Jan 19

PCBArt

Authors Note: While PCBWay has offered to sponsor a run of the boards, everything purchased for this post was paid for out of pocket and without their knowledge. I wanted to make sure they were good on my own.

Hey All,

I’m a collector. I like to collect things. Video games, Raspberry Pis, Pokemon cards, and Pins. I don’t have many pins, but they really appeal to me. It’s like pixel art. Making awesome designs with limited colors on a small canvas.

The department I work for has always made our own logos for our teams and projects. We usually print stickers and give them out at conferences, or to our students when they hit certain milestones (like their first commit).

Techrangers Logo

A eureka moment hit when PCBWay contacted me this month asking if they could sponsor my next PCB board. I’m not ready to make another PiPlay run of boards (we are slowly working on version 2), but I loved the silkscreen art I was able to put on our original run.

What if I could turn our teams logo into a PCB?

I quickly started investigating and found an awesome plugin for Inkscape called SVG2Shenzen!

I use Inkscape for a lot of things, mostly for setting up projects on the Lasercutter at FamiLAB, but I never thought of using it to create PCBs! The boards came out amazing!

PCBWay

Pros:

  • The boards I received from PCBWay.com blew me away.
  • I was not expecting much for $5 (+ $15 shipping from China).
    • I ordered the boards on Saturday, they shipped them out on Wednesday, and they were in my hands by Friday.
  • The production speed is incredible.
  • They audit every board before you pay and begin production.

Cons:

  • The ordering experience was a little clunky.
    • I had to input my dimensions and order details BEFORE uploading my Gerber files. Other PCB manufacturers usually get order details from the Gerbers.
  • Because I was making pins, I didn’t need anything drilled. This caused the audit to fail, and due to the timezome difference, their message to me and my reply caused a 20 hour delay in production. edit: Adding a note to ignore the drill file for my second order caused it to pass the audit test without delay.

The Pros HEAVILY outweigh the very minor Cons I experienced. I will have zero problem using them from now on for my board needs!

Using SVG2Shenzen

https://github.com/badgeek/svg2shenzhen

Once the plugin is installed, you goto Extensions->Prepare Document and click on Apply.

This will generate a new vector document with layers for each layer of the board. Each layer represents a portion of the boards manufacturing. They are:

  • Drill
    • Parts of the board to be drilled out
    • Example: Holes for a key-chain, or for through hole parts like a resistor or LED
  • F. Silk
    • Front of the board’s silkscreen
  • F.Mask
    • Front of the board mask – I have found that the Mask and Copper should be the same design
  • F. Cu
    • Front of the board copper
  • B. Silk
    • Back of board silkscreen
  • B. Mask
    • Back of board mask – Again I have found that the Mask and Copper should be the same design
  • B. Cu
    • Back of board copper
  • Edge.Cuts
    • This is the shape of your board that will be cutout.

When you are happy with your layout, click on Extensions -> Export Kicad, and click apply.

You will now need to open the generated *.kicad_pcb file in Kicad’s pcb tool pcbnew.

You can check a render of your finished board by going to View->3D Viewer. You can change all the colors and see what your finished board will probably look like. If its good, it’s time for the most important step! Generating your gerbers!

Click on File-> Plot to open up the plotter dialog. Select your output directory, and leave the settings as default for now. Click on Plot and a bunch of files will be generated in that directory. These are the files you send to your manufacturer to generate a PCB for you!

Congrats, you made a board!

Happy Birthday To Me!

On another note… I turned 35 this month. Happy Birthday to Me! I couldn’t have had a happier birthday. Spending a nice day with my Wife and Son, watching the little dude play on a swing-set his Grandpa’s built in our backyard.

Have a good one all! – Shea

Dec 31

2018

Hey All,

I almost didn’t blog for the whole year. To be truthful, it’s been hard to write this past year. Lots of amazing wonderful things have happened to me in 2018, but I’m exhausted. And this blog was easy to overlook. I want to write again, but at my own pace. I’m going to try to start again.

That said…. BEING A FATHER IS AWESOME! I have an amazing little mini me who is 20 months old and is just so much fun. He has made me grow in ways I never even knew imaginable.

