SMD May PCBs arrive just in time


The circuit boards from dirty pcbs for SMD May are here just in time. The Logic Pirate is a nice cheap compact logic analyser design by Markus Gritsch. More at Dirty PCBs and Dangerous Prototypes.


Vancouver Mini Maker Faire 2014 Workshops


VHS and Vancouver Mini Maker Faire are closely associated.  The 2014 Maker Faire will be at the PNE like last year, it is only 3 weeks away.  This year, for the first time, a selection of excellent workshops are running.  You can find more details on the web site.  Some of the workshops are run by VHS members, support them and sign up today!

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SMD May – Logic Pirate




The dangerous prototypes logic pirate is a new 8 channel logic analyser design from the home of the bus pirate.  It uses the open SUMP protocol supported by the ols java client software (Mac, Windows, Linux).

This project is of similar difficulty to the internet of things arduino, except none of the chips are so fine pitched (the usb connector is however).  There are parts on both sides.  The board is very small 3cm x 3cm making a nice compact tool.  If you are a competant with through hole soldering you can easily tackle this project.

It is recommended that you bring your own soldering iron, tweezers and magnifier, limited supplies are available.  It is not necessary to arrive on time, please arrive when you can and plan to attend catchup nights if necessary.  Practice boards are available for use before you start your project.

From the website….

Here are some of its features:

  • 8 channels
  • 256 kSamples recording size
  • 60 MHz (overclocked) sampling rate (20 MHz and lower non-overclocked)
  • No compromise when combining the values above
  • Simple configurable edge detection triggers on all inputs (simple OR trigger)
  • Configurable ratio of samples from before and after the trigger (rolling sample buffer)
  • 5 V tolerant inputs (LOW-level voltage < 0.8 V, HIGH-level voltage > 2.0 V)
  • About 500 kB/s transfer speed to the PC (256 kSamples take about 0.5 seconds)
  • Data capturing can be stopped from the host software anytime
  • Cross platform host software for Windows, OS X, and Linux
  • DIY-friendly 0603 parts and SOIC packages used on a 2-layer board
  • On board 3.3 V regulator can supply up to 400 mA to an external circuit
  • Tiny 3cm x 3cm PCB
  • Firmware updates via built-in USB bootloader
  • Probe cables and acrylic case available from Seeed Studio
  • Open source PCB (EAGLE) and firmware files

Some features of the host software:

  • Precise measurement by using up to ten free placeable cursors
  • Automatic period, frequency, and duty cycle measurement
  • Displaying channel groups as HEX values and/or as an analog signal
  • Analyzers for a large number of protocols: 1-Wire, I2C, JTAG, SPI, UART, etc.

When: May 22nd and May 29th, 6:30pm ish
Where: VHS Bunker, 270 E 1st Ave, Vancouver
Cost:$22.50 plus $2.34 Eventbrite fee, click on the orange button below to buy tickets

Eventbrite - SMD May - logic pirate Eventbrite - SMD May - logic pirate


Alternative Spring Cleanup

In light of the cancellation of the VTL workshop, we’re going to do an alternative spring cleanup!

Things to be done:

  • Setup a filing system for the laser cutter wood in the workshop. Thank you, mystery people!
  • Create a breaker separation for the kitchen area.
  • Run (extra/temporary) network cables from the ceiling to the worktables.
  • Do an inventory of the power distribution around the space.
  • Do an inventory of/label all the containers to their respective shelves.  Thank you, Yuri!
  • Take an inventory of/label stuff that can be removed or needs further sorting/attention.
  • Clean up the clutter around the space.
  • Remove all of the boxes from the floor and vacuum/remove dustbunnies.
  • Mop the floors.
  • Whatever else comes to mind!

Keep an eye out for when VHS is open on and come join us in pumping some of that spring air through the space!

Vancouver Hack Space
270 East 1st Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Friday April 4th, 2014 through April 630th, 2014

Open to all, members and non-members alike . All are welcome!

VR night at VHS

Links from the night

VR night at VHS

SMD April – USB Isolator overview

You can see from looking at the block diagram above that the isolation is transformer based, it’s quite remarkable that they can fit 5 transformers in such a small package.  If you can’t attend the workshop the pcb files can be found on github and all the parts at Newark/Element14.

