Opensource USB HUB

Christian @ hackaday.io build his own USB Hub based on GL850G IC:

I was looking to make a custom USB Hub for a project but I couldnt find any of them that worked and using the chip GL850G. The chip is pretty old and cheap, but in my case I didnt need to use any of the fast transfering USB3, probably the next version can be based on this schematic.

Opensource USB HUB – [Link]

Store Data in Nanomagnets

Imagine if a bit of data can be stored in a single atom or a small molecule, then massive volumes of data can be stored in a tiny amount of space. This theory was the topic of a research tries to develop a new method to store data magnetically in atoms.

As the magnetization of an atom can only be in one of two directions, theoretically we can magnetize the atom to be logical ‘1’ or ‘0’. But in the Practical application, this may be difficult because of some obstacles. At first we have to find a molecule that stores the magnetic information permanently, not only for a short period of time. Also it is difficult to attach such molecules to a fixed surface in order to construct a storage medium.

Dysprosium atoms (green) on the surface of nanoparticles can be magnetised in only one of two possible directions: “spin up” or “spin down”. (Visualisations: ETH Zurich / Université de Rennes)

Christophe Copéret, a professor at the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry at ETH Zurich, and his international team of researchers had developed a method that could be a solution for these problems.

They developed a molecule that contains a dysprosium atom at its center, surrounded by a molecule frame that serves as a transport vehicle. This molecule is deposited on a surface of silica nanoparticles and fused by annealing at 400 degrees Celsius. The scientists showed that these atoms can be magnetized and can maintain their magnetic information.

The magnetization process currently only works at around minus 270 degree Celsius, and can be maintained for up to one and a half minute. The scientists are therefore looking for methods that allows it to be stabilized at higher temperatures and for longer periods of time.

Molecules with a dysprosium atom (blue) at their centre are first deposited onto the surface of a silica nanoparticle (red and orange) and then fused with it. (Visualisations: Allouche F et al. ACS Central Science 2017)

For this research project, ETH scientists worked with colleagues from the Universities of Lyon and Rennes, Collège de France in Paris, Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, and Berkeley National Laboratory in the USA.

You can find the full research here.

Pool Buddy – Monitor your pool water quality

Monitor and log water quality (pH & ORP) and temperature from everywhere.

Instead of performing regular checks with tester kits to maintain adequate pH and chloride levels in our (small) swimming pool, I decided to build a project that monitors the water continuously and registers the data online so I can easily inspect it.

Pool Buddy – Monitor your pool water quality – [Link]

AMY Robotics, Multifunctional Autonomous Mobile Robots

Earlier this month, the multifunctional autonomous mobile robots “AMY A1” and “AMY M1” had been launched as the first batch of products of AMY Robotics. Amy Robotics is an innovative technology company focusing on research and development of service robots that enhance quality of life with robotic technologies, products and services.

Both AMY Robots are intelligent mobile-service robots characterized with speech interaction, autonomous navigation, home automation, SDK and Cloud platform service that is powered by sophisticated AI technology and cloud computing. They can understand speech and make conversation with people in noisy environment, recognize specific people, follow a person in front of them and move to a place autonomously.

Features of AMY Robots:

  • Cloud Platform Service
    AMY Robots capabilities are empowered by cloud platform and can be upgraded and extended continuously.
  • SDK, Open platform for developers
    Android development environment access to robot hardware and capabilities. Amy can provide remote healthcare consultation service via telepresence, daily health tips, health data management, medicine reminder and more.
  • Home Automation
    Amy robots provide environment perception, security patrol and monitoring, and smart home management enabling you controlling home appliance with voice commands.
  • Autonomous Navigation
    Amy knows well at indoor positioning. She can move from a location to another autonomously and safely with obstacle avoidance.
  • Telepresence
    You can control the robot with video communication through Amy’s client application. It provides you boundless connection with your family, colleagues and friends through virtual presence at any time anywhere.
  • Speech Interaction
    Amy is powered by intelligent language processing engine which support multi-lingual speech interaction, far distance (5m range) recognition in noisy environment. Amy can help you access massive on-line knowledge base with speech. You can have hand-free robot operation (play music/video, take picture, set volume, robot movement control, intelligent reminder etc).

AMY A1 and AMY M1 are 1.1 meter robots weighted 15 kg with 10.1″ screen head and up-to 0.5 m/s moving speed. They are running based on 8-core ARM CPU+4 core Intel CPU using 20Ah 14.8V battery, which can last for 8 hours. With its 5 meters pick-up range microphone, AMY can be controlled using voice commands like “Hello Amy, follow me” and “Hello Amy, go to the kitchen with me”. However, The M1 has an additional laser sensor, wider detection range, higher localization accuracy, and supports function customization.

