Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

Maker Faire ’08

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Best. Maker Faire. YET.  Long lines for mediocre food?  Not this year: lots of widely varied food, short lines and at least a few food Makers (which have seemed sorely lacking in past years.) A lot of cool new projects / vendors and better organized by topic / theme.  The faire has grown quite a bit and the tone has changed slightly.  This year was smoother and more polished than it has been; more people are selling things, but mostly in a good way.  I got to make a couple necklaces with PMC, which turns out to be easy to sculpt (as expected) and easy to fire with a Little Torch (pleasant surprise!)  Helped kids build Bristlebots at the EMSL booth and, as always, plugged their kits every chance I got.  Found a nifty new band and played with fire (not this implementation, but same basic idea; I must build one of these!)  Bought some truffle salt and, of course, hauled pinball machines, just to name a few highlights.

Geek Buffet

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

Yesterday morning I hit the Silicon Valley Electronics Flea Market — lots of fun, I highly recommend it.  For flea market n00bs, don’t forget to bring a broad-brimmed hat, a bottle of water and a bag for loot (I forgot the first two), prices are usually negotiable and keep an open mind but not too open.  I made a list and mostly stuck to it; I would’ve liked to find more of the stuff on that list, but there’s a lot of stuff there and you really have to sort the stuff you need from the cool stuff you don’t need and the utter crap or you’ll wind up being able to run your own stall 😉 So what did I “need”?  A few pairs of hemostats, some solder wick, a set of “security” screwdriver bits, a UV LED flashlight, a pair of direct-drive moters with foam-rubber wheels, a game controller with analog sticks I can pull out and play with and a few free transistors (the solder guy has a box of free parts).

Schematic showdown: gEDA vs EAGLE, and the winner is…

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

…a sheet of graph paper!  I’m only half-kidding, if I had a scanner I probably would do my schematics that way.  Both gEDA and EAGLE suck huge hairy balls, and not in a good way.  I blame X11 and the myth of “cross platform” for many of the problems, but that doesn’t change the fact that both are incredibly painful to use. (Yes, I use a Mac, no the Mac is not perfect, but pretty much everything I use is vastly more pleasant to use than either of these apps.)  Both have obtuse and inconsistent user interfaces, rampant graphical artifacting, and they’re both just plain ugly.  That said, I was able to install both, work out how to draw a small scematic in each without requiring instructions, edit them to correct mistakes, and export them to PostScript (and convert that to PDF).  Both meet my needs fairly well, though I’ll have to re-test both when I try to design a circuit board.  Overall I’m still looking for a solution I actually like, but, despite a rocky start, gEDA seems to suck less; more detail after the jump. (more…)