GerberMerger PCB Panelizing Program

Gerbers are text files that contain the information needed to create a PCB. I knocked up a rough and ready script to merge Gerber files to help panelize my layouts before sending them off to FusionPCB.

Magic Mouth v0.1

Build a Magic Mouth shield from scratch using the materials in the Github repository. Hear it in action speaking in response to commands typed into the Arduino serial monitor.


Home Made Arduinos

Making Arduinos was pretty laborious. The toner transfer went well, but drilling was a dental experience.

Severinos: DIY Arduinos


DIY PCBs By Stovetop Toner Transfer

If the clothes iron method fails for you, try this new twist on the toner transfer process. Put a heavy hotplate on the stove and dial in a temperature of 175 °C using a thermocouple. Bond the toner image to the copper clad board by placing them print side down onto the hotplate between two sheets of paper and applying pressure with a rolling pin for 2-5 minutes. For double sided boards, flip every 30 seconds or so.

Stovetop toner transfer using 175 Celsius hotplate and rolling pin


December Swag Bag: FEZmini

The FEZ mini runs .NET, can act as a USB host with minimal adaptation, and balances on the end of a finger. Tip of the small, brimless hat to Seeed Studio.

FEZmini balanced on fingertip


Magic Mouth: Arduino Speech Shield

Ready to talk the talk? Give your Arduino the power of speech. This easy-to-build circuit includes a voice synthesizer and amplifier.

Magic Mouth v0.1: Screenshot of Eagle layout


Bike Basket Hack

The affordable panier, seen wherever there are students in Philadelphia.

Bike basket hack


Old MacDonald Hacked A Farm

My kids have a plastic farm toy. It neighs, it baas, and frankly, it grates. But since I tricked it out with a microcontroller brain, at least it can play Simon.


October Swag Bag: Web Platform

Dangerous Prototypes sent me a web server from their "Scratch and Dent" drawer. The circuit board was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand — but just how dinged was it, and could I get it working?

Dangerous Prototypes Web Platform


Bug Shaped Solar Robot

Powered by a solar panel, this miniature robot shuffles towards the light.

Shokpopper side viewShokpopper rear view

Shokpopper bottom viewShokpopper front view


Animated LCD Name Tag

While we are on the subject of calculators, this one has been ever so slightly -- what is the word? -- doctored for use as an animated name plate. The perfect desk toy for a nutty scientist.


Chip Off The Old Block

Digikey have frequent competitions and giveaways advertised on their twitter feed, and this week I was a lucky winner. So what happens when you give your kid a Cui Inc. branded pen and some Digikey post-its to play with? She draws a calculator. :-)

Calculator drawing


Flickery LED Bar Candle

Perhaps the world has no need for another blinky LED candle effect. But with Halloween coming up, I was still in the mood for repurposing logic chips.


Hacky Random Number Generator / Cat Toy

For my entry to the Dangerous Prototypes 7400 Contest, I decided to make a true random number generator. In particular, I wanted a latching RNG — not merely a continuous stream of numbers, but a continuous stream which I could sample at intervals. The circuit would be made up of a minimal number of digital logic parts. And deliberately inducing noise into the digital circuit would involve breaking all the usual design rules, which is fun.


Twirly Webcam

Reaching forward to adjust the webcam got old. Technology came to the rescue in the form of a webcam that pans around the room under the control of a paddle or foot pedal.


Hacked Whammy Pedal

I bought a toy foot pedal for $10. I didn't know how to communicate with it, but for some reason that didn't bother me until I had it in my hands and was wondering what to do with it.

React Guitar Hero pedals


Quacking Oven Timer

The kitchen stove had no timer. Hannah had grown out of the waterfowl-themed slippers that she had been given. What came next? A schlock quack duck cook clock hack.


September Swag Bag: ChipKIT

Today I received a Microchip ChipKIT wifi shield courtesy of Dangerous Prototypes  — and there should be a ChipKIT Uno32 coming along soon, too. I'm looking forward to using this to prototype some kind of web-enabled brewing system. It's good times at the Magic Smoke Brewhouse & Grill!

ChipKIT wifi shield

DIY Solder Flux From Pine Resin

My flux pen recently bit the dust. Fortunately the raw material was close at hand. Making solder flux from rosin is a snap — and a pine tree near my house was oozing big dollops of gum.

Pine tree oozing gum


Automatic Flowerpot Smoker

Can't afford a Big Green Egg? You can build a ceramic smoker from a flowerpot in a matter of minutes — Alton Brown showed how on "Good Eats". Here I show how to add temperature control to your flowerpot smoker so that you can "set it and forget it". With automatic heating you can take the fiddling and guesswork out of using your smoker... and still have an excuse to hang out in the garden drinking beer.

Flowerpot smoker with PID controller