About Ayo Ayibiowu

Ayo is a software and hardware guy, a writer, and a prospective farmer. Ayo is passionate about STEM Education and Technology and has worked with over three EdTech startups in the last 5 years. Ayo currently talks and writes about technology especially in the areas of Internet of Things, Open Hardware, Startups, Precision Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence and Smart Cities. Ayo loves to cook and think about abstract ideas, and in his free time enjoys biking, hiking, traveling and playing video games. Reach me - charlesayibiowu@hotmail.com

Nvidia’s Jetson Xavier is an AI Computer boasting a $10,000 Worth Of Power For Your Machines and Robots

NVIDIA Jetson Xavier is the latest addition to the Jetson platform. It’s an AI computer for autonomous machines, delivering the performance of a GPU workstation in an embedded module for a consumption under 30W. With multiple operating modes at 10W, 15W, and 30W, Jetson Xavier has greater than 10x the energy efficiency and more than 20x the performance of its predecessor, the Jetson TX2.

Nvidia Jetson Xavier Computer On Module
Nvidia Jetson Xavier CoM

Jetson is a product of Nvidia (Nvidia Jetson) and one of the most powerful embedded platforms for computer vision applications and AI on edge. The Jetson platform is a range of computation processor boards which consists of the Jetson TK1, TX1, and TX2. They’re powered by a Nvidia Tegra which utilizes the ARM Central Processing Unit (CPU). Various operating systems can run on them, such as Linux distros and QNX which is a commercial Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) designed primarily for embedded systems. Nvidia is adding now a new more powerful member to the Jetson Platform.

Nvidia is very excited to announce the release of Jetson Xavier, an Artificial Intelligence computer that works with autonomous machines giving off a GPU workstation in an embedded module and now available in a Jetson Xavier Developer Kit $1299 (USD). It has a super high performance of close to 30 trillion operations per second (TOPS).

The Nvidia Jetson Xavier Developer Kit
Jetson Xavier Developer Kit

Jetson Xavier is designed for robots, drones and other autonomous machines that need maximum compute at the edge to run modern AI workloads and solve problems in manufacturing, logistics, retail, service, agriculture and more. Jetson Xavier is also suitable for smart city applications and portable medical devices. Launched at Computex 2018 in Taiwan by Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, the Nvidia Isaac Platform includes new hardware, software, and a virtual-world robot simulator that makes it easy for developers to create new kinds of robots.

Jensen Huang said at Nvidia’s Monday press conference at Computex in Taiwan,

This is the single longest processor project we have ever done in our company, Xavier has roughly the same processing power as a $10,000 workstation equipped with a graphics processing units. Plus, it’s easy on the power consumption, he added.

Jetson Xavier is capable of more than 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second) for deep learning and computer vision tasks. The 512-core Volta GPU with support for Tensor Cores and mixed-precision compute is capable of up to 10 TFLOPS FP16 and 20 TOPS INT8. Jetson Xavier’s dual NVDLA engines are capable of up to 5 TOPS each. It also has high-performance eight-core ARM64 CPU, a dedicated image processor, a video processor and a vision processor for accelerating computer vision tasks.

It also announced an “Isaac” software development platform for robots and other autonomous machines that run on its Linux-friendly octa-core “Jetson Xavier” module. The NVIDIA Isaac Software Development Kit (SDK) gives you a comprehensive set of frameworks, tools, APIs, and libraries to accelerate development of robotics algorithms and software.

The Isaac robotics software consists of:

  • Isaac SDK — a collection of APIs and tools to develop robotics algorithm software and runtime framework with fully accelerated libraries
  • Isaac IMX — Isaac Intelligent Machine Acceleration applications, a collection of NVIDIA-developed robotics algorithm software
  • Isaac Sim — a highly realistic virtual simulation environment for developers to train autonomous machines and perform hardware-in-the-loop testing with Jetson Xavier

The Jetson Xavier Developer Kit will be available for early access in August and open to the public in October. Developers using a Jetson TX2 or TX1 to develop autonomous machines using the JetPack SDK can sign up to be notified when they can apply for early access by completing a survey. More information may be found in the Xavier product page.

