I’ve had two new toys arrive today! The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ that was released yesterday, arrived today. This is great turn-around by Pimoroni! I’m planning to put Home Assistant on it and use it as a local server.
SparkFun have a great overview of EAGLE for circuit board design. Unfortunately EAGLE was acquired by Autodesk in 2016, and they have imposed a license server to verify licenses every 2 weeks. KiCad is an alternative Open Source system for all stages of the PCB design process. As KiCad is more in keeping with the Frugal Maker ethos, this is what I will be using to design my circuit boards.
Jay Carlson has a superb overview and comparison of various cheap microcontrollers. All the components he was looking at were less than $1. He evaluates 21 different chips and compares specs, performance and development tooling. It’s well worth checking out if you are looking to add a cheap micro controller to a project.
SuperHouseTV have a great video on using the Sonoff, Arduino, OpenHAB and MQTT to control your house. Jon demos using the embedded software/cloud solution to control a light, as well as flashing the firmware yourself and setting up the Sonoff for over-the-air updates and controlling with MQTT. Well worth a watch!
I was reading about the Sonoff Wifi Switch on the weekend, which combines an ESP 8266 chip with a relay to give you a very cost-effective network-controllable power switch. The best thing about them is that they are very cheap! I just bought two of these on eBay to evaluate them, so I will post again after they have arrived and I have a chance to test them. Apparently you can flash the 8266 with your own code, so this looks like a great way to get all the components at a cheap price!
There is a great post over at Nothing Labs about creating no-etch circuit boards using a laser printer and silver paste. Unfortunately Rich recommends using Atom Adhesives AA-DUCT AD1 Silver Adhesive, which I haven’t been able to source here in the UK. An alternative silver adhesive – MG Chemicals 8331S – is available, but is fairly expensive.
Having a physical device to trigger software events (which may in turn trigger physical actions) can be super useful, so when Amazon announced the Dash buttons, people worked out how to hack them. Unfortunately they suffer from the disadvantages of not being able to easily replace the batteries, and being a bit of pain to hack, in that you need to redirect the web request that they make.