Tinkerer' and 'Early-Stage Startup' is faded and gray.  Both are driven by passion, both are tight on cash, and both are run by people with a clear view of the bigger picture looking for tools that can easily get the job done.  It's no wonder that the toolsets enjoyed by one would be incorporated by the other.


CadSoft EAGLE is a prime example of a tool that works perfectly for startups.  First, the capabilities of the tool are expansive, and far beyond what a casual user would ever need.  There's a schematic editor, layout editor with an integrated Gerber Tool, and autorouter, which are all straightforward and simple to use.  It also runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac, which for some reason isn't as common as one might think in CAD programs.


As can be strangely glamorized, many early startups' initial funding comes from a conversation with the husband/wife.  This can lead to a less-than-impressive expense account for someone trying to explore an idea.  EAGLE comes to the rescue with a free license for hobbyists that limits the PCB to two layers, 100x80mm, and 1 schematic sheet.  Thanks to the gray area between a hobbyist and someone trying to start a company, it would be easy to rationalize the first couple prototypes as hobby projects and then look to the commercial licenses when it's time to get serious about making money.  Buying the license is also cheap and simple – with the commercial license of the free version costing $69, and the 'fully loaded' version (with autorouter) priced at $1640.  Even better, everything can be bought online in minutes instead of having to call a supplier.


Once a user starts working in EAGLE, more time saving features become quickly apparent.  No CAD program is 'easy' to learn, but the simple layout and menu structure of EAGLE makes getting off the ground quick, if not painless.  When the inevitable problem does crop up, the user base is known for fostering a remarkable support community on the forums. These discussions are visited often by EAGLE experts and Cadsoft staff, making for many excellent responses.  Another hassle for startups trying to get a quick board out is creating schematic symbols and footprints in EAGLE from scratch.  Element14 has a library of EAGLE parts ready for download, saving a ton of time for a new user.  For parts that are not already created, learning to make them is easy thanks to Sparkfun's step-by-step tutorial.  Once the company buys any license, there is free tech support offered by phone which can be handy when in a crunch trying to meet a board house's submission deadline.


A final EAGLE feature that startups love has nothing to do with CADsoft. Where to get the boards made? OSHpark is a board house that makes prototype boards for pretty cheap (but take a couple weeks).  The real benefit of EAGLE and OSHpark is that users can upload the layout file directly to OSHpark's website and be done.  This takes the normal PCB-purchasing requirements of gerber files, fab drawings, and compatibility issues out of the PCB ordering process, making orders almost as easy as hitting 'print'.


From start to finish, EAGLE has some real perks that startups will notice.  Easy to get going, easy to buy, and easy to have boards made.  Because that's what it's all about: getting things done in the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way possible.

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