My experience with PCBWay.com!

Goooood morning Internet (of things sure, but overall of human beings and nerd people)!

This time I would like to talk briefly about the very good experience that I had using the PCBWay (http://www.pcbway.com) online service for my PCB production.

All started when I decided, some years ago, to start producing on myself the PCBs for some of my projects . But I don’t like home-made results, so I looked for a great time for a very professional online service, with low prices and great quality. Mhhhh….difficult task! ๐Ÿ˜‰

After a long discussion, a work colleague (the Brain of the well known italian site http://www.oscilloscopio.it) recommended to try the service PCBWay.com, because, he said, “the price of PCBWay is the best on the Internet”.

So…I tried it with a free online quotation…and I saw he was right (and I was sure of this). ๐Ÿ™‚

No problem, I had at that time a project waiting to be produced so, I tried PCBWay. And I was super-satisfied. No joke boys (and girls).

This company works very well, with very small prices and great quality of produced PCBs.

The site has a very simple interface and the files used by PCBWay for production are the standard Gerber and Excellon files produced by Eagle, Kicad etc.

Well, the production time is very (very) short, 3-4 days โ€ฆand the delivery time from PCB Way to my house (as you know Iโ€™m from Italy) is shorter than a standard packet from my city to another italian city using (express) Italian Postal Service (Paccocelere Poste Italiane). ๐Ÿ™‚

โ€ฆ.Obviously, since they use DHL as express courierโ€ฆ all itโ€™s guaranteed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

You can see here some of PCBs produced for me by PCBWay (sorry for the not so good quality of photos). All boards that I produced are on 2 layers, and I usedย  various colors. All produced boards have been excellent!

 

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I’m very satisfied with this company, so I recommend it to all you my dear geeks!

Bye bye…. and…in the next days I will publish a surprise, so keep in touch! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I’m not dead. I’m only (terribly) busy! :-(

Hi techo girls and boys!
I know…I know.
It’s more than one year that I don’t publish new posts on Garretlabs.
The fact is tied to new engagements: on the work (yes, I have a work which is very important to me and I want do the best on it…), in the frame of my family.
And I have also (of course) new musical projects,as composer and musician (please,check out my italian music site, and dowload for free all my compositions: http://www.marcolastri.net) but also as project engineerย  and producer of noise machines and analog and digital synthesizers.
For example, for the friend Stefano Muscas of great band “Correlazione quantistica” (please, visit the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/correlazionequantistica) I designed an produced a very interesting noise machine based on Arduino, called ALGOnoise.

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I took the idea from here: http://little-scale.blogspot.it/2008/01/arduino-noise-maker-info.html but I added some modification (a repetition function, an output amplifier and some funny values changes on the resistors). I will publish very soon the result on Garretlabs (I hope)!
Here you can see a live concert of Correlazione Quantistica with Stefano playing ALGOnoise (yes, it’s the yellow box ๐Ÿ™‚ ):

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I’m very honoured of this collaboration!
After this I produced a modified version (the modification are: all controllers are panel mounted, the on-off button can be bypassed by a switch pedal, double resonance potentiometer and an adapter for the use with a power supplier) of the well known SparkPunk by Sparkfun. I did it for my friend Alessandro “Mazza”, the singer of the historical italian demential-metal band Tossic (http://www.tossic.it/home.html).
Here you can see the naked machine called “Mazzulator”:

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I’m very excited to work with Alessandro, since I love his band from ever. I was 14 when I encountered for the first time the politically uncorrect world of heavy metal, and the first disc I listened was “Il Regno del Cingliale” of a strange and demential band called Tossic: one of the first italian heavy metal bands. Now I am 40, an d I love Tossic as the first day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well… after this I produced some other music/noise machines, especially guitar effects pedals For example, I built an echo/delay and a chorus pedals for my friend and guitar player Fabiano Vezzosi, and I modified a model of the well known pedal “Metal Zone” (by Boss) in order to transform this pedal in a great fuzz effect. It kicks asses now! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also modified a great number of other guitar pedals of many friends…But in the meantime I produced also some other interesting things: for example new versions of old (diy) synthesizers. :-O

…But it is another story: keep in touch to discover this “dark side of Garretlabs”. ๐Ÿ™‚

Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!!!

And now… (for the swecond time in the Garretlabs history, after a post about a problem on Raspberry B and NOOBS!) for something completely different! ๐Ÿ™‚
I want to repeat the famous Monty Phyton refrain because this post isn’t a technical post, but a celebrative and a little (self) historical post. ๐Ÿ™‚

All started approx. 30 years ago.

I started coding on my first computer (one beautiful Commodore 16), and in the meantime one movie entered the History (with the initial capital letter) by the main door.

The movie was “Ghostbusters” by Ivan Reitman, with a super-cast coming from the Saturday Night Live (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroid and Harold Ramis)…. but I loved also Rick Moranis and the mighty Sigourney “Alien” Weaver.

ghostbusters_team
And I well remember (I was 9 -10, but I had always good memory) at the same time the fear and the humour of the movie. At that time it was a fabolous trip for me: the music, the special effects, the lightweight script, the ghosts….the videogame for the Commodore 64!
I think I bought (read: my father bought) the Commodore 64 only in order to play the mighty Ghostbusters videogame from Activision…in which there was the first “sampled voice” I never heard. Do you remember? Clicking the space bar one 8-bits electronic and destorted voice said “Ghostbusters!”…wow!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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In the meantime I learned programming in BASIC and in ASM for the famous 6510 in order to create my first videogames…. So, when someone (especially if he/she is a “non technical person”, a sort of “Techno-Muggle” to say it in Harry Potter style!) today says to meย  that my experience on software started only with my first “official work” (approx. 15 years ago), well, I get pissed off as a boar (you are advised ;- ) ).