PCBWay 2nd Edition of PCB Design Competition – The Pride Of A Maker

Everyone has been waiting on their toes for the commencement of the PCBWay design contest. As of June 11, information was shared on the competition’s official website that the contest would start soon. This means it is time to get ready with some awesome PCB designs and win fabulous prizes.

This is the second edition of the competition, and the primary goal is to discover hidden gems in the electronics engineering field. The competition is being organized by PCBWay, SpainLabs, YoREPARO, and lastly ATMakers. They are collaborating to create an avenue for talented electronic engineers to generate revenue.

The competition has three award categories which are:

  • The BEST Design Award,
  • The Most Popular Design Award,
  • The ATMaker Award.

THE BEST DESIGN AWARD

1st Prize: $1000 in cash + $100 in coupons+ 10000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors
2nd Prize: $500 in cash + $50 in coupons+ 5000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors
3rd Prize: $200 in cash + $20 in coupons+ 2000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors

THE MOST POPULAR DESIGN AWARD

1st Prize: $1000 in cash + $100 in coupons+ 10000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors
2nd Prize: $500 in cash + $50 in coupons+ 5000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors
3rd Prize: $200 in cash + $20 in coupons+ 2000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors.

ATMaker Award

This is a special prize for a person that excels in assistive technology. The price awards a lavishing $1000 in cash + $100 in coupons+ 10000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors.

Unlike the last contest which was the maiden edition, professionals such as Mitch Athman, Bill Binko, Carlos Navas and the likes have been contacted and will be judges for the competition. These are experts plus several others that have been gotten so that there will be a fair selection process.

  • For “The Best Designs” Awards, winners will be decided by four electronics engineers from SpainLabs, ATMakers, Cornfield Electronics, and PCBWay.
  • For “The Most Popular Designs” Awards, winners will be chosen according to the number of Vote score, Likes, Shares, Gerber Download Orders. There’s a formula that includes every factor on a weighted calculation of the result.
  • For “AT Maker Prize” Award, one winner will be chosen by Bill Binko, founder of ATMakers. His judging would not only be on PCB design but how useful the design would be to the AT community.

There is no limit to the PCB design’s size, layers, theme, or even the quantity of entries. This means you can enter as many as you want to and there are no restrictions about what you will be entering the competition. Size does not matter. Deadline for submission is the 12th of December, and if you’re interested, all you have to do is to click here to get to the official website and get started.

PCBWay Beans” can be used to redeem gifts. Its property comes from “PCBWay Points.” But when you redeem the gift, it will subtract the corresponding value.

How To Get Started With The Competition

  1. Start PCB Specification Selection on “ Instant Quote” page and then add to cart.
  2. Attach the Gerber Files and submit.
  3. Share your project by click “Share & Sell” button.
  4. Describe your PCB project and share with the Community (Add Keywords: PCB Design Contest, SpainLabs, Yoreparo, ATMakers )

More information about the contest can be found on official contest page here.

PIC18 Q10 Product Family – PIC® MCUs for Closed-loop Control

Real-time control systems usually are closed-loop control systems where one has a tight time window to gather data, process that data, and update the system. If the time window is missed, then the stability of the system is degraded. This reduced control can be catastrophic to some applications, such as power conversion and advanced motor control. Many semiconductor companies are claiming their MCUs can support real-time control applications, but they don’t usually offer an accurate real-time control system. Microchip has unveiled a new PIC18 Q10 family featuring multiple intelligent Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs) that help designers to simplify development and enable quick response time to system events.

Microchip which in 2016 acquired Atmel, the company famously known for the Atmega 328P, the microcontroller behind the Arduino Uno has launched a set of microcontrollers that are tailored for real-time control system called the PIC18 Q10 Family of Microcontrollers. The new family is designed for a robust system with intelligent analog, configurable peripherals and operates at 5V, making it ideal for noise prone applications because 5V offers more noise immunity as compared to 3.3V MCUs.

The PIC18 Q10 family of MCUs features CIP (Core Independent Peripherals) that provide the ability to accomplish tasks in hardware while freeing up the Central Processing Unit (CPU) to do other tasks or go to sleep to save power. The hardware-based peripherals offload timing-critical and core-intensive functions from the CPU, allowing it to focus on more complex functions within the system. This decreases system complexity by eliminating additional code and external components, reduces power consumption, allowing for deterministic response time as well as decreased validation time.

