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.

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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Inductive kickback made simple to grasp, easy to handle

This site is about much more than inductors but if you came looking for info on inductive kickback or inductors in general, this light crash course should make it clear in no time using a few random anthropomorphizations I’ve found useful. Inductors: the grumpy old man of passive components Inductors stay on top of current…

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Powering cellular IoT for months in the wild

For a LTE M1 connected IoT project that is meant to operate in the wild for months at a time, we’re designing a set of rechargeable power packs that will provide the electrons we need in an easily swapped out form factor. In the meantime, we needed some way to test the modules and profile…

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Eclipse saves my ass and the day

It started with the best of intentions, as these things are wont to do. What had begun as a test script, nothing more than the stub of an eventual server side implementation to catch data coming in from an embedded device, was quickly morphing into an actual project. Hm… getting serious and valuable: time to…

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Extending the life of a cell connected IoT device

How do we maximize the useful lifetime of our battery powered, cell connected, IoT device? The obvious answer is to sleep and conserve power as much as possible but there are a few ways of doing this when dealing with M2M networks, like NB-IoT and LTE Cat M1, each with its own advantages and trade-offs….

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Device Druid v3 Beta Now Available

Operating your Arduino project has never been sweeter.  Version 3 of device druid is out in beta and you can try it out to give a little feedback on what’s awesome and what needs a bit of work.  The new Druid Builder requires no installation, as its now available online, and the client is smoother…

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Simplifying Assembly: Open Source Manual Pick & Place Assistance

Building prototypes is fun but can be a huge time sink.  Hunting around on the board–how many 10k resistors are there? where is R15? ugh. Thankfully, Colin O’Flynn created an program to help you while you’re acting as a meatbag pick and place machine.  MeatbagPnP is a python application that takes generated placement files and…

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Powering your breadboard: Options, Reviews and Caveats

Though most of my projects wind up with their own regulators on-board, the breadboard is the go-to of choice when it’s time to just try something out.  Since pretty much everything I play with needs juice, this will be a little review of some of the options I’ve used, and what I’ve learned in doing…

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