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May 19, 2014
News - AVC Sensor Test
about a month ago
I only saw you doing tests at 90 degrees. Did you do any tests at oblique angles? How well do the tests perform at oblique angles compared to an interior wall? In many cases, the sensors are not going to have that perfect 90 degree angle on the hay bales, so knowing what the valid range (as in the valid angle) for the sensor is is very important. Otherwise, you might as well just use bump sensors and GPS waypoints.
News - T³: Laminating Circuits
about 3 months ago
Very very cool write up!
I wonder if you could use a laser cutter to cut out sections of the plastic and then laminate your unsoldered, un-masked, PCB and try and use it as a solder mask. With such a low temperature resistance, I’m not sure how that would hold up.
I should also mention that I’ve seen this method for covering capacitive touch boards before.
News - Friday Product Post: Myst…
about 3 months ago
That is what I was thinking would be the case, but I had to ask.
I wonder if anyone from SparkFun would be willing to stick the modules to a breadboard and use both a rubber duck antenna and a whip antenna and post a video talking about what the respective outputs look like on a spectrum analyzer compared to a module without an antenna. Granted, it would be tons better if the product were on it’s own pcb instead of a breadboard, but that isn’t going to happen.
Are the radio modules FCC tested, or are they just another ‘hobbyist ony’ type product?
News - Enginursday: The Dreaded …
about 3 months ago
SparkFun has done a great job and clearly marking and updating their projects. I applaud you and all of your efforts. It’s companies like TI, who provide reference materials and schematics, that are really bad about this. They update the site to say EOL, but everything that relies on that part isn’t updated.
I applaud SparkFun and their commitment to good and accurate documentation.
The worst part about EOL is when there isn’t a new product that does what you need it to. Instead you are left having to completely redesign or abandon a design.
The second worse part is when you look at example or recommended circuits for a part not EOL, and the parts it uses are EOL. I’ve run into this multiple times, and figuring out how to change things often takes several calls and/or visits to an application engineer, and then some testing. And as testing implies, it might not work. This adds time, expense, and hassle to the development process.
News - Enginursday: Configuring …
about 6 months ago
While I understand the draw of Eagle, I feel like if more big companies had hands in the development of free alternates, such as KiCAD, that the software would mature much quicker and thereby gain bigger ‘fan base’, and in turn allow for more and better development. It would lower the entry cost of designing and producing circuit boards. Its very much the cycle that open OSs such as Ubuntu have seen, and look at their growth.
I’m not saying you should switch, as your goal isn’t really “open source as an end in and of itself”. You know your process better than anyone on these comments, so I’m just providing one argument in favor of at least doing some development with an open platform like KiCAD.
Thanks for the kind and insightful response!
My understanding of Open Source, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that if you take what has been built, designed, or written before you, you are legally obligated to tell people where you got the base design/code/board and make whatever you are making open source as well. By doing so, you have a sort of collaboration that closed source hardware/software/projects don’t have.
Now, if you use Eagle (which is a great piece of software) and do as SparkFun has, making lots of open source things, that is great. However, due to the limitations of Eagle, the ideas they have, the projects the start, are limited.
Take for instance their basic signal generator. I saw this and immediately got out some paper and pencils and designed a unit that takes this basic concept and makes in a more robust and fully functional signal generator and data logger (which incidentally also is a product at SparkFun).
I ran into a big issue however when the board eclipsed the maximum size of the free version of Eagle. Not only that, but I soon realized that I could never legally sell any boards I designed with Eagle. So, I was stuck. Do this bit of engineering on my own, and for myself only in Eagle, or start porting this stuff to KiCAD (or some other open product).
That is a project I’ve put aside for the time being because I don’t want to redo the work that has already been done.
I’m surprised that with SparkFun’s commitment to Open Source that all their boards are Eagle files only. Why not use a platform, like KiCAD, that is as open as the schematics themselves?
News - Edison SIK Giveaway
about 6 months ago
My favorite has to be the base block, but it isn’t an easy choice. (A close second is the GPIO block). I had to choose the base block because of it’s versatility.
I’ve got two projects planned for the Edison, both of which will used the base block.
Project One: I’ve got quite an extensive food pantry and storage, but I never seem to know what I have. The solution is to take the Edison, a base block, and a USB camera and have the Edison take a picture of each barcode, process it, and add the barcode to my inventory. If it’s new, it will use the bluetooth in my phone to ask for descriptors or choose what product it is. It will then keep a database with quantities and last purchase date that is searchable by smartphone. Removing an item is as simple as pressing a button and while holding the button, scanning the barcode. When I get this working for food, I’ll add the code to do vision processing for my extensive IC/parts library.
Project Two: AVC Robot. The second project uses both the GPIO and the base block. It is, of course, a robot for the AVC. I’ll do some vision processing to find the way to completing the race(I hope to use two cameras and two Edison’s to do a stereo vision system).
No public wish lists :(
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