The family is made up of about seven different MCUs all coming in different package type from DIP to a QFN, making it ideal for space-constrained closed-loop control system while still applicable for hobbyist and enthusiast by leveraging on the DIP package version. The products offer Intelligent Analog peripherals including Zero Cross Detect (ZCD), on-chip comparators and a 10-bit ADC with Computation (ADC2) automating Capacitive Voltage Divider (CVD) techniques for advanced touch sensing, averaging, filtering, oversampling and automatic threshold comparison.

These are some of the PIC18 Q10 Key attributes to take note off:

  • 64 MHz internal oscillator
  • Up to 128 KB Flash program memory
  • Up to 1 KB data EEPROM
  • Up to 3615 B data SRAM
  • 10-bit ADC2 (ADC with Computation), up to 35 channels
  • Four 16-bit timers
  • Complementary Waveform Generator (CWG)
  • Two comparators
  • Zero Cross Detect (ZCD)
  • Windowed Watch Dog Timer (WWDT)
  • Peripheral Pin Select (PPS)
  • Data Signal Modulator (DSM)
  • Up to 8 Configurable Logic Cells (CLC)
  • 5-bit DAC
  • EUSART, SPI, and I2C
  • Available in 28-, 40- and 44-pins

The PIC18 Q10 family can be used with the curiosity development boards which are cost-effective MCU development platforms and can be used to accelerate the development of the MCUs family. The family is also supported by MPLAB® Code Configurator (MCC), a free software plug-in that provides a graphical interface to configure peripherals and functions specific to your application.

Based on its overwhelming featuers, the PIC18 Q10 family is suited for a broad range of applications including industrial control, consumer, automotive, touch sensing, advanced motor control, and the Internet of Things (IoT). More information about the product family can be found on the product page.

NanoPC-T4 – A High-Performance Low Cost Single Board Computer Powered By RK3399

FriendlyElec recently released a pretty exciting hacker board which is super cheap, considering the features of the board and the price it is being sold for. The Single Board Computer (SBC) is based on Rockchip RK3399; a low power, high-performance processor. The board which is called Nano PC – T4 can be regarded as the smallest rock chip based board as it measures 100mm by 64m as compared to other RK3399 SBCs. It is different from other Nano Pi, and Nano PC SBCs produced by FriendlyElec because previous boards run on Samsung of Allwinner System on Chips (SOCs).

NanoPC-T4

The board comes with a default 4GB RAM and a whopping 16G eMMC (embedded Multi Media Card). It also works with Android 7.1 which can be exchanged for the full fledged Lubuntu Desktop version of Ubuntu. Nano PC – T4 uses the same system-on-a-chip (SoC) as Samsung’s Chromebook Plus but at a lesser price. Other features are 16 GB storage onboard bundled with a heatsink, radio antennas, a power adapter, and an acrylic case. The RK3399 SoC supplies two Cortex-A72 cores that are clocked at up to 2.0GHz, and an additional four Cortex-A53 cores clocked to 1.5GHz. There’s also a high-end ARM Mali-T864 Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) included into the device.

The board comes with an M.2 2280 connector, which allows high-speed PCIe SSDs to be used, the M.2 connector supports PCI Express 2.1, that has been wired for x4, making it possible to get I/O speeds at a very fast speed. On the other end, we have the Firefly-RK3399, which is being sold for $149 with a 2GB RAM or $209 with a 4GB RAM. Another board is the Orange Pi which goes for $109 and has a 2GB RAM. Unlike the expensive Orange Pi RK3399, the NanoPC-T4 gives a wider 0 to 80℃ temperature range, ADC interfaces, DDR4 instead of DDR3 RAM, and twice the amount of RAM for the oversight configuration.

