thank you all. U guys are giving me some really good insight on 3d printers. I am a disabled vet and my budget is 1400 USD for a kit. I want to make some uav parts. prototype a couple vertical windmill designs. play around with my electronics and cars. So, as a starting point where do I get the best bang for the busk? ...Makerbot??? Reprap?? something else??
Cabe - Unfortunately, I didn't have the party address. :-) There were half a dozen people I wanted to see, and didn't manage to catch up with any of them. Next year, I'll have to go to one of the "Brinag a hack" dinners after the show.
Crusty, Sheepdoll - I might need a dragon then. I've inadvertantly locked a few Atmega32U4 chips. They're in surface mount packages, so I'd have to be creative, but I hate to waste the chips if I can bring them back to life. Especially since they're in the QFP package which has become pretty much unavailable.
Max, there is a child down in the Metro area who was injured in an assult, who is using a donated Robot Avatar to attend high school classes while they are recovering -- it looked really cool, and will do two way video and audio, and is good for a school day worth of work
I was at Perforce yesterday at the #GirlGeekDinner. The problem I have with Git is that the pipe organ I am coding for is offline. No wireless in the hall. So I have to use USB sticks for version control. On the drive back, I was thinking that there needs to be some sort of CVS system that can sync thumb drives with the CVS server. Bit beyond me as I am only a lowly EET.
Crusty - that first project was a surface mount adaptation of Jeff Keyzer's Geiger counter, with an ATTIY2313. The home built programmer worked fin for it. I've since used an Arduino as programmer and purchased an actual Atmel programmer.
@MS243 : I will take a look at that. I'm looking for something light weight for home/side projects. At the day job we have have a committee arguing for a year trying to settle on a single one for a number of large projects with distributed teams...
@Garcia: I have not made my script public. I still have some work on transfering filled zones. There is also the question is that expressPCB encrypted their files. Although the encryption was broken a few years back (Copper connection, the java schematic viewer Jschema etc.) I like expressPCB and thier service for one off boards.
Sheepdoll - The first time I used an Atmel processor, I had to go dig up old parts and build and XP machine and load the software there. I had build a parallel port programmer and my Windows 7 computer doesn't have one.
Has anyone had any problems with free tools? I was looking for an audio frequency generator recently -- I found a free one online -- software that runs on your PC and generates a tone on the headphone socket ... downloadable from all the usual repositories -- but I checked them up on Google and found a lot of people complaining that installing thsi software also installed a lot of hidden advertizing engines/modules on your system...
Smiley... Mach3 with 500 lines of G-code is more than enough... if you use elegant coding practices. For example: I used to write code that was 50 lines to do a a single drill routine. Then I found that that same 50 lines could be done with a single line. Tighten it up. (Mach3 is for windows only, btw)
@sheepdoll: Is your script online? It seems very interesting. One of the main issues I pointed to CERN guys about KiCAD becoming a mainstream tool is the need for a bunch of tools for migrating designs from other tools.
GNU compilers have been used in one of only two airliners with more than one million fatality free flight hours -- the output is certified vs the high and low level requirements by the equipment design team. Depending on Design Assurance Level a tool qualification is done by the design team. They also are used with VXWORKS -- flying on many systems on the 787
AD - Re: PSoC Creator. I've got one of their boards, but had a driver problem and was never able to get it to connect up with my PC. I was passed back and forth between Schmartboard and Cypress, but moved on to other projects when I couldn't get an answer.
Well, it says: "Embrace your inner pirate this Father's Day Weekend and set sail for the biggest playground for all things pirate! [...] Discover winding lanes of pirate encampments, nautically inspired handcrafts, gourmet foods, hearty ales, swimming mermaids..."
That certainly sounds like everyone dressing up as a pirate and having a party to me :-)
When it comes to meeting standards, how have free tool stood up against the rules? I was required, by design law of the company, to use certain paid tools so they can get certified later. Same for everyone else?
I have used some of the online calculators, but engineers have told me that some of the results are questionable. I have used Speedstack from Polar, but I don't believe they offer any free "starter" version. I guess I needed to qualify my query and ask if anyone knows of an ACCURATE free impedemnce calculator. :>)
@control - the best ones I've seen are with SpectraQuest, and Hyperlynx (Cadence and Mentor respectively) for board stacks and impedance -- both are pricey and one can get by with the web and excel and one of Dr.. Howard Johnson's Books -- given enough time in the schedule, and captial constraints for tools
A few years back we were fo a few months the largest gathering of pirates in the world. Actually this show is a lot like maker faire. Same steampunks, different costumes. Most modern 'pirates' make their own swag these days.
Both Maker faire and Pirate festival have their roots in the old Renaissance faire that was held in Marin. Burning man also came out of this so there is a lot of cross polination going on at these events.
@sheepdoll: You may be interested in checking the blog I wrote about CERN contribution to KiCAD. The hardware fraternity at CERN believes that KiCad can do to PCB design what the GCC compiler did to software
@Cabe: One makes money the old fasioned way. Provide better service than the competition. When I learned to program 38 years ago in grade school. the sofware was free. Computers were expensive. then personal computers came a long and we have never finished this argument. I personally think that if it is not physical then how can it ave value?
