Monthly Archives: September 2011

Biology and Electronics

via Nuts and Volts

If you recall the experiment from your high school biology, Luigi Galvani found that electricity could animate the legs of a dead frog. This simple experiment is worth noting because the intersection of biology and electricity has come a long way since Galvani’s experiments in 1791. Today, medical and physiological electronics are multi-billion dollar industries, and the tools for experimentation have never been as affordable or easily obtainable.

OCP + ODCA = Open Collaboration

via Open Compute Project

Operating at web scale, and doing so as efficiently as possible, is the next great challenge facing the IT industry. The Open Compute Project was formed to help us all meet that challenge; it’s our hope that adopting an “open source” approach to building servers, storage, power supplies, and data centers will ultimately lead to more innovation in and collaboration on infrastructure design and efficiency. 

Of course, this is a huge undertaking — one that no single organization could possibly tackle alone. And with that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce a collaboration with the Open Data Center Alliance that will enable the OCP to get its hardware and designs in front of the 300-plus members of the ODCA so they can evaluate, adopt, and innovate on them.

To begin, the two groups will work together on projects focused on rack-scale infrastructure; efficient server and storage designs; and scalable, open systems management. The collaboration will deepen over time, and we should have more details to share at the upcoming Open Compute Project Summit in New York on October 27 (which you can register for here).

We have a long way to go in figuring out what the next generations of web infrastructure should look like. But the kinds of openness and collaboration exemplified by today’s announcement are exactly what we need to get there.

Practical Approaches (Double-sided PCB Design, Controlling Power, 3W RGB LED Controller )

via OSHUG

Developing a solution to a problem is not simply a matter of whether it is technically possible, but can involve all manner of challenging constraints. This is particularly the case in DIY and small-scale manufacture contexts, as there may be limited access to tools, test equipment and costly fabrication processes.

At the twelfth OSHUG meeting we'll be hearing about practical approaches that were developed in tackling three different problems. One is concerned with designing a double-sided PCB to accommodate 0.5mm pitch surface mount devices, that can be reliably built using low cost DIY methods. Another with safely controlling mains powered devices from the Internet, and the third with building a 3W RGB LED controller using all open source design and development tools.

DIY Double-sided PCB Design and Development for embedded ARM

Inspired by the success of the Arduino platform and driven by a recognition that to go from raw materials to a working system is both exciting and empowering, a project was born to develop a powerful microcontroller board that can be built from scratch. With this came the challenge of designing a double-sided PCB that will accommodate a 64-pin LQFP package on 0.5mm pitch, and that can be built using low cost DIY techniques.

In this talk we will learn about the rules which needed to be applied in order to ensure that construction of such a PCB is practical, and discoveries that were made in its development.

Garry Bulmer gained his degree in Computer Science in the early 1980s and developed software for companies including ICL, before going on to teach Computer Science and Software Engineering at degree level and beyond. During the 1990s he was a co-founder of Parallax Solutions, a software services company with customers that included Rover Group and Rolls Royce, and that partnered with Sun Microsystems and delivered their Enterprise Architecture Blueprints. He's since held the position of Chief Architect at Keane, Aspen Technology and Caritor. More recently he has become involved in education, running Arduino workshops for local schools and at events including Howduino, DEV8D and fizzPop.

A Simple Approach to Controlling Power from Internet Apps

Working with mains power can be a daunting prospect and requires due care and attention. In this presentation we will hear about a simple and safe way to control mains-powered appliances from the Internet using cheap wireless links. This will include a live demo based on MBED and an explanation of this approach, and there will be opportunity to discuss its pros and cons.

Paul Tanner is a consultant, developer and maker in wood, metal, plastic, electronics and software. His day job is IT-based business improvement for SMEs. By night he turns energy nut, creating tools to optimise energy use. Paul graduated in electronics and was responsible for hardware and software product development and customer services in several product and service start-ups, switching to consulting in 2000.

Using Open Source tools to design and build a 3W RGB LED Controller in a month of Sundays

There are many Open Source and freely available hardware designs but almost all of them are currently hosted by proprietary tool chains. Whether it's the EDA suite used to design the boards, the compilers used to build the firmware or the dongles used to flash the firmware, the chances are that at least one, if not all, are under a non-free license of some kind.

In this talk we will hear about the experience of using an entirely open toolchain to develop a 3W RGB LED controller. Specifically, the the trials and tribulations in using Kicad: the GPL PCB Suite; AVR-GCC: the GNU Compiler Collection build that targets the Atmel AVR line of microcontrollers and a parallel port programmer that can be built in 5 minutes with minimal components.