Below are some of the device’s specifications:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3399 (2x Cortex-A72 at up to 2.0GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5GHz); Mali-T864 GPU
  • Memory:
    • 4GB LPDDR3 RAM (dual-channel)
    • 16GB eMMC 5.1 flash
    • MicroSD slot
    • Optional NVME SSD via M.2 M-Key (see expansion section below)
  • Media:
    • HDMI 2.0a port (with audio and HDCP 1.4/2.2) for up to 4K at 60Hz
    • DisplayPort 1.2 (via USB Type-C)
    • MIPI-DSI (4-lane)
    • eDP 1.3
    • 2x, 4-lane MIPI-CSI (up to 13MP) with dual ISP support
    • 3.5mm analog audio I/O jack
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz/5GHz dual-band
    • Bluetooth 4.1 dual mode
    • Dual antennas
    • IR receiver
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • USB 3.0 Type-C port (can be used for DP)
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Serial debug UART
    • 3x ADC (1.8V)
    • 12V cooling fan interface with PWM
  • Expansion:
    • 40-pin RPi compatible expansion header
    • M.2 M-Key slot with PCIe 2.1, dual operation mode, and M3 PCB nut for mounting M.2 2280
  • Other features — RTC; power, reset, recovery, boot buttons; LEDs; heatsink; acrylic case
  • Power — 12V/2A DC input jack and adapter; PMIC
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 80℃
  • Weight — 63 gm
  • Dimensions — 100 x 64mm; 10-layer PCB
  • Operating system — Android 7.1.2; Lubuntu Desktop 16.04

One major taking point for the NanoPC-T4 is the availability of two MIPI-CSI x2 making it a dual camera interface platform. This simultaneous dual camera data support is going to make the device ideal for VR and AR applications. The NanoPC-T4 has four high-performance display interfaces (DP 1.2 @60fps, HDMI 2.0,  MIPI-DSI @60fps, and eDP 1.3) on a small board and supports dual display output.

Despite the fact that the board does not have an HDMI input port or even built-in sensors, the Nano PC – T4 has a wide range of applications, some of them are advertisement machines, game machines, video conferencing, clusters, surveillance and many more. It also supports certain advanced features such as native GbE and a dual purpose USB Type C port serves as the display port.

The NanoPC-T4 is available for purchase online at a discounted price of $129 and can be bought on the product page here. The board purchase comes in a complete package. Below are some of the items present in the item package:

  • NanoPC-T4
  • Customized Heat Sink (With Screws)
  • 2x Dual-Band antenna
  • 12V 2A Universal Power Adapter
  • Acrylic case For NanoPC-T3 Plus/T4 (with Screws)

PCBWay Low Cost Prototype PCBA Services starts at just $88 for 10 units

After making your PCB prototype the significant next step is placing your components on the printed circuit board. Depending on the sophistication of the prototype being developed, the number of parts to be used, and the parts layout; one might want to solder the components to the PCB board manually.

Soldering components to a PCB might be a good idea, but might not be that efficient or even cheaper in the long run. Not only this will be an avenue to waste precious time especially when dealing with more than five boards, but it is too prone to errors. A single mistake on the board might render the whole board useless. Just like we have seen PCB making services, there is also PCBA (Printed Circuit Board Assembly) services available that can solve this.

One of the primary reason people go the route of assembling their printed circuit boards by hand is that of the cost associated with it doing PCBA. PCBA services have been traditionally known to be expensive for people making prototypes because they tend to order only small units. I remember my first PCBA job for about two units that costs me over $500 to finish. PCBA is usually ideal when one wants to embark on medium to large scale manufacturing but not small batch. PCBWay is hoping to bring change to this space, by offering PCB Assembly wholly tailored for prototypes and small batch quantities, and also comes with some exciting incentives as well.

PCBWay.com is a China Shenzhen-based manufacturer specializing in PCB prototyping, low-volume production, and PCB Assembly services under one roof. PCBWay has been one of the go-to destinations for boards fabrication and assembly, and they have over 71K active customers worldwide using their services. PCBWay offers PCBA services that specialize in the prototyping and small batch printed circuit board assembly at a relatively low cost as compared to others.

PCBWay is offering unbelievable pricing for their Prototype PCBA services. Their prototype PCBA rates are starting from $88 for 10 pcs in total and $0.1 – $0.3 per component cost. Not only are this prices low, but they are also going to bring down the barriers to making prototypes and reduce the time to market.

