Recent Blog Posts

30 Sep 2014 shimniok   » (Journeyer)

Making Test Jigs

Here's some cheap test jigs I use to test boards I sell on Tindie. Selling a quality product is of personal importance to me. With these test jigs, I've uncovered several board fabrication problems, more than several assembly problems (hey I'm not perfect), and identified ways to improve yield rate.

eeZee Power Jig

The goal for this jig is to measure 3.3V regulator output from the eeZee Power board. If it's 3.3V within the specified tolerance, that proves the regulator is populated correct, the USB connector is also populated, and all the corresponding traces are ok.

To build the jig, I installed pogo pins and test leads to an unpopulated eeZeePower board (to save time and money). When engaged with an eeZee Power, it enables the 3.3V regulator and connects the VCC and GND pins to the test leads. 

I plug a Mini USB into the DUT (Device Under Test), connect my DMM (digital multimeter) to the test wires and measure output voltage. 

Stacking another eeZeePower board would stabilize the pogo pins better. It's good enough as is.

eeZeePower test jig

AVR ISP Jig

This isn't a test jig, but one I use to program Turntable Strobes, Lost Model Alarms, PIPduinos, and other AVR-based boards. You can buy a fancier version of this on Tindie from BBTech.

AVRISP jig for programming AVRs
In case the picture isn't clear, one end has the familiar 6-pin AVRISP header, the other, pogo pins.

eeZee RGB Jig

I test every one of the eeZeeRGB WS2812B breakouts I sell to make sure the RGB modules are installed correctly and to ensure they work out of the box. I had been testing these with a breadboard Arduino but the pogo pins are unstable in a breadboard so I designed a test jig using an ATtiny85. I've discovered that some of these modules don't have reverse protection as advertised.

eeZeeRGB WS2812B breakout board
OSHPark builds boards in sets of 3 so I designed a single board that can stack 2-high (or 3-high if necessary) to stabilize the pogo pins. The Tiny and USB connector (for power) only has to be populated on one of those three boards. The other two boards can simply stabilize the pins. They're mounted together with screws, nuts and standoffs.



Test Jig, side 1

Test Jig, side 2

eeZee Prop Jig

The eeZee Propeller breakout (eeZeeProp) is the most complicated board I sell with a 44-pin QFP MCU, onboard EEPROM, crystals, a half-dozen resistors and capacitors, dual programming headers. I test every output pin on the eeZeeProp as well as programming functionality before it goes up for sale with this quick and dirty jig.

eeZeeProp test jig
The test jig above has two parts. The dual row of pogo pins, resistors, and LEDs is for testing pins. In the upper right is an FTDI programmer connector and pogo pins to engage the eeZeeProp FTDI pin pads. 

I program each board with a SPIN program that sequentially turns on each of the pins 0-28. The ability to program the chip in the first place tests P29-32 and the EEPROM.

Next, I lay the Propellers down onto the pogo pin bed and ensure each of the LEDs lights up sequentially. I can then investigate any suspect pins.

You probably noticed that the pins aren't well-aligned. My previous jig had two protoboards to keep the pins aligned better, but I broke it. Some day I'll redo this jig so I don't have to spend quite as much time manually popping each pin into place on the DUT.

Common Problems

You may wonder what kind of problems I uncover most when using these test jigs.

On the eeZeeProp I most often run into problems with connections on the Propeller MCU leads or the EEPROM. I've made some improvements in techniques that have reduced the frequency of these problems. 

While I very rarely found board fab problems on OSHpark boards (It's below 1% if memory serves, so reliability is very high), OSHpark is absolutely fantastic about fixing the occasional problem. 

I've seen far more frequent fab problems on a batch of Chinese made boards I ordered. I haven't contacted the supplier yet. The fab problems are mostly under-etching resulting in shorts to the ground plane. I may experiment with a wider isolation between ground pour and pads/traces and see if that helps any.

I've occasionally populated pairs of 0603 resistors rotated by 90 degrees. In future designs I'll try to avoid confusion by spacing the resistors farther apart. I've installed a diode backwards once or twice.