Maker Faire Orlando 2018

My friend Jacob and I worked on an awesome project for Maker Faire Orlando this year, and I am so proud to say we won Maker of Merit! It is a deep honor to me to win that award. And of course it’s Raspberry Pi related 😀

We made a 4096 LED pixel framebuffer display powered by the Raspberry Pi!

LED Display playing a clone of Snake
Prototype at the Orlando Science Center

How it works?

We are using P10 LED panels as the basis for the screen. P10 means a 10mm dot pitch, so 10mm between each LED. They range from 3 – 10mm. The panels also usually come in a size of 16 x 32, but luckily they are daisy chainable!

The Raspberry Pi can even handle upto 32 of them in 3 chains! For our purposes we only used 8 16×32 panels in one chain.

8 P10 Panels, daisychained to an Adafruit LED matrix bonnet, connected to a Raspberry Pi 3b+, with power distributed via a CFOL Distro 8 board.

The above picture may look complicated, but it’s not that bad.

8 P10 panels are daisy chained together using a standard HUB75 cable (it’s like an smaller IDE cable).

The panels are mounted together with the orange and red 3D printed brackets.

The first panel is connected to a Raspberry Pi 3B+ via an Adafruit LED matrix bonnet.

The power for the panels and the Pi comes from a 10amp DC supply, which plugs into the bonnet. The bonnet powers the Pi, and has two screw terminals for the voltage output. The +/- screw terminals connect to a CFOL Distro 8 PCB (in the center of the board) which takes the input and breaks it out to 8 screw terminals. We only need 4 since each cable powers two panels, but it gives us room to expand.

After that we use https://github.com/adafruit/rpi-fb-matrix to copy whats on the HDMI framebuffer out onto the LED matrix!

and Voila! You now have a giant low resolution display!

Many thanks to Adafruit for making such a great beginner tutorial that we could jump from, and building a great bonnet for the Pi!

Happy Making and a Happy New Year! Here’s to a wonderful 2019 everyone!

-Shea

May 26

Friday Post: PiPlay Portable funded :D

Hey All,

Thank you, to my backers, and supporters, for helping to fund the PiPlay Portable. I’m so excited to get to make this.

We just got the latest prototype boards in, as well as our stickers from StickerMule.  We were also able to get some polybags for real cheap (they are in beta, so why not!)

Also MegaCon is this weekend!  I finished making my Nintendo Switch Arcade Machine and made it an Ultra SF2 Machine.

Have a great weekend all!

-Shea

May 20

PiPlay Portable – Last Day

Hey All,

This has been an exciting week.  The PiPlay Portable is fully funded, and we have less than 12 hours to go on the Kickstarter!


Sam has been growing so fast!  I love being a Dad.  It’s an experience I am so happy I get to have, and of course I have 3D scanned him and got him 3D printed…

 

I also won the Community Leadership award from IMS Global at the LILI conference.  I had no idea I was even nominated!!  I am really humbled by this.  Thank you IMS!

Apr 28

Friday Post: PiPlay Portable is fully funded! And meet the newest member of the PiPlay Team!

Hey All,

The PiPlay Portable Kickstarter is fully funded!!!  Thank you to all of you.  We are super humbled and excited that we get to see this kit succeed.

In even more incredible news….

I’m super excited to introduce our son, Sam, born Monday April 24th.

Mother and Baby are doing great.  We came home from the hospital yesterday.  I’m so excited for this new chapter in our lives.

Have a great weekend all,

-Shea

Apr 15

Arcades! Arcades! Arcades!

Hey All,

This weekend is Star Wars Celebrations!  While I’m not able to go, for the past week I’ve been helping Free Play Florida finish their 10 foot Star Wars arcade cabinet for the convention.  This thing is awesome!  And MASSIVE!

This machine will be at Free Play Florida and Orlando Maker Faire this year 😀

SwitchCade

The Nintendo Switch has come out, and I have put a ton of hours into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild already.  This is one of my favorite consoles so far.  The eShop already has Neo Geo games and a new Street Fighter game is coming out ( Ultra Street Fighter II ) so of course I had to make a Nintendo Switch Arcade Machine 😀  The files to make your own are on Thingiverse: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2235516/#files 

Have a great weekend all!

-Shea

Jan 07

Friday Post: 2017! New Year New Stuff!

Hey All!