Amy A1 robot was presented at the Innorobo 2017 trade show in Paris. For more information and details visit their official website.

Bosch glue pen teardown

electrobob @ electrobob.com tipped us with his latest teardown of a battery powered Bosch glue pen. He writes:

On the right side we can see the fuse and a IRF3711Z 6mΩ 20V HEXFET driving the heating element. At the glue melting end there is no temperature sensor, they are probably relying on the positive thermal coefficient of the heating element to achieve a rather stable temperature, as the manual quotes “approximately 170 °C”. Also there is a step up converter – used to generate ~12 V to drive the gate of the tranzistor, to keep it in the low ohmic region.

Bosch glue pen teardown – [Link]

Pastilda: Open-source Hardware Password Manager

Pastilda is an open-source hardware password manager, designed to manage your credentials in a handy and secure way.

Pastilda works as a middleman between your computer and keyboard. It provides easy and safe auto-login to your OS, bank accounts, mailboxes, corporate network or social media. Pastilda stores encrypted passwords in its memory. You can request a particular password at any time by pressing a special key combination on your keyboard.

Pastilda: Open-source Hardware Password Manager – [Link]

Integrated Load Switches versus Discrete MOSFETs

Alek Kaknevicius @ ti.com discuss about load switches and the advantages of intergrated switches over discrete ones.

The most common approach to load switching solutions is to use a Power MOSFET surrounded by discrete resistors and capacitors; however, in most cases using a fully integrated load switch has significant advantages. While both discrete and integrated load switching solutions perform the same basic function (turn on and turn off), distinctions exist, such as the transient behavior and total solution size. This application report highlights many drawbacks and limitations of a discrete switching solution and discusses how they can be overcome with an integrated load switch.

Integrated Load Switches versus Discrete MOSFETs – [Link]

Arduino Easy Module Shield Tutorial – Is this the best Arduino Shield

Our friends on educ8s.tv uploaded a new Arduino tutorial. Let’s check it out.

Dear friends welcome to another Arduino Tutorial! Today we are going to take a first look at this very promising new shield for Arduino, the Arduino Easy Module Shield! Also we are going to build a couple of projects with it. Let’s get started!

Arduino Easy Module Shield Tutorial – Is this the best Arduino Shield – [Link]

Water Out Of Thin Air

Due to the advances of technology, we are able now to produce water out of thin air without using the resources usually applied like mains utilities. Such approach would be perfect in places that lack natural resources like deserts. Working from the effects of direct solar radiation, a group of researchers at UC Berkeley had designed such a device with minimum mechanical parts and simple embedded systems.


Using a structure known as a Metal Organic Framework (MOF), these researchers have been harvesting water directly from the air (at humidity levels as low as 20%). This humidity level is commonly found in dry regions of the world. The prototype was able to extract 2.8 liters of water per day at an air humidity of 20 to 30%.

MOFs are network-like structures composed of organic compounds and metallic units and have been around since their invention about 20 years ago. Depending on the MOF composition and base materials, certain molecules can be deposited particularly stably into voids in the structure. Gases from hydrogen to methane are possible. Their storage density per volume is actually higher than if the gases were compressed into large hollow tanks. 

MOF structure: The yellow balls represent voids in the structure that collect water. Source: UC Berkeley / Berkeley Lab

The water harvester is shown clearly in the first picture, where there is within about 1 kg of MOF crystals pressed between an upper light absorbing layer and a lower condenser plate.

“As ambient air is drawn through the porous MOF, water molecules attach themselves to the interior surfaces. Sunlight entering through a translucent window in the top of the unit heats up the MOF and drives the bound water toward the condenser, which is at ambient temperature via a heat pipe and radiator arrangement below the unit. The vapor condenses and the water drips into a collector.” – Elektor

Knowing how best is this technology can be used and scaling it up with the right parameters, it is predicted to make a breakthrough in the world of regenerating natural resources using solar energy without solar PV cells. More details about this new technology is available at UC Berkeley News.

Source: Elektor

Soldering pen for Weller RT tips with OLED display

vlk @ hackaday.io build a very nice soldering pen with a OLED display.

I found some projects where is used Weller soldering tips designed for WMRP soldering iron with standard 3.5mm jack and inside the tip is also thermocouple for sensing temperature. These tips are not so cheap but the quality is really great, especially for fine soldering.

Hardware design is based on similar projects but with some modifications and improvements. Also my request was to make the hardware small as possible to fit into handle and capable to supply from hobbyist LiPO battery.

Soldering pen for Weller RT tips with OLED display – [Link]