Open Fest 2016 – Soldering of the Open Source Hardware GHOST

“A ghost is haunting Europe—the ghost of communism.” said Carl Marx in 1848

We can re-phrase “A Ghost is haunting OpenFest 2016 – the ghost of open source hardware” 😀

We created this Soldering Kit specially for Open Fest as third year in a row we do soldering workshops there:


It’s a very simple board, specially made for novices with small PIC10F206 microcontroller which has only 512 words of Flash memory and 24 bytes of RAM, still enough to write C code like this.

In the good Olimex traditions being overwhelmed with work we totally forgot for the soldering workshop and started the project 3 weeks before OpenFest 🙂

The board was quickly routed with KiCAD and we sent to PCB manufacturer in China, who keep the promise to make the blank PCBs for 1 week and shipped on time but DHL late with the customs clearance and we got the board Friday morning! The workshop was Saturday and Sunday, right on time!

Then we had half Friday fun with Microchip’s MPLABX tools, which refused to re-program the PIC10F206 once it’s programmed.

After few hours we found that MPLABX version 3.35 can program and erase PIC10F206 just fine but MPLABX 3.45 don’t.

Still there was enough time till 20.00 o’clock and we managed to program 200 kits ready for soldering next day 🙂

The initial intention was to make LED breathe but after losing so much time with MPLABX we decided the first version to be simple 10 times blink!

Here you can see people assembling it on OpenFest:


Girls, Boys, Kids all were not afraid and took the soldering irons:



After OpenFest we continued to investigate why the newer MPLABX refused to program PIC10F206 more than once, the problem was trivial, to erase it the Vcc must be above 4.5V:


Still interesting why MPLABX 3.35 was erasing it even without this voltage settings 🙂

This is why working with embedded systems is such fun. You never know where you can step aside and you have to worry not just for the code but also for the hardware as source of mistakes.

Needless to say we had no any assembly instructions for the kit at OpenFest, but now proudly we put them on the web site of the kit.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. SK
    Nov 08, 2016 @ 22:27:38

    Uuuhm … weren’t you a producer of PCBs – why going to China?


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Nov 08, 2016 @ 22:39:12

      EU distributors effectively kill PCB production in Europe, the raw materials here cost more than complete PCB in China, just fast prototypes make sense to be produced here to save on shipping time


      • SK
        Nov 08, 2016 @ 23:14:17

        You mean for the simple boards? OLinuXinos are still made in Bulgaria, right? (as opposed to only being designed here)

  2. OLIMEX Ltd
    Nov 08, 2016 @ 23:30:44

    All our products are designed and assembled in Bulgaria, the blank PCBs are just component like the resistors, capacitors and connectors. They do not determine the origin (where product is made).


    • SK
      Nov 08, 2016 @ 23:57:52

      That is interesting – the boards’ assembly process being profitable but not the PCB production itself, given the quantities of both are similar.
      Maybe there are more significant differences in the parts used between the variety of different boards than in the materials and processes needed for the PCB production, so the assembly is still better done locally?


  3. OLIMEX Ltd
    Nov 09, 2016 @ 08:51:27

    It’s not board ‘assembly’ it’s end product production, assembly is just one of the process in production. Your question sounds like “That’s interesting to produce TV being more profitable than to produce the resistors which are one of the building components for it” of course it is.


    • SK
      Nov 09, 2016 @ 11:22:41

      PCBs are not really a component in the same sense as a resistor is because they are made per your exact specification (that is part of of your particular design and will not make sense for any other product). But OK, PCB production may be a generic service.
      What I meant was that I couldn’t initially see the difference between blank PCB production and the assembly processes (stencil printing, pick & place, reflow) of same PCBs – all of these are done with (somewhat) generic machines and may require some generic raw materials.


  4. George Botsev
    Nov 09, 2016 @ 14:48:06

    I love the ghost-badge! It is very cute! Thank you Olimex!


  5. diego
    Nov 14, 2016 @ 10:21:10

    I wanted to order one but shied away when I saw the shipping costs being more than 5 times the price of the set. cant you offer for such small parts a cheaper shipping option via normal post-envelope?


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Nov 14, 2016 @ 10:40:12

      unfortunately we do not have post shipment for USA as the parcels arrive with big delay and every second US customer dispute his/her payment when 2 weeks pass and they do not receive their parcel


  6. diego
    Nov 14, 2016 @ 10:49:58

    Thanks for your quick reply!

    thank god im not in US 🙂
    Switzerland seems to be as expensive as US, shipping wise…
    one disadvantage of not being EU member.


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Nov 14, 2016 @ 10:55:41

      I just check our web shipping by AIRMAL to Switzerland cost EUR 2.95 which is not x5 times the price of the PCB 🙂 or you has selected next day delivery courier service?


  7. diego
    Nov 14, 2016 @ 11:16:03

    oh… I just gave up too early.
    In step 2 it shows 14€ but later you can choose the proper options.

    Thanks for clarification, will order now 🙂


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