Mounting BGA, Micro-BGA, QFN and leadless package parts are some challenging tasks for PCBA, and where some manufacturers have somewhat abstained from. PCBWay is fully able to handle any of those parts without issues and they can handle BGA of 0.25mm pitch with X-ray testing. The following are some of the PCBWay Printed Circuit Board Assembly capabilities:

  • SMT Assembly
  • BGA Assembly
  • Through Hole Assembly
  • Mixed Assembly
  • Rigid Flex PCB Assembly

Aside from the Printed Circuit board assembly, PCBWay also provides options for outsourcing your PCB parts called Turn-Key options. For the PCB Assembly, the following are the board requirements:

  • Min Board Size: 50mm x 100mm (Boards smaller than this size need to be panelized)
  • Max Board Size: 250mm x 500mm

In addition to the low cost of the PCBA services, PCBWay is also providing options for free shipping all around the world, free stencil, quality check & guarantee, and many others. To get started with the PCBWay you can visit their website here.

Orange Pi 3G IoT Board- A Cost Effective IoT Hacker Board

The Shenzhen based company, Xulong who makes the famous Raspberry Pi Clone; Orange Pi has recently launched a new IoT board to expand its IoT family line. The company who launched a 4G board, the Orange Pi 4G board early this year has announced the Orange Pi 3G IoT board, an IoT board that offers worth comparison to the 4G board and comes cheaper.

Orange Pi 3G IoT Board
Orange Pi 3G IoT Board

Just like its other released boards, the Orange Pi 3G is also an open source board. The SBC (Single Board Computer) is powered by a dual Cortex-A7 MediaTek MT6572 running at 1.2GHz speed, a bit lower than the quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6737 found on the Orange Pi 4G board and higher than the single-core 1GHz RDA Micro 8810PL  found on the Orange Pi 2G board.

The Orange 3G boards provide a compromise between using the slower 2G board and the most expensive 4G board. The board will allow users to deploy IoT solution on the widely available 3G networks as compared to 4G networks. The board doesn’t just come with only 3G cellular connectivity but also includes WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS making it an ideal candidate for use as an IoT gateway.

The board is equipped with a 512MB DDR2 RAM, an onboard 4GB eMMC memory and support for a MicroSD card. It comes equipped with the standard 40-Pin header found on the Raspberry Pi, and this will allow it to have compatibility with some Raspberry Pi Hats.

The following are the specifications listed for the Orange Pi 3G-IOT:

  • Processor — MediaTek MT6572 (2x Cortex-A7 @ 1.2GHz); Mali-4000 MP1 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB DDR2
    • 4GB eMMC
    • MicroSD slot with hot-plug support
  • Wireless:
    • WiFi, Bluetooth, FM, and GPS combo module
    • 3G — GSM 850/900/1800/1900; WCDMA B1/B2/B5/B8; TD-CDMA; CDMA2000
    • Mini-SIM card slot
    • WiFi/BT antenna connectors (ext. antennas may be optional)
  • Display/Media:
    • LCD interface (FWVGA via FPC ZIF connector) with capacitive touch
    • MIPI-CSI camera interface
    • 3.5mm earphone audio jack
    • Mic
    • Optional speaker
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • Micro-USB port with power support
    • 40-pin expansion header
  • Other features — 2x LEDs
  • Power — 5V 2A via micro-USB; power button; optional battery
  • Dimensions — 68 x 52mm
  • Operating system — Android 4.4 with C, C++, Kotlin, Java, Shell, and Python support

One major talking point for the Orange Pi 3G-IoT is the OS support. It is still stuck at the ancient Android 4.4 firmware while the Orange Pi 4G already supports Android 8.1. Linux operating system support doesn’t seems to be available for the Orange Pi 3G but we can’t rule it out since the company normally release the Android SDK which also includes an Linux kernel.

The board is available for purchase at the cost of $19.90 and can be purchased online from Aliexpress.

Ultrastable UHF transmitter – A super Tiny Radio Transmitter

Dire situations require unpleasant solutions, an excellent example of this statement is spying and we have seen what the NSA has done in this regard. It goes against proper ethical character, however, it might be needed in certain circumstances. Usually, the first thing a person who wants to spy would do would be to check and closely monitor the internet presence or life of the party being suspected and possibly try to access their profile(s). You could also buy an expensive bug or listening device, plant it somewhere the person goes every day, this could be the person’s house and start eavesdropping.