Andy Bennett is an Engineer that likes to inhabit the void between hardware and the software that runs on it. After graduating from Imperial College with a degree in Electronic & Electrical Engineering he joined Access Devices Digital Limited where he designed software and FPGA cores for the UK's first Dual Tuner Personal Video Recorders. He continued working on Advanced Product Development at Pace Micro Technology before leaving to become employee number 2 at GenieDB where he applies his finely honed ability to produce software on a shoestring.

In his spare time he likes to design ambitious projects from scratch. In between prototyping designs for his own PDA, digital watch and bluetooth headset, he's currently building a two wheeled, actively balanced, robot.

Note: Please aim to arrive for 18:00 - 18:20 as the event will start at 18:30 prompt.

Practical Approaches (Double-sided PCB Design, Controlling Power, 3W RGB LED Controller )

via OSHUG

Developing a solution to a problem is not simply a matter of whether it is technically possible, but can involve all manner of challenging constraints. This is particularly the case in DIY and small-scale manufacture contexts, as there may be limited access to tools, test equipment and costly fabrication processes.

At the twelfth OSHUG meeting we'll be hearing about practical approaches that were developed in tackling three different problems. One is concerned with designing a double-sided PCB to accommodate 0.5mm pitch surface mount devices, that can be reliably built using low cost DIY methods. Another with safely controlling mains powered devices from the Internet, and the third with building a 3W RGB LED controller using all open source design and development tools.

DIY Double-sided PCB Design and Development for embedded ARM

Inspired by the success of the Arduino platform and driven by a recognition that to go from raw materials to a working system is both exciting and empowering, a project was born to develop a powerful microcontroller board that can be built from scratch. With this came the challenge of designing a double-sided PCB that will accommodate a 64-pin LQFP package on 0.5mm pitch, and that can be built using low cost DIY techniques.

In this talk we will learn about the rules which needed to be applied in order to ensure that construction of such a PCB is practical, and discoveries that were made in its development.

Garry Bulmer gained his degree in Computer Science in the early 1980s and developed software for companies including ICL, before going on to teach Computer Science and Software Engineering at degree level and beyond. During the 1990s he was a co-founder of Parallax Solutions, a software services company with customers that included Rover Group and Rolls Royce, and that partnered with Sun Microsystems and delivered their Enterprise Architecture Blueprints. He's since held the position of Chief Architect at Keane, Aspen Technology and Caritor. More recently he has become involved in education, running Arduino workshops for local schools and at events including Howduino, DEV8D and fizzPop.

A Simple Approach to Controlling Power from Internet Apps

Working with mains power can be a daunting prospect and requires due care and attention. In this presentation we will hear about a simple and safe way to control mains-powered appliances from the Internet using cheap wireless links. This will include a live demo based on MBED and an explanation of this approach, and there will be opportunity to discuss its pros and cons.

Paul Tanner is a consultant, developer and maker in wood, metal, plastic, electronics and software. His day job is IT-based business improvement for SMEs. By night he turns energy nut, creating tools to optimise energy use. Paul graduated in electronics and was responsible for hardware and software product development and customer services in several product and service start-ups, switching to consulting in 2000.

Using Open Source tools to design and build a 3W RGB LED Controller in a month of Sundays

There are many Open Source and freely available hardware designs but almost all of them are currently hosted by proprietary tool chains. Whether it's the EDA suite used to design the boards, the compilers used to build the firmware or the dongles used to flash the firmware, the chances are that at least one, if not all, are under a non-free license of some kind.

In this talk we will hear about the experience of using an entirely open toolchain to develop a 3W RGB LED controller. Specifically, the the trials and tribulations in using Kicad: the GPL PCB Suite; AVR-GCC: the GNU Compiler Collection build that targets the Atmel AVR line of microcontrollers and a parallel port programmer that can be built in 5 minutes with minimal components.

Andy Bennett is an Engineer that likes to inhabit the void between hardware and the software that runs on it. After graduating from Imperial College with a degree in Electronic & Electrical Engineering he joined Access Devices Digital Limited where he designed software and FPGA cores for the UK's first Dual Tuner Personal Video Recorders. He continued working on Advanced Product Development at Pace Micro Technology before leaving to become employee number 2 at GenieDB where he applies his finely honed ability to produce software on a shoestring.

In his spare time he likes to design ambitious projects from scratch. In between prototyping designs for his own PDA, digital watch and bluetooth headset, he's currently building a two wheeled, actively balanced, robot.

Note: Please aim to arrive for 18:00 - 18:20 as the event will start at 18:30 prompt.