Electrifying ideas, grounded in the field

Inductive kickback: observations, interesting finds, lessons learned and feedback related to my work as a circuit and PCB designer, embedded firmware programmer, prototype creator and electronics maker and consultant.

Openpnp with LitePlacer Pick and Place

Using the LitePlacer pick and place with openpnp isn’t just possible, it’s pretty awesome. I’ve used both together for a few months now, to assemble over 100 PCBs of varying levels of complexity. It is quite reliable down to 0402 components, with or without bottom vision (which is amazing, when it works–see below). I’ve got…

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TinyG EZConnect for Pick and Place Machines

Here’s how to build your own TinyG “EZ-Connect”, for LitePlacer or other pick and place/G-code-controlled machines. The system’s advantages over a straight-up connection to the TinyG are mainly that it: decouples the TinyG from the machine (remove, replace or share the TinyG with other installations with only two cables to muck with); hosts a few…

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TinyG Wiring System for LitePlacer

As part of my LitePlacer pick and place machine build, the wiring was more familiar than the mechanical assembly but still pretty complex. To simplify things, and to decouple the TinyG from the machine, I created a set of PCBs to handle the wiring and host stuff like MOSFET switches and jumpers to select between…

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A pick and place machine for prototyping

I really love electronics and all the challenges that come with solving problems and inventing things that have never existed before but building prototypes–especially of PCBs designed for manufacturability with tiny ICs and passives: ugh! It was fine when I was making basic circuits, but hundreds of tiny pieces, painstakingly placed one by one… Life…

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The Case for R3 Prototyping: Product Development workshop at District 3 Biohealth Innovation Week

Day 2 of District 3’s Biohealth Innovation Week (which I covered in some depth yesterday) was the main reason I registered, and it did not disappoint. There were three main events scheduled, and I attended each: Product Development for Biomed and Biotech; Regulatory process and Quality Management in Biomed and Biotech sectors; and Emerging Technology…

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D3 Biohealth Innovation Week: Day 1

Right now, District 3 is holding a Biohealth Innovation Week in Montreal. Billed as a discovery boot-camp, the idea is to bring together life-sciences startups, VCs, students, biohealth community players and anyone interested in the field. My particular interest is on the devices side of the arena, and the conferences and workshops touch on this…

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PLC Quickstart for programmers and embedded engineers

This is everything you need to know to get a running start with PLCs if you’re already familiar with programming or engineering embedded systems. Programmable Logic Controllers have been around a long time and there are tons of online resources devoted to the devices but I’ve found these lacking when it comes to addressing the…

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Quick Hack: controlling remote AC switches with Raspberry Pi/any MCU

Need to control some smart home switches, asap? That’s what happened to me, so I hit the hardware store and got a set of Noma RF AC switches, with a little remote, and hacked it up to automate the action. Get all the details and a little demo in this video:

Controlling a Raspberry Pi with Android

Device Druid version 3 is out and about! There’s a new look, a host of new features, etc but what I’m most thrilled to announce is support for both Raspberry Pi and Android. To celebrate, here’s a little video walkthrough of getting a GUI running on a Raspberry Pi in a couple of minutes. We’ll…

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Creating an I2C slave interface for a sensor or peripheral

You’re creating a stand-alone module to bundle a few hardware sensors, or have an independent microcontroller that stays awake and needs to wake the main system depending on configurable environmental triggers. What’s the easiest way to let this unit receive orders and communicate results? An I²C slave! Inter-Integrated Circuit–I²C–is specifically designed to provide an easy…

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