Screaming Circuits: March 2012


I wandered over to the Ti booth here at the Embedded Systems conference to check out the Beaglebone and the MSP430 Launchpad. We haven't built any Beaglebones yet, but a few years back we took the Open source Beagleboard files and built up a couple to show our Package on package (POP) workmanship. The Beaglebone doesn't use POP, but it is open source. As are the "Capes." They call their expansion cards capes. I get a vision of Underdog when I hear that name.

What caught my eye was their selection of Capes available now.
All of those are open source. They provide functionality such as displays, battery power, CAN, prototyping and more.

The other product I looked at was the MSP430 Launchpad. I've been getting to know the launchpad myself and wanted to see what's new with it. 0328121213The unit shown here has a DSP and a little display driven by the MSP430. It's a MP3 player with the purpose of introducing the DSP and MSP430 / DSP combination.

Ti is doing an amazing job of making evaluation of their chips easy and inexpensive. I've seen a few other companies providing more complete and less expensive than traditional dev boards as well. NXP with their LPC series to name one. It's a good idea and a good trend as far as I'm concerned.

Duane Benson
Robots good. Neurotic thermonuclear devices bad.


ESC / Design West 2012

0327121200aIt's day one here at the show. It's still mostly called ESC but they've included a number of other shows under the name Design West.

I haven't had a lot of time to run around yet, but I have run into two robots. The first one, over at the Intel booth, is based on an ATOM embedded motherboard and a Microsoft Kinect. I stopped to take a picture and it rolled over to visit. It tried to follow me when I left, but it's owner caught it before it got too far away. It's driven by an 0327121234open source software suite and targeted at university programs. I didn't have time to get the details, but if you're here at the show, drop over and check it out. Just walk fast or it might try to tag along behind you

The second robot was at Ti. It didn't follow me, but it did balance on two wheels for me.

Duane Benson
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

Shrouded vs. non-shrouded

Notch down bp purpleA connector isn't a connector isn't a connector. In this photo, the original PC board was designed to have an unshrouded break-away header, as shown in the inset on the right. I measured it. The entire header fits within the silkscreen outline.

However, as you can see, a shrouded header was used in that spot. While as designed, there was plenty of clearance between the header and the two capacitors and resister, the shroud for the substituted header covers all of the resistor and half of the capacitors.

You can prototype it this way, but it will never fly in production.

Duane Benson
Find the ghosts of Dawnstar

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