@Cabe: "if all the code was free, how would anyone make money?"
By providing support, service and customization -- this is the mainstream approach with Linux related products. But of course, there are a lot of bussiness approaches -- I worked for a company which sold IP for embedded products, so I'm aware of this too ;-)
Max - There are definately some downsides to Google Docs, but the equal access and colaboration are pretty powerful. Google docs still has limited compatibility with MS Office products. Another downside is that the Google metaphor is to share a document via email, rather than attach and send it. Sometimes sharing is very nice, but other times, I just want to attach the stupid document and send it over to someone.
The two best aspects of Google Docs are: multiple people can have the same document open at the same time and any changes get immediately propogated to all of the other instances. Second, I can have equal acces to the same document on my work laptop, home PC, Chromebook, tablet or phone - without having to take any action to make it available.
-Have had to use LibreOffice at a start-up where the Office SW was pirate copies - did not want to get busted -- The spreadsheet is not quite as capable as excel, but one can export import into R, and Octave as CSV, and do the heavy crunching -
Here at Mentor we are seing a shift from MS Office to using Google Docs and putting a lot of stuff out on a Google Drive. I was reluctant at first to give up my familiar MS tools, but after a couple of months, the Google Docs apps are being used about 50% of the time. Who would have guessed?
I recall a free tool that allowed you to model physical systems -- like putting rocks in the air and setting up a see-saw balance beam and suchlink, then pressing "go" and simulating what woudl happen -- I know this isn't an ee-related tool, but I wish I could find it again.
Free tools are often the only way a project gets done -- You work a Government program at a contractor -- 10Million is approved for the project, then 7.5Million will go to the politicians who sponsored it's campaigns, for scholarships at 50K/yr for their children, nephews, nieces, and other relatives for 8 years at a small expensive private college, for staffers, etc. This will leave 2.5Million to design and produce 10 million worth of product. Invariable the manager is a Mechanical engineer, so the ME's get the very best CAD packages and analysis tools for ME, leaving the EE's and Techs to see what they can scrounge for free. Have had to use Free and Open Source Tools for Math analysis like Sage, statistics, like R, MatLAB -- like Octave, Board Layout like FreePCB, Free FPGA vendor tools, Free Spice Simulators like TINA or LTSPICE, Free Compilers like GNU/GDB, --- The same is true at large corporations and start-ups
It depends on what you want to do. Draftsight is one... Anything in the manufacturing world is gaining in speed. With 3D printers everywhere, it just makes sense. HArdware is free... makerbot supplies a way to make everything.
@Max, my #1 free tool is Ghostscript. I write everything in postscript. Can move data between expressPCB and KiCad. View 40 year old pictures of mars, and read the binary pipe organ definition files for the system I am upgrading. It even manages MIDI too.
For those who use the free tools I mentioned.. how does that work out at the work place?
We use Draftsight for our simple mechanical design. We only have one copy of solidworks and so all us others use draftsight. It is almost identical to earlier versions of Autocad and since all our documentation gets reduced to pdf files it is fine for our final product engineering
@Max --- good blog -- I live in a small town about an hour out of a major metro area -- working in the metro area and living in this small town are like night and day. The single largest provider for people in the area is the government -- There are many senior citizens on fixed incomes, as well as a large population of disabled people(many vehicle accident victims left in power scooters, or electric wheel chairs finding there way down narrow streets with crumbling sidewalks (My elderly mother even ran over one in her car, and got her license revoked) -- The printed newspaper is still thriving, many still depend on a land-line phone, and few have money for gadgets or much electronics beyond a phone and tv.
@Max: Your blurb on "Wake Up & Smell The Bagels..." rings to so true to me personally! I grew up to adulthood with no TV or refrigerator in my house back in India! We read a lot those days and always had freshly-cooked food!
@Rich_Smiley: I'm still rockin AutoCAD Release 12 in all of it's 12 floppy disk greatness.
I remember at Intergraph some or our applications were delivered on 70 floppy disks in the early 1990s -- I also remember the debate as to whether or not we shoudl add a CR Reader into the workstations we were building and selling
@sheepdoll: Not sure if there is really a free PCB tool as one has to get the board made somehow.
I've been looking at that http://www.123dapp.com/circuits tool/site -- you can use a virtual breadboard and/or schematic to capture your design for an Arduino shield -- then use the real-time mixed-signal simulator to check how th ehardware works with your sketch -- then move into their PCB layout package to lay out the board -- all for free -- but as you say, you then have to pay to get the board built...
Our next live online chat will commence on Friday 30 May 2014 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time (1:00 p.m. Eastern Time). You'll have to work out your local time from these clues (you can always use this handy-dandy Time Zone Converter).
Your hosts will be Cabe Atwell and Max Maxfield, and the topic of conversation will be anything and everything to do with free DIY tools for electronic engineers. As always, we will be following our usual practice of leaping from topic to topic with the agility of young, fearless mountain goats, so make sure you're wearing appropriate clothing!
A Book For All Reasons Bernard Cole3 comments Robert Oshana's recent book "Software Engineering for Embedded Systems (Newnes/Elsevier)," written and edited with Mark Kraeling, is a 'book for all reasons.' At almost 1,200 pages, it ...