Friday, January 25, 2013

Went to Surrey & Hampshire Hackspace last night


I heard about the Surrey & Hampshire Hackspace early last year and even attended a meet-up before the summer in 2012 and really enjoyed it and intended to get back there again. Well, finally last night was the night and it was well worthwhile.

One of the members had arrange for us to use a warehouse location in Farnborough and so we had loads of room and bench space with wifi access.

I got the chance to talk to others who were doing interesting things with their Raspberry Pi and also show how an Arduino works and can be programmed.

Eagle Tutorial
Eagle Tutorial from Youtube
But for me the highlight of the evening was a tutorial on how to use Eagle (http://www.cadsoftusa.com/) by Bob. Eagle is a free or paid schematic diagram program that can also do board layouts.  I have tinkered with Eagle before and even thought I understand the fundamentals of electronics (at a very basic level) it kept giving me errors or not doing what I expected. For where I am now the free version is more than enough for me.
During the session Bob took the simple transistor switch circuit I prepared and used it as the example for finding components, placing them, connecting the nodes and duplicating them. All very useful, so now I can do more with Eagle.  Next time Bob is going to go into even more detail on what you can do with Eagle.

Then after the Eagle session Alan told me about the ULN2003 NPN 7 Darlington Array. Using just this an a SIL resistor pack for the 1K resistors I could do everything that needed 12 resistors and 4 transistors. So, lower cost, lower complexity and more reliable.

2 members of the Reading Hackspace also turned up to introduce themselves and talk about working together so as not to duplicate effort. Since Reading and Farnborough as so close to each other it really makes sense to take advantage of the opportunities this provides.  They mentioned that Reading is just about to move into a new bigger space.

Before leaving I powered up the Arduino and showed the IDE to a couple of people. Ran the Blink example  and then the Web server example just to show how easy the Arduino is to use.

Overall a great evening with some great people in a very open and sharing environment. I learned about Eagle, circuit design, a new component and how to pass command line arguments in Python.

Here's looking forward to next time.