Another method could be to hire a private investigator or a detective to monitor the person’s actions. However, if they are suspicions, you would probably want to do things discreetly. Going the professional route might work, but is also expensive and somewhat not fun to do (less of learning involved). Do It Yourself (DIY) is the talk of the day, why don’t we go that route? And it’s not like this will be the first time someone is doing that, I once did a project sometime ago that can eavesdrop conversation from a person behind a wall.

TomTechTod released an open source radio transmitter, which measures 5mm by 9mm and is powered by a small battery which has a 4.8mm diameter. This device is actually the smallest radio transmitter I have heard of, and it is super tiny, yet this 433 megahertz (Mhz) transmitter has a high-frequency oscillator and a low-frequency amplifier to ensure maximum efficiency no matter the condition.

Other features include the microphone, the battery holder, two transistors, a resonator too. There is also an antenna with a wire and a resistor. The board is 0.8m thick and can transmit up to 120 meters even with obstacles in the area.

One great advantage that comes with going for a super tiny board such as this one is that the PCBs are not expensive thereby making the board super cheap. The boards are being sold for just 45 cents each.

Files needed to create your own transmitter can be found here, with just a bit of soldering here and there, you have your very own spy bug. A super tiny one to be precise. Of course, I am not encouraging you to start spying on everyone you see I am just saying you should go and have fun.

CIRCUITO.IO: A Platform for idea Development

Arduino is an open source hardware and software company that creates Single Board Controllers (SBC) and Microcontroller kits, and these kits come in a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) form. Arduino can be used by almost anyone because it is inexpensive and also easy for professionals and even amateurs to use. Despite the fact that Arduino kits come in a pre-assembled manner, one can get stuck trying to think of ideas for a project or experiment.

Circuit.io Platform

Situations, where ideas are not forthcoming, are not unusual as it is a brain freeze caused by tension. Arduino has provided open source hardware and software however without ideas to work on; the kits become useless. Most times, there could be a knowledge of what components to use but how to fix them together might be a problem. This is where circuito.io comes in, imagine having a platform that affords one the opportunity to create the coolest projects just by selecting components you want to use.

Circuito.io is an online tool for designing complete electronic circuits. The Circuito app generates instant and accurate schematics and code for your electronic circuit. You select the major building blocks, and it computes all the electrical requirements for your selection.

It has a fantastic interface that allows you to drag and drop different parts together. It also has three different sections that one needs to work on before testing, and the first is the Bill of Materials (BoM) called DESIGN.

Here, you check out all the materials available and you then select your preferred options. You choose the components you want, or you think you need and move on to the next section. The next section being the wiring tool which will process, add all necessary additional items required and in return give a well-labeled wiring diagram. Another exciting aspect about circuito.io is that it has an interface that allows you to step through each building component, guiding you through the creation of the circuit; This simply means that you are not working with a static diagram rather one that can move in different directions.

Circuito.io Code Section

It does not end there though, and it only gets better with circuito.io. After building with the aid of the diagram, one can move on to the CODE module; this is a part of the platform that gives examples on how to program every piece used in the previous steps. The platform will solve the problem of hundreds of Arduino users, and it will be a lot easier to program your circuit after going through sample sketches for various pieces. It even acts as a tutorial method for beginners. So if you are stuck on what Arduino project to work on, circuito.io might just be the app for you.

Lynq – The Tracking Device that Requires No Connectivity and Works Without CellPhone

Have you ever been to a concert with no way to find the friends you were supposed to meet, seems like things could not get worse but there is no signal and Google map is not working (even when it does, it won’t pinpoint where they are)? Yes, I know a lot of people can relate to this situation. It might not have been at a concert, could have been in a conference, during hiking, cycling events or a beach party. A solution to this problem might be a recent crowdfunded product called Lynq.

Lynq Location Tracker

Lynq is a convenient little device that’ll not only help you locate your friends and family in the great outdoors, but it might even save lives. Lynq is an ultimate tracker which gives direction and distance without the aid of connectivity or maps.

