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MultiBOB - A Breakout Board with Multiple Personalities

I have been moving away from THT to Surface Mount over the past year, once you learn how to solder them they are not that difficult to use and offer many advantages over THT including the range of components, price, availability and reduced PCB size. I still need to breadboard experimental circuits (or 'Version 0' of a prototype) and SMT parts are not overly friendly in that regard. I wound up making a set of DIP style breakouts for various SMT formats (SOIC, TSSOP, QFN, etc) but that still left the issue of discretes. Inspired by this project on Hackaday I designed a small multi-purpose break…

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Using GreenPak Programmable Logic

In my last post I mentioned that the breakout boards I had designed for the the tiny GreenPak chips had arrived, turns out it was just in time as I discovered a need for them very quickly. A friend of mine needed a simple solution that would allow him to detect button presses through the microphone input of a mobile phone - the quick and dirty solution of simply putting a button and a resistor between ground and the microphone input worked in most cases but for some inputs there wasn't enough noise to generate a measurable change in audio level. I proposed using a small tone generator that wou…

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GreenPak Programmable Matrix

I had a batch of PCBs arrive yesterday which included the boards for my ESP8266 based sensor system so I should be able to do a followup post on that project in the near future. This batch also included my breakout boards for GreenPak 3 mixed signal programmable logic chips. These devices are small (in terms of size and number of cells) programmable logic chips similar to a PAL (Programmable Array Logic) with support for analog signals as well as digital. Each chip has a collection of configurable cells which can be connected together to implement a circuit. There are a range of cell types a…

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Bread Heads - AVR Breadboard Programmers

I recently found myself needing to reuse some older prototypes for a newer project, as part of the repurposing I needed to flash an Arduino compatible bootloader on the AVR processors in them. The design didn't include an ICSP header so I wanted to find an easier way to flash them without having to desolder them. Enter the Bread Head, a design I saw on the Blondihacks site by Quinn Dunki. The Bread Head is a simple yet effective way to reprogram AVR chips in circuit - basically it provides a breakout for the ICSP header on a device you simply push over the AVR chip in circuit to reprogram it.…

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Surface Mount Milling and Soldering

One of the major goals I had when I started working on milling PCBs was to be able to reliably mill boards with surface mount footprints - a number of parts I want to use are only available in that format and I am hoping to reduce the size of the boards I produce. This weekend I finally got some time to test out the process. The results weren't as good as I liked but I am happy with the progress. To start with I wanted some fairly simple boards to test the various footprints I will be using. I made up three designs: A simple LDO regulator board using the SOT-23 version of the MCP1702 and a col…

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