New Open Source Hardware KiCAD project board in stock: MOD-OLED-128×64

MOD-OLED-128x64-3

MOD-OLED-128×64 is low cost, low power, high contrast LCD display with UEXT connector which allow to be used with any of our OLinuXino and Arduino boards.

The LCD panel control is done via I2C thus only 4 wires are necessary Vcc 3.3V, GND, SCL and SDA.

The power supply required is only 1 uA in sleep mode, 200 uA in operating mode and 7mA in display ON mode.

View area is 21 x 11 mm.

MOD-OLED-128×64 can be used on Breadboard too. For this purpose 4 pin header is provided which could be soldered on the back of the board.

MOD-OLED-128x64-2

 

 

KiCAD files are on GitHub, Python code to work with any of our OLinuXino Linux board is provided, also code for Arduino.

New KiCAD OSHW PCB project – Getting rid of FTDI – BB-CH340T USB to Serial converter

BB-CH340T-3

Many of you probably remember the FTDI nasty drivers they released just to mess up with the FTDI clones.
This caused lot of trouble to people who use FTDI devices, we have been also affected.
We try to buy FT232RL from local distributor and they had no stock, then we look around and found the chips from other supplier, but unfortunately we got clone FTDI chips.
We made production with these chips and sent boards to customers, then at one point of time we start to get complains (only from Windows users) that boards stop working.
All these windows users were affected by the evil drivers released by FTDI which make VID/PID as zero if the chip is recognized to be not FTDI original.

We try to help our customers who have been affected on our forum and got nasty message from FTDI lawers to remove all the help instructions from our forum and pull back all boards which use these clone FTDI chips from customers and distributors. WTF?

No wonder from this moment we took decision to avoid dealing with this cheeky and nasty company as much as possible. Re-designing all our boards which were unfortunate to use FTDI chips.

CH340T is nice alternative to FTDI chips and have same features and even more, but cost exactly 1/10th of FTDI chip price.

BB-CH340T is nice small board which takes power from USB and can provide 3.3V and 5V to target together with Serial Tx and Rx (transmit and receive) signals and GND.

Note that by default neither 3.3V neither 5V is selected.

BB-CH340T is specially made to be used easy with breadboard. The design is open source hardware made with KiCAD and files are on Github under Apache 2.0 licensee.

New Product in stock: Open Source Hardware SMT-PROTOBOARD with many SMT component footprints and KiCAD files

SMT-PROTOTYPE-1 SMT-PROTOTYPE-2

SMT-PROTOBOARD is Open Source Hardware prototyping board with these features:

  • FR-4, 1.55 mm, gold plating
  • dimensions: 124.46 x 101.6 mm
  • SMT footprints:
  • LQFP 32, 44, 52, 64 at 0.8 mm step
  • TQFP 32, 44, 52, 64, 80, 100 at 0.50 mm step
  • x4 SOT23-6
  • x3  SOT89
  • x3 buttons 6×6 mm
  • micro SD card
  • mini USB connector
  • JTAG connector
  • UEXT connector
  • x6 LEDs 0805 + R0805
  • TSSOP 2*92 at 25 mils
  • TSSOP 2*32 at 50 mils
  • PROTO x3 16×4 0.1″ step
  • PROTO x2 16×8 0.1″ step

Board is designed with KiCAD and files are available at GitHub

A33-OLinuXino Open Source Hardware Linux SBC with Quad Core Cortex-A7 ARM processor running at 1.5Ghz

A33-OLinuXino

While we stopped the work on A31, we decided that A33 is promising device as it have Mali video and there is chance to have open source drivers and Linux support with hardware acceleration.

A33-OLinuXino is OSHW project and you can see the preliminary files at GitHub.

With size of 70×76 mm it’s small SOM like board, you can see the component arrangement above:

There are two 40 pin 0.1″ connectors: upped for LCD connector, lower for GPIOs, I2C, SPI, etc

A33-OLinuXino have PMU AXP223, A33 Quad core Cortex A7 running at 1.5Ghz, 4/8GB NAND Flash, 1GB RAM

On the left side you can see USB-OTG, LiPo battery connector, debug UART, button, micro SD card on the bottom

On the right side there are Audio IN and OUT connectors and flat cable connector with MIPI and CSI signals.

We still have no idea what it will cost when released as we don’t know how many layers will be the PCB, but we guess it will be in the LIME range i.e. about EUR 30

RMS says: We need Free Digital Designs!

oli

Back in 1999 Richard Stallman had interview commenting on “Free Hardware” for Linux Today, where he says “freedom to copy software is social imperative, but freedom to copy hardware is not so important as hardware is hard to copy”

SO even man with such visionary as RMS didn’t understand quite well why people would have motive to make Free Hardware Designs (also known as Open Source Hardware Designs).

Somewhere else he also have said something like: “We do not need imperatively free hardware, but well documented hardware” to may write proper software for it. Looking from Software point of view he is probably right, but he was missing something important: Free/Open Source Hardware is not done just to allow other to replicate it. It serves much deeper goals.