Returning to Ghostbusters…yes, I love very much this movie (and the videogame, of course)…and I’ve seen it again (…and again and again and again! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) across thirty years.
I think in the next days I will buy the new edition on double vinyl of the soundtrack (also if I know it note by note ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).
But, for the moment, as you see from the photo, today the Ghostbusters (yes, me and Monica are also LEGO VIP collectors…now you know it! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) are here in my garret in order to help me to debug some “ghost” problem.

THe LEGO Ghostbusters arrived in Garretlabs!!!

THe LEGO Ghostbusters arrived in Garretlabs!!!

Have you never encountered signal overshoot or undershoot problems, tied to the stabilization of addresses or data in memories? No? You are very lucky, man.
You have an “unimplemented error code” trap in your software and, when the debugger blocks the execution, all values (addresses and data) are correct. ARGHHHHHH!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
I have often encountered these “ghost problems” (they are really bad… they are the real “poltergeists” of the microelectronics! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), at work but also in my garret adventures.
So, after thirty years the “chorus” is always the same, when from the sky is raining shit: “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”

Olinuxino A20 micro: a new toy in Garretlabs!

…Yeahhhh!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m always happy when my lab “boards family” grows…. and this time I bought a very interesting single board computer from Olimex, a Bulgarian company: one Olinuxino A20 micro (without NAND flash).

This is the toy (photo from Olimex blog):

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As usual I bought the board from my favourite online shop: Robot Italy (this is not a commercial spot…but I would like to have some little discount from this company!).

With the board I ordered also the ad-hoc plexiglas box, some 40-pins flat cable (in order to connect some GPIO) and the SATA cable to connect a 2.5” hard disk to the board.

The board arrived in one day with Bartolini express courier (Robot Italy is very fast to ship), and these are my very first impressions about the board:

  1. The packaging is very beautiful (as we say -literally- in Italy: ” also the eye wants his part” ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
  2. The board has a very solid appearance, and it seems very well designed and built
  3. The ad-hoc plexiglass box prefectly fits, and it’s very “chic”ย  (see point 1)

I downloaded the official Debian image from Olimex, I wrote it on a Kingston microSD (class 4) using the open source Win32 Disk Imager. Note that Olimex recommends to use a class 10 microSD…but I wanted to try with a cheaper choice. ๐Ÿ˜‰

After this, I connected the HDMI cable to my 37” Panasonic TV, I connected to one USB connector the radio transmitter for my wireless cheap Trust keyboard + mouse (only 19 euros… but it’s a very good choice to be used on the sofa in order to seek youtube videos…. with the fingers by the chips and assorted fried food ๐Ÿ˜€ ) and I powered the board with the miniUSB connector.

Pushed the power ON button, first boot….a moment of real suspence….and all worked correctly!ย  …YES! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Ok, I tried some program preinstalled in the Debian image (such as Midori browser) and I noticed that all seems faster than same programs running on the Raspberry PI (ok, I know it’s obvious but I want to evidentiate this concept).

After this first boot I connected a wifi dongle (this dongle from Robot Italy, as usual) to the other USB connector and I rebooted the board.ย  The dongle is supported by Debian but, after the connection to my home WPA2 protected wifi network, I observed some problem tied to lost ping packets (approx 25% of the total number) .:-(

Mhhhhh… it could be tied to a too high power consuption, so in the next days I will try using a 6-16 volts external power supplier instead the miniUSB source (as recommended by Olimex in the user manual, in order to have the maximum efficiency with external peripherals).

For the moment that’s all, folks. After the first few steps with this board, Olinuxino A20 seems to be a great study opportunity for my natural born curiosity. ๐Ÿ™‚

….Bye bye geeks!!!!

Galileo, Galileo… and me.

…Gooooood morning people!!!

My name is Marco Lastri (ML), I am an italian pro system-software engineer and also a pro-am musician.

I work as software engineering manager in scientific areas tied to artificial satellites. I have approx. 25 years of experience in computer science, algorithms, architectures and programming (I started to program my first computer at 12)…and I play any kind of software and hardware synthesizer. And also a little of drums! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am interested in the music-electronics-software interaction (because I am not a good piano player! ๐Ÿ™‚ ), so I tried to study Arduino (Intel Galileo), Raspberry PI platform and some other ARM based boards in order to create projects often tied to wearable musical instruments (yes, I love all old-style “keytars” such as Moog Liberation!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

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So I decided to try this experience: a personal blog dedicated to my projects and to my ideas, based on open source hardware and software solutions.

…You will find here also tips’n’tricks found during my studies on these “black boxes” (damn’ lack of documentation!) called “embedded boards” !

This blog has been created in collaboration with the SirsLab of Universitร  di Siena and with SirsLab official blog (many thanks to professors Domenico Prattichizzo and Monica Malvezzi), in order to share with the SirsLab people experiences on the wearable controller devices.

Firstly… why Arduino? Because it’s an italian product, an italian (good) idea. Because Italia is not only “spaghetti, pizza, mandolinoand corruption. ๐Ÿ˜‰

…Why open source? Because I think it is the only way to create low price new ideas, also created by unexperienced people (but with great mental strenght!).

…Why an english blog? Beacuse, also if my english is poor, I think it’s a simpler way to share with the internet my ideas and my experience.

…Finally, why this blog is called “ML Garret Labs“? Because at the moment my lab isย  in my garret…. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bye bye tech-geeks…and stay tuned!

PS: in the photo with Galileo, Galileo and me…ย  there was also Figaro Magnifico (cit. Queen), but it was too on the right ๐Ÿ™‚