Lynq is a 4″x2″x1″ sized tracking device that works with a 3-mile range, it has been tested under various conditions according to the makers and has been declared to have the capability to work anywhere. A capable waterproof and rugged device that can work in the most extreme harsh environment as well.

There are two stages involved when using the Lynq tracking device. The first step is the synchronization stage; with set up of the device you are able to connect to other devices one wants to track. Lynq can connect to a maximum of 15 other Lynq devices. Once you are done with the synchronization stage, everyone is free to roam along as they are within 5 kilometers range. The next thing after splitting up is the linking stage. You link up or should I say Lynq link up with the rest of your group. Just follow the directional indicator displayed on the screen to find them. One can also create or set up a safe zone or meeting point where everyone is supposed to return to.

The device comes in an hourglass shape, and it weighs 73 grams including the weight of the batteries. The battery can last for up to 3 days without charging. The GPS accuracy is 12 to 15 feet, and the accuracy of the directional indicator is 5 degrees. Lynq makes use of proprietary algorithms and communications protocols that combine low power radio, GPS and a custom antenna without the aid of sensors. USB cable for charging, a quick setup card, and a registration card come with the product.

The company is thinking of including an optional connectivity application for people interested in connecting to their mobile phones. The product has a one year warranty for wears and tears or other manufacturing defects. Lynq adheres to the standard privacy policy and does not keep a record of the locations you enter after you successfully get to your destination and there is no way any other person can listen to you or watch you via the device, so it is safe.

Lynq is available for pre-order on the Indiegogo campaign page with a starting price of $89. More information about the Lynq tracking device can be found on the product campaign page.

Making your first Circuit Board – Getting started with PCBway [Part 2]

This is the next part of  MAKING YOUR FIRST PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD – GETTING STARTED WITH PCBWAY [Part 1] Series.

Designing your PCB

When you design your first PCB, there will be several steps that you will need to take before you sent the design files off to the manufacturer for manufacturing.

Create The Schematic

When creating the schematic in any of the programs mentioned in part 1, remember to double check that everything is connected where it needs to be with a NET. This is how the program’s auto-routing, DRC, and ERC features know what is connected where. I generally like to go over my schematic two or three times, counting each net, and making sure that everything is connected and accounted for before moving on to the board layout.

Eagle CAD Schematic

When designing your schematic, you will need to pay particular care to ensure that the footprint of the component you use in the schematic exactly matches the footprint of the component that will be soldered to the PCB.

Creating the PCB

Each PCB CAD software will usually offer a way for you to transfer your schematic design to a PCB layout. Designing a PCB layout might be slightly tedious if it’s your first time doing it, but fortunately, several tutorials talk about it. If your design features mounting holes, v-scores, mouse bites, or fingers, make sure you place them on the board first.

A PCB Layout

When designing your PCB Layout, it is essential that you take note of your traces size. Manufacturers usually have restrictions on how small your traces can be, as well as how small the clearances can be between traces. PCBWay minimum track and spacing are 4mil and 4 mil respectively, their minimum hole size is 0.2mm. Of course, going for the minimum will slightly increase your board cost.

Having your PCB manufactured

The first thing you will need to do before you can ship your design off to be manufactured is to generate a Gerber file that contains all of the necessary design files to use in the PCBs production. This file is a universal file and is generated in the CAD program you used to design your PCB. Each program has its way of generating this file, so be sure to read the program’s instructions, or search for the proper way to create the file with the program you are using.

Ordering at PCBWay

Go to PCBWay (https://www.pcbway.com) and fill the board details in the instant order, from there you will be directed to more elaborate board details.

PCBWay Instant Quote

Update your board requirement information in the PCB Specification screen. You can change the board thickness, board color, silk color, and even the type of finish you want. Some of these add-ons are going to increase the board cost.

Once you have all of the various options for your PCB selected, all that is left is to add to cart, upload your Gerber files, make payment, and wait for your PCBs to arrive. It could take anywhere from 3 – to 6 days to be produced depending on the number of your boards.

One major advantage of using PCBway is that – they offer a free engineering file review service. Before your board goes into manufacturing their team of professional technicians will review your design for any potential errors.