  • Spreading knowledge – when people have access to the design files they can learn how the original author created this hardware and study the design from inside.
  • Getting vital feed back and improving the design – the author who opens everything can get free expertise from many other people who works on same problem and thus to combine the knowledge of the community about this. In long run product which is collaboratively developed is with better specs and features than the one who is done in closed company.
  • When your hardware is with open specs this gives your customer additional value – they know everything about your hardware, they are not dependent from single source of manufacturing, they can modify and customize for their need. All else being equal OSHW design will be preffered and gives more value to the customer.
  • By opening the designs you give access to the technology to casual people who can innovate and no need to be big companies with lot of money. Just have look at what 3D printing and Arduino did.

This is why it was nice to see the evolution with RMS view on the Open Source / Free Hardware which he published in Wired yesterday named: Why we need free hardware designs?

In this article RMS says:

We need free digital hardware designs!
Free hardware designs offer practical advantages. Multiple companies can fabricate one, which reduces dependence on a single vendor.
Having circuit diagrams or HDL code makes it possible to study the design to look for errors or malicious functionalities (it is known that the NSA has procured malicious weaknesses in some computing hardware).

If you design hardware, please make your designs free.

 

Although naming “Free Hardware Design” what we know more popular as Open Source Hardware, RMS correctly spots the advantages vs closed non-free Hardware Designs.

 

Our first two small KiCAD OSHW boards are ready!

MPU9150

I wrote some time ago about the importance to use Open Source CAD tools when you want to make OSHW designs.

FOSS CAD tools increase the base of your contributors, you can’t expect to have many people who to contribute back to your project if you make it with Altium or PADS which cost thousands of EURO/USD.
Even Eagle which have low cost entry version cost thousands if you want to use it for more complex designs.

So the decission was taken, but the resistance among our developers was not small :) nobody wants to break his comfort when there are already lot of libraries made and had to be duplicated for the new platform.
It’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks :)

Situation changed a bit this month as we got two new guys who joined Olimex design team – Todor Bobotilov 25 years old “fresh out of school”, who recently graduated Technical University in Plovdiv with one of the best scores/results from the exams, and Christo Budakov who have 25 years of experience with electronics design and has worked for Bulgarian Academy of Science, and as free consultant last years. They both joined Olimex on March 4th.

So I decided that after the latest announcements for the new features in KiCAD we have no excuses anymore and have to kick Eagle by the end of this year with all our designs. And to start clean the new guys will be thrown in the deep waters from the beginning and they will start working with KiCAD from scratch.

First thing was to install newest and latest although unstabile version of KiCAD to may be up to date with latest developments.

This is easy to do in Ubuntu, you just have to add the nightly builds repo to your apt-get list:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:js-reynaud/ppa-kicad

Then every morning you will be asked if you want to install the newest build. This had some trade offs like latest KiCAD tends to crash every couple of hours for some reason, but this is OK, we know that we work with unstabile version and just have to save the projects more frequently :))))

Another issue – the libraries, we have our own technologycal setup in our production, based on our process we run for many years, this includes how the stencils are manufactures, how the NC files for the machines we have are generated, what component pads to be used, what drills, annular rings, etc we have to use to suit our PCB design and manufacturing process to achieve the best yield in production, in most of the cases this have nothing in common with the recommended by vendors PCB land pads and dimensions.

Christo started working on the libraries slowly while making new boards he converts from proven Eagle libraries just the components he uses in his current designs.

This week we got two new very simple boards designed with KiCAD:

MOD-MPU9150 3-axis gyro + 3-axis accelerometer + 3-axis magnetometer compass all in one here is the GitHub repo you can see it how it looks on the picture above.

and MOD-OLED-128×64 OLED 1″ display with UEXT and Breadboard 0.1″ headers, the GitHub repo is here.

OLED

you may bet many more and much complicated designs are to follow :)

New PIC32-HMZ144 Open Source Hardware development board is in stock

PIC32MZH144

PIC32-HMZ144 is low cost development board for the new PIC32MZ2048HCM144 processor from Microchip with these features:

  • PIC32MZ2048EHC144 512KB RAM 2MB Flash
  • USB-OTG
  • uSD card
  • ICSP for debug and programming
  • JTAG pins exposed on 0.1″ step 6 pins
  • EXT1 and EXT2 50 pin 0.1″ connectors for all PIC ports
  • RESET and USER buttons
  • PWR and STATUS LEDs
  • LiPo battery charger and connector
  • UEXT connector
  • Dimensions: 77 x 52 mm

PIC32MZ2048HCM144 is high performance MIPS core processor from Microchip with 10-bit, 500 KSPS, 48-channel ADC module, MMU for real time OS support, CAN, UART, I2C, PMP, EBI, SQI & Analog Comparators, SPI/I2S interfaces for audio processing and playback, Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Device/Host/OTG, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet MAC with MII and RMII interface.

Another board with Ethernet and LCD is on the way, PIC32MZ2048 is good candidate to run RetroBSD

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