Happy New Year! Less than 99 days till the baby is due. I’m building stuff for the nursery, getting stuff ready. Feels more like demolition because it was our game / media room and most of the week was spent moving stuff out.

I installed my first ceiling fan today! Feels good, feels accomplished.

I am also working on a homemade DDR pad for Stepmania. It’s still not great on the Pi2/Pi3. I can get it running at 30FPS, but the audio is too choppy. I want to try to offload the audio to a USB sound card and just output it via HDMI, but I don’t know if that will help.

Found an awesome Mario mushroom power up beanie.  This kid is going to be a geek 😀

The PiPlay Advance board is coming along!  I am super happy with it and it’s almost ready to release!

Oct 17

Awesome news and MakerFaire Orlando 2016 coming up

Hey All,

I have extremely awesome and happy news to report!  K is pregnant!!!!  We are having a baby!

In other news, MAKERFAIRE ORLANDO 2016 is this weekend at the Central Florida Fairgrounds!!!!

Come see me, FamiLAB, and hundreds of other exhibits showcasing the biggest show and tell on Earth!

Jacob and I have recently finished revision 3 of PiPlay Advance, and it’s looking awesome!

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We are currently testing out a variety of buttons, but it’s coming together really nicely!

And finally, the Elections are coming up soon, and my race for Florida House District 49 is heating up.  I’m very excited to see what happens in the next few weeks.  That being said, I have the most amazing supporters out there!

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Have a great week all!

-Shea

P.S.: In sadder news, at 91, my Grandmother Bernice passed away peacefully two weeks ago.  I was very hesitant about posting this, because it makes it feel so real now.  She lived an amazing life, and got to hear that she was going to be a great grandmother.  I miss her, and I love her, and it sucked that Hurricane Matthew hit the same week as the funeral, so everything had to be rushed.

Thank you all for being there for me.

Sep 11

Updates Updates Updates

Hey All,

Sorry for the long delay in updates.  Been extremely busy with the campaign and some personal projects.  I needed the break but I’m back.

Good News

The Florida primaries are over, and it is only myself and a Democrat in the race for Florida House District 49.  I am currently polling in the high 30s, which is pretty damn good considering I’m an Independent with about $1000 left running against a politician who has raised over $100,000.

Does money help?  Of course, but the more I talk to people and tell them my platform, and more importantly, what type of person I am, the more support I am getting.  I am so thankful for the wonderful support my friends and family are showing me during this campaign.  It’s been amazing so far.  Can’t wait until the November election 😀

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The PiPlay Advance board is coming together!  We have another iteration we are getting ready to test!  More news on that soon 😀e6e6230260da234de488a393ef5bd7cb_preview_featured

I’ve been playing a TON of Overwatch lately, and in a few of the maps, you can run around some arcade machines.  They look like traditional Japanese Candy Cabs, and I love them.  I really want to make my own real version sometime, BUT, I was able to do the next best thing.  A modder released the model files for the arcade into Source Film Maker, and I was able to export them OBJs, convert them to STLs, and then clean them up in Tinkercad, so I could 3D print them.

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Sad News

In sad news, last month my Grandfather passed away.  I want to thank the other campaigns for offering their condolences and being decent about the whole thing.  It took a toll on my family of course.  Right after he passed, my Grandmother went into the hospital (for what looks like a heart attack), but she is doing better.  It was just a heck of a month.

Today is also 9/11, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention anything about it.  I remember 15 years ago, a senior in high school, watching the events unfold on TV in a class room.  The administrators were going room by room turning off TVs and telling the teachers to go back to their lessons.  I’m glad my teacher turned it back on when they left.

At 17, all I could think about was how my cousins lived in NYC at the time, and hoping they were OK, but not really worried, because they were also kids, what would they be doing close to the towers?  I remember a lot of confusion and worry about what was next.  I remember a lot of ignorant and hateful comments being spoken in the following weeks, and a lot of misinformation from my fellow classmates.  I was just numb.

15 years later, the big thing I take from 9/11 is that we should never respond to these tragic events with reactionary legislation.  The PATRIOT Act is probably one of the worst bills that was pushed through during that time.  In hindsight we see that, but we can’t forget the lesson in case of future events.

Thank you.

-Shea