Syndicated 2014-09-30 14:20:00 from Michael Shimniok

21 Sep 2014 mwaibel   » (Master)

Robots: AirDog

In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews Edgars Rozentals, who is the CEO and Founder of Helico Aerospace Industries. They talk about Helico's upcoming product, 'AirDog', which is an autonomous quadrocopter that is used to record video of action sports.

Syndicated 2014-09-21 07:00:00 from Robots - The Podcast for News and Views on Robotics

5 Aug 2014 svo   » (Master)

Больше бит с VGA-разъема Altera DE1

Увеличение аналогового разрешения композитного видеовыхода на плате Altera DE1.

Increasing analog resolution of VGA-connector based CVBS output on Altera DE1.

Aumentando resolución analógica de la salida de video compuesto de Altera DE1.

Syndicated 2014-08-05 22:20:29 from svo's interactive persuasion vehicle

20 Jul 2014 Flanneltron   » (Journeyer)

Cognitive Abstraction Manifolds

A few days ago I started thinking about abstractions whilst reading Surfaces and Essences, a recent book by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander. I suspect efforts like Surfaces and Essences, which traverse vast and twisted terrains across cognitive science, are probably underrated as scientific contributions. But first, let me briefly introduce the idea-triggering tome. Surfaces […]

Syndicated 2014-07-20 02:14:57 from SynapticNulship

3 Jul 2014 jmhenry   » (Journeyer)

Ladybird autonomous robot to help out down on the farm

Agricultural robots are beginning to come into their own. This article on the “Ladybird” robot explains how one type of machine is being developed to help farmers conduct a host of operations on many types of crops. This “bug” won’t...

Syndicated 2014-07-03 03:19:24 from RobotNext

3 Jul 2014 steve   » (Master)

Shadow Show

Shadow Show

Shadow Show

Shadow Show, edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle, describes itself as “All-new stories in celebration of Ray Bradbury”. I’ve been a fan of Bradbury’s fiction most of my life. Friends from my high school days may remember me sitting under the bleachers during Pep Rallies reading “R is for Rocket” or wandering the hallways with a copy of “Fahrenheit 451″. I most liked his early work; stories like Frost and Fire or The City. They blended conventional science fiction with Bradbury’s unique style which approached magical realism. I felt his later writing lost a lot by abandoning the science fiction aspect and focusing exclusively on the magical realism. In any case, I heard about this book and imagined it might contain Bradbury-like stories that recaptured the feel of his early work. Alas, this is not the case.

For the most part, the stories in the book aren’t really at all like Bradbury stories. At least, I’d never confuse any of them with the real thing. Most had supernatural or horror themes and lacked the connection to science fiction. They’re simply from authors who were, in one way or another, inspired by Bradbury. They’re not bad stories. Some are enjoyable and may appeal to Bradbury fans, if only to find out how other writers were inspired by him.

There were a few exceptions, however; stories that are intended to provoke memories of Bradbury or his stories in one way or another. The best of these, at least for me, was Children of the Bedtime Machine by Robert McCammon. This story made the book worthwhile for me and was a real celebration of Bradbury in multiple ways. First, it was a story I could imagine Bradbury writing; second, it combined science fiction with a Bradburyesque magical realism, and lastly, Bradbury’s writing actually plays a part in the story’s plot. It’s the story of a woman living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland; the result of climate change and global war. There’s little plant or animal life left, and little hope for the future. The woman’s only joy in life is a trunk full of old book that she reads to herself. During a visit to a trading post in a nearby town, she’s given a useless machine from the dead past. The combination of a Ray Bradbury book and a machine designed for insomniacs leads to a new hope for a dying world.

If you can pick up the book inexpensively, it’s worth it just for that one story. Or perhaps you’ll enjoy the other stories more than I did. Authors include Harlan Ellison, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Alice Hoffman, Kelly Link, and others.

Syndicated 2014-07-03 02:14:55 from Steevithak of the Internet

10 Jun 2014 robotvibes   » (Master)

I’m back, and ready to kick ass!

Nuff said…Let’s go!

Syndicated 2014-06-10 01:35:20 from Cyb3rnetx

10 May 2014 evilrobots   » (Observer)

http://www.drdobbs.com/a-flexible-system-for-centralized-backup/199101279

http://www.vmwarearena.com/2013/10/vsphere-55-download-free-esxi-55.html#comments

2 Mar 2014 wedesoft   » (Master)

OOP with GNU Guile and GOOPS

Why I like Object Oriented Programming using GNU Guile and GOOPS

Syndicated 2014-03-02 00:00:00 from Jan Wedekind

1 Dec 2013 AI4U   » (Observer)

Artificial Intelligence in German (Amazon Kindle e-book)

If your humanoid robot needs an AI Mind to think in English or German, a new Amazon Kindle e-book goes into great detail about robotic thought processes.



This e-book in English about AI in German (and English and Russian) contains the entire AI source code in Forth, which causes most of the editorial portion of the e-book (18 of 20 chapters) to be readable without charge in the free preview.


13 Nov 2013 jlin   » (Master)



In April of this year, I left my job doing machine learning work at Scribd, to join a new startup building robotic toys to teach young kids how to program. We call ourselves Play-i (supposed to be a play on "AI", but unfortunately most people seem to miss the connection). While we had been very public about what the goal would be, we were very hush-hush about the actual product. In all honesty, partially it was because we changed it so many times. We probably went through four completely different complete product ideas before arriving at the one today. Then we worked many long nights to quickly get the prototypes done. And now our robots, Bo & Yana are finally public in the form of a crowdfunding campaign. You can SEE THE ROBOTS HERE.

Our original idea was to actually create a robot where you can build the robot AND program it. But while testing with kids in our target age range, 5-8, we quickly figured out that we needed a fully-functional robot. We will have our own language for kids to program the robots, in addition to being compatible with Scratch, Blockly, and Objective C. There will be an open developer's API as well, which you can gain early access to by pledging at the level of the developer's pack.

We tested Bo & Yana with kids as young as 2 and as old as 17. The younger kids definitely gravitated towards "Yana", the smaller robot, who can detect gestures you make with it. Older kids enjoy the mobility of "Bo", short for 'robot'. Both genders enjoyed playing with the robots. Each robot works as a standalone toy, but they also can detect each other through IR beacons, for more interactive play.

After much demand, we are adding an additional accessories pack to allow connections from Lego Technic and Mindstorm pieces along with other standard 10mm ball attachment toys.

We have a contract manufacturer lined up to create the robots. While we originally prototyped with Arduino, the boards in the final prototypes seen in the video are indeed custom boards that we plan to use in the mass-produced version. We think our estimated BOM is pretty close. But there's still a lot of work to do, particularly with finalizing the firmware and the software. Our campaign is looking pretty good and we've already met our goal, so we are definitely hiring if you are interested in joining the team.

Finally, please feel free to email me personally if you have any questions about the robots. I know that the website doesn't provide very good information, particularly for those who actually know something about robotics.

Thanks everyone for all your support.

Robot of the Day

SIAFU

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Chris Burns

Recent blogs

30 Sep 2014 shimniok (Journeyer)
21 Sep 2014 mwaibel (Master)
5 Aug 2014 svo (Master)
20 Jul 2014 Flanneltron (Journeyer)
3 Jul 2014 jmhenry (Journeyer)
3 Jul 2014 steve (Master)
2 Jul 2014 Petar.Kormushev (Master)
10 Jun 2014 robotvibes (Master)
10 May 2014 evilrobots (Observer)
2 Mar 2014 wedesoft (Master)
1 Dec 2013 AI4U (Observer)
13 Nov 2013 jlin (Master)
23 Jun 2013 Mubot (Master)
13 May 2013 JLaplace (Observer)
21 Apr 2013 Pi Robot (Master)
12 Apr 2013 Pontifier (Apprentice)
16 Mar 2013 gidesa (Journeyer)
12 Mar 2013 ixisuprflyixi (Master)

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