Newark/Element14 have an excellent video from Analog Devices embedded in their product web page for the ADUM3160/4160.  I’ve embedded it below.

When: April 17th and 24th 7:00PM

Where: VHS Bunker, 270 E 1st Ave Vancouver
Cost: $15/$5 plus Eventbrite fees, depending upon whether you have a sample chip
Tickets: Eventbrite - SMD April - USB Isolator Eventbrite - SMD April - USB Isolator

VHS Members pay it forward


As part of the recent pi protoplate/connector group buy we included funds for Adafruit, the authors of the open hardware PCB design we chose. We ordered 25 boards and aimed to include $1 per board kickback for Adafruit.

The final numbers are $169.54 paid after paypal fees, the pcbs were $80.55 inc shipping and the connectors $55.40 inc shipping (from Adafruit). This leaves the $33.59 to be sent to Adafruit today.  This leaves 33.59 for

It’s important to realise the open hardware is free to use but not always free to create.  Where possible, always try to offer some benefit to the designer of the product even when they haven’t explicitly asked for it.

 Donation receipt

SMD April – USB Isolator


In one of the earlier SMD workshops I managed to temporarily kill my new macbook pro when I plugged in a prototype.  I revived it by removing the battery all the time chanting to myself, must get a usb isolator, must get a usb isolator, must get a usb isolator…..

This is a nice simple soldering project that does exactly that, isolates your USB port from connected devices.  There are two input usb connectors, one carries data and power from the computer the other supplies power to the output.   The output comes from a 3rd USB A connector.  There is no power/ground/data connection between the computer and connected devices other than through the isolator chip.  This board has two grounds, two power supplies etc.

The isolator chip is an ADUM3160, it is most of the cost of this workshop – “The ADuM3160 is a USB port isolator, based on Analog Devices, Inc., iCoupler® technology. Combining high speed CMOS and monolithic air core transformer technology, this isolation component provides outstanding performance characteristics and is easily integrated with low and full speed USB-compatible peripheral devices.”

I did manage to get some samples from  There are two ticket types, one for those who can get free samples and one for those who can not.  I suggest you find a friend and order two sample at a time.  Please wait until you have the sample confirmed or denied before buying a ticket, otherwise you will create a lot of work for me in refunds etc.

We’ll be getting the ADUM3160 from Farnell/Element14, you can see more details on the isolator at their product page.

When: April 17th and 24th 7:00PM
Where: VHS Bunker, 270 E 1st Ave Vancouver
Cost: $15/$5 plus Eventbrite fees, depending upon whether you have a sample chip
Tickets: Eventbrite - SMD April - USB Isolator Eventbrite - SMD April - USB Isolator

Lets get Touchey-Feely – Intro to Capacitve Sense Interfaces

What: Adding Capacitive Sense buttons or sliders to anything
Where:  VHS (270 east 1st )
When: Saturday March 8th at 4:30pm
Why: If you can make an art project, awesome; If you can make an art project that people can get intimate with, even better.
Who: Anyone with some microcontroller and/or fpga experience. Basics in electronics also suggested.
Bottom Line: Loial
This will be an introduction to capacitive sense inputs such as sliders, rings or buttons. The class will go through the basics of capacitive sensing using a few basic methods. Source for MSP430 value line (launchpad board) will be given and some launchpad boards will be available for $10 each. Donations and feedback welcome and encouraged.


Identified Flying Objects Meetup II at VHS

Quadcopter in flight

VHS Betamax Quadcopter in flight

Are you into things that fly, and are small enough for a person to carry?

Quadcopters, Helicopters, Fixed Wing, Multirotors, or anything else? Participate in our quadcopter build workshop, and want to continue to learn? Wanted to get into multirotors, and not sure how to get started? come on down!

VHS will be hosting our second afternoon meetup on March 15th. Bring down your flying objects of all descriptions, check out others gear, share your knowledge , and learn from each other.

Meet at 1:00 PM at VHS ‘the bunker’ – 270 E 1st Ave. We’ll spend some time in the shop ‘bench flying’, then if the weather co-operates we’ll head down to near Science World for a bit of flying.

Don’t forget – crashing is an opportunity to do more building :-)

VHS membership is not required (but encouraged!), and it’s a great opportunity to check out the space.