July 27, 2011

CircuitBee

If you've been on any of the hardware hacking sites lately, you've surely seen the announcement of a new website, www.circuitbee.com.

I ignored the announcement for a few days, but it's made the rounds enough, and I've seen it enough, that I decided to check it out.

Although I haven't used the site yet, I have to admit the premise (and, from all appearances, the execution) is very cool and very much fills a need in the hacker community.

The issue is that of sharing schematics. When we hackers create a project, we almost always create a schematic in some kind of electronics design software, such as EAGLE. These programs store the schematic data in a proprietary format and allow display and editing of the schematic. Sharing that schematic, however, is problematic. Either we have to share the proprietary file, which means our users have to have the same software installed and load the file for themselves, or we have to export the schematic (generally as a .pdf or .jpg), and in my experience that always results in a poor quality image.

CircuitBee aims to solve that. By uploding your schematic files, CircuitBee generates a web-enabled view of the schematic that can be panned and zoomed onscreen. Having played with the site for all of 2 minutes, it looks like this site is a guaranteed success.

I'm currently working on a project; I certainly plan on uploading the files to CircuitBee when they're available.

April 5, 2011

RX Design Contest Ends

Well, life got in the way of my Renesas RX Design Contest entry. I still have ambitions to use the RX chip in a real project, but kids and work and prototyping issues prevented me from finishing my project before the contest deadline. I think the RX600 series is a capable product line: 100MHz operation, a hardware floating point unit, and an external memory bus are key features in my project and the RX gives them to me.

I haven't yet checked out the contest entries, although I heard only 30 projects were entered. That's a shame; I feel kinda bad for taking this hardware that came with the contest signup and not giving back a project. So part of the reason I'm commited to finishing my project is to assuage my guilt.

March 22, 2011

Vote For the OSHW Logo

It's time to vote on your favorite open source hardware logo!

A selection committee has winnowed the 129 submissions down to 10 finalists and the public is being asked to vote to choose a winner.

(via Adafruit.)

Program Your MSP430 Graphically?

Texas Instruments has released a beta of GRACE, the Graphical Peripheral Configuration Tool, for the MSP430 line of processors. Apparently this is a tool that'll help you program (or at least configure) your MSP430 graphically.

I haven't downloaded the tool yet so I can't comment on it. It certainly is intriguing. configuring peripherals is one of the hardest parts of embedded programming; there are a lot (sometimes a whole lot) of configuration bits you have to set just right to get things to work. On more complex processors, this can be tedious and time consuming and frustrating. I like the idea in concept; it'll be interesting to see how well TI executes on the idea.

GRACE is a free download that plugs into Code Composer Studio. There's an introductory video on the landing page.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this tool and your experiences if you decide to use it.

(via Hackaday)

March 2, 2011

555 Contest ends

There are apparently 238 entries in the 555 Contest. How totally, incomprehensibly cool! I can't wait to see some more of the projects and see who the winners are. So far there's no official catalog of entries on the contest website so I'm surfing YouTube looking at the easily discoverable videos.

March 1, 2011

Coming Online, and the 555 Contest

I'm just now getting the website set up and WordPress configured. Hopefully I'll figure it all out before I get visitors to my site.

In other news, the 555 contest ends today at midnight EST. I'm just amazed by this contest. Jeri and Chris had an idea, they tweeted about it, and were able to put together a high-profile electronics design contest and solicit quite a few prizes from major sponsors. Kudos to Jeri Ellsworth and Chris Gammell for putting this together; it's not every day you see an entire worldwide online community come together. This contest will live on in engineering folklore, I'm sure.

I can